So, I have avoided writing an ‘about me’ page on my website for about ten years, mainly because I didn’t know what to say and how to write something super positive and bubbly and excessively bright. Tonight, after a nice bottle of red and a good long chat with my long-suffering husband, we concluded that the real reason is that I am too honest! Brutally honest, in fact. To me it feels dishonest to try and portray the perfect photographer, mum, wife and all round super human here, which I always felt the ‘about me’ section is supposed to be. I have tried, but I always feel like a big fat liar. So tonight, I decided to write the real ‘about me’ and see what happens…
I grew up in a happy family in Northern England, well-educated, reasonably well-off, with lots of friends and relatively few worries. I went to university to study electronic engineering (I know, right?!). I quickly discovered this was not where my interest or talents lay. I met my awesome husband, Andrew, and realised that the course he was studying was far more interesting (and it had far fewer hours spent in lectures), so I swapped to Maths and Computer Science and it was one of my best decisions – graduating with 2-1.
My early career was as a project manager for a well-known communications company. It was not the happiest of careers – eleven years spent as a young woman working in an ‘old boys club’ environment was not the easiest of times. However, there were some amazing times too: during the last three years, I worked with an international team, jet-setting around Europe and beyond. It was fun, people respected me, and my self-confidence started to return. Shortly thereafter, I left to go on maternity leave and I never went back.
Let me start by saying that I adore our daughter and I wouldn’t change a thing, but the first three months after she was born were hell. I suffered through un-diagnosed post-natal depression and cried quite literally every day. I felt so overwhelmed, I had no idea what to do with this little bundle of crying, screaming swaddling wraps and I felt like a complete failure. This wasn’t the parenthood dream I had read about. My self-confidence disappeared and I became a shadow of my former independent, jet-setting self. Then one day, she smiled and then she laughed, uncontrollably, and it was all because I went ‘boo!’. That was the day that ‘Jackie’ returned and over the coming months, my confidence bloomed. I became the mummy I had dreamed of and my baby became the little person that I had hoped for.
With that came the fear of returning to work and missing out on these precious times. I got super lucky – my firm offered redundancy and the timing was perfect. I made the decision to take the money and set up my own photography business, allowing me to work around my daughter and hubby’s work. What a dream come true!
This is the bit where I am supposed to tell you what a wonderful mummy and wife I am, and how my life running my own business, managing relationships and our household is perfect. How I keep everything in order, maintain a healthy lifestyle and everyone is always happy. Well, this is no Mary Poppins world. I am so far from perfect, it’s ridiculous. I work hard to balance everything, but am constantly juggling far more balls than I can carry. Life is full of ups and downs, and, although copious amounts of wine and a very supportive family help, the washing basket is always over-flowing, the sink is always full of dirty dishes and believe me the kitchen bin stinks (though I have found a solution – it’s now located in the utility area aka dumping ground and that has a door that you can close!). So, no, I don’t have that dream lifestyle that you read about on blogs. Sometimes dinner is a bit of toast with cheese because there’s nothing else edible in the fridge. I am that slummy mummy, but I don’t care. I have a family that loves me and I adore, and I have the best job in the world.
Thank you to my amazing daughter who draw this portrait of me. I hate photos of myself (it's why I like to be behind the camera), but I love this image of how my not-so-little girl sees me!
So when you book me as your photographer, you know that I get it. You can turn up with a curler still in your hair and have accidentally left the house in your slippers. You can fall asleep on my sofa because you are exhausted. You can cry on my shoulder and complain about your baby from hell (I promise it will get better!) and know that I understand. I’ve been there. But what you can also count on is that I will get some beautiful photos of your baby that you will cherish forever, long after the memories of the difficult times fade, overwhelmed by happy ones.
PS: In an effort to also tell you about why I am the best newborn photographer for you:
- I am the first newborn photographer in England to achieve my qualification with the APNPI (Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International), which is a huge deal!
- I am fully trained in safety in handling newborns for photographer with the APNPI, newbornposing.com, plus I have a certificate from Mini First Aid.
- I achieved a bronze award in my first ever photography competition in 2018 – let’s see if 2019 can bring a gold!
But most important of all: I love what I do and I understand how important the images I create are – these are tomorrow’s heirlooms – so I work bloody hard to make sure I do the best job I can possibly do for all of my clients.