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5 Minutes With LS Fest Photographer Ty Cobb

By: Blane Burnett10/10/2017 < Back to Blog Home
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Western Kentucky University photojournalism grad and all-around automotive enthusiast Ty Cobb has become one of the true go-to photographers for major automotive events, especially in the Bowling Green, Ky., area, where he shot numerous events over the years. Equally at home on the Beech Bend Raceway Park quarter-mile or the NCM Road Course, Cobb anchors our photographic coverage of LS Fest year after year. Holley's Blane Burnett caught up with Ty recently and got his takes on, among other things, LS swaps, drifting, and what it takes to be a good automotive photographer.

Thanks for giving us some of your time following the event, Ty. Tell us about your background and how you got in to photography.


I started shooting photos back in high school, and I was working with my school yearbook doing sports photos. It really appealed to me, so I went to Western Kentucky University to study Photojournalism and ended up finding a great motorsport niche here in Bowling Green, Ky. Shooting photos of cars is something I’ve always been interested in because I consider myself a big automotive enthusiast, so it just felt right finding a town that has such a large and diverse motorsport scene.

The 2017 LS Fest was our 8th Annual event. How many years have you had shot the event?

2017 is my seventh year photographing LS Fest and my fourth year shooting for Holley.

What keeps you coming back to LS Fest year after year?

Honestly, LS Fest is just a really fun event. As I mentioned before, I’m a car enthusiast at heart, so an event as big as LS Fest is already a big draw for me. But the thing that keeps me coming back each year is the variety. It’s not just variety in the different types of events, but the variety of cars competing in each event. There’s just something for everyone at LS Fest, and I think it’s pretty awesome to see how many different applications the LS motor has brought forward because of LS Fest.

What do you find most enjoyable about the event?

I think the most enjoyable aspect of the event is how laid back a lot of events and competitors are. A lot of these competitors come from different competition series they’re in during the season, and it seems LS Fest is a perfect event in the middle of the season for people to just come have fun. Competition is always stiff in each class, but at the end of the day, the event is a celebration of the LS motor, so I think there’s a certain attitude towards that. Aside from that, LS Fest is somewhat of a sensory overload for me – covering drag racing, autocross, the NCM road course, drifting, the dyno challenge, and all things in between can be a bit of an undertaking, but because of the laid-back atmosphere, I’m always able to step aside and really enjoy the event for what it is as well as photograph it.

What’s your favorite event segment to shoot?

For me, it’s sort of an obvious answer. I love drifting, and absolutely love shooting photos of drifting. Shooting the NCM Road Course is particularly enjoyable for me as there are so many different spots and angles to find on the NCM grounds. A close third is the 3S Challenge – it’s sort of a crazy spectacle to watch. Two racers at the same time on a small course, drag racing and autocrossing for the fastest time; it’s just the best of both worlds.

Do you have a particular style of LS swapped vehicle at LS Fest?

I tend to flock to wagons. I grew up as a young child riding in a Mercedes 300D wagon, and I think the affection I had for it as a child never really went away. If it’s not a wagon, usually I find myself looking for the cars with character or style that set them apart from the others. Besides, there’s usually an interesting story to go with the interesting car.

What’s the most unique LS swapped ride you’ve come across at the event over the years?

That’s a pretty tough question ... it would have to be the Nissan S12 that Devin Callahan competed in the drift competition in 2015 with. A close second is the LSX Eclipse that Jeremy Hoskins competed with in the drag portion in 2014. And to add one more, I really liked the Chevy Vega that competed in the drag portion in 2016. Honestly it’s pretty hard to narrow it down to even three, let alone just one!

What event are you gearing up to shoot next?

My open days don’t really correlate with any events for the rest of the year. I’m hoping to make it out to Turismo Drift in Nashville (November 18), but it’s looking like chances for that are pretty slim. Most of the shooting I’ll be doing for a few months will be magazine feature cars, some of which I found at LS Fest.

Out of all of the shots from LS Fest, share with us your favorite and why.



Hmm, this has got to be the hardest question out of all of them! I'd have to say that these four are my favorite, all for different reasons. First, I love this overhead shot of the Holley cars in front of the Holley booth. It's a great example of how many people are at the event, and a great example of the kind of variety one can see at LS Fest.



Second, this shot of Alec Robbins initiating into the first corner of the drifting competition is a personal favorite because I probably spent close to 45 minutes trying to capture someone coming into that turn, but while they were on the brakes. It was one of those moments where as soon as I clicked the shutter, I knew I had finally done it!



Third, this double exposure may be a lot to look at, but an image like this has to be composed ever so carefully, or it doesn't work at all. I was lucky enough that once I captured my base image, I ended up being in the right place at the right time to capture the Camaro going full-tilt through the 3S Challenge, and it all fell perfectly into place.



Finally, I really like this film image of the Holley wagon in the staging lanes because it just feels like it's stuck in time (minus the Camaro in the back).


Have you ever had any “up close and personal” run-ins while shooting on hot track before?

Fortunately, I haven't had any close calls shooting on a hot track, but I can say there have been a few times I've moved from a spot and right after I moved, a car slammed into the wall in front of where I was standing.

What equipment do you shoot with, Ty?

A Nikon D800 and assorted lenses. I also shoot 35mm film on a Canon Rebel S.

Any tips for aspiring photographers, whether automotive or otherwise?

Well, like any art, photography takes discipline, and it's important to not lose sight of what you're going after. It's also important to keep your fears from getting in the way of yourself. You can sit in your house all day and come up with reasons not to go out and shoot photos, but all it takes is finding that one reason to stay motivated that could potentially keep you ahead of other photographers out there. That, and just work hard!

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