DocDay // Mini Blog


Hmm I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about anything but weddings!  My wedding year starts up again on Saturday so I’m already brimming with that nervous excitement I always get.  I’m waiting for amazon to deliver a new case for my flash equipment, I’m going to custom fit it with foam inserts. I have it planned in my head and it’s slick and cool, let’s hope it doesn’t look Blue Peter arts and crafts.

So I have a window, instead of staring out of it waiting for the white van I decided to blog my thoughts on something I did last month.  I don’t know if I will ever do it again and it was a huge experience for me for a few reasons, but I want to remember that personal achievement and the process around it.  It’s more of a whimsical self-indulgent blog, feel free to go back to your lives ha-ha, because I’m not sure it serves anyone but me.

I do

DOCDAY is a wedding photography conference in Ireland exclusively based on the art of documentary photography.  I was one of the 2024 speakers at the conference.   When the founders, Kevin and Annie Kheffache ask me to speak I said yes quite quickly. I’d said no a lot to various things in recent years because I don’t like adding to the noise, I have no desire to speak for the sake of speaking. I love what I do, I didn’t feel like I needed a platform to tell other people about it.  But maybe I felt that I would be letting myself down a bit if I didn’t have a go and I love DocDay, it’s a yearly pilgrimage I enjoy.  I know lots of other photographers in this industry and it’s a post season tonic just to go and chat about what we love, what we struggle with, how the previous year has been. Catch up with different people at different times in the lovely city of Dublin. Then we settle in for a day of creativity and learning.

For better or worse

The whole experience was quite a big deal for me. It gave me a goal and a focus outside of just having to do ‘a talk’. I first wanted to understand why I had been asked to talk and I didn’t really get that understanding until after I had done it, strangely.   So from December 2022 to February 2024, I was just generally a bit perplexed about the whole thing.  I was announced as a speaker at the 2023 conference, that’s the moment you find out who else is in the line-up.  All experienced educators, and of course amazing photographers. Damn I was in trouble!  What could I possibly have to say that would be of interest to the 200, yes 200! seasoned wedding photographers who were going to attend?  Photography for me is a very natural thing, how I work, and how I approach weddings comes from years of experience and some strong personal views, but mainly just being who I am.

I pulled all my archived work up. Studied it from the first to the last wedding.  I was pleased to see nothing much has changed, and although I already knew how and why I make what I make, I had to learn how to communicate this, along with my reasonings, over to other people.

So, I found myself a subject and worked on making it interesting and engaging as far as I could.  The next issue was the delivery… oh man how do you know if you can do it until you try and what a place to find out that you can’t, in front of so many people!!  I practiced in the living room, linking the laptop to the TV, another achievement in the bag!  At times I forgot to breath and wouldn’t realise until my head was swimming, or I’d talk like a robot, or my mind would just go blank.

Speak now or forever hold your peace

My daughter said, “its not as dull as I’d thought it would be!”  Feedback from a 20-year-old medical student. I’ll take that.

The cat was transfixed on the TV, turns out there was a small fly buzzing around the screen.

The boys aged 11 and 15 were bored but one laughed twice, another small win.

My eldest daughter had been a saviour and beat matched the music to the images in the videos. I forgot to sing her praises, so I’ll do it here.  She was a legend.

My husbands a wizard at public speaking, he coached me well.

Still no amazon delivery…I’ll go on.

I had no idea how it would go.  I’m not going to lie, I was nervous, beyond nervous. I didn’t know I could be so nervous actually; it was overwhelming.  If people asked how I was feeling I could hardly speak and then because the blood would drain from my face, I couldn’t even summon a faux confidence to reply with. I may be an introvert, but I don’t usually lack courage and adrenalin is normally my friend.  I started my talk by saying I was worried about being nervous, with a video of me jumping from a plane at 15000 ft. It was meant to be joke and it worked as one but before I stepped on that stage, I think I would have picked the plane without the parachute in that moment, truly.

I’ve taken my quote from one of my slides, because this is why I love photography and why I’m good at it, but standing up to an audience and telling people that you don’t have to shout about things, that you can just be who you are and shoot what you love and work to simply make people happy, when the below is my reality and my comfort zone was going to be tough and I knew it.

“As an introvert photography is the perfect medium for me to work with, having a camera in hand gives me access to parts of a world that I’m not totally at ease in, it allows me to hide in plain sight to be ignored but accepted simultaneously.”

Luckily, I know some amazing people and every one of them had my back, ushering me away from the overwhelm or distracting me in the run up.  They piled into the front row when it was time for my talk or let me know where they would be sitting so I could have a point of focus.

And you know what? It was fine, quite enjoyed it actually!

To love and to cherish

That was 100 % because of the people. The silence that I was used to hearing practicing on my own was swapped out for audience participation, laughs when there should have been laughs, gasps in the right places, I could see some people connect with what I had to say and that helped me relax, it came naturally, and I even added to it a bit.

The most delightfully surprising element though was the feedback.  I knew people weren’t going to tell me I sucked, they’re a seriously supportive bunch and aside from that the fact one of my friends was sobbing with pride in the front row, and another handed me a glass of wine the second I finished (something I will be forever grateful for Melissa!) and one sent me a WhatsApp that flooded me with relief I hoped that I had at least been interesting, and if people took something from me that would be a real bonus!


These are extracts from some of the messages I received…


“THANK YOU THANK YOU! That is the talk I didn’t even realise I needed to hear…”

“You made me believe I can be an amazing people photographer…”

“Thank you for being vulnerable and gentle and wonderful, you made me feel like I was the only person there…”

” I totally resonated…”

“It’s not like me to message a speaker or anything but you honestly made my day.”

They floored me. Genuinely. Exhausted I sat in my hotel room and in the airport with my mouth open, obviously absolutely thrilled I was well received and buzzing that people had taken something from what I had to say but also from relief. Relief that the effort paid off, relief I didn’t f*ck it up, relief I wasn’t boring and that being open didn’t make me feel as uncomfortable as I thought it might.  I’m so so grateful people reached out to let me know.   I will always recommend you try something once. Stepping outside a comfort zone can feel like an impossible task but we are all braver than we give ourselves credit for.

I’m taking a lot from this experience.

From this day forward

So I went from saying no, to saying yes, to saying never again, to saying maybe.  I also said yes to something else. I am part of the FedWed panel alongside some other excellent people. FedWed is the professional, non-competitive support system for wedding photographers and wedding filmmakers of all styles, abilities and experience.  I really like their ethos of a level playing field and I’m excited to be part of a place where people can learn, connections are made, collaborations are born, and friendships flourish.   Its not a permanent roll but one I’m looking forward to.

I would encourage any wedding photographers or film makers who stumble across this blog to check out both DocDay and FedWed !

So thank you to all that had my back.



Images by the talented Ronan Palliser








Teary bride looking at herself in the mirror
Man sat alone in Stone Barn ceremony room feeding his infant son
Mother of the groom before the ceremony
Bridesmaid topping up het makeup
Guests arriving at their cripps stone barn wedding
bride and her father arriving for their Cotswold wedding
Groom, dressed in black tie waiting for his bride
Bride and groom looking at each other for the first time at Stone Barn in the Cotswolds