{love luella & life} Bloody JD

If you asked me my thoughts on JD a month ago I would of said a simple, “NO”.

I can’t drink JD, I get drunk off the smell, It’s not clever, it’s not pretty and we run out of carrier bags quickly the next day in my home (I know). So I learned that lesson many years ago.

Ask me now what JD means and it’s something completely different. JD has changed my way of thinking. Bare with me..

JD has changed my mind, my mind controls my way of thinking, my way of approaching situations, my decisions, my anxiety, so in effect my current lifestyle. Along with other recent events. So do you see my logic?

Well, following on from my last blog post. Last weeks Tuesday at about this time of day I was F R E A K I N G out. I was driving up the motorway with Beyoncé’s 7/11 blasting (amongst other songs) randomly speaking to myself, ‘it’s gonna be fine, you can do it, just keep swimming driving….You are a BOSS ASS BEEP- Yes, yes I bloody am.

So, to explain that last part, I was in tears Tuesday morning, Kai as usual comforted me, he told me, “Mam you can do it, you are a boss… aaaaa…sssss…. beep, followed by a huge toothy grin. The slow delay while he said ass and then the decision to change ‘bitch’ to beep is exactly why I am sure this boy will be a diplomat. Where he learned that, I have no idea! I looked at him and hugged him, say it again Kai, ok one more time, yeah, okay Kai, I am, amazing, lets go! Have a great day in school I love you so much. I realise reading this, it’s going to be scatty but I have to describe it accurately. I almost didn’t go, but Kai gave me the push I needed.

And then there I was rapping my way up the M56, my poor Nain, who I was dropping “at the shops” (I’m almost certain she expected Corwen town shops) holding on for dear life giving me the look, the ARE YOU INSANE look. To clarify, doing 35 mph on a 60 mph open road in dry conditions with music above volume 8 would probably give her the same reaction. So you get my drift. (If you don’t-NO, I wasn’t speeding)

I picked up my friend Domo in Manchester & dropped off my Nain “by the Holiday inn and that carpark. What carpark is that carpark :/) Domo & sat nav guided me to a carpark on the other side of Manchester, then we walked to my destination…Dominic you were ideal in that moment. Sarcastic, engaging and borderline annoying to where I got there, you distracted me just enough. We both know I would have walked the opposite direction had you not ‘held my hand’ and ended up in Mcdonalds. Thanks dude.

So, earlier than I wanted to be, I found myself in Castlefield. We went to THE bar, THE bar where I would meet my death if you’d have asked me an hour before from sheer nerves. But, it was a really nice bar . We ordered coffee & coke with ice and a slice. And we sat. I insisted on sitting outside in the cold. I needed to SEE everything, everyone. Eventually, to my right were 3 ladies, to my left two. I’ll give you my inner thought c r a z y commentary, “she’s a photographer, she’s wearing gloves, they came together..oh crap, i’m sure I can hear an American accent? I love her bag, she looks talented, where is number 6, oh I am number 6, wow amazing we are all female, power to the ladies, this is stupid, shit why am I here, don’t leave me Domo”

Honestly that was excessive,  I promise I am completely ‘normal’….

Weirdly, we all kind of got up simultaneously, we looked around at each other and drifted to the front entrance. I was shaking! We began saying hello and we had a little talk between us. JD joined the group moments later. At this point, I was holding on to the railings next to me…I was THAT nervous. He proceeded to look all smiley, all nice and all approachable. What is this trickery?!!! Then, this amazonian goddess comes up to the group. Great. I am now the real midget gem. We had to introduce ourselves. You know, the really awkward, embarrassing school time ‘ice breaker’ my names Tash and I am….(last blog post title gained)

I didn’t even hear the 5 ladies around me, I was just concentrating on staying upright and looking “cool”- if you know me, you know that’s a joke.

Without any ado, we moved on to the location. I won’t go into every thought I had on that little trip but I got there. Stacey, the goddess model had all of our names on little pieces of paper, something they’d made earlier! Those pieces of paper would determine if I was going 1st, 2nd and so on. I was hoping to be second- just enough time to get a grip and not too long a wait where I would implode. I was 5th.

Alix with my number 5

We all knew what we were getting into. 6 finalist photographers that had applied to win Jonny Drapers (JD) 6 month mentoring programme. I don’t know how many entered but I know that I got to the final 15, then I got to the final 6… Must be an error right? So here I was number 5/6. We each had a 10 minutes timed shoot with Stacey under the watchful eye of JD and within the sight range of the other 5 finalists. No pressure.

That time I spent freezing was invaluable. I got to talk to 5 other determined, talented and likeminded individuals. We all swapped details, Instagram, Facebook, numbers, all of it. It was the breath of fresh air I truly needed. For so long I had worked alone, looked up to many. I was at the point of becoming accustomed to the thought of this job, this job I love being pretty lonely. Sure, I’ve had the odd kind word or a brief online chat, but nothing like this. Nothing where their enthusiasm and appreciation of each others craft was so tangible and so uncompetitive. They were just like me, I was just like them & we were all together in this moment.

I am a photographer in my own right, photography as I said last time is subjective and more than just who is taking pictures of your special event or wedding. You are booking a person, a personality and that should suit you just as much as the images do.

With the hasthag #communityovercompetition in mind (thanks Abi) that I always used in the words of #createnotcompete here are the top 6 finalists with the exception of myself.

Photography by Kathryn

Ferguson Event and Portrait Photography


Squid & Pearl Photography

Louise Jacob Photography

After the live shoot, we headed back to the bar and all sat together with our choice of drink, my choice was vodka but I was driving so I had a latte. In the order we shot at the live shoot we had to go to talk to JD & NR. NR was a curveball I did not see coming.

JD, Jonny Draper held the competition and NR, Neil Redfern assisted him in the interviews. Again, I was terrified, freshly so with the surprise. In the time between Number 1 and Number 4 though, I learned a lot. I listened to stories, I talked too much and I made future plans in Abersoch. It was an eventful and fun afternoon.

My turn soon came and I felt like I was walking to judgement. I turned the corner and there they were JD & NR beer in hand. Bare in mind I haven’t had any sort of interview for over 10 years! I couldn’t tell you the details of what I was asked or what I babbled on about but I did it. And, I will be forever happy I did, it put me right out of my comfort zone and that is my new found intention for this year at least.

I left quite quickly after the final interviewee and had to drive around Manchester searching for my Nain by that carpark, I still don’t know where that carpark is or what it was called in the end! We had our obligatory Mcdonalds and headed home.

There hasn’t been a moment since Milo’s birth where I was as high as the moment I got back and Kai greeted me with that toothy grin. I was so proud that he was proud, so relieved, so excited and so thankful.

In the week+ since the event I have talked more to some of the finalists, seen some of their work, submissions and ‘sneak peeks’ and it has only reaffirmed the pride in myself. The talent I am amongst is humbling and I now have friends in the industry, friends who can talk to me and I to them. That’s priceless.

I promise you ladies, every one of us deserves everything and every one of us are great in our own way and I am glad I met you all.

Here are my four main photographs from the live shoot, other images that I took during/after & a reluctant selfie with the entire gang. (Selfie taken & kindly borrowed from Jonny Draper Photography) all other images by me.

Model: Stacey McKenzie

© Love Luella Photography
© Love Luella Photography
© Love Luella Photography
© Love Luella Photography
Photo 31-03-2016, 14 26 36
The Gang © Jonny Draper Photography

Right now, I don’t know who has ‘won’ but I know we are all amazing, we are all boss ass beeps.


Jonny Draper Photography and Training

Jonny Draper Photography

Neil Redfern Photography

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post this, but what’s the point in that? I’ll just update it instead.

Tash x

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly I didn’t win the mentoring. I don’t feel I really need mentoring which I would never have had the confidence to say last month. I do however need to continue to push my boundaries, learn, learn learn, throw myself into anything slightly challenging and/or beneficial. I could always do with a photographer ear now and then, someone who knows the situation with experience & back up out there in this somewhat crazy industry and now I have it in the form of Alix, Kate, Kathryn, Louise and Abi!

I will say that the beautiful talented, special unicorn Kate did win the mentoring and I am incredibly proud of her!

Would it have been a surprising experience to win? Of course. But, our journeys are not defined by others actions they are defined by our own and I have forged a path that I never, ever thought possible. Now, I get to continue forging my path with friends by my side.

A big final thank you to JD for the opportunity  to meet these special people.

Next few blog posts will be back to business. Weddings, features & there is also a few special give aways on the cards 🙂

Thanks for putting up with me.

T x