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George Francis, 57, the doyen of Indian motorsport photography, passed away here today following a brief illness, leaving behind wife and a son.
Francis, following a brief stint at the Indian Express, Chennai, turned to photography after quitting his job. “The first race I attended was in 1984 at Sholavaram and I never looked back,” he had said as he went on to become India’s top motorsport photographer and a legend in his own rights. His last major assignment was the MRF Challenge in February this year at the MMRT, Chennai.
Having cut his teeth in the pre-digital era, Francis, who had grown up wanting to be a priest, was a permanent fixture at virtually every motorsport event in India for over 30 years after launching “Scorp News” in October 1984. His photographs were much in demand and he contributed to almost all major auto publications besides the Indian print Media.
In the bygone days when motorsport organisers in India had little or no time for the Media, Francis would go to any extent, even travelling on the roof of a bus, to get to the venues and then walk miles, rain or shine, to pick a spot for action shots.
Many of his photographs, spanning over three decades, adorn the living rooms and scrap books of India’s top rally and racing drivers.
His work, which reflected his passion and commitment, inspired a generation of photographers who looked up to and admired George Francis who spotted, nurtured, encouraged and inducted raw talent into his company.
“Motorsport in India has evolved considerably since my early days, but there is a lot that still needs to be done for the sport to become more popular. So, I am just doing my bit by taking and distributing photographs,” Francis had said in a recent conversation.