I didn't send you a Christmas Card.
Because all of this that I want to say to you wouldn't fit in a Christmas Card......
I wanted to tell you how special it is to be a photographer. YOUR photographer. You don't just 'give me a job' and expect me to turn up with a camera......it is so much more than that.
I don't just get to photograph you. I get to watch you as you dance to the music of life. I hear the tunes to which you dance. And then, just for a fraction of a second, I stop the music - so when you look back at the image that you allowed me to take, you are reminded of the song as it was at the time.
And the music is forever changing.
And I get to see that!
In 2018 I have seen my Bridesmaids become Brides.....
And I have seen my Newborns become Bridesmaids.
I have photographed you as you start to dance to the whispered tune of far-off music.
Music that you can only, as yet, just hear.....
And then photographed you as you dance to the music that will consume you forever.
And for which you have already forgotten that there was once a world where the notes did not exist.
I have watched as your songs have got louder and your families have grown.
I have photographed your Little Boys as Big Brothers.....
Remembering THIS from just a heartbeat ago.
As the music started to play for number two...... and you now have THREE!
I have photographed the babies you cradled in YOUR arms as they cradle their new sisters in THEIRS
I have been reminded of the music that was playing when when I took this.....
Never daring to hope that one day I would be able to take THIS.....
As your Little Miracle became your bridesmaid.
And I dance to different music myself.
An Auntie whose niece started school in 2018:-
Still not entirely sure when.....or how...... the original music faded from THIS.
Still there, but as an echo and not a melody.
And still not entirely sure how this music.....
My own son...... Master of Engineering 2017.
Alice, his girlfriend...... Master of Chemical Engineering 2018
The Music of Life.
That is my job. To stop it - just for that split second - so that you will always be able to hear it.
And in 2018 I have never been more grateful for the fact that this is what I do for you.
In 2018 this earthly world has lost four beautiful spirits - all of whom I have had the privilege of photographing as they danced to the music of their lives.
The beautiful, gentle Sue - my "Mother of the Bride" from years ago, whose family I have had the honour of photographing and documenting ever since.
Never dreaming for one minute that they would be the last images I would take of her this summer, her daughter subsequently wrote
Cherish those you hold dear. Love them, laugh with them, make memories and take photographs, because you never know when it might be your last chance.
The beautiful, dignified Annie - another of my "Mothers of the Bride". Another soul gone too soon. Who loved her family more than life itself and who didn't get to see the arrival of her first grandchild, born on the day of her funeral.
My dear friend Jane. Cattle breeder extraordinaire and all-round amazing wife, mother, friend and human being. 2017 saw me photographing her wedding. 2018 saw me back in Dorset in the beautiful surroundings of Corfe Castle for her funeral - St Edwards Church packed beyond capacity with as many mourners outside as in. As family, friends and farmers from all across the country followed her fund raising pink tractor for her internment in Gods Acre in the shadow of the castle I could almost hear her - leaning over the parapets of Heaven - demanding to know who was looking after the cattle.
Who was not granted that much time to dance.
But who taught us all that there is no footprint so small that it does not leave an imprint on this world.
What a job to have! I am honoured, privileged, humbled and forever in your debt.
Thank you for everything you have given me in 2018. And here's to 2019!! May you dance xx
......and I would never have fitted this in a Christmas Card!!
In memory of Sue, Annie, Jane and Eva - and with permission of their families - the money I would have spent this year sending you all Christmas Cards will be split between
Macmillan Cancer Support
Poole Hospital NHS Trust - Oncology Department
The Skye High Foundation