Have you ever been awoken in the early hours of the morning to the repulsive sound of the alarm that destroys your soul every single day and thought to yourself, “Why the hell am I doing this”? Getting out of bed in a foul mood, getting into the shower and convincing yourself that you’re feeling ‘fresh’ for the day ahead, where you’re doing a job with no real goals or progression to work towards until the moment you get home.
If I rewind a few years and take you back to where this started, it’ll probably make a bit more sense…
Ten years ago, I suffered a huge loss that will never be replaced. My brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. In the months that followed, I struggled to find my way, nothing seemed to be able to interest me, take my mind off things or be able to properly move on. Not only had I lost my only brother, I’d also lost my best friend.
Life can be a cruel bastard at times, it can deliver the biggest, harshest kick in the bollocks that you will ever receive. How you deal with that kick in the bollocks, is entirely down to you.
I dealt with it pretty badly, until I realised that there’s no point sitting around feeling sorry for myself anymore. I would only get out of it by finding something I enjoyed, preferably something to take my mind off things as much as possible. I ended up spending a lot more time with friends and family than I ever did, it helped me enormously and enabled me to move on and eventually discover what I really wanted to do.
I could still feel that there was a void there, something that needed to change but I genuinely had no idea what at the time. When my brother passed, he was working endlessly in his spare time to try his best to become a DJ. It was inspiring to see that he had so much motivation to work towards something, he’d come home and disappear into a converted shed that we had at the bottom of the garden making music.
At the time he passed, he was at the peak of his growth in the DJ industry, and sadly we’ll never know the full extent of just what he would’ve achieved had he not been taken so early.
I woke up one day, feeling exactly how I felt at the beginning of this article, I knew that my brother had been through the same thing when our Dad passed, and I think that DJ-ing was his way of dealing with it. There’s no doubt that it filled the void that he had long been hoping for, but with the hearing ability of a fish, I kind of figured that DJ-ing probably wasn’t the route for me.
Sitting at home one Friday evening, I was due to go out for a night out with friends, but I’d been let down at the last minute. It was time to search for what I wanted to do, I needed to think what would really interest me. Cars came into the equation but at that time I already owned a very nice E46 M3 which in hindsight, was probably another (very expensive) attempt at filling the void.
I’d always had a huge interest in drifting way back from the ‘Kazaa’ and ‘Morpheus’ days, (if you don’t know what they are, you’re either too old, or too young.) I’d download a video on dial-up, and after about 3 days of downloading I’d cross my fingers that it was actually a drifting video rather than another re-tagged animal porn video. Each video was hugely exciting to me, and later on I realised I actually enjoyed photographs of drifting just as much, if not more than the videos.
I hadn’t really ever thought about being involved with drifting on a driving level, mainly because I’m not mechanically minded. I’m more useful with a keyboard than a spanner and knowing how much people invest in their drift cars even despite knowing everything there is to know, I ruled that out. I’d always had an interest in cameras and although I’d owned some good compact cameras, I’d never owned a “pro” (DSLR) camera before. I’d always been told that I had ‘the eye’ for photos, and I figured that there was no harm in trying with a DSLR since they had come down in price so much in recent years.
At about 10pm on a Saturday night, I ventured to the local shopping centre and purchased my first DSLR. From the moment I got it I was hooked, and like most people I took photos of just about everything in the coming days and weeks.
As I started to spend time learning the camera, reading books, watching tutorials online, I became more and more familiar with it and I wanted a bigger challenge. I knew that Lydden Hill in Kent held a lot of drift days, and I decided it was time to head down and combine my new-found love of photography with my long-term love of drifting.
My first effort was both a disaster, but also the best thing I’d done. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and despite coming home with about 3 images that were actually good, I still classed it as a success. At the end of the day, I’d enjoyed being there and witnessing the drifting and at that point the photos were just an added bonus.
As time went on, I found myself going out less and venturing to Lydden, aswell as other places more and more frequently. Each time I went, I tried harder to improve, I’d read more photography books, watch more tutorials and try to get the best coverage I could each and every trip. It didn’t matter whether it was a practice day or a competition, I wanted to come home with ‘the shot’ each time.
This went on for a good couple of years, and before I knew it I was travelling the country shooting various events and competitions. I absolutely loved it, it started to become more and more time-consuming and if I wasn’t out shooting, I was either at work (yawn), editing or updating my social media. Eyedea Media started to feel like it was more than just a guy with a camera at this point, and it was at that time I was more desperate than ever to succeed.
When King of Europe came to the UK, I already had my Lydden media pass and I was really excited to see a European event on UK soil. It was time to show off what I’d learned and put everything to the test, I was now working with Wangan Warriors creating articles and I wanted to ensure that this was my best yet – hopefully one that people would remember.
The response to my coverage was fantastic, it’s one of the things that would eventually see me go on-board with Drifted, but most importantly it got the attention of the King of Europe owner who sent me a really nice message about my work.
As the season went on, I felt less inspired by the BDC and more interested in European events. With the last event of the year coming up, the BDC final in Anglesey would clash with the KOE final in Valencia. After working out the finances, it was more-or-less the same cost to travel to Anglesey as it was for Valencia. It was a no-brainer to get away for a weekend in the sun watching some of the best driving Europe has to offer!
After the Valencia event, I once again received a great response from the work. Not many people in the UK were getting the chance to shoot European events and it was nice to give my perspective on it.
In the months that followed, I remained in contact with the King of Europe owner. It was a particularly long winter in 2014, no events on and I had actually become bored for the first time in the year. I knew that I wanted to make the most of 2015, so I asked King of Europe if they’d be interested in me providing event coverage of the 2015 season, to which we agreed.
Going from Lydden practice days to shooting a full season of arguably some of the best driving in Europe was a huge leap. I witnessed some amazing driving, places and despite being hugely busy, it was an amazing experience.
During this, I was still working full time in the job that I hated. Work was becoming more and more of an inconvenience every day as I’d find myself getting increasingly busy. Although I was focused and I had fully zoned-in on a ‘get the work out and get home’ mentality which made the day go quicker, I still didn’t find the time to do everything I wanted.
On top of that, I’d sometimes be up until 3-4am editing photos and working on the previous days events while I was away. I had used my holiday at work to cover the days off and it’d left me with no holiday at all by the time it’d worked out. I would fly out, shoot, fly home and go straight back to work. I didn’t mind, I was doing what I loved and it was worth the effort and energy, but I genuinely felt like I could only do it for so long.
Alongside this I was doing various other jobs for drivers, while also doing some magazine work and also getting some advice from some of the best photographers in the industry. I’d work closely with Drift Tengoku to achieve another one of my goals in having my work (a full article) published in their magazine – more on this at a later date! I would end up having several articles throughout the year, but sorting all these things in the very few hours you had spare made it more and more challenging.
At this point, KOE was growing. There had already been King of Asia take place in 2015, but due to work commitments I wasn’t able to be a part of it. I was gutted to see the rest of the team attending these crazy places and events that I could only dream of and not be able to be part of it.
Little did I know, but not only was KOE growing, but it was growing at a crazy rate. King of Asia would expand to King of Nations and instead of taking on Europe and Asia, it was now time to go full retard and organize a Worldwide drift championship!
As soon as I heard this, I knew I needed to be on-board. I’d always dreamed of travelling, and then somehow my interests in photography, drifting and travelling would cross paths, creating the opportunity of a lifetime. After discussions and a few months of up’s and down’s, I finally got the answer I had been hoping for…
During 2016 I will finally get the chance to complete my goal and be a part of a fantastic team. We will start in the UAE in January before heading to Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. Alongside this will also be the usual European ProSeries that I have shot this year and also mountain Touge events which I have wanted to shoot from the start.
As you can probably guess, working alongside this isn’t going to be an option, so as of 2016 I will now become a full-time freelance photographer, covering KOE/KON events aswell as taking on any other photography work that I can in the meantime. Sure, it’s going to be a struggle, but at the (rather concerning) age of 27, it feels like now or never. The saying ‘It’s better to have tried…’ springs to mind, and I have absolutely no doubt that I have an incredible year ahead!
At this moment in time, I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to wake up this year without wanting to smash my alarm to pieces and to know that I will be part of a fantastic opportunity. I can’t thank Mike Procureur enough for believing in my ability and offering me the chance of a lifetime! I’d also like to say thanks to each and every one of you reading this for your support over the years, especially my family and friends who have understood that I’ve not had the time that I would’ve liked to spend with them!
I hope this will also serve as motivation to those who are in a similar boat to me, it may have taken a life-changing scenario for me to finally work towards my dreams, but that certainly doesn’t need to be the case. I like to think that hard work is rewarded, and that if you feel passionately enough about achieving your goals, then anything is possible!
May you all have a wonderful New Year, and an even better 2016!
Some more of my favourite shots from 2015: