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  • Fiona Bielby (Anoif Photography)

Living the Dream...

Dreaming the dream, I have found, is very different to living the dream! 2019 was a funny year, not what I expected: there were highs and there were unexpected lows. Although there was the initial excitement, there was definitely an inward anxiety of real worry.

After spending four years building my business up to a place where I felt confident enough in myself to just go out there and be a full-time family/wedding photographer, I finally handed in my notice at the day job to leave at Christmas 2018. So from January last year, I was a photographer, no more hiding behind the day job: when people asked what I did, I had to say a photographer, which in itself felt really weird. I’m really not sure why. I'm pleased to say now it feels really normal; but losing a regular wage puts pressure on you. How many jobs I had booked in the diary never used to be an issue but it soon became my obsession.

During January, February, March and April I spent my time delving in to my website, revamping it by pulling it to pieces and totally restructuring it. I learnt so, so much about headings, titles and SEO. I gave it the ultimate makeover and I was super proud, I loved the way it worked and how it looked-I still do by all accounts. When all was done I launched it. I waited and waited; I stressed and stressed. Why weren’t the bookings coming flooding in like I’d expected them to? Self doubt - it’s the worst! Looking back now I realise things take time and finally, when wedding season began and my work was all over social media again, the bookings began to come in. Thank goodness! This is the power of sharing work in different places, it’s incredible. So thanks to you lovely couples and families for agreeing for me to do just that, you’re empowering a local girl’s business. You’re all amazing.

From January to December last year, I was lucky enough to have met and captured 18 couples’ love stories, each one of them moving, beautiful and perfect in their own way. I love people; they’re rather fascinating, so getting to do this as my full-time job has been extremely precious. Along with the weddings, I’ve been part of documenting families at each and every stage. From birth, all the way through childhood to the teen years and beyond - to being happily married for 50 years and more, with several generations alongside them. That’s special isn’t it! I’ve honestly loved every minute I spent with you all. I’m not sure how many photos I’ve taken altogether but I’ve know I’ve edited and presented around 20,000 images to couples, families and local businesses. I’ve also travelled too: from literally my doorstep (there’s so many beautiful places to capture people in my village) to the rolling, sun-dappled Tuscan hills, in Italy. It’s been quite a year.

Family portrait taken in Amotherby
Amotherby photo session
A walk through my village, Amotherby
This family were brought up in the village where I live, (Amotherby) so it made perfect sense to stay local to do their photos. We went back and explore childhood haunts, Caroline and Louise shared stories with their children as we wandered through the church yard, to visit their father's grave and then to see their old dens!

The day before the wedding, a trail run with the horses innTuscany.
The building in the background is the castle that Natalie and Nick tied-the-knot the following day. Castello di Montalto, Tuscany, Italy.

A wet wedding in Italy of all the places!
Enjoying a canter across the Tuscan stubble in Italy.
What a place! I'd never been to Tuscany before, it was a dream, see some more images below of Natalie and Nick's day.

I’d have to say my highlights of the year have definitely been watching two close friends become one with their partners. Along with a childhood friend too, I grew up with Richard, so when he and Katie asked me to capture their day I was so chuffed! I always say my favourite part of capturing any wedding is the part when the Bride walks down the aisle, linked by the arm, to the person they’ve chosen to give them away. It doesn’t matter how close you are to that Bride she always looks at you from that brief moment in time, with a nervous smile. Ah, I love that moment and it never tires!

Here’s some of those moments from their weddings. I know, I got a little carried away!

Katie getting ready to meet Richard in Allerthorpe Church.
Walking to church In Allerthorpe.
Here's Richard (2nd from the left) and his groomsmen walking to church, NERVES!!

First look at the alter, Allerthorpe Church
The moment they set eyes on each other, you can't beat it!

The Bridal party, Allerthorpe

Speech nerves!
The moment before the Best-men did their speech, I'm not sure what Richard was expecting...

Katie and Richard wandering through pine trees in Allerthorpe


The Brides, Bridesmaids and Flower girl all ready to go, in Tuscany.

The bride all ready, in Tuscany
The breeze captured Natalie's veil perfectly, it framed her beautiful smile.

Dad walking Natalie down the aisle of Olive trees, in Italy
Nick's first view of his wife to be, in Tuscany.
Natalie riding a beautiful black horse, in her wedding dress.
Riding through the olive groves as Mr and Mrs
Helping build the wedding cake!
The Greek/Italian conga...
It was raining and dark (but warm) yet Natalie (mainly) and Nick (a bit) still insisted on doing the conga around the fairy-lit tree; I'm so pleased they did!


Lydia, is sensible she chose flats and they were so cute!

Liam and his groomsmen having a whiskey before the ceremony. In Grassington

A cigar too, in Grassington
That first look! Grassington
This is the moment I'm talking about, a proud Dad, a Bride with a smile so pronounced and beautiful and the Groom, his reaction! Love, love, love!!

The helper, coming to help us with the couple shots! Grassingotn
Oh, my, days! This shot says it all, the Bridesmaids, supposedly coming to help...hmmm. This makes me chuckle.

Bride and Groom Grassingotn

Bride and Groom walking, Grassington

The bride with her friends, Grassington

The first dance, Grassington.

Groom being thrown in the air, Grassington
The moment the Groom's friends decide to just throw him in the air!!

Experimenting with flash and lights.
Crazy guests on the dance floor, a time to be creative and experiment with the flash and longer exposures, I love the girl in the background, she looks like she's casting a spell on someone!

Other key points of this year have been attending SNAP Photo Fest. This was incredible: a whole week of photography workshops and sharing ideas. I got to meet some incredible photographers; people who, when I look at their work, I think WOW! And here’s the thing, they’re just normal people, like you or I. They’re looking to up skill and be inspired all the time too, just like myself. I also completed my farming project which I’m super proud of. Following the tips of a fellow photographer from SNAP, I contacted a local newspaper to see if they’d be interested in featuring it in there: they were and they did! I couldn’t believe it got a mention on the front page and had a double page spread inside.

Dan O'day talking at SNAP FEST
Dan O'Day was an entertaining and inspiring speaker, probably one of my favourite lectures.

Polaroid art.
Time to be creative and have a go with a good old fashioned Polaroid camera!

The pool party at SNAP

An artsy shot...
We had chance to photograph real couples after watching the photographer who was speaking do their demo.

It wasn't all just photographing, there was time for playing music too!

Couple workshop.
Our accommodation...
It was like being a teenager again or a school residential, but the food was much better!

More creativity...
I photographed 3 real dresses outside this year, after being inspire at SNAP! I had brave Brides and helpful Bridesmaids.

Workshop practice.


Here's some from my Farm Project I mentioned...

Unfortunately, 2019 marked the end of a chapter for my family. We lost my Nanna just 2 months after her 90thbirthday. She’d been very poorly for the last 8 years after an accident; nevertheless, it was an extremely emotional time - we were very close when she was well. She was a passionate Christian lady, she’d preach at her local church, to her friends and to her family. Her heart was good- full of love and pride and I can truly say, she’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve met to date. She was such a character too and although I have always visited her regularly during her last 8 years of her ill health, sometimes I’m not sure she really knew who I was and in the last 3 years she was unable to communicate or feed herself. We all know she’s at peace now, but it was a tricky end to the year.

In spite of that though, I want to honour her memory, so I have a little project in mind to do so. Over the next few weeks, I’m hoping to pull some material together to kick it off. I love a personal project- it’s a license to do whatever the heck I like with my photography. After working in a school for 9 years, I’m a firm believer in freedom and time for experimentation and learning. If you follow me on social media, hopefully you’ll see some content soon.

Here's Nanna on her 80th Birthday, the one in the middle. She was so happy to be with both of her sisters at once.

What else is happening in 2020 then? Well, I already have 18 weddings booked in for this year; which leaves room for only a few more. I’m really looking forward to capturing these couple’s days for them, meeting their friends and family and also hearing about, then seeing their ideas come to life. I’ve also been given the heads up by 4 past clients, that they’ll be needing a newborn session at some point in the near future, which is super exciting!

One aspiration for this year is to document a few more local business’ and meet other local ‘creatives’. I’m looking forward to attending a Chris Chambers Workshop at Allerton Castle to learn some new skills with flash (usually I shy away from flash). I’m also capturing one of Mum’s oldest friend’s weddings and one of my college friends too. I’m noticing a lot of my weddings this year are local to me which means I won’t be spending as much time on the road, so fingers crossed I’ll see a bit more of my friends and family.

Here's a few local business' I captured this year...

It’s been hard to choose just a few but here are some of my highlights from 2019.

Pre-shoot at Dalby Forest, sunrise.

Three brother welcome their little sister to the family, Malton

Newborn session in Norton, Malton

Groom in good spirits
The moment you realise you've married your soul mate!!
My daughter Natalie, a photo for her modelling portfolio... Dalby Forest
Bride and Groom hand in hand, York

He makes her laugh, Salton, Malton
Family session at Appleton-le-street, Malton

Family session in Kirkham, near York

Dane's Dyke North Yorkshire Coast

A newborn session, Rillington, Malton

Salton, Malton a family shoot.
My niece and nephew.

Fun with a family at Bruton Agnes Hall
Fun with a family at Bruton Agnes Hall
Couple at their wedding, Aldwark Manor
Christening at Stonegrave Minster, Malton
Couple at Aldwark Manor, York
When you just want to run away together, Aldwark Manor, York

Button holes @ Easingwold
The button holes

Fun family session at Setterington
Christening family shot, Dalby Forest.

Granny's 80th! Pickering
Granny's 80th and the whole family came from all over the globe.
Engagement session in Scaraborough,
They chose the arcades for their pre-shoot because this is something they used to enjoy doing when they first met.
Brides embracing Yorkshire.
These two travelled from Australia to wed in front of loved ones, Hayley was desperate to try and show Yorkshire in their photos, so we headed to the barley field near their venue.
A family with their German Pointer

The rings, Malton

The couple enjoying a moments peace. York

Newborn session, Harrogate
Proud Grandparents with their Granddaughter Connie.

Bride and Groom exiting the church, Salton, Malton
Not what any of us were expecting...

Couple together, Duncombe Park

A Christening at Wilton, Pickering

Birdsall House, the top table during the speeches,
Newborn session, Harrogate
Proud parents, Lianne (my cousin) and Paul, with baby Connie.

Birdsall House, the bridal party, Malton
The groomsmen, military style...
The couple at sunset, Deepdale Farm, near Kirbmoorside

Now Mr & Mrs! The Star Inn HArome

Confetti throwing! Harrogate

Couple, little things, York

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