Discarded With Honour | A Photographic Project

Discarded With Honour

A photographic project about letting go

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, of what last year and the first half of this one has meant to people as well as myself.  I do know that there is a strong element of ‘good riddance to 2020’ by needing to leave behind the fear and jail-like existence we’ve felt for many months throughout. Though I cannot help wondering how to let go of this time with some honour? As there have certainly been some reflective and creative moments in my world over the past 18 months. What with new virtual friendships and supporting communities being made along the way.  So I don’t feel that it should be just this pandemic that gives 2020 its bookmark to go down in history.

Discarded With Honour is a social documentary photographic project with a growing collection of images and stories. Where I want to give the people I meet, the chance to offer gratitude and a visual legacy to the possessions that no longer serve them and that could now be bringing them a sadness or frustration rather than joy.

This is a ceremonial goodbye for some objects as they leave home. Or the honour of a story around a possession they know they cannot part with, but need to purge.

Most of us surround ourselves with artefacts for a reason, a connection and story. In many cases there comes a time for them to be let go. Whether it’s because we don’t want them anymore or that we cannot keep them. It is these possessions that have been of part of our lives and they each hold many layers of memories for us.

It’s fair to say that I’ve spent more time than usual in my home over the past year. As well as the need to let go of clutter, I’m also painfully aware that some of these familiar piles of objects are now taking space without the joy or purpose they once gave to me. In fact,

I’m starting to feel the pangs of sadness when I look at them or clean around them, or know they’re laying in a black bag ready to go off to a charity. Almost like I don’t care but I do care, maybe too much.

I’ve been noticing these little pockets of sunlight, falling around our house at different times of the day. Peeping through the blinds as stripes and landing on certain stairs at certain times. It’s my daily observations that make me want to take these discarded objects and bask them in their own moment of glory for one last time.

Like the family bath toys we still keep around the tub. No longer played with, yet I’m not ready to part with them as I can hear her infectious young child’s laughter while she flooded the bathroom with these toys in her games. I was taking a shower the other day and I looked down to see this single beam of stage light bursting through the curtain. It was then I realised I needed to give these toys a centre stage, their final curtain call.

My friend Jemma lives down the street from me. She’s a got a garage full of treasures she cannot part with. There’s a case of full of baby clothes once worn by her 14-year-old daughter. “My parents kept everything of mine” said Jemma. “I moved away after getting married, so it’s lovely to go through my childhood remembering the stories of wearing or playing with them, whenever we go and visit” she adds, “I want this for her, but we’ve just not got the space.”

I photographed my daughter’s bedroom a few years ago. We were swapping her little child’s bedroom over to her teenager’s knock-before-entering kingdom. I remember photographing each treasure as it lay, thrift-shop jewellery pieces, collected stones, faded animal posters and her artwork.  In a moment of needing to explore the familiar, soon to be unfamiliar and immortalising this time of our family life.

Then the time I helped to pack up my late grandmother’s house. I’d chosen the ornament I wanted to keep and wrapped it in one of her laundered hand towels to protect it on the journey home.

I could still smell her house and the perfume she wore. I tried to preserve it by wrapping this towel in a sealed plastic bag and placing it a box, just to inhale when I needed reminding of her scent. I went back to this towel a year later and the scent had gone. I was heart-broken, but yet I still cannot part with this towel.

By photographing and engaging others to think about how they hold on to possessions, I’m hoping it will be a cathartic process, as well as helping to heal some difficult memories for people with their stories.

I want to bring audio into the project as well, by recording the stories of others and why they connect to these various objects. It gives another layer to this project and hopefully gives each person a deeper acknowledgement of gratitude in saying goodbye. With it a sense of freedom and affirmation that honouring and releasing this possession with a memory can bring.


As featured in Juno Magazine Spring 2021

If you are interested in finding out more about Discarded With Honour and perhaps taking part, please email me at jo@johaycockphotography.co.uk

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
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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




“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home” - Stephanie Perkins

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the meaning of word, Boudoir is described as: a woman's small private room - but here on this page it means much much more. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about Hayley and how I came to photograph her at this time in her life.

She married Gareth when they were 18. Their relationship is one of two soulmates, deepened by the tough times as well as the happy times. They've got three gorgeous kids, lead hectic lives and are finishing off a house renovation while still living there.

Hayley came to me wanting to do something a little different with a portrait photoshoot, something quite out of her comfort zone for their next wedding anniversary, and for it to be a total surprise for Gareth. She'd recently turned 40, looks amazing (I hope she realises this) but most importantly has reached a place in her life where she's confident about her achievements, her relationships, her own strength and where she wants to be.

Her home is her safe place, the life blood of this family, and at the bottom of the garden lies the most magnificent ancient woodland which belongs to them. She tells me it's one of the main reasons they bought the house and nearly broke into cartwheels when she first saw it - I can see why! So it seemed only fitting that we explored the wonders and connections of their lives there, laughing throughout the day at the secrecy of what we were doing, and how he might think that "those wild boars have broken in again and tramped down the undergrowth in the woods."

owain and thomas

I spent a magical Sunday morning with this little man and his baby brother. Though a most unusual event occurred, as halfway through our morning, just as he was showing me his favourite game and some school certificates for amazing work... he left, just vanished. Suddenly I am face-to-face with Spiderman. Now these strange things can sometimes happen with no explanation at all. The next thing I know Spidey is bouncing on the bed, spinning webs around his brother's toys and generally saving the world, as you do when you are that kind of superhero.

"Mummy, can she (that's me) come back again tomorrow for a sleepover?" said Owain. By my reckoning, this has got to be the most heartfelt testimony to date. I have since told his mummy that I'd be delighted to, but only if he lets me raid his dressing up box next time!


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Photographing a 1940's wedding - Maizie and Darren style

Here is a photo story about Maizie and Darren...about on this August day, after being together more than 10 years and having four completely stunning children (two boys, two girls) together, they chose to get married in true 1940's style. It was not only a day to celebrate their relationship and all that they've experienced together, it was a day where they embraced everyone they know and love in their lives.

Now the 1940's is Maizie's favourite era and actually it's mine too, though she is without doubt the queen of all things exquisitely vintage. The detail was incredible, her bouquet was hand knitted by her mum, along with all the button hole flowers which were sent out to each and every guest before the day. The boys adorned waistcoats and long shorts and Darren was suited and booted for the era, complete with the odd cry from friends of "you look like an old-fashioned chimney sweep mate!" proudly wearing his flat cap. And as for THAT liquid gold-coloured wedding dress...

But I'm not going to talk anymore about the glorious detail of this day, because what was particularly unique about photographing this wedding was how naturally and effortlessly Maizie and Darren's families and friends blended together. How they couldn't fit them all in to the beautifully panelled modest-sized room for the ceremony. How M and D insisted that the windows were flung wide open so that everyone they wanted there could take part in their wedding vows. How they'd chosen the registrar - he'd recorded the births of their children those years before. And how the roaring sound of applause and whoops of delight could be heard right down the street.

The entire wedding party, including their very own personal musicians, took a walk through the town, through the park and down to the pier. Not onto the pier but under the pier, where an impromptu beach party was held. Children playing on the sand, the bride and groom chatting and singing with friends, friends playing guitars, champagne flowing - who was that clever guest who packed the bubbles on ice! - all this took place before going on to their main wedding party and provided great photo-opportunities for me.

This day was a true testimony to what a vibrant and connected couple Maizie and Darren are, and how much their families and friends mean to them in this world. It wasn't only authentic to 1940's detail, it reminded me of the simple fact that we seamlessly attract and connect with those people who we are ourselves.

a day in the life of a classroom


I have a great relationship with the school my daughter attends. Regular updates on her progress, interactions with teachers and plenty of social occasions that enhance my picture of life through her eyes with the teachers she learns from and children she learns with. Of course many of us understand how our children connect and behave within their learning environment. BUT what really happens in the classroom? What does it look and feel like to see them engage and show pure excitement when they grasp that mathematic equation, or how they work out some of life's debates through playground games with friends at break times?

It has been a privilege to witness this first hand, not just for my own daughter but for many other parents' sons and daughters lately. The traditional school photograph will always hold an important record of our children's time there. So I'm now offering an alternative approach through fly-on-the-wall documentary to show these profound moments as they happen in the classroom.

If this is something your school might be interested in hosting please do get in touch. I also donate a percentage of fees to the school's PTA fund.

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martha's dancing heart

Martha was born on the 10th of January 2015, checking into this big and beautiful world a whole five weeks earlier than planned. It was an emotionally charged journey for mum and dad, Michelle and Rick leading up to her birth, with regular hospital visits until this gorgeous little lady was able to come home some weeks later.

Michelle and Rick, along with Martha's big brother Will have decided to raise £10,000 for the Children's Unit at the University of Wales Hospital by her first birthday. Without the love, support and care from the Unit, things may have turned out very differently for this family.

I asked Michelle to write some words about her journey to meeting Martha and how she came to launch Martha's Dancing Heart...

On the 23rd of December I went for my routine 32 week check-up with the midwife, I'd had an amazing pregnancy and felt really well all the way through. I was looking forward to Christmas then welcoming our new baby girl in February.

The midwife did all the regular checks and all was fine, she then said she wasn't required to listen in to the baby's heart beat anymore, unless I asked her to. She was smiling as she said it and I laughed and asked her to listen in.

It quickly became apparent that all wasn't quite as it should be - our little girl's heart was beating twice as fast as it should and it wasn't long before I was in the hospital hooked up to a monitor having fluid pumped into me.

I was kept in overnight as they tried to stabilise her heartbeat - it was 240 bpm (a normal rate would be 100-140) - and allowed home at 8pm on Christmas Eve on a cocktail of heart drugs, needing to come back to the hospital daily for ECGs.

The next three weeks are a bit of a blur to be honest. Christmas came and went and new year passed with me regularly staying overnight at the hospital. The heart drugs I was taking were slowing my heart, but having little effect on our baby.  By Jan 9th my heart rate and pulse had fallen very low, so the consultants decided the safest option was an early delivery by c-section the following day.

On Jan 10th 2015 our daughter, Martha was born and diagnosed with a condition called PJRT ... it's a type of tachycardia and is basically an electrical short circuit in her heart. It's a condition that is rare in babies and needs to be controlled with medication.

Martha was cared for by the amazing staff at the Neonatal ward of University Hospital Wales, and the staff of the Children's Heart Unit for Wales, After four weeks we were able to take her home. She's now doing fantastically well, and we know that without the love and support of her hospital angels, she could have been very poorly.  So we want to say a huge thank you by fundraising in lots of different ways throughout the rest of 2015. We want to be able to donate at least £10,000 to the Children's Unit at UHW before Martha's first birthday.

We'd love your help and support xxx



We're going on a bear hunt

The all time classic children's book, We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen was chanting through my mind as we tramped across fields and followed tracks lined with tall and thickly woven majestic trees. Brandishing a strong long plastic sword and armed with many snacks fit for a bear hunt, a young knight named Griff led us deep in to the forest in search of his bear friend. His faithful fair maiden sister, Anwen took control when times got hairy. Swinging off fallen branches and large boulders in her bare feet to help her little brother reach victory and glory. When the going got tough, tickling each other seemed to keep up spirits on this gritty journey.