2016...What A Year!

So each year we always look back at what we did, where we went and what we achieved and each year is getting bigger and better. It really excites me to think of our future and what lies around the corner. 

This year I have really pushed myself and my skills behind the camera as well as reuniting with my old confidence.

I pride myself in the fact I am extremely diverse. My love is ultimately automotive, though my true passion is photography and media in itself, capturing life's moments one by one. With so many competing in the automotive industry I've always looked for ways to be unique and set myself apart from the rest! Let's face it if you're reading this how many car photographer friends do you have? I bet the answer to that was heaps! Well how many can cover an automotive event with both exceptional photos and film? Then the next day be shooting the beautiful landscape or someone's special day as they marry their true love, and then be able to walk into a stranger's home, take hold of their alien like baby and capture those precious memories and present themselves as a professional photographer and deliver. (Yes believe it or not I do think babies are weird, freaky and much like little naked aliens).

A lot of people spend their time taking photos of their "mates" car or a friend of a friend's car. And more often then not, for free, where there is no pressure to deliver but rather "practice". Then call themselves a photographer. But can they deliver to a complete stranger who is paying for their work and time?

No matter what genre of photography it may be I have developed my skills to make sure I can deliver! I honestly hate photoshop and have only really used it in the last month or so forced by the world of technology and having all these amazing (highly edited) photos to compete with. But I can proudly say 99% of my images have only had minor editing done to them and that I could easily succeed without it! Also with camera's these days its all too easy to capture a RAW image with 20+ megapixels and edit it in photoshop. (P.S. 90% of my images are taken in JPEG due to not having the computer/software/space to deal with large RAW files). I have proudly perfected my skills to take photos of cars sitting still, cars moving at rediculous speeds and panning them down to 1/10th and in all lighting conditions, not just the perfect lighting conditions with a car sitting still in front of a nice backdrop. I also feel that the line of work I wish to pursue is going to be very demanding, requiring me to take less photos that require less editing to speed up the process allowing me to move onto the next job without delay. Again its easy to spend a couple of hours taking 1000 photos of one car from every angle, pick the best, spend hours editing it and showcase that image. It's like shooting 1000 hoops, landing 50 and calling yourself a professional basketballer...

(My most edited photo to date, I added a cool sun flare and yellow tinge in photoshop... I have no iea what I'm doing but it turned out alright...)

So let's start at the beginning and work our way through the most memorable moments of 2016 for me! 

To start off with I faced my fears and set up a brand new website and started blogging! Taking my photography and skills to a whole new level. And boy it's been fun sharing my experiences with you all!

Well 2016 was supposed to be a quiet start leading up to our Japan trip with Luke Fink and his family in March. But a Rocket Bunny kit came up for sale at a price too good to resist! Though I definitely did not have the funds to make it possible. That's where the drifters of Australia united and we did a deal for photos and they all threw in to purchase this kit for me! Something I will never forget and appreciate more then anyone will ever know! We got the wing on within days and the rest was prepped for a later date.

A week before heading to Japan I was invited to join the boys at OC Motorsports as a build photographer and document the build of an old f100 truck, which happened to be for my old high school arts teacher (small world hey). So I have been following this build for 9 months now, and we're so close to the final shoot, you wait to see what I have planned for this one! 

My biggest highlight of the year has to go to our Japan trip. Just a holiday, sight seeing, drifting and visiting friends. Luke had become quite good friends with Shinji Minowa and Daigo Saito over the years and a stop in for parts and a g'day was a must!

I still remember driving down the road and the navman said we were 1km away. Tiarnah asked if I was excited, the butterflies instantly hit and it sank in. I was being taken to Daigo Saito's workshop and was there as a friend, I know many photographers who have been turned away and denied access and I was 1km away from being there. I was gratefully granted permission to walk anywhere I pleased and take photos! Though I felt somewhat strange as we were truly there visiting as friends and who runs around taking photos of their friend's garages. So in my moment of utter fan girl and disbelief of where I was I had to control it and I honestly believe we gained respect which was evident when he came to Australia for WTAC and spotted me, waving first with a big smile of relief that he knew someone amongst all the admiring fans and we chatted as best we could in broken English.  

Another highlight of this trip was visiting several race tracks across Japan including Ebisu and the famous Minami race track. I can promise you I will jump this jump one day full lock sideways, even if it's the last thing I do!

I was also lucky enough to go passenger with a d1 Street legal driver at Nikko Circuit, making some new friends I'll hopefully have for many more years to come, we even got some stickers on their cars which are still there 10 months later! We also visited the famous Daikoku Futo car park along with a night out in Yokohama watching illegal Street drifting!  

Following DCA around Australia for 3 years now has taken us to many places and had us meeting many elite racers. This year had us in Tasmania, a first for us and we will definitely be returning to see more of what Tassie has to offer. There we met and dined with v8 legend (2016 v8 Supercar champion) Shane Van Gisbergen. DCA also had us heading down to Mt Gambier, South Australia in September for Australia's first ever street legal drift round, meeting Yoshinori Shinozaki and seeing our friend Shinji Minowa for the 3rd time in two years! 

Another moment I will never forget from 2016 was when Kevin offered me to sit in his Hakosuka Skyline (my dream car) at the GTR festival! We got chatting for a while and I asked many questions regarding the purchase and the history of the car, when he picked up on my evident love for this car and said the words "jump in". 

During this year I have also really pursued portrait work on the side shooting many portraits, newborns and our 6th beautiful wedding, this one at Mt Tamborine in QLD! So if you would like some family portraits done or just want some rad instgram photos, you know who to call!

Always wanting to enhance my automotive knowledge Ash needed to change his wheel bearing in the escort and we thought it would be a great exercise for me to learn and have a go myself as I was looking to purchase a classic of my own soon! Yeah it's not knowledge that will save my life and according the key board warrior tough chicks out there is basic knowledge (hahaha don't you love them) Well it will definitely save me money in the future if need be and I had fun doing it. 

And luckily I did learn this basic knowledge as within a month I had found and purchased my very own Mk1 Escort! Driving 9 hours North to Yamba to pick it up and driving just over 9 hours home all by myself (Ash following). 

With this purchase we had to lay low and save our pretty pennies again while attending DCA rounds, cars and coffee events and developing those skills ready for the big one of the year, the World Time Attack Challenge.

WTAC this year was definitely one for the memory book. Ash had to work and wasn't able to get time off so I did this one alone. Three days of action packed automotive goodness! Here I got to see many familiar faces and I got to meet some new ones. One of them being Keiichi Tsuchiya, the one and only DK! I had actually written a blog on Keiichi Tsuchiya that to date has been read by nearly 4,000 people, which for me only starting blogging this year is a huge achievement! I also finally built up the courage to introduce myself to Dino from speedhunters and again for the second year in a row spent most of my time with Andrew who I had met the year before supporting team Scorch and Under Suzuki. 

With all the big events done for the year and a couple of quiet months ahead we finally got my Rocket Bunny front bar painted and fitted only days before my first drift night in nearly 3 years! That's right I finally renewed my CAMS licence and booked in for the wet skid pan. Followed by a full day of drifting the very next month! 

I've made many new friends this year both in social media land and in real life. We have been granted access to many cars, sheds and collections which I have been so excited about. But wanting to do this the best I can I have held off on these until my gimbal was purchased and in my hands. 

Which brings me to my next exciting chapter. While saving for a gimbal I decided I needed experience and practice in filming myself and getting back into making videos so I can give you a full tour of each car I shoot with photos and a video. I have finally started vlogging!

A scary chapter and one I have definitely just jumped in with two feet. I have always been comfortable speaking in front of a camera but was and still am very conscious of my looks and the scabs I once had. But we only live once and yes it's a very "teenage" term but YOLO is a term I'm actually living by. It's true, we do only live once and I don't want to live with regrets so let's do this! (SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE)

Lastly I finally have been able to purchase my stickers for the business, with more coming in 2017 and finally establishing a brand to sell merchandise to help achieve my dreams and hopefullyone day quit working full time in retail. I live pay cheque to pay cheque, quite often left with nothing to eat for days except Vegemite sandwiches. I'm not poor, I just have a lot of expenses, a lot of goals, we travel a fair bit and a lot, let me emphasise A LOT of bad luck and no one to support me when I need it. Which brings me to the biggest achievement of 2016...

My mental health. I no longer want to disappear into the abyss, I want to wake tomorrow to see what's next, whether that be good or bad. Yes I still have my bad days but they are only days, I don't waste weeks in bed wishing I wasn't here, I don't envy anyone else's life, I aspire to create my own happiness and now understand we aren't all spoilt and fed with a silver spoon and that some of us work harder then others for what we want. 

All of this was achieved while working a full time job and most of all being a wife and not forgetting my loving husband exists and doesn't want to spend every spare second taking photos like I do! It's not easy and has been a juggle that's for sure...

So what will 2017 bring? I have no idea. Am I ready? Hell yes! 

My gimbal will be arriving in the next week or two, which will excel my skills once again, and that means I can finally shoot, blog and vlog these car collections (with over 50+ elite cars at my avail). Excitedly I will be taking drifting to the dry and learning how to make clouds as well as attending more track days and hopefully a hill climb or two! And the biggest excitement is... we have 6 weeks in Japan booked for October/November to celebrate 10 years together with my main man Ash!

We have already organised a few garage meet and greets with some very well known people and still have 10 months left to organise more! And that's all I'm saying on that one, I don't want to jinx myself, I have enough bad luck as it is...

I really want to thank you for supporting me in 2016 and joining me on my journey to become Australia's leading lady in the automotive industry and bring on 2017! And don't worry wherever I go, you come too! I wish you all the best for 2017 and I'm always here to help as best I can! And you can help me by liking, sharing and commenting on my work, get it out there to be enjoyed by all. Message me your feedback and comments on how I can improve and be the best I possibly can be!

Stay tuned for my top 10 photos of 2016!