The thoughts of Chris Gurton on motorsport, his photography, his work and his life in general. The thoughts, views and opinion's expressed in this blog are those of Chris Gurton and not necessarily those of any publication that he contributes to.

Tough Decisions

Every now and then in life you have to face some tough decisions. Its just part of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Without the benefit of hindsight, you often never know which one is the right decision to take or the outcome until it has happened. This week I’ve been faced with such a decision. Do I go with my heart or my head?

Last week I was booked up to cover a three day equestrian event at the beginning of August. That wasn’t a problem. Its the same event I do every year, well almost every year, but I’ll come back to that later. I was more than happy to do it. After all, I need the money and in tough economical times, who would turn that down? However, this week, I was asked to do another Equestrian event over three days the week before. I also usually do this event each year too. So surely it was a simple decision to make right?

Just one horsepower, but do I chose this over thousands of horsepower at Spa?

Wrong. This event was to be in late July during a time when I was making plans for something else. I was planning on going to Belgium for the Spa 24 hour race and the British F3 round there the same weekend. I was really looking forward to going and you are all probably well aware of my love of sportscar and endurance racing. I had even sacrificed my trip to Le Mans this year to help pay the costs. I was also going to go with my friend James who writes the race reports that I provide the photos for. I knew he was looking forward to the trip too. But could I turn down the money that the Equestrian event would bring me? It was a difficult decision. Do I go with my heart or my head. I’ve never been to Spa and I missed out going last year due to other commitments and I was pretty gutted about that. Do I miss out again this year?

I’ve photographed horses as far afield as Northern Ireland

I do enjoy photographing Equestrian events and it is something I used to do a lot of. In fact, its where I started with my photography business. It was only until years later that I started the motorsport photography and that was only due to more and more competition for work and less events coming my way. Despite keeping my costs down and coming up with unique products, bookings were becoming less frequent. So it is always nice to keep my foot in the door and the Pony Club who book me for these events are always very good to me. They are kind, polite and often provide me lunch. We all know the way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach, so I’m always happy to be there. I wasn’t booked for one of the events two years ago though, and I assumed that was it and my time as an Equestrian photographer was numbered. It was a pity, because I always enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise, so naturally I was disappointed. Was it something I did wrong? Were my photos not good enough? Was I just too expensive? I knew that the latter wasn’t the case. I’d checked the price of other photographers prints and I was one of, if not the cheapest around. After all, I’d rather sell two photos at £10 each than one at £16. I also knew I was always kind, polite and acted professionally at all times, so it probably wasn’t something I did wrong either. My natural lack of self confidence meant that I had assumed no one liked my photos and there were photographers a lot better than me getting the work.

One unique idea to set me appart from the other equestrian photographers was this.

So you can imagine my surprise when I get a call a year later almost begging me to come back. It had turned out that the previous years organiser had changed and she knew a photographer so asked him to cover the event. Apparently he was more used to taking pictures of minor celebrities falling out of nightclubs late at night, rather than horses and their riders. According to the woman on the phone, she had bought a number of my photos over the past few years and really liked them so when she took over as the new organiser knew who to ask first to cover the event. This actually really cheered me up. Maybe my work wasn’t so bad after all. So when she called again last week it was a yes straight away. I’m more than happy to repay other peoples kindness.

It was the other event booking causing me the problem though. Again, the organisers are very kind, friendly, treat me well and the atmosphere is always very good. But it would mean missing the Spa 24 hours. I needed the money the event would bring, but I felt that I would be letting James down if I told him I couldn’t go to Spa after saying I would. Deep down I knew I had to go with my head over my heart and if I turned down the event, the chances were I wouldn’t be asked back again and I know I would miss not doing the occasional equestrian event. Thankfully, although James was disappointed when I told him, but he understood the situation and that although it was a tough choice to make had to do what I thought was best.

Despite images like this one being printed in National Magazines, I was never sure how sincere people were when they said they liked my photos and always took compliments with a pinch of salt. *This image was listed as runner up in a sports photography competition in a well known photography magazine.

The decision was made, I wont be going to Spa. I know a few other motorsport photographers have raised a few eyebrows at my choice, but despite the disappointment of missing the 24 hour race, I’m pretty sure I’ve made the right decision. It is the one that makes the most financial sense anyway. I am looking forward to doing the events though. Yes there is a lot of work to be done but they are always good fun and the weather is usually really good.

I would probably have chosen Spa if I wasn’t going to the Nurburgring 24 hour race in a couple of weeks. So at least I will be at one European 24hr race this year and I can’t wait. I’m sure there will be other opportunities for me to go to the iconic Belgium circuit in years to come anyway.

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One response

  1. Nice post and great pictures.

    May 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm

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