Founding their creative agency and lifestyle brand Parc Fermé in 2020, over the past few years Lydia and Alice Harper have built up a portfolio of work that highlights the human experience of motorsport, making a name for themselves amidst the sport’s boom in popularity. Shooting as part of BWT Alpine F1 Team’s Through their eyes… series, Lydia captured the personality of the Baku City Circuit and the human experience of the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“When we go to a race, we look for the little details that people don’t necessarily spot, and we try to catch the people who aren’t normally the subject of the race weekend,” says Lydia.
Surrounded by beautiful architecture, both old and new, the Baku City Circuit is one of the most recognisable tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. Running through the streets of the Azerbaijani capital against a backdrop of the city’s famous Flame Towers the track landscape gives race viewers a brief insight into the country’s history.
The circuit runs along Neftchilar Avenue, named in honour of the country’s oil workers, making a loop around Government House and highlighting the country’s history of Soviet rule and later independence, before finally circling Baku’s Old City and passing its 15th Century monuments.
“There are so many different aspects of the city as a backdrop. There is the ancient part with the Old City and then the Eastern European and Russian influence,” says Lydia. “There’s also a big juxtaposition between the old architecture and the new architecture
“But my favourite thing in Baku, aside from the architecture, is the ridiculously cool seat colours. It was my favourite thing that I saw last year and the shot that we posted is one of our most loved Instagram shots. When we came back this year, I tried to think how I could shoot them differently.”
Previously a lifestyle and wedding photographer, Lydia took the opportunity to make the switch to motorsport when her volume of work became scarce due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Born from a love of motorsport and a desire to bridge the gap between the sport and its fans, Lydia and Alice take a humanist approach with the content they shoot, highlighting the experiences and personalities of the unique world they are now a part of.
“We looked at all the things we wished we had seen or content we wished we had been able to access from racing and we used our skills and interests from the work we had been doing previously and took the chance to act on it. We thought that if we wanted to work in this world then we had to make it our own and try to be the people who would offer those things to fans of racing,” says Lydia.
Explaining her photographic style Lydia says there are three aspects she captures when shooting a subject. First, she will capture the small details with a close-up shot to show the texture and detail of the subject, then she will provide context with a wider frame before finally pulling further back to see it as a small part of a bigger frame.
“It comes from all the work I did previously. I was always very detail-oriented,” she says. “It gives context and life to the subject.”
Take a look at the gallery below to see the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix through the eyes of Parc Fermé.