2020 – What a year! A year of great things and great challenges
January 2020. My new sparkly diary said boastingly on the cover “2020 – THE BEST YEAR EVER”. I am amused to tell you that I burned that diary mid-way through the year. I hadn’t had a chance to fill it. My working year started full of promise on Saturday 11th January when I happily went off to do a venue visit with Zoe and Paul ahead of their June wedding. We had a lovely afternoon looking at the venue and talking through all their plans. Sadly, that wedding – along with many many others – had to be postponed. Little did we know……. I, like the rest of the country, had been hearing about this deadly virus to take hold in China. But China is far far away, right? It won’t affect us in the UK. So off I went to a day of amazing off-camera flash training and then to The Societies of Photographers annual convention. It was here that my itching to change from Canon to Sony started. An itch I would scratch by the summer.
On the 31st January I was honoured to be asked back by Facilicom to photograph their annual awards ceremony and celebrations. I love working with this company – their company ethos is amazing and the team are great to work with. Every member of the team had head shots done first (over 80 of them!) and it was great to spend the day seeing the nominees win and then covering their amazing champagne reception at The Selsdon Park Hotel.
Next up was one of my best friends maternity shoot. Jade and I have been friends for more than 10 years and I was so excited to capture this time for her. Katie came to do her makeup and curl her hair and I encourage her to wear some of my maternity gowns for the shoot. Jade had never liked the attention being on her and this was way out of her comfort zone but she ROCKED it – she looked amazing and afterwards and since she had said how glad she was that she had the opportunity to have the shoot. Mama’s – have a maternity shoot. You won’t regret it. Capture the special time and have those memories to share with your little one in years to come. It’s a time just for you – to feel a million dollars and to celebrate how awesome you are.
Cake Smashes started in earnest with Amy absolutely going to town on her cake. She is just the most smiley, happiest girl ever and we had so much fun on her cake smash. We chatted about the virus that was dominating the news but decided it really was only like the flu, only affected old people and wouldn’t really affect the UK at all. Oh how wrong we were!
I first photographed Isabella as a bump and then as a newborn. Her wonderful Mummy, Katie, and I became friends and I was so excited to photograph her sitting up and giggling away. She is a beautiful baby and the cutest little soul. Her shoot was wonderful and really captured her at a precious time. The sitter sessions can be overlooked so easily but they should be embraced. To capture the little ones from newborn to first birthday is one of my favourite things to do. I love to photograph them in one of the same props as they were in as a newborn for continuity and to see how they have grown as it happens in the blink of an eye!
Mothers Day was approaching, and so was Easter. My plans for both these times included Mummy and Me sessions and I invested in a set up for Easter mini shoots……best laid plans and all that! While she was here for her sitter shoot, Isabella was my model for my Easter sessions for 2020. Ah well – there is always next year! But didn’t she look cute?
It is now March. At this point, we are all starting now to talk more and more about Covid19. The talk of the spread around the world is rife and it feels like it is closing in. I had so much booked and started to get my head around whether or not we would close down, similar to what was seemingly happening in Spain and Italy. The topic was a hot one whenever someone came to the studio. But all the shoots were so important These babies make my heart happy and I love photographing them so much.
You will have heard me talk about The Frying Squad before. They are an AWESOME fish and chip caterer that I met at a wedding in Essex in 2018. We kept in touch and I have been over to their headquarters in Sutton a few times to photograph the team and their food. They were launching a new menu in 2020 ahead of what should have been an exceptionally busy year for them, so I went over to photograph the food. Tough gig as they insist I try it all too! I love working with this team and when the world starts turning again, if you need catering for an event, a party, a wedding or just because, give these guys a call. You really won’t be disappointed!
And then that was that. The UK government enforced a lockdown. It was devastating to cancel all the shoots that were booked and to have to consider how to spend my time effectively. I took some time out and collected my thoughts. I booked on to as many online training courses as I could and I made plans for my business. Clearly, at the start we had no idea how long it would last. I invested in UV wands, hand sanitiser, air purifiers, masks, shoe covers and gloves for a studio that would remain closed until the beginning of July. I photographed the birds in the garden and found it quite addictive to establish the different types that visited ( we even get a woodpecker fairly regularly!). My village parish council started a rock painting and hunt project – rocks were painted and hidden around the village for the children (and adults!) to find on their daily walks. I photographed them as I found them and much of the village too, for the new Parish Council website. We clapped for carers and I started a lockdown family lockdown doorstep photo project and people donated to charity if I took a family photo for them. I got to know neighbours I hadn’t yet met and I am delighted to say those neighbours have become friends.
I decided to re-brand my business and I was grateful of the gift of time to be able to do it. My website was rebuilt and relaunched and I sat and worked through lots of online training courses. Whilst I never would actually have chosen lockdown and I most certainly wouldn’t have chosen for such a travesty to happen to the country, I was strangely grateful for the time and the fact that we all just stopped for a moment. My husband was furloughed and the sun shone. He made me a gin bar out of pallets (it is brilliant), we cut a hole in our fence and had a hatch “bar” for afternoon G&T’s with our friends next door and we walked our dogs every day in the woods behind our house. We had breakfast together in the garden and talked more than we ever normally have time to. I did the only thing I could do and embraced it. Sadly, I didn’t qualify for any government financial help so I desperately wanted to work again but for now I was enjoying time with my husband and gearing my business up to be ready for when the world started to turn again.
March led in to April, then May and June. At the end of June I was allowed to start photographing people outdoors again. It felt great to have a purpose. I embraced the local fields and abundance of flowers the sunshine had given us and met some more beautiful families. It felt great.
The studio was still yet to open, so I made the most of it and gave my own baby a cake smash of her very own! My furbaby turned one on 2nd July so I ordered a special dog friendly cake and let her loose! She was incredibly tame considering the chaos she normally unleashes on us!
On 2nd July my beloved little studio reopened. I was SO happy. Finally I could welcome back the babies, the families and the cake smashers! Some babies that were born in lockdown potentially missed their newborn shoots. But whilst the ideal age for a newborn shoot is 7-21 days, we were quickly learning that older babies can be posed for newborn too. Tallulah and Baby John were the first through the doors and at six weeks I was absolutely delighted with their shoots! And the hair- OH THE HAIR!!!!!
Corona Virus hadn’t gone away – and many people were (rightly) still concerned so Dani and Chris asked me to go to their house for baby Raffety’s newborn shoot. We decided to do a lifestyle shoot instead of posed newborn, including Dani, Chris, big brother Teddy and baby Raffety. Everything was sprayed down before taking it in to the house and I was able to stay 2m away and photograph them from a distance. It actually ended up being one of my favourite shoots. Chris is otherwise known as The Daddy Sleep Consultant – find him here https://www.thedaddysleepconsultant.com/ and we have formed a great working relationship this year that I hope will continue on and into 2021.
The babies kept coming as did the family shoots and June rolled in to July which turned to August and I was busier than ever….. Here is a small selection of the newborns post lockdown v1
Harry bought his frown A game!
And the cakes that got smashed…… so many wonderful themes this year, from rainbows to Peter Rabbit. I love making cake smashes personal and they really are a lot of fun.
Lavender sessions are something I look forward to every year. This year was no exception and I am so glad that the wonderful team at The Hop Shop at Castle Farm let us go ahead. People came from as far as Oxfordshire and South West London for their stunning family shoot in the beautiful lavender fields. We had maternity shoot, puppies, babies (the youngest being just three days old!) and families. I loved it.
I was so pleased to be chosen by so many amazing couples this year for maternity shoots when they were allowed. All of them embraced the outdoors too – was this because we had been stuck indoors for months? I don’t know but I do know that I love capturing this amazing time in a woman’s life.
As September approached, many little ones were thinking about starting school and were super excited about their shiny shoes and new uniform. Many schools weren’t doing school photos this year due to everything going on, so I was really happy to be able to offer my own spin on them.
And before we knew it, Autumn was here. I have always loved Autumn – the light, the colours, the rosy cheeks and golden glows. I was delighted to be able to photograph some wonderful families and children and also my amazing cousin, Emma, in the Autumn colours this year.
And then we were on the brink of another lockdown. It was devastating as I knew I would have to close my studio again, so it was massively important to me to make sure I could run my Christmas shoots safely and in time before I was forced to close again. They were so much fun, we all had a ball and I am happy that everyone got their Christmas photos, cards and keyrings in time for the big day.
And although most weddings got cancelled this year – one couple went full steam ahead. Joel and Natalie said “I do” witnessed by 15 close family and friends and their dog – more were watching as they cleverly live-streamed their wedding to all their friends and family watching at home. I was honoured to be able to capture it for them and cannot tell you what a wonderful day it was!
And that’s a wrap! Overall 2020 was challenging but it was positive in so many ways. I have loved photographing you all and I am excited to see what 2021 brings. Here is to a happy, healthy and safe new year. Thank you to each and every one of you that has supported my business in 2020.