My Year

So on this day, 23rd January 2015, I had my first proper photo shoot as a model.


I’ve always being in front of a camera. My dad always had one shoved in my face on family holidays and days out (I make it sound like I wasn’t too happy about it, but evidently, I was!). But this first shoot, exactly one year ago was different. It was being a real model, having someone other than my family want to take pictures of me for artistic purposes… That a lot of strangers are going to look at. My job seems a little bit odd when you put it like that…


I was so nervous on that first shoot. It was cold, it had been snowing. I hadn’t started wearing my contact lenses by this point so when we were shooting, I was blind as a bat and couldn’t see a thing. Luckily, the photographer, Shelly, was very kind and was used to shooting with new and experienced models. He wasn’t about to let me freeze myself to death. We only shot for a little while before retreating to somewhere warm that serves coffee and food to warm up.




This shoot is what made me realise that I LOVED modelling and being in front of a camera. I can’t explain exactly what it is that I love so much, but I knew it was something I wanted to do more of… So I did. As a hobby at first, working with people, building up my portfolio… Until before I knew it, I was good enough for people to want to pay me for my time. REAL money! This is when I realised I was actually a part-time model… And pretty good at what I do as well. In September of 2015, I officially went ‘full-time’. I’m so lucky to have found something that I love doing, that I’m good at.


I feel like I’ve accomplished so much in a year. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I’ve travelled around a fair bit too. My life is exciting and fun and I never know where my work will take me next. I wanted to write this post to share with you all (anyone who actually wants to read this drivel I’m putting out there!) what I’ve achieved in a year.


In 2015, I did approximately 80 photo shoots. On 16 of them, I was working with more than one photographer (either a group shoot, studio day or I was booked by more than one person). I worked with at least 15 people more than once (thanks for having me back!)


I did my first ever studio day in October at The Pit Studio in Nottingham. It didn’t completely sell out, but I arranged everything myself and it was still successful. Thank you so much to the people who came to be a part of this day with me. I really appreciate you!


©Mike Armstrong


I went on my first modelling tour in Gloucester. I had so much fun, met the most wonderful people and it was my first time being by myself in a strange place. Everyone I worked with there was most welcoming and friendly. You can read more about my trip and one of the shoots I did while I was there by clicking here.


©John Gould


There are some people I would like to take the time to thank. People who have helped me to become who and what I am today.


Firstly, the person who puts up with me on a daily basis, my partner, Matthew. Obviously, he’s the one who tells me that I’m beautiful everyday (because he has to!) but he’s the one who makes sure that when I’ve had a lot to do or a lot on my mind, that I have a nice home to come back to and relax in. He makes sure I remember to take food with me when I’m travelling (sometimes I’m forgetful) and just generally being supportive of what I do. If it wasn’t for him, there’s things I probably wouldn’t have done because I was scared or didn’t believe in myself enough (studio day and tour included). I owe the fact that I’m living my dream, mostly to him. Thank you and I love you.




Next, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate just how lucky I am to have two beautiful babies in my life… My rabbit and my kitten. I have a tattoo on my wrist of a bunny with his name written below it. Yorick, is and will always be the most important thing in my life. I love him more than I ever thought possible. I don’t really care if anyone thinks this is silly or odd… They’ve just never known the love that these little floppy eared balls of fluff are capable of. He’s the thing that make me smile when I’m feeling down, makes me giggle with the silly little things he does, lies next to me when I’m ill until I feel better and comes for cuddles when I’m watching TV in the evening. Without Yorick in my life, I’m not claiming that I wouldn’t be a model but it’s the little things that keep you going. Also, my kitten MJ (Misuzu Junior, my mom’s idea) is an awful, naughty, bitey, scratchy little demon… But I love her to bits too. When she’s not attempting to kill me, she’s nice to cuddle and fun to play with. I love them both and am fortunate to have found such joy in these tiny fluffy entities!




I’d like to thank all the photographers that I worked with when I was still pretty new and was finding my feet and learning. I can’t name everyone (and apologies to the people I’ve forgotten) but these include: Kevin Sheldon, Paul Smith, Phil Lonergan, Trevor R, Phil Hawley, Dave Guntripp and Yvonne Guntripp.


Also, I would like to thank Mark Pendlebury. The pictures from the shoot we did back in May are still among my favourites. People still talk to me about those shots when I meet them. Thank you for making a memorable shoot, can’t wait to start discussing the ideas for next time.


©Mark Pendlebury


Next, I’d like to thank the people silly enough to have worked with me on more than one occasion! Paul Smith, Phil Lonergan, Steve Plant, Phil Hawley, James Garbutt, Brian Cooper, Dave and Yvonne Guntripp and everyone at Smethwick Photographic Society. I love shooting with all of you and hope to do so again this year. Let’s keep making magic.


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Special thank you to Brian Cooper. Mainly because he’s someone who I can go to with silly ideas which he brings to life with his photography. He’s one of the few people who will listen to my crazy ideas for tacky Hallowe’en and Christmas related shoots! We have so much fun and I can’t wait to see what trouble and mischief we can get up to this year!


Finally, I’d like to thank my friends for their ongoing support. A lot of the people who have been key to my success (photographers aside) are actually people I’ve connected with through veganism and have never met in real life but they’ve been so supportive and always have something nice to say! I’m very luck to have such wondeful friends. A big THANK YOU to: Phil Jones, Scott Gehrke, Cayce Kaban, Miguel Ramirez, Anthony Antich, Tony Moore, Ernesto Melchor, Danny Harrison, John Clancy and Katie Pearce.


Also, there are people I hope to work with this year and they deserve a mention here! Phil Simpson, Christopher Peet and Trevor Hamilton to name a few.


Thanks for putting up with this post till the end… I know it goes on a bit but I want the people who mean a lot to me to know that they’re appreciated! One last word… Thank you to everyone not mentioned here. Thank you to those who read my blog posts, like and comment on my work and generally makes my job the BEST in the world!


Stay in touch! I have a mailing list, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. You can also email me at



©Phil Hawley

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