If I’ve learnt one single thing this year, it’s that I thrive from routine.

Actually, I wrote something else to complete that sentence initially which has reminded me 2018 has been my greatest year of learning in a long time, at both ends of the spectrum, from so many positive and negative extremes.

Given that I began this year crying into a pillow I’m most definitely in a better place as 2019 comes towards me like a fucking steam train. Only this time, I’m on top of that steam train letting off fireworks dressed like Sandy when she comes back to get her man at the end of Grease…

I’ve spent years reading biographies and novels relating to how exercise can change your life. I’ve spent years holding those humans in great esteem. I’ve spent years not fully committing, maybe even believing, that I could be one of them.

Fuck. That.

Hey, reader, guess what, exercise can change your life!! Even just chemically in your brain, you know. Mentally and physically there is not one single other thing that has shaped my character or determination. And I haven’t obsessed over it. I haven’t spent 12 months tracking calories. I haven’t spent every waking minute at the gym (although they do know what coffee I drink and how I like my eggs cooked…) and I’ve drank all of the red wine and eaten all of the food going.

And the journey doesn’t have to be born out of positivity, mine certainly wasn’t. It was an escape. A need to be able to track something with numbers as so much of what I do is subjective. And actually at base level – a need to connect.

Tick. Box. It’ll continue into 2019 as well, with the launch of a new class at my gym run in part by my boy Aaron, I will continue to train as and when with my girl Meg (whatta fucking babe), I will continue to lift and run and step and push and pull and everything in between several times a week and at the back end of next year I’m going to get an IronMan coach and begin a training programme for 2020 or 2021.

I’m so excited.

I wanted to break this 2018 ‘ruminations’ post up into my inner-mind-workings, and then a round up of my favourite images from this year. I’ve always done them as one single post before and I think it’s to the detriment of both reflections. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that I want my work to speak for itself; that I want to create images that trigger some thought process in the viewer rather than my needing to define it in some way.

January began with bump shoots on the Kent coastline with the beautiful Abi and her literal magician of a man, Rob. In the middle was having flu in the sticky heat of Thailand, incredible French cuisine in a hidden away ex-pat restaurant in Maenam, falling in love with Amy Dresner via the Rich Roll podcast, trying to avoid eating rice every day and ending with arguments that can never be resolved and trying to organise my life in Singapore airport due to a premature return to the UK.

That last bit was the beginning of February in the factual timeline, but hey ho. Arguments were temporarily resolved going to watch Bowling For Soup in B’ham backstage drinking at the bar others had paid serious dough to be able to experience whilst we just have good friends. I continued to follow in the NYE exercise spirit so the gym and Megan were used and abused, and Feb finished up with the beautiful wintery wedding of L&J.

The first weekend of March I battled the horrendous snow drifts for G&G’s celebrations and had the pleasure of taking a photograph of a beautiful girl in a gold sequin jacket by a tree of fairy lights. British weather, you aren’t ruining this one. In the middle I jumped on a train to London to take my papa out for his birthday meal and the week after caught up with one of my favourite photographers (and humans) at a pub by the canal near MK. Trained with Meg once a week. Finished the month with K&H’s pre wedding shoot in London where the weather definitely did ruin it and we ended up ditching the idea and going to the pub instead… my kind of couple.

April the 8th, 2018. One of the greatest nights of my life. Macklemore, with one half of my Wolfpack. Feel that bass going right through you. Give me those vibrations for life. Couple other pre wedding shoots. A wedding to remember with S&S (we have matching Nick Cave tattoos don’t you know), being able to give that Dexter a huge hug, then jumping on a plane to feel utterly at home lost in a VW Caddy Camper in the wilds of Iceland. Eating lunch in a greenhouse that serve a very basic menu created around tomatoes; which they also grow with no pollutants and refuse to export from the island. Waking up and opening a door to just feel cool air hit your face while the rest of your body stays cosy inside a sleeping bag. Flying home early again (there’s a pattern here…) to get my boy from a childcare emergency.

May. Weddings in bowling alleys, huge industrial warehouses, converted barns overlooking a coastal pathway to the Irish sea and finally, wonderfully, romantically, just the 7 of us plus Reggie the collie, a celebrant and his dog on a beach on the Isle of Harris where yet again I was reminded that home is in the pure wilderness of nature. I could listen to those waves crashing in forever.

Five full day weddings in the first three weekends in June, from London to Shropshire to the Scottish borders to Bath to London again. Rocky life makes for drinking excessively. The latter London wedding introduced me to some boys in a band that made me miss Edinburgh and my 15 year old self terribly. Jump on a plane to Portugal. Definitely don’t party until 3am with my old PT and his beautiful new wife. Definitely don’t lose shoes and get an Uber from the middle of nowhere Portuguese countryside back to my car. Definitely finish the month with a wedding in an actual cow shed closer to home and oh my days that sunset…

Full blown unravelling in July. 3am finishers in Cornwall hotels whilst drinking with the owner who tells us to ‘help ourselves’ once he went to bed. Meeting one of those humans that agrees with me that exercise can change your life, she goes on to run through Namibia and Panama just last month and I adore her. H&D’s wedding at Pinewood Studios before arguments began to surface yet again. Driving to Cambridge in the worst of moods and ending up drinking most of the bar and learning how to squat whilst rudeboi dancing to Sean Paul with a Maori warrior and an equally fine English counterpart. Cheers L&L…. Maybe I shouldn’t get in my car after minimal sleep and drive home again next time eh. Let’s definitely have a next time though… J&D’s love celebrated in the Malvern countryside to compliments of my blasting Hayley Williams’ voice as we drove through the hills. Finishing up this month with a full day of drinking double vodka & soda with my boy Marc and very little food.

August. Rocking up in Copenhagen with absolutely no clue whether I’d gotten on the right train to the city centre, no clue as to what money I had in my account and no clue as to where life was heading but still so utterly in love with the light on the train station platform. Drinking coffee in the blazing sunshine on my AirBnB balcony, being welcomed by the most intriguing and wise host Adele. Trying to persuade the chef’s from the wedding of A&P in our private rooftop greenhouse to come out and play after the job was done (to no avail, I may add) and being able to spend two hours wandering round the art museum they held their afternoon reception in. Love, art, history, culture. Give it all to me forever, please. My little crusader Fiesta breaking the next weekend on the drive to Glasgow and having to spend money I would rather not on being towed and hire cars that allowed me to listen to the sultry and sexy tones of Corinne and Kristina from the podcast Guys We F**ked for hours on end. There is always a positive in every single negative. Moved house, finally free of arguments. Finally felt independent in my own space which is so utterly required. More airports, more planes to the dry and dusty hills of Spain for stories of love that simply makes sense where a Spanish Police Chief wed his NZ beauty. And then, as a finisher, another plane to Paris to spend time with my tattooed pirate god of a friend, Alex, where we drank red wine and walked miles upon miles and my excitement for travelling to NZ in 2019 grew and grew.

Autumn is my favourite season, so despite the heat we still retained as the British summer time continued, I could see the leaves beginning slowly to change in September. I took my girl (and tattoo extraordinaire) Amy to Brighton for a three day girl’s weekend where we led the procession of a stag do (friends, I may add), to a strip club and proceeded to talk to the girls about their tattoos rather than actually passing money for dances. Life begins to calm after I realise my liver may not actually be able to keep up with my level of lust for amusement. Three very beautiful English countryside weddings. One very beautiful Scottish countryside wedding. One very beautiful London city wedding including a drinks reception on a boat. Ever grateful, ever appreciative. Visiting my incredibly brave, inspiring, thoughtful, and fucking hilarious best mate on ward as she celebrates her birthday in hospital. Watching my son settle in to friend groups in his new school; learning names and routines and homework and which uniform does he need today!? 

October takes me back to my soul wedding home, Fforest in Wales. I give Bron the biggest hug ever. Remember how fit Jackson is. Drink rum with J&R and appreciate how utterly stunning the renovation of the Farmhouse is. Decide, yet again, that I want a farmhouse and a huge oak tree. Dance the fucking night away and drink wine from a bridesmaids cleavage and wake up definitely sure that my body can’t keep up. Drive to Edinburgh, eat coq au vin for room service, get up at 7am and go to the gym before I work and walk back to my hotel in the rain feeling every raindrop hit my skin. Photograph the wedding of two very close friends. Be so grateful that I’ve known these humans for over half of my life. Wake up, photograph the wedding of a very close friend of my very close friend and be grateful that I’ve known these humans for over half of my life. Be grateful for the Edinburgh music scene. Laugh and smile and laugh again at Ross Noble at Warwick Arts Centre; it’s been over 8 years since I last saw him. 

‘Get some photographs taken of my boy and I’… was a thought I had last year when I first booked James Melia to do just that…. in November this year I finally got round to organising it. School birthday party invites start flooding in and I spend a few weekends singing Happy Birthday to wide eyed 5 year olds. One of those weekends not spent doing that I was otherwise entertained drinking prosecco in a house in Scotland with a large handful of other girls for Steph’s hen do. Gym, massages, jacuzzi, lunch and 2am push ups half dressed in a furry onesie with the aunts. Driving back to Edinburgh and feeling at home with Hokusai, very sweet sherry and one of the best humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Grateful for friendship despite pain. Grateful for a shared search for peace. 

December 1st 2018. In my calendar it reads ‘Steph gets FUCKING MARRIED’ and that she fucking did. Christy did too, but that is by-and-by. I jest. They are incredible and they met through an algorithm and I thought maybe that would be something I could stomach if it ends in this love. Busiest month yet in terms of number of weddings and it challenges me and excites me because I think of all the ways to use Christmas Tree fairy lights in creating photographs my couples can treasure for lifetimes. Spend my 28th birthday with my Wolfpack eating Gregg’s sausage rolls (cheap date, don’t ya know) and reflecting on the year. Trust in algorithms. Spend two hours over two consecutive days watching my very brave small human shout ‘OH MY ACHING SAT NAV’ at a room full of parents for his first Nativity play. After 7 days of sitting on my kitchen countertop being asked questions at an invigorating and fascinating pace with blue ticks fast coming and going I decide to melt into the floor before watching Crimes of Grindelwald with this boy I just feel at home with. It’s now the 30th of December and I’ve spent 4 and a bit days out of 10 with this boy I couldn’t be prouder of. My life is grounded in a way I’ve never had before and whenever the glass is empty, gin seems to reappear in it so that’s a bonus too… The glass is most definitely absolutely full.

I’m so fucking intrigued by 2019. If there is one thing I do want to change, it’s creating and sharing more work from that year for Instagram to create a ‘best nine’ from as only 4 of my 9 are actually from 2018….