The Introvert Library | branding photography | storytelling for small businesses

The journey from meeting to photographing is an important part of my process

When Alice first wrote to me asking about some branding photography, I was pretty taken by how much she gave of herself in that first email. I knew that she wanted the feel of an old and beautiful library with lots of warm wooden paneling, that she’d prefer to communicate by email rather than in person for the time being and that she was dreading her first professional photoshoot!  

Alice is The Introvert Library, which offers all sorts of resource to help introverts create lives that work for them, completely individually for them. Being one herself, a hugely creative one at that, I learned to see how amazing she is at communicating her needs, desires and almost how warrior-like she is at coming out of her safe space and into new territory to achieve what she wants in life. It’s no surprise that this is one of her talents, how she shares this process with the people she coaches.

The journey from meeting to photographing is an important part of my process, in fact possibly more important to me than that point of clicking the shutter. I know this already in my personal projects as they often span over several months, so it becomes about those stories that develop and connect along the way. This was very much the case with Alice and me.

Discovering Sessions House in Usk was like lifting our mood board from the wall and giving it life in one place

We explored possible locations between us, I got brave by asking someone I hardly knew some pretty direct and personal questions, and she got even braver by answering them. We got to a stage where it was the most natural next step to actually talk in person, by this point we knew stuff about each other that only friends know.

Discovering Sessions House in Usk was like lifting our mood board from the wall and giving it life in one place. A beautifully restored historical courthouse, connected to Usk Prison via an underground walkway. Where previously, those standing in the dock, would quite likely be escorted via a now-blocked up tunnel directly underneath.

Learning of the infamous trial which took place there of leading suffragette, Lady Rhondda, added to the spice and seemed poignant given that 2018 celebrates a 100 years of women getting the vote. Now the building hosts civil ceremonies, away days and conferences, it also has a room there which holds the largest collection of Victorian books in the country. 

We spent a morning in theatrical shafts of natural light. Conjuring up juror’s findings and hearing the judge conclude with a hammer down of certainty. Mostly it was a day spent exploring Alice’s creative vision, to enable her to honestly and uniquely share what she’s got to give others.

A day in the life of the Williams family

It's always a privilege to be invited into a family's life for a day and have that opportunity to tell their story as it happens. In an honest and unique way, using their home as a heart, with it a backdrop which weaves into their lives. This was no exception for Mandie, Rhys and their girls. I don't think they'd mind me sharing that the last few years have been quite a challenge. In terms of a buying a rundown house with plans to renovate, with plans changing to building a new one from scratch instead - these journeys are never plain sailing, but as Mandie tells me "yes it was a test at times, but it also deepened and strengthened our relationship and the girls were amazing throughout."

Spending time with their girls, you'd think they've always lived there, which is exactly how a family home should feel. I sampled home made cakes hot out of the oven and watched a gymnastics show in the garden. Got introduced to the entire toy community (one of which was a very special senior bear belonging to their daddy) and, much to their parents amusement, we had the grand idea of filling every stair with every fluffy toy they own... so we did.

Photographing families in their allotments

My green fingers extend to planting modest amounts of bulbs each spring, putting some herbs into pots and mowing the lawn when it's my turn. So learning from some expert gardening families here has been a wonderful experience.

"Our allotment was an anniversary present from Duncan’s dad as he didn’t know what else to get us. Though he’s regretting it now as we’ve won first prize in the Best Allotment competition at the annual show for the last two years"

I was asked by JUNO magazine to contribute a photo feature about families and their allotments for their 50th edition. I spent time with three families and got to live a little part in their green fingered world for a day.

"Our parents and grandparents were keen gardeners, it’s something we’ve both grown up with. We kept a small vegetable patch in the back garden, but when the girls came along it competed with a trampoline, slide, ball games and the guinea pigs. So we put our name down for an allotment and within six months we were given one to do with as we wish."  George

Not only did I get to learn a few gardening tips for myself. I also learned of the best places to hide, trees to climb, the best raspberry bushes to eat from when no one's looking and discover the places where most worms and wood lice live.

"I like to read here. After I’ve done a few gardening jobs with dad, I’ll sneak off and find somewhere to sit with my book." Laura

Their allotments have become a way of life and a place to escape to. We all too often get bogged down with day-to-day routines, not seeing the end of that 'to do' list, and for new families it can be quite challenging to re-establish identities after having a baby.

"As a first time mum, it can be tough finding some time for yourself, but this has become somewhere I can do this. When Emily was tiny, I’d walk over from our house with her in the pram and would let her sleep as I quietly got on with some weeding. It’s such a peaceful place, it gives me space to think." Nickala

One day I walked into a family BBQ celebration being held in the middle of their plot on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Surrounded by lush fruit and flowers, spades put to one side and the summer house doors wide open, as sausages sizzled and the bottle corks popped. With John being a keen gardener nearly all his life, his wife Sarah, children and grandchildren are used to joining him in his allotment kingdom.

"I’ve always loved my horticulture, it’s been part of my life since I was 16. I love the great outdoors. When I’m not here, Sarah and I will often be walking the Welsh coastal path. I’m also keen on my wildlife photography, particularly birds." John

We can all get excited by the latest piece of technology and scientific breakthroughs, or saddened by some of the current global news, maybe a few of us out there are planning the next big leap into a brand new adventure? I'm sure these families, with their busy lives, are no exception. Which is why I found this photographic project so grounding. As they've gone back to, or newly discovered the simple and rewarding, yet hardworking lifestyle of gardening. And they do this, quite seamlessly, all together.

home in maindee photo project

Home in Maindee - a photographic project

Ismael home in maindee

I won’t deny my heart was racing a bit, but I recognised that this was also mixed with the tingle of excitement, the unknown of where this project might now go…

It’s been an incredible journey. One which I want to share some of my own self-discovery as an artist, along with sharing some of the stories of those whose front doors I’ve knocked on. Armed only with camera-in-hand, a friendly smile and a desire learn more about the lives of some of the people who have chosen to make their Home in Maindee.

I regularly have a personal photographic project on the go, these projects feed my soul and fuel my creativity into the day job as a documentary family photographer.  I love letting them take me on an honest journey and watch them turn into a story of which I have no idea where and how it will end.

When I applied for a New Paths funding project through Maindee Library, I had a clear idea that I would be relying upon the vast knowledge of a local estate agent who’d practiced in the area for over 50 years. Who knows the habits, trends and lifestyles of local folk buying and selling homes better than anyone else, right?

This was how my project idea was pitched, and after a quick meeting with said estate agent, it was a done deal, he was the linch pin of the project. I was clear that he would lead the way and open all the right doors into these people’s lives for me to interview and photograph.

It didn’t happen that way.

home in maindee photo project

I soon realised that, after countless attempts to trail a busy man selling 1000’s of houses, our diaries were not meant to link. His very lovely, but equally very protective PA was not as keen as me to see this project happen, so I was out on my own. Left tentatively hooking up with local Facebook community groups and literally walking up to people and doing what is known in the trade as my ‘elevator pitch’ – 20 seconds to draw them in to my world. I won’t deny my heart was racing a bit, but I recognise that this was also mixed with the tingle of excitement, the unknown of where this project might now go.

Carole not only welcomed me into her home, but greeted me with a perfectly brewed cup of tea, chocolate biscuits and told me how the living room we were sat in (known as her best room) was always used as the kids’ disco room while they were growing up. She’s lived in the house for nearly 50 years and remembers the day her and her late husband fell in love with it.

“We walked through the door and stood in the hall, it was warm and felt so right. We looked at each other and knew that this was the one.”

People move home for a variety of reasons, Jhons and Francy’s move to Maindee was for health reasons. Jhons tells me that this house gave them a chance to have a life, to heal the family from a long-term illness. Their home is now a haven of new life, friendships and vibrant childhood stories from Columbia.

living room photo project

“It’s very different growing up here for children than it was for my own childhood in the Columbian mountains. We’d go off on our own, build dens and teach ourselves to fish.”

I am also lucky enough to have experienced Francy’s exquisite homemade empanadas. This lunch invite came after our discussion about the culinary scents from around the world, travelling out of the kitchens from the different houses on their street around meal times. Tantalising the passerby.

They are both huge parts of many cultural communities across Newport, South Wales. Including the homeless communities where they take regular late night walks through the city armed with flasks of hot tea for those who live on the streets.

home in maindee

Alix and Ismael, are two of the warmest and open people you could wish to meet. When I knocked on their front door they were still unpacking boxes from their move to the area. They could of so easily turned me away for my inconvenient timing but instead, this union opened up some of the most incredibly spiritual exchanges of conversation between us.

“We were drawn here, looking for somewhere with a community that connects us. We’ve found it.”

Home in Maindee project

I continue to learn so much about them, from their wedding on a beach in the Scottish Highlands, to discussing The Day of The Dead Festive. Ismael is a magnet for meaningful conversations and connects with people everywhere he goes.  I should add that he is also “a crazy Mexican” (these are his own words, honestly!) and one of the most engaging storytellers I have ever met.

“Before setting up Friends Hair Salon, I used to work at the hairdressers in Owen Owen Department Store, along with Olwen who pierced the ears and Eve who measured the bras.”

If you ever need a good old belly laugh, then look no further than my Friday mornings with the girls in Friends Hair Salon. They are simply amazing. Like a big family with Lynne and Jo at the helm, looking after pretty much everyone inside the salon and outside along the high street. Like the Cheers Bar of Maindee, Friends really is the place where everybody knows your name. It’s the new yet the familiar each time I visit.

Jo haycock photo project

“Joyce is newbie though, she’s only been coming to the salon for a few years” says Lynne. “But when I look in the book and see she’s coming in, I feel a warm glow, as she’s always so happy and positive, a really inspiring soul.” 

It was difficult to visualise the right place to exhibit some of these photographs from the project. Originally I had thought about displaying them on the iconic house-for-sale signs you see on stakes in people’s front gardens. This quickly changed when I realised that the people I’ve been spending time with are in no hurry to leave the area, or they’ve just moved in. Many have been in the area for decades, as their parents and grandparents before them. So it seemed only fitting that everyone had the chance to sit in someone else’s living room and get a real sense of these stories, as I have had the privilege of hearing.

That is why I chose to create a living room exhibition in the corner of Maindee Library. By hanging a patterned wallpaper across a large wall for the mounted prints to be displayed. By hanging drapes in the window and borrowing different pieces of  furniture, from a rocking chair to floor lamp. Even this part of the project has its own tales and connections… with the furniture donators adding their own stories of how they acquired the rug, or how many grandchildren they’ve cuddled while rocking on that chair.

Living Room exhibition Jo Haycock photo project

The second stage is to plan an exhibition in the shop front of Friends Hair Salon. They’ve kindly agreed to let me dress their front window with some project pictures. I’m already looking forward to spending more time with the lovely ladies there in the Autumn.

An exhibition of work often marks the end of an artist’s project. However, I’m struggling to find that line, that finality. I’m talking about the connections I’ve made and the stories that these people continue to share with me long after I’ve taken the final photograph. They are now like new and growing friendships and for this very reason, I won’t call it



Photographing Science Week at a Monmouthshire school

Future astronauts, rocket scientists, engineers and bio-chemists were busy performing death defying, life saving and heart racing experiments across this Welsh language primary school in Monmouthshire, South Wales. For taking part in British Science Week last month.

The energy and enthusiasm around the school was infectious, as I joined in to photograph the children running their different experiments. From exploding Coke bottles that had been detonated with Mentos sweets, through to erupting volcanoes and finding out how our immune systems work.

"I reckon this is exactly what real life astronauts have to learn when they go to school!"

There were intelligent, from-the-heart debates as groups of badgers, hedgehogs, children and construction workers each gave their valid views as to why a main road should or shouldn't be built alongside their village - a truly wonderful roleplaying exercise from a representative of the Gwent Wildlife Trust. The school also experienced extreme weather systems and climate change from a meteorology expert.

It was a week full to the brim, of learning science in the most exciting and dynamic way. But what really touched me, was how these budding astronauts and bio-chemists pulled together and guided their peers through the many activities on offer.

The amazing teachers of this school and the equally amazing scientific volunteers, helped to empower the older children by letting them demonstrate many of the experiments to the younger years.  Adorning protective eyewear, clothing and gloves, these kids gave their younger peers a "there's no room for error" and "please stand back for your own safety" drill before each eruption and explosion...  I must say that I'd feel in safe hands heading up into Space with these lot!

Science Week Jo Haycock Science Week photos Jo Haycock Science Week experiments Science Week photography Science Week school playground photos Science Week Science Week Science Week photography by Jo Haycock Science Week photography Jo Haycock Science Week Monmouthshire Science Week photos Jo Haycock Learning through science Jo Haycock Jo Haycock Photography Science Week Monmouthshire





If grandad was an animal he'd be a buffalo - a photo story

There is no doubt in my mind, how incredibly special a bond between a grandparent and child can be. So when JUNO, a magazine with a natural approach to family life, asked me to explore through photographs what this might look like, it was pure joy, if a little emotional at times, to watch some of these relationships unfold for me.

"Having Grandchildren is the best present your own children could ever give you. They are miniature versions of your children, and though they are like them in many ways, they are wonderfully unique"

I asked each of the children and their grandparents the same questions before the photoshoots began. These ranged from wanting to know what kind of animal they might be, how they make them laugh, to the types of inventions they would invent if they could, to make that other person's life more easy or even happier. Their responses were hilarious, intelligent and sometimes reduced me to tears.

"I'd love to invent a flying carpet so that she could see more of the world in the most magical way"

If you scroll through this post, you may notice one of the children featured is my own daughter, Jeanie. I photographed her with her grandparents, my parents. This gave the project an even stronger connection as I rarely photograph my own family in this kind of situation. I found it fascinating to stand back and observe how they responded to the same questions, scene-setting and guidance I give to other families that I photograph. How are they are seeing me right now?  As a photographer, mother or daughter... which role was most present? It was unusual and quite moving for me to shoot.

"If I was a famous inventor, I'd invent a saddle so that I could ride about on grandpa's back"

It is true that grandparents' roles and the relationships our children have with them are different to when we were children, as well as our parents before us. More households than ever have both parents working outside the family home so grandparents are an integral source of childcare to them. But I find it quite amazing how they balance the must-do's and structure of the day given out by the parents (their own children). To still being able to have fun, step back and enjoy sharing so much with their grandchildren.  We should, without question, celebrate them and this special relationship far more than we do.

"My grandad would be a buffalo if he was an animal. He's big and strong and doesn't let anything stand in his way"

So to Miles, Ollie and Jeanie... thank you for sharing your grandparents with me, each in your own special and unique way...



Finding a Home in Maindee - Jhons and Francy

Empanadas, a Monkey-face orchid and our exotic childhoods were just three of the many topics I got to talk about with Jhons and his wife, Francy on my second visit to their home in Maindee. This is a personal project, a documentary photographic project funded through the Maindee New Paths initiative. It’s a journey I’m on to find out why some people have chosen to make their home there.

“This house gave us a solution, it was our safe haven. Maindee has given us back our health and happiness”

Jhons and Francy chose a home in Maindee some 10 years ago, for a very different reason to why they choose to live there now. What started out as a house move for life-changing health reasons, now shows a home that reflects new life and their strong connections among the colourful communities that they are part of. From local festival collaborating to running the South Wales Hispano Latino community, along with all their other artistic and community-supporting endeavours in between.

I was joining them for my first taste of Francy’s homemade empanadas and guacamole – we’d previously talked about their street’s multi-culturalness by the many enticing culinary scents coming from the neighbours houses. Tempting the passerby as they walked the street around mealtimes, to at least guess the country’s cuisine as they walked through.  But I’d struck gold, I was invited in for lunch, I was in heaven!

It was fascinating to listen to Jhons talk about his childhood in Columbia. Explaining that as children, they would head up into the mountains for two days at a time, building dens, fires, learning to fish. His parents didn’t exactly know where he was but that it was ok, like a right of passage, a chance to learn and explore.

This made me think about my own childhood spent overseas and my freedom there, my own right of passage. We talked about how very different it is today for children, growing up in this community outside their front door.

“I smile as I think of my childhood. There are so many rules around children now, it’s so important that they get the chance to be children – they don’t have the chance to explore. I’m thankful and grateful for my upbringing”

We also talked a lot about trust. This journey has not only been about me gaining people’s trust, but about the people I meet gaining my trust too. I’m finding I’m sharing as much of my own life’s story, opinions and aspirations as those I connect with, a balanced exchange of information, essentially between strangers at first. I’m getting myself invited into different homes and we end up sharing, at times, some pretty intimate stories.  I’m also getting the chance to look at my own memories of living in Maindee, even further back into my own childhood. Things I’d forgotten about.  The comparisons of our lives at times during these conversations, can be strikingly similar and uncannily connected in ways that I could never of predicted.

As artists and general human beings, we’re forever looking at our process of how and why we do what we do. For me it’s a reflection back to how I connected with the last people or objects I photographed. Each time it’s different and I take a little piece of that connection into the next one and hope that it works as magically as it can. Mainly I know from experience, that it’s about trusting them first, by offering an honest tale or two about me. But with Jhons and Francy, they held their door wide open from the start, and the exchange of honest, heartfelt and inspiring tales began almost immediately.

A photoshoot in the connective and colourful world of babywearing

It was a perfect autumnal day at the Bristol docklands where we'd arranged to meet Katie and her completely gorgeous baby, Juliette. The team at JUNO, a natural parenting magazine, had commissioned me to photograph a feature for their Autumn Extra, which is all about the creative and connective world of babywearing.

I look back and remember placing my now-not-so little baby into a pre-tied sling to go and hang the washing out, breastfeed on the go, even edit the odd photoshoot while she slept contentedly next to me. But the term 'babywearing' as ancient an art form as it is, and the most natural and beautiful way of carrying your child, has become a whole big, colourful world of fabric designs and tying techniques.

I started our day in Bristol faced with wraps in many beautiful fabric prints, surely these can't be turned into safe baby-carrying devices?

Katie of Carry Me Slings offers valuable support to parents new to wearing these wraps and those wanting to try out new sling designs of the already vast choice of options out there. Seeing her in action, twisting and tying these wraps into shape, checking all was safe and secure, it was easy to see why JUNO wanted her as a feature in this particular edition. Watching her apply the different techniques to each wrap ready for the photo essay was mesmerising - we were quiet and still watching her at work. Baby Juliette took it all in her stride as her mother gathered her up in exquisite folds of fabric and settled her into position. Carefree, full of smiles and quite the guru baby-wearing baby.

Watching Katie effortlessly twist and shape these wraps while Juliette sits in them is mesmerising to watch

Not only a sling specialist but more importantly a mother confidently 'wearing' her baby. Listening to Katie explaining the benefits of each sling and watching how Juliette responds to each one is incredible to be part of. So it was no surprise, that when it came to nap time, the right sling for the job came out for demonstrating...

Her little thumb went into her mouth and her eyes became half-closed... "She know's the next wrap I'm going to show you, it's the one she sleeps in"


Katie and Juliette for Juno magazineKatie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine

Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazine Katie and Juliette for Juno magazineKatie and Juliette for Juno magazine


Classroom photography raises funds for school's PTA

I went back into school last term to photograph more children at the heart of classroom learning. It's an amazing feeling to watch and be able to experience first-hand, the magic of learning through their eyes...happening right before my eyes. What also feels amazing is to be able to gift that same school's PTA with some well-needed funds raised from the sales of these photographic prints. As a documentary children (and their families) photographer, I'm forever learning through their play - it is always a privilege to be invited into their world, and this was no exception.


classroom photo project

The photos have been bought by the parents and families of these same children, and I'm over the moon that they now own a frozen nano-second of what their child looks and feels like, through their 'wonder-tinted' glasses of their own school's learning and playing environment.

I found myself putting the camera down at certain points during classroom sessions and saying to myself "I never knew that" - it just goes to prove that you're never too old to learn new facts!

classroom photo projectdwynwen-55

I'm absolutely delighted to be able to donate to this group of parents and teachers, who work tirelessly with passion and enthusiasm, to give our children the best of experiences during their school years.  I've seen the incredible energy that these amazing people bring to a school, through my own child's school PTA. So if you're reading this, and think that your school might like to adopt this style of classroom photographic project, then please do get in touch. These are unique documentary photo stories which require time spent over a duration of a few months. This enables me to photograph children as naturally as possible, with minimum disturbance to lessons.


classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project

classroom photo project



A Breastfeeding Support Group in Photographs

Being able to breastfeed my baby was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It is still, without doubt, one of my greatest achievements. Not an easy journey, there were lots of tears from me, painful moments, emotionally and physically.

But had I had the emotional and physical support of this particular group in my own breastfeeding journey? I’m certain it would have eased my self-doubt, closed that stupid ‘rule book’ and got me creative with my feeding experience.

This is not a story intending to spark debate, of what's right or wrong in the baby-feeding arena. Nor is it meant to fuel the guilt-measuring machine of how we chose to or couldn’t, for whatever reason manage to breastfeed our children. Hey, we have enough of that big jar of guilt neatly handed to us around the same time our newborns arrive don’t we? I write here merely as little celebration and reminder of my own personal journey, nothing more.

We discussed the #brelfie – the breastfeeding equivalent to the selfie!

This here is a small window right now, looking inwards to a special group of mums and their babies with their own feeding journeys. It is here we spent time discussing the #brelfie – the breastfeeding equivalent to the selfie!  We shared warrior mum ‘street feeding’ moments - the disapproving look of a cafe customer, or the well-meaning superstore worker informing you "there is a designated feeding cubicle for you in the ladies toilet.”

It's a special place where I’ve seen new mums walk through the doors over the weeks, some distraught and in tears. These same mums have left laughing, armed with new friendships and a whole list of positions to try feeding their baby in. Tips and techniques often shared by other mums themselves as well as the trained advisors. It is quite simply amazing, simple human-to-human support.

I’ve also made new friendships of my own during my time photographing this Bristol group. In fact a few of us will be meeting up again to find their favourite places to feed in – ranging from the sanctuary of the bedroom to the vibrant market place. A whole new photographic project for me, and a whole new bucket list of feeding locations for the mummas.

To call this simply a breastfeeding support group doesn't do it justice. I’ve watched mums overcome their feelings of guilt and worry to reach those vital feelings of connection and self worth around feeding their babies. It’s some of the toughest terrain you can tread as a new mother. So however you chose to feed your baby, it’s surely about the bond between you and how you grow together during those quiet connective times that counts the most.

Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group

Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group

Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support GroupBristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group Bristol Breastfeeding Support Group honeysuckle-13