I don't often get asked what my main aim within the motorsport industry is but when I do, I'm never really sure myself. Initially I simply wanted to be in F1. The glitz, glamour and travelling the world really appealed to me. The more time I spent within the industry I realised that what is portrayed on TV isn't what real life is like. With that, I had to re-evaluate what I actually wanted... Did I want the success of getting to F1? Of course I did. Did I want the glamorous lifestyle? Of course I did. Was it realistic? Well, half of it could have been! Little did I realise there were other avenues I could explore.
Luckily a couple of years ago, a very good friend of mine invited me to the final round of the British GTs and made a point that the paddock there was very different to what I was used to in BTCC. He was right. The people, the atmosphere and the possibilities were incredible. I spent the day with Andy and Ferrari seeing how the championship varied to the popular BTCC. From the one day I spent with both him and the team I could already tell I found a paddock and championship I wanted to be a part of. I just needed to find my place.
The winter break passed and my plans leaned towards me going back to BTCC, but not as a photographer. A few chats with the people who know me best and I realised this was a step backwards. So I returned back to my original thoughts of where I wanted to be in the future. I knew I could fit into the British GT Championship, I just didn't know where.
I've always been good at networking and meeting new people. I spent Media Day in and out of garages talking to people, seeing friends and making sure I was in the eye of everyone who could give me that spot I needed. Luck hit me again with a photographer friend of mine introducing me to the team that would eventually take me into their motorsport family. I kept up communication with them and showed my skills with my photography. Everything I'd been teaching myself over the past year was coming into use.
The first round came along and I had no one to photograph. Me being me I attended anyway in hope that my networking would pay off. I made my way round the paddock and as I walked into the Twisted Team Parker garage to go say hello to the team, I bumped into Ade Barwick. I was blessed with luck again. After a short chat we'd agreed for me to shoot the team for the season! That's when I realised what I wanted from all this hard work I had been putting in. I wanted a team, someone I could represent with my skills and place to belong.
I worked hard over the weekend. With help from Andy I found some new spots, introduced him to some too and we worked together to get the shots we wanted. The two of us were a great team. That factor made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. It can be lonely sometimes out on track.
Over the next few rounds I continued to do my best, and the drivers seemed to love my photographs. This again, was another factor I realised I wanted. I love what I do, but having someone else love what I do too, makes it worth so much more!
It wasn't until the international round at Spa Francorchamps that I really settled into the team. Being the only girl over there with the guys meant I was pitching in on all levels. I was doing my photographs, but I also got roped into being tea girl and the team’s grid girl! It's the least I could do really! I can't thank the team and drivers enough for looking after me! And Andy for driving me over there! Not only did I get to bond with the team, I also found new friendships with people and drivers from other teams.
The eight week summer break was horrendous! Never have I ever craved a motorsport fix like this. My shutter button finger was itching and I missed that early morning smell and sound of engines roaring. Weird I know! Brands Hatch eventually came along and I made the four and a half hour journey from North Wales to Kent on Friday morning. I thought I was crazy for leaving at 6am, but little did I know it was the right choice. I got down to the circuit with no problems and met up with Stuart Pearson's Ginetta GT5 Championship team, and one of my closest friends (Kalli you know this is you ;) ), to watch the testing for the day. It was great fun to relax and take in the motorsport after the long break. Over the weekend, the friendships I had made in Spa were rekindled and it was great to catch up with everyone. It took a while to sink in that this was the penultimate round to the season. The team didn't have a great race, but I did manage to get some shots that show my progress over the year.
Two weeks later we ended the season on a high at Donington Park! The guys finished third in the race and third overall in the GT4 championship! Not only was it my rookie season, it was theirs. And I think we can all agree we all did incredible job! Even at the last event I was making connections and building on friendships. There was one point that weekend that really made me feel like I'd achieved what I'd set out to do. This was when Ade and his wife Fi handed me my team jacket. Then I realised, all the effort, money and time I had invested into my motorsport photography had got me to a moment where I felt I had achieved a goal I never realised I'd set. I'm very lucky that I had the chance to create these memories, push my photography skills and make copious amounts of tea for the guys! And that Ladies and Gentlemen, is how I started shooting motorsport!