• Fiona Bielby

Well that was one to remember...CHEERS!

Where do I start? I’ve been thinking about what I might write for my end of year, annual blog for a while now. Usually, I celebrate all of the wonderful weddings and family shoots I’ve completed over the year and it’s all rosey and lovely, don’t get me wrong there’s been plenty of moments like that in 2020, it just didn’t pan out how I’d/we’d expected…

2020 was the year I’d been waiting for, with over 20 weddings on my calendar and bookings still coming through, the year was looking exciting and full of prospect: I was looking forward to meeting all of my couples and hearing about what plans they had made so far; I’d booked and carried out some photography training during February and was looking forward to putting my new skills in to action. Who could have second guessed what was around the corner, not less than a month away.

The news was brimming with stories of this new virus; alas, it was over seas and naively, I’d put it at the back of my mind. In the middle of March I captured my first wedding of the season, little did I know this would be my first and last of what we called normal weddings for the rest of the year.

These two, got in touch in January to book their March wedding.

Guests clustered together and grabbed every photo opportunity possible.
Not a mask in sight, ironically this now looks strange!
Group photos, they didn't take quite so much thinking about! "Everyone just pile in as close as possible!" This was one of my favourite instructions, maybe I won't use this one for while...
Ah, the traditional line up, to greet everyone, you wouldn't dare now would you! A sad truth.

The news broke that following Friday, weddings would be halted, pubs would be shut, school closures were imminent and we were warned NOT to go and visit our mothers at the weekend for what would be Mothering Sunday. New phrases like social distancing and isolating were being more frequently used and I received a heartbreaking phone call from my weekend’s bride to be, who was due to be wed the following day. It all seemed somewhat surreal, how could you be planning your wedding for the next day and then at 5pm be told you couldn’t go trough with it with less than 24 hours to go. Honestly, the scenario is and was unimaginable.

This is the couple who had to postpone their wedding with just hours to go. They tried again to have a 2020 wedding, now they're aiming for a 2022 one instead and I don't blame them!

The kids went off to school the following Monday to then be told one would be closing on the Wednesday and the other on Friday, a few weeks were mentioned to begin with and the weeks turned into months. The postponements came in waves, firstly, the spring/summer weddings, then the autumn ones, followed then by the spring weddings of 2021. At first, as an industry we thought we might receive help, maybe the wedding insurance would pay out or the government would pass us a grant; nevertheless, in my case and in many others’ this help never arrived. Our contracts were ripped to shreds and we were told our time was unaccountable, it didn’t matter. It was infuriating and at times made you feel a little worthless, like your efforts didn’t count. Then from nowhere you’d get a lovely email, from a couple or a client being grateful for your time and understanding, for as they put it “bending over backwards” to help them and it all seemed worth it, what else were we to do other than help, after all in my mind the couples had suffered enough, it wasn't their fault. I had past clients and new ones wanting to support my business, by buying gift vouchers for birthdays or booking one of my doorstep/mini sessions. This was what lifted my spirits in what sometimes felt like a dark hole with no light, so thank you for everyone on of you would took the time to do one of those things.

I loved doing the doorstep sessions over summer.
There were so many babies born over lockdown and Mums and Dad worrying about capturing their arrival.
This is what this family had been doing over lockdown...
I loved getting my friends involved too!
This family were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new baby.
My gorgeous friend broke her hip during lockdown, just to keep things interesting!
Another awesome doorstep session, who later planned their wedding in a few weeks and became Mr and Mrs in December 2020. I got to capture it too!
Welcome to the world Angelica, not quite the world Mum and Dad had planned...
Capturing the essence of lockdown, families became closer than ever.
Thanks for supporting my business yet again, Becky and Andy! I loved meeting Everly.
Outdoor adventures are my favourite thing anyway, so this just got better, I took this family back to where I grew up!
Getting dogs involved, is a must!
This was one of the hottest photoshoots I did in 2020 it was near 30 degrees by the time we finished.
This is the windiest!
My bestie acted as a model with her family, so I could get some new material, this was my first trip out after lockdown and advertising for my doorstep sessions..
Sometimes I get to capture families on a regular basis, this is the third time I've captured Kimberley and Kieran with Lorelei , now they have Connal.
Someone bought these three a voucher during the first lockdown, I shot their family during October in the autumn sun.
My friend bought her brother a voucher to celebrate his engagement, thanks Aimee!
Another awesome shot from my Crambe session, I used to love riding through these woods as a child.
One from my winter mini sessions, I was super busy!
Loads of people opted for family photos for Christmas presents in 2020.
A winter, mini session with yet another dog! So much fun.
My friend Heidi supported my business by doing photos for family presents too, thanks so much!
Lizzie bought her parents a voucher for Mothers Day, as they were bubbling, we were able to get some fun shots in October.
I'm looking forward to capturing their baby this year!
Heidi, my friend, and her daughter..
Leafy fun!

As the restrictions lifted, a new era dawned: optimistic couples crept out of the cracks wanting to make the most of what they could still do; some of them just wanted to be married and decided they could party afterwards, at a later date; some of them only wanted a small gathering anyway; others decided they could really treat their nearest and dearest with luxury meals and drinks because there were fewer mouths to feed. Not only did I keep bookings that had been made, but I got new bookings too from brides and grooms who could afford to do something more glam due to not having to cater for as many. My first post-covid wedding took place between Tina and Clairewyn at The Star Inn where they turned everything on it’s head just to represent the times they were tying-the-not in and had canapés and champagne before their ceremony, it was a wonderful day, getting to see people enjoying one another company once more, be it from afar, it was just like the start of a new chapter- happiness again.

The Star Inn at Harome, I love this spot, the staff are great as is the food.
They got ready together, I love this shot of Clairwynn getting Tina in her dress.
The guests mingling from a distance, all before the ceremony.
The Star have just added this new extension on in their gardens, the bedrooms are amazing and it's all so fresh.
It looks a little different, but still, it's a lovely setup.
The new 'norm' guests in masks.
Happy smiling couples are just the best bit of my job.
My portraits are very relaxed, little posing goes on.
This is as posed as I get!
Clairwynn's pride and joy. (That's the camper van!)
Tina's Dad surprised her with a speech.
Well, how could we not!! I had to get them in masks!

I got to see couples reinventing their day after that!

Rebecca and Iain enjoyed afternoon tea in the grounds of the Church...

Rebecca got ready at her friends.
Obviously, everyone was masked up!
St Lawrence's Church in York. Ironically, the place where my last 'normal' wedding took place!
Last time the guests wore no masks, this time, everyone wore them.
The speeches took place in the Church Hall, it's very clear to see who came with who here.
The afternoon tea took place in the church grounds, this was the last weekend of being able to have 30 guests-little did they know.
The afternoon tea hampers were super, one for each person.
We went to Monk Bar for photos and created our own sign language so we could communicate for what they would do in each shot. Very funny! So many peeping horns.

Rachel and Karl planned their wedding in weeks and enjoyed a meal with their family around what looked like a medieval banquet table.

Rachel's emotions caught her off guard as she was delivered to Karl, her husband to be, by her Dad.
Malton Registry Office
So happy to be Mr and Mrs!
They had their reception at The Talbot in Malton
Rain didn't stop these two; it's not surprising as they'd overcome covid!
A relaxed walk back to the Hotel.
Flowers by Gemma at The Topiary Tree Florist
What a place for a banquet.
Everyone was socially distanced but still connected.
Cheer to you both!

Sandy and Graham had a beautiful church service, they listened to hymns instead of singing them and then got caterers to deliver a meal for their immediate family, I couldn’t photograph this as it was in their home.

This is one of my Mum's dearest friends and a special lady from my childhood, I was honoured to capture their day and get the best seat in the Church.

Sophie and Morgan, shaved their 40 guests down to 15 and enjoyed time with them at their venue, they did quizzes and designed linen square so they can make it in to a patchwork quilt.

Morgan was nervous, but excited on the morning of their wedding!
As always, the men needed a hand with their button hole flowers!
All while Sophie was enjoying being pampered in the beauty room at Burythorpe House.
A personal touch, as Morgan's best man delivered her a card from her husband to be.
This shot! A sign of the times, a one for history, Dad doing her veil.
Someone was happy to be Mrs Davies!
This was the first weekend of 15 guests, it doesn't look t9o bad does it.
A socially, distanced parents group photo...
I love this shot, it's the full wedding party!
These are the patchwork squares I was telling you about!
Sophie's sister was so pleased with hers!
The best man treated everyone with a slide show of messages from all of their guests that should have been there.
And the sun set was amazing!

Hannah and George moved their wedding forwards fro the end of November to the day before Lockdown 2, they enjoyed games and live music as they are all very gifted and took in in turns to play the piano. They live-streamed their wedding service and video-called guests who were unable to attend.

These were their original invites, they moved the wedding to the 4th November, just so they could guarantee getting married.
The wedding was at St Peter's Church in Norton
George waiting for Hannah
Howard did a great job of getting her there on time.
And so did her Dad
All sealed with a kiss.
Again the entire wedding party, everyone facing forwards, everyone with their partners.
Birdsall House, near Malton is another great venue, Cara and her team are so friendly!
The House has It's own ruins too.
Oh yeah, and a folly!
They all sat around another great table, to chat, play games and laugh.
What a place!
We didn't get a sunset, but we still got this!
Hannah's brother is so talented, he played the piano live for the guests.
A little sing, song
The first dance.

Kelly and Steven enjoyed getting married in there dream venue with delicious food and drink after planning their day in just weeks.

Kelly and Steven loved Burythorpe House and they were lucky enough to be able to get a great deal due to covid.

Hannah and Tony planned their wedding in days after being given a wildcard date off the registry office, they said their I dos and then went for a meal with their witnesses afterwards.

Tony nearly spotted Hannah before he was meant too!
Waiting patiently for his daughter, to open up York House in Malton for photos
Off they go!
Now to see his wife to be.
As it was raining we took refuge in this beautiful building thanks to The Fitzwilliam Estate

My point is, it may not have been what they’d planned, but they achieve their ultimate goal, to be man and wife or wife and wife. They enjoyed every minute, had time to chat and laugh with their guests and none of them felt their day had been impacted for the worse. There were no rules or expectations just people, happy to be in each others company. The venues dealt with the scenario perfectly too, ok, they looked different, but not for the worse, 2020 will be a year that goes down in history, these weddings will be talked about in the future they’ll be used as examples of what we had to do to get by and protect the ones we love. The sacrifices we made to save others. My business my have been effected by the covid ways, but the time made way for me to spread my wings in other areas of photography, that have interested me in a longtime too. I launched an equine side to my business and bought my own equine friend too!! This has all been very exciting.

This is where it all began, Natalie my daughter, dressed up in her bridesmaid dress and rode our Harley bareback across this long-grass field.
I put out a message for free sessions to build my portfolio, then I met these cool gals!
I'm a sucker for details, I so love this!
The morning sun fell over Rocky's bridle and it caught my eye.
Out of the shadows, shadows and bright light, the way they fall across the subject, it adds atmosphere.
Here's the horse behind that bridle I showed you.
This girl, she's a little stunner.
Bailey and his owner have been friends for years, since she was a teenager.
The neckline, a powerful animal.
Champ and his owner, just a few days before baby Matilda came along. I love how he's sniffing the bump.
The interactions between a horse and their owner have become a real joy to watch and capture.
When I set out on creating this side of my business, this wasn't what I'd initially planned to capture, but sometimes our paths lead us to other places.
A place where the relationship between human and horse is in plain sight, but not always recognised.
We know we love our animals, but sometimes we don't see how they react to us.
This is why freezing a moment in time is sometimes breathtaking.
It's not about getting them to stand like a magazine cutting,
or behaving perfectly,
it's about seeing you together,
when two become one
and the bond is unbreakable.

For those of you who haven’t met April, here she is, she’s 2 years and 8 months now, she’s a Welsh Sectioned D and was wild living on the Welsh mountains, until June last year. We’ve met some challenges over the last few months with her; however, at the moment we’re making steady progress, she’s stopped launching herself at me and trying to kick and bite, as I walk her in and out of the field. Haha 😂

We can now pick all her feet up properly, saddle and bridle her; plus, this week it would seem I've managed to crack lunging and last Saturday Natalie sat on her back for the first time. We are looking forward to backing her properly this Easter. I’m enjoying learning as we go and watching tutorials in natural horsemanship ways. I will keep you updated on My April and her progress.

Just enjoying the grass, here she is in September.
We fell in love with her face and her beautiful eyes.

I also worked LOTS in my local community, making some awesome connections with other small, local businesses during my advent calendar project and Malton blog that I started before lockdown 1, because of which I now have some very exciting projects to look forwards too this year. It’s going to be great to feel part of a team again, whilst working with them.

I got help from florists in Malton, they made me loads of wreaths and I photographed them on different doors, to form my virtual, advent calendar doors.
I showcased a business a day and showed my followers what Malton had to offer for the 2020 Christmas.
McMillan's have the best Whisky!
Andrew at The Patisserie offers amazing breakfast boxes, afternoon tea packages and now a picnic box, plus his coffee is pretty good!
Gemma is amazing at what she does and has so many lovely plants in store now, she's also offer home delivery during this lockdown.
Liz at Kemps, has many treasure under her roof, I'm looking forward to working with her on her social media material.
I've already been back to Nine to Eleven to photograph some of their products, their candles, diffusers and incense sticks smell incredible!
Rachel has an awesome, new, animal artist showcasing their work in her gallery at the moment, I believe you can see this online too.
Clara and her team are offering free delivery all of January.
Florian's creations are perfect for a Lockdown treat, even in January.
Liz is still rescuing kittens and cats even during lockdown they need her help.
Christine at The Gallery is working on Fabric painting, her work is amazing!
Leoni, at All in Bloom Floristry is entering her second year of trading.

So all in all, 2020 wasn’t a total waste of time, I met some amazing people, made great connections, expended my businesses horizons and I gained two work mates too. Lewis and Natalie have been working from home, they have been fantastic working super hard as have their teachers! I hope 2021 is a little smoother ride nevertheless. Check out my packages for family photo sessions, weddings, equine shoots and commercial photography, if you're a local business who would like me to work with you on a more regular basis, I offer a reduced rate too, so get in touch.