The whirlwind that was 2018.

Officially my busiest year in my business to date filled with plenty of highs, a few lows, immense risk taking & a new studio. A year where I have definitely learnt so much about the photographer I want to be, & how my self care is essential not only for my own happiness but for my business, that people change & there’s nothing you can do about it, your family are everything, doing things that scare you really does pay off, it’s okay to say no, it’s okay to put yourself first, planning a wedding isn’t easy, but finding your dress is, there will always be people who try & compete or outdo you, there will always be people there to support you, it’s okay to take a break, spending time with loved ones is VERY important, don’t reveal everything as a listening ear can also be a running mouth, but also don’t bottle your emotions, never settle & never regret decisions that you make because at the time you believed it was right & it leads you to where you are now. Other than my journey of self discovery, I have mostly learnt that I really do have the best job in the world, because this year it really is my clients that have opened my eyes & kept me going. Especially when I was at burn out point & struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel, not helped by a never ending editing pile & spending every free hour in front of the computer. BUT I promise I really have learnt now, not to take on too much, which is why I am shooting less weddings next year, so I can still keep the love for them alive, & so I can concentrate on expanding in other areas, like my studio, & so I don’t look like a dead pigeon for our wedding! & although the editing pile tires me, I wouldn’t change my job for the world, as when I send my clients their photos, making them happy & receiving such lovely words afterwards is such a rewarding feeling which has the power of completely outweighing the ‘burn out’ & eliminating any doubt of me ‘doing the right thing’.

My business has grown so much this year & I have also taken huge steps, such as switching to Sony from Nikon in the middle of my busiest season, shooting two destination weddings - one of which was for my mentor when I first started out in the photography world & one was in the same week as shooting another four weddings! Finally investing in my own studio which will be launching in January! I have met some truly incredible couples & families this year, that will honestly always hold a special place in my heart. I count myself very very lucky & I look forward to meeting more next year, & also in a very nearly fully booked 2020 - which will come around super fast!

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So before I leave you with some of my favourite moments / highlights of 2018, I just want to emphasise how grateful I am, firstly if you are reading this blog, if you read my other blogs, for following me on social media, for commenting & liking my posts & mostly for choosing me to be your photographer whether that was this year or any other year previous or to come! I am not a photo machine, I’m a real human being, with feelings, just like you, so trust me when I say it means EVERYTHING.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year & I look forward to 2019 & all the new things it’s going to bring me. Including becoming a wife! If you follow me on social media, you would have seen a video of me walking through a field filmed on a drone which I posted ages ago saying ‘soon to be revealed.’ Due to being incredibly busy, I haven’t been able to put my new advert together just yet, but it will be revealing that we will be able to offer drone as Rob’s best friend has got his licence! So watch this space & keep your eyes peeled! You can see the video by clicking below….

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Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com

Festive family photos, over the years.

This is by far the fastest I have ever done a shoot, edited & published it as a blog EVER, as I only had the pleasure of photographing Nancy, William & Ruby on Sunday. But I am just so excited to share because for me, this felt more like a shoot for fun, & produced images that I would love to create if I was ‘shooting for me’, rather than ‘shooting for commission’. Although this was not the first time I’ve photographed them, this was actually the fifth time since I started my business in 2014. They were one of the first families I photographed when I was just starting out & I have now had the pleasure of photographing them as they grow into beautiful, beautiful young children. I actually gasped when they opened the door on Sunday as I think the last time was two/three years ago, & as we all know, children grow up so fast!

It obviously helps that they are all beautiful & live in a beautiful home but what also helps is that I am totally trusted by their parents who just leave me to it with the children. So it was so lovely exploring the house with Nancy, William & Ruby, swapping ideas & letting them choose some elements - like standing by the Christmas soldier! They are now all at the age where they can help me close curtains & move furniture - double plus! So it really was good team work! I loved just ‘playing’ without any restrictions or pressure. I said an idea & they would always be up for it. Although I did have to do a lot of convincing for them to cuddle each other - would you believe!

I feel that this story & these images show the importance of photography & how special it is to capture your children as much as possible. I went back & reviewed some of the images from a few years ago & it made me feel quite emotional, so as a parent I can only imagine! I have attached a few of the early photos at the bottom so you can see some examples over the years. Not only did it make me feel emotional for sentimental values, but also how far I have come in my business, & how much it means to me, to be trusted to capture such precious moments.

I really hope I will get to photograph Nancy, William & Ruby for as long as possible, I want it to be a lifelong project!

For now, I will leave you with the latest…

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Over the years….

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If you are interested in me photographing you & your family or your children, I am currently holding a Christmas offer of a 40% discount, if booked before December 23rd 2018! Get in touch to find out more.

Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com

My top five wedding venue picks in the UK!

One of the many questions I get asked all the time is, “what’s your favourite venue that you have been to?” - & it’s actually quite complicated to answer because there is a big difference between, where I like working & where I would personally choose to get married myself. As we have discovered through our own wedding planning, we didn’t want it to feel like work at all, which is very hard when we are at weddings most weekends, & have photographed at numerous venues all over the UK. There were only two that could come close for us, & both of these are in this blog. We were originally booked at one of them, but I will save our whole wedding planning story until after our big day.

There’s plenty of venues where I love to work & would recommend, down to reasons such as - how good the light is, the decor, the grounds, the staff, the food; but I have put together my top five all rounders which have elements of me loving working there & where I could also get married too, which I think definitely make them my best picks! I have only included venues in the UK (as we all know Destination is my favourite & we would be here all day if I included that), & also only venues where I have worked! There’s plenty where I would love to shoot which are still on my bucket list!


Number 1: Aynhoe Park

I don’t know where to begin with talking about Aynhoe Park. Just go on their website & that says it all. Extraordinary interiors & beautiful grounds in Banbury, Oxfordshire. I love how unique this venue is & how everywhere looks good. It’s actually very difficult to take a ‘horrible’ photo. If it rains it doesn’t matter as you will 100% want most of your photos inside anyway! There’s room for everyone to stay for the whole weekend & party until the early hours. You even get your own butler! This is definitely my favourite venue to work at, as it’s just a photographers dream creatively & the service is second to none. It would also be my number one pick to get married at, but unfortunately we didn’t have the budget for here! Have a mooch on their website & see one of my weddings there by clicking here.

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Aynhoe Park

Number Two: Euridge Secret Garden Orangery

This is very bitter sweet as this is where Rob & I were booked to be married. Although we are now doing the best thing for us, this venue still has a very special place in my heart. When we first saw this venue we were both blown away & just spent most of the morning dashing about like excited headless chickens. It was like we had been transported to Italy into a secret garden which nobody knew about; whereas actually we were in Chippenham near Bath! The grounds at this venue are by far the best I have EVER SEEN. This is by far the best venue for an outdoor wedding (if it’s a nice day!). You can get married outside by the lake or in the gorgeous orangery room, both of which are totally magical. What I also love about this venue is that you can do everything yourself which means you completely make it your own, with that though, comes a lot of hard work. But it would be so so worth it as this venue is nothing short of stunning. I love it as much as Aynhoe Park, it just totally depends on the style you are after & how much planning you are willing to put in. You can see one of my weddings there which was also featured on Rock my Wedding by clicking here, & I am so excited to be back there in 2019!

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Euridge Secret Garden Orangery

Number Three: Elmore Court

Elmore Court in Gloucestershire was one of the first venues I considered for Rob & I, so I just HAD TO include it. Especially as I adored working here too! I love that it has the traditional house, but also the contemporary Gillyflower for your reception & night time party. You definitely have the best of both worlds here with lots of accommodation too. It’s beautiful & timeless with gorgeous grounds surrounding the buildings meaning the photo opportunities are endless. I also found the staff to be exceptional which I think is so important when choosing a venue. If you like to party I would highly recommend this venue as the Gillyflower has a fabulous state of the art sound system & lights! You can see one of my weddings there by clicking here, this wedding was also featured in Wedding Ideas Magazine!

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Elmore Court

Number Four: Iscoyd Park

Similar to Elmore Court, Iscoyd Park in Shropshire has the luxury of a traditional house, but also a bright white garden room for the ceremony & evening reception, & also a permanent marquee for your wedding meal! This means there’s lots of space for your guests to move around & to get a variety of photos! Another amazing feature is the grounds, as again, they are like a secret garden, with some lovely little private spots for couple photos including a piano, a swing & a lake. There’s on site accommodation too - so really what more do you need? I love working at this venue as the light in the garden room is photo perfection, as you can see in the image on the left, the colour of the walls, floor & ceiling make it perfect for bouncing light but it also gets plenty of natural light flooding in. This venue has a very elegant vibe about it but I love how you can also really make it your own. This is definitely a ‘can’t go wrong’ venue, & you can see one of my recent weddings there by clicking here. See you next year Iscoyd!

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Iscoyd Park

Number Five: The Dairy at Waddesdon Manor

My experience at this venue was one of my favourites, definitely down to Amy & Tom. But also this unique & gorgeous setting. The Dairy is part of the Waddesdon Manor estate in Buckinghamshire surrounded by a gorgeous waterside & gardens, perfect for photos & for your guests to enjoy sitting under the lakeside pavilions - where you can also get married! Again this venue is perfect for a lovely summers day but what I found to be my favourite element was the fact we could go to Waddesdon Manor once it had closed to take some couple portraits. This means you have a very relaxed wedding, but can also get some epic shots! Just beautiful. You can see more from this wedding & the venue by clicking here.

The Dairy / Waddesdon Manor

The Dairy / Waddesdon Manor

Source: http://www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com