2016: This Crazy/Beautiful Year

I have seen so many gorgeous 2016 round-up blog posts over the last couple of weeks.  Photographers I'm inspired by and friends with and admire from afar, wedding industry professionals who have worked their asses off building their own mini-empires and using every bit of experience gained to grow and progress and expand upon what they've already accomplished.  I'm so so proud to have thrown my hat in the ring with these amazing artists and when I reflect on my own year, personally and professionally, I'm almost freaked out by the changes that have taken place over such a short span of time. 

2016 has been one hell of a year.  I have been so fortunate to have experienced so many high points but some of that has been soured by the awareness of a growing global unrest.  I'm always clear: I'm an open book.  And that goes for my personal politics and unshakeable belief in the good of humans.  With the tragedies that the world has faced head-on this year, that have blindsided us and exposed so much hate and ugliness, the political movements in my home country of the United States and the deep divisions exposed in my adopted homeland of the United Kingdom have belied the names of both countries: it's becoming clear that we must all remain more united than ever.  But this isn't a political blog, this isn't a space that ignores or diminishes the tough things in the world but rather is a brief respite from the horrors and a celebration of family and beauty and above all else, LOVE.  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me on other matters, I hope you visit this blog to read about a tiny bit of the good that still exists. 

I've spent the last year working so hard to build my own mini-empire and I was so so lucky to receive a bit of a leg-up at the start of the year by one Mr. Jonny Draper.  His mentorship and guidance has given me the confidence to truly grow into, not just a photographer but a wedding photographer, working in an unreal field of insanely talented wedding photographers.  I have eased off of writing too much about my family and personal life and indeed even shifted my attentions away from family photography so that I may focus on honing my skill and gaining experience solely on weddings.  This has proved to be an incredible learning experience and I'm so proud of how far I've managed to come.  It was under this mentorship that I have been able to expand my own technical knowledge and streamline certain clunkier aspects of my business practices.  I am so so grateful to Jonny and everything he's taught me and I'm so thrilled to have joined Jonny Draper Associates in October. 

Wedding photography truly has become my passion this year and I'm continually amazed by the evolving artistry of the industry.  The community itself has been so supportive and informative and I'm thrilled to have made some lifelong friends.  So if wedding photography is my passion, family photography feels like home.  Early on in my career, I was lucky enough to have worked with some amazing families who welcomed me into their homes to capture their everyday lives.  The Alfieri, Owens, Holland, Bennett, Tames, Barrett, Richardson, Chew, Woodcock/Hughes and Woodward families this year all asked me round to add to their family archives and photograph their beautiful children and pets.  I have never taken this job lightly and feel so touched when I see the beautiful images framed on walls of their homes.  I've loved applying all of my wedding photography education to my lifestyle family photography and am thrilled to announce that I will be launching Kate McCarthy Photography's Families in Spring 2017! Keep an eye out for that post in the coming months!

But it's been weddings that lit the fire under my butt this year and I'm so so grateful to the Foleys, the Smiths, the Howards, and the Robinsons for taking a chance on a newly-fulltime wedding photographer and allowing me to document that most sacred of moments: the wedding vows.  I'm honoured to have been a small part of your day, to have preserved memories for a lifetime.  I consider you all dear friends and will be forever grateful to you for the experience you gave me this year.  Each of your weddings was so unique and gave me a new approach and a new challenge and I hold them all in my heart.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

And then there's my guys: my Michael and my Hadley Pearl McCarthy.  Michael with his patience and his support and unfailing enthusiasm for every bit of my work.  A man who puts his family first and, upon coming to the end of my maternity leave and debating going back to my 'real' job or becoming a full-time photographer said 'if you don't do it now, when will you ever?'  And my Hadley who is hilarious and brave and so clever and strong and kind and bold and who just goes with the flow and gives me a kiss when I'm off to work.  These guys.  These are the very best guys.  I'm so proud of my little family and of the extended superheroes whose embrace wraps tightly around us every minute of the day (I'm looking at you Nana and Kiki and Mimi and Pop and Rara and Nick and Molly and Dad and Ros and Christi and Cate and Kate and everyone dear to us who steps in and helps and listens and is generous with their time and their love). 

Image courtesy of Amy Louise Photography, December 2016

I mentioned before that I stopped writing much about us this year but a couple of weeks ago, my amazing photographer friend Amy Bellamy came over for an afternoon to photograph Michael, Hads and I - as photographers we're rarely in the pictures, especially with our own families! Amy has become a bit of a rock for me this year, working as a second shooter for me at weddings, playing the role of confidante/cheerleader/therapist/drinking buddy all at once and I was so excited to have her capture the three of us.  What I was not prepared for when I saw the final images was how well she seemed to know us.  She got our chemistry and personalities and our big fat LOVE and I was reminded that my whole business, my whole life is inspired by these two extraordinary creatures. 

So now I know that when you hire me, especially for things as special as weddings and Christenings and into your home to hang out with your kids, I want you to know ME.  I want you to know that I will take this work seriously because these memories are priceless.  I want to bottle that joy for you so that when you look at those photos, I want you to feel what I felt and know that you trusted someone who GOT YOU.  In 2017 and beyond, I want to get to know you and I want you to know me.  What an amazing power photography can have.  What an amazing year it's been.