2014: bouncing back from burglary and becoming Joanna Nicole Photography

So. 2014. TWENTY FOURTEEN. God, you've been good to me. At the end of 2013, I had just been burgled. All my photography gear was taken and my house ransacked. Let's just say I wasn't really in the mood for Christmas at that point. But, when New Year came I was determined to make it better. I was forced to bench photography completely for at least 3 months, but I was still taking bookings despite keeping things quiet in case I wasn't able to replace my cameras. I battled with my insurance company for 7 months (YES SEVEN) before I was reimbursed for everything that was stolen, but eventually I got there. I had one camera body and lens by the end of March, when I shot a friend's little girl's christening, and christ was it good to be back behind the lens.

Over the year, I shot 9 weddings myself and second shot one with Heather Shuker of Brighton Photo which was wonderful. At the beginning of the year, I had booked 3. I've loved every wedding and each one has just made me realise even more that this is what I'm supposed to do. It's been hard work, for sure. I work full time during the week so my weekends and evenings are taken up with shooting, editing, website building, business administration, marketing... I've certainly realised how much more there is involved in running a photography business than I did before. It's all been 100% worth it though, and somehow I'm starting 2015 with 11 bookings in the bag. Could not be happier with how things are going. Here are some highlights of my year...

James and Sara were my first couple of the year. We did their engagement shoot in Richmond Park in the late spring and then their wedding was an amazing church and barn wedding in Lenham, Kent, which included a cèilidh - SO MUCH FUN to shoot. 

These absolutely gorgeous kids were the subject of a little relaxed family photoshoot at Polesden Lacey in June. They were full of smiles and an absolute joy!

I went to school with Rhiannon and she'd sent me a message on Facebook asking if I'd shoot her wedding at Manor House School in Bookham, Surrey, where I grew up. We hadn't seen each other in years and only had a chance to meet up just before wedding as she and Rhys now lived in New Zealand. Their wedding was that weekend in July where terrible thunderstorms were predicted (I bought at least 3 brollies and her family had bought a beautiful set of Cath Kidston umbrellas), but it was GLORIOUSLY sunny. I think because everyone had been expecting the worst, we were all even happier!

My beautiful friend Muni had an enormous wedding and I was lucky enough to be invited. I wasn't the photographer (she had about 6 of those!) but I couldn't resist taking a few shots during the day because it was so fantastic and that bride did NOT stop smiling.

Katie and Tom are one of those couples who deal in fun and laughter and not staring-into-each-others-eyes soppiness, so for their engagement shoot we decided to photograph them and a few from their bridal party at Garsons Farm in Esher, where they picked berries for a big barbecue they were having. It was refreshing and lovely, and the photos are totally natural which is exactly what they wanted.

Their wedding saw hundreds of colourful balloons and one of the best sunsets I've seen all year round - or maybe ever. I took an astonishing amount of photos at their wedding but everywhere I looked there was some magnificent to capture. 

Abi and Ally were a bit nervous about their engagement shoot and said they weren't good at public displays of affection, but before long they were absolute pros and forgot about everyone else around. I absolutely LOVE Brighton, so it was great to shoot there. Their wedding was at Sunningdale Park in Ascot, and made for a stunning back drop. The surprise fireworks Abi got for Ally were a lovely way to end the evening.

Jen was my boss, once upon a time, and booked me to shoot her and Paula's wedding when I'd only done 2 or 3 before. It was one of my favourite weddings of the year - they were wonderfully affectionate, Mythe Barn in Warwickshire housed some beautiful light, and bringing their dogs along for a group photo was excellent. There were tears all around during the speeches when Jen's mum, who passed away a few years before, was mentioned, but I've never seen a pair so happy for the rest of the day. I particularly loved that this wedding featured an all female cast for the speeches...YES ladies.

Susie and Greg (Rutherford, Olympian long jumper extraordinaire) booked me to take a few photos at their baby shower about 3 weeks before Susie was due to give birth to their son, Milo. It was a perfect, sunny, relaxed afternoon and I have never seen someone that pregnant look so blood fantastic. 

Kate was a bridesmaid at Rhiannon and Rhys's wedding, and when she emailed me described herself as 'the bridesmaid who couldn't smile' - I beg to differ, Dr Fjelle. Her smile lit up pretty much all of the photos I took. Their wedding was in Shopshire at Adcote Hall which is a private school. The area is particularly nostalgic for me as it's where my grandparents lived. It was a rural dream and we were lucky enough to get some gorgeous autumn light and colours. My favourite part may have been the potato canon filled with confetti being fired during the first dance though - inspired.

Luke and Louise were the second of 3 autumn weddings and had their ceremony at the newly refurbished Burford Bridge Hotel in Dorking, Surrey. Blessed with beautiful light again, was made the most of the golden colours. They had a bit of a superhero theme running though, with a cake that was half wedding half batman, and superhero capes for the kids. You can imagine how much they loved them!

Emma and Piers chose to have their engagement photos at the place they were getting married - Gatton Manor in Surrey. A girl with an infectious smile and the absolute best autumn reds and golds you could hope for, it was a triumph. Emma braved soggy grounds in heels in order to get those photos, and it was definitely worth it. Their first dance, to Imelda May's 'Inside Out' was choreographed perfectly and was really refreshing and fun - I loved their kiss with Emma on Piers' knee at the end!

Kate and Ed. My final wedding of 2014 on December 20th. And to be honest, the one I was most worried about. Limited light is the bane of any photographer's life, and although you can be clever with off-camera flash, it's still hard work and can flatten a natural image. However, this Christmassy ceremony with mulled wine, sparklers and fairy lights galore, was incredible. The weather was fabulously clear and crisp in the morning, and there were some moody clouds after the ceremony but no rain. Success! Their reception was in a Tentipi in Kate's parent's garden near Ashford in Kent, and the log fire and Christmas crackers just made me feel all warm and festive. Kate deserves a medal for hanging out in the bitter cold for so long to get these photos, as well!

So there we are. Merry Christmas everyone, and roll on 2015.