Facundo Villegas discusses what it takes to be an extreme sports photographer, and how he grew his photography hobby into a successful business from scratch with his Picfair Store
Facundo Villegas is an extreme sports photographer based in Barcelona, Spain, who has built a successful business selling images from sporting events on his Picfair Store. We caught up with him to ask him how he first got involved with extreme sports photography and for any top tips for others looking to get involved with this genre of photography.
How did you get involved with extreme sports photography?
I have been practicing extreme sports for years and photography for more than a decade, although I consider myself as an amateur photographer.
My interest in sports photography began in 2020, when randomly I came across an Urban Downhill Race event team preparing an extreme sport event in Barcelona, this kind of event is very rare in my city.
That day changed my life as photographer, because I instantly decided I wanted to go the next day to take pictures in the said event. Then I realised that taking pictures of extreme sports was the thing I was looking for. The thrill of the experience, the atmosphere and the action–it made me find my purpose as an extreme sports photographer!
Daniel Lindberg, my mentor, guided me in the world of downhill professional photography. Also, he introduced me to Picfair Stores.
"...I realised that taking pictures of extreme sports was the thing I was looking for. The thrill of the experience, the atmosphere and the action–it made me find my purpose as an extreme sports photographer!"
Who are your favourite photographers?
Sebastiao Salgado is my all time favorite photographer. While, Sven Martin my favourite MTB World Cup photographer. Also, Jb Liautard my favourite creative extreme sports photographer and Ale Di Lullo my favourite style photographer.
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
I get inspiration by looking at the amazing work of top photographers, through Instagram, online magazines and books.
How does a typical event work when it comes to the shoot?
It's a difficult question because every event is different. Normally, events fall on weekends, so, I usually plan my trips ahead of time. I always initiate contact with organisations to offer my services and also to get necessary press accreditations.
The first day, I get in contact with the people and do an ocular inspection of the track and the place in general. The second day, normally, is the training day. So, I move around to learn the track features to find the best places to get the angles to create the best shots.
And, the last day of the race, I wake up very early to arrive at my chosen places on the location to always be ready to capture the best actions of the athletes. Basically, every race I try to create the best route to reach all the features in the track on time. I spend all the weekend breathing sports photography and creating the best content I can in every situation.
"I always initiate contact with organisations to offer my services and also to get necessary press accreditations."
Do you do much in post-production to your images?
Yes, always! I use Lightroom for quantity and Photoshop for quality. Let me explain, when I need to process 3,000 photos in 24 or 48 hours I use Lightroom to copy the settings (general editing) and when I have specific work for a brand, team or athlete I focus more on quality details with Photoshop. It depends on the work & situation but it's a rule for me to spend hours in post-production.
"I use Lightroom for quantity and Photoshop for quality."
How did you build up a network of customers?
My system is very simple. I shake hands in the events introducing myself, I give business cards to potential customers and I do a lot of free marketing on Instagram. Also, indirectly, word of mouth from my costumers.
What advice would you give for fellow photographers looking to get started with photographing sports events?
Don't be afraid to fail the best advice I can give. Also, always ask in advanced press accreditation for every event, learn everything about your chosen sports and keep business cards in your pocket because you will never know when an opportunity will come.
"Don't be afraid to fail the best advice I can give."
Have you any plans to expand your business?
Yes. Actually, I'm planning to expand to other extreme sports, like Motorsports (motocross, enduro, rally...) and Winter Sports (like snowboard, ski, freeride...).
Discover more of Facundo's brilliant sports photography in his Picfair Store.