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.

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...



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




forest family photoshoot Monmouthshire photographer

A forest family photoshoot: the next chapter

I want to hold my hand up and tell you here and now, that I was emotionally unprepared for this photoshoot. I'll explain why... Bethan's mum contacted me last-minute and asked if I had any free time on a particular Saturday.  It was because her eldest baby was about to start university life and this day would be their final morning together as they are right now. All seven of them (not forgetting Rosie and Maggie, the family dogs) taking a walk in the woods, before they drive off to the uni campus to begin a brand new chapter of her life.

Jo Haycock Photography

Bethan's mum had been thinking for sometime about how to get them all together for a family portrait, then with overwhelming clarity - without telling the rest of her family when she booked, I might add! - she decided "why not make it on the day we take her?"

As a parent myself, I felt this bittersweet point after B's family had supported and guided her into this next adventure of her life. Her ambition and excitement that morning was keeping up the stronger wall, with just a little keyhole of the unknown shining through.

The 'flying of the nest' thing, it's huge one and I can't help but let my mumma-time machine fly 10 years ahead and see us, on that same morning, doing exactly the same thing.

Jo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock PhotographyThey are an extremely close family, with the usual sibling pranks and outrageous teasing that takes place in most families. This morning was no exception. With younger sister, Carys and brother, Ioan teasing about how much more space there'd be at home, and the potential bedroom swaps, as they used fallen branches, tree trunks and woodland paths to act out their fictitious rivalry.

There was plenty of laughter, quite honestly it was the most perfect way to start any day. And I'd been doing so well at keeping my emotions in check...after all it was just another family 'shoot in the woods, right?

Jo Haycock Photography Jo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock Photography
Jo Haycock Photography
Jo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock Photography Jo Haycock Photography Jo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock PhotographyJo Haycock Photography

When they got back to the luggage-ladened car, reality hit as Carys saw she was in with a real chance of her big sister's bedroom. Tears flowed all around as the enormity of what was happening, happened. Not wanting to end this story as a 'farewell to Bethan' story because it isn't. I should finish by saying that she's nearly at the end of her first year in University, has made loads of life-long friends and her family enjoy many city breaks while visiting her. She'll be home soon for a long summer, so I must find out if Carys got her bedroom after all!

Jo Haycock Photography




To mum, I love you because...

As a mum to a daughter, and a daughter to a mum there is nothing more deep rooted in me than this kind of relationship. I put a call-out for two people to come and spend a morning with me to practise some new connective techniques I've been learning about. So I was absolutely over the moon to hear from 10-year-old Maisie and her mum, Bev.

jo haycock photographyjo haycock photographyWe went to one of my favourite places only down the road from where I live, Magor Marsh, which is one of the natural homes managed by The Gwent Wildlife Trust. A truly magical place with overhead height hay meadows, waterways and an abundance of wildlife. It's a place where I breathe deeply, reflect and feel totally alive in the great outdoors. I'm so happy to know that it's also become one of Bev and Maisie's special places too.

It was there I learned about a few of Maisie's hidden talents - did you know that she is the perfect impersonator able to mimic any member of her family with hilarious perfection? And that the best feeling in the world for her is when her mum wraps her up in a blanket when she's feeling unwell, or when she's feeling sad...they talk about everything together.

jo haycock photographyEarlier that week, I'd asked Maisie and Bev to each write a love letter to the other to read out on the day. I wasn't prepared for the emotional words that flowed from these pages as they spoke to one another. The complete honesty and sharing of a very real deep bond reduced us all to tears. I cannot thank you enough for letting me be part of this moment with you both.

jo haycock photography jo haycock photography jo haycock photography jo haycock photography

jo haycock photography jo haycock photographyjo haycock photography