Goodbye 2010 : Hello 2011!

Jay McLaughlin Photographer

Happy New Year Peoples! Thought I'd follow suit and write a blog about what's happened over the past 12 months, and what I'm hoping for in the next.

Well, what can I say? 2010 has been quite epic. I didn't realise it until last week when I started to put together my annual portfolio. For those who don't know, every year I put together a book of my best work from that year. This is purely a personal exercise so that I can look back and hopefully see an improvement as time's gone on.

Jay McLaughlin Portfolio Blurb Book 2009

Anyway, yesterday I ordered my 2010 book, and not only was it twice as many pages as the year before, but also I was really able to see how far I've come in the last 12 months, which in turn has made me very excited about the year ahead!

So where was I? Where am I now? Where am I headed? Well quite simply, I'd just signed the lease on my own studio, and made a decision to focus on my fashion photography. Up and till that point I was still a little unfocussed in terms of my career goals. I was enjoying shooting for magazines and being published all over the world, but I didn't feel like I was going in the right direction. 2010 has given me that direction!

Jay McLaughlin 2009 Model Portrait Fashion Photoshoot Photographer Photography
Jay McLaughlin 2009 Model Portrait Fashion Photoshoot Photographer Photography Ana Tanaka

The images above were shot in January. Towards the end of 2009, I'd really fallen in love with black and white photography, and my images have reflected that this year. When I shot these images, I was really happy with them. They were very different to anything I'd shot before, but now when I look back, I don't have anywhere near the same love for them. I'm very self deprecating about my work, which whilst many people would see that as being negative, I use it as a positive mentality as it helps me to grow and improve.

Now here's a couple of images I shot at Toni & Guy, Swindon, just before Christmas. The amusing thing is that the poses are very similar... I promise this wasn't intentional, but what it hopefully helps to show is the way my work has changed and evolved in 12 months.

Jay McLaughlin 2009 Model Portrait Fashion Photoshoot Photographer Photography Vicki Blatchley
Jay McLaughlin 2009 Model Portrait Fashion Photoshoot Photographer Photography Vicki Blatchley

I'm much happier with my work at the moment and feeling very positive about it going forward. Of course, this time next year I'll probably have similar feelings towards my next images as I do about those I shot a year ago... such is life! I would definitely recommend people look back at the last year. I've always believed that in order to know where you're going, you need to know where you've been... otherwise there's a risk you'll end up back where you started!

So what else can I say about 2010? I made some really cool new contacts, both in photography, and the industry as a whole. It really amazes me how many new people I worked or networked with when compared to 2009! I was going to do some personal thank you's, but then I realised how many there were I thought it'd end up like a boring Oscar speech! There are some really cool people out there who I'm thankful for meeting. Of course I've met a couple of bad apples this year too, had my opinions challenged, and been let down numerous times. Fortunately, there are enough good people to completely outweigh the bad! :)

Many other things happened to me in the last year. I went to my very first London Fashion Week. This was a great experience, both from an educational perspective, but also for networking. I also updated my physical appearance, which is something I'm going to be blogging about very soon. I didn't manage to get any jobs working abroad unfortunately. I went away 3 times for various clients in 2009, so I suppose I'll live. If anyone wants me to shoot in the caribbean in 2011, I'll be more than happy to! For all those photographers who love their gear, I suppose I should talk about a few of my equipment additions in the past year...

The biggest one I suppose would have to be my Hasselblad H3DII-31. I'm not going to go into too much detail about it (you can read more here), but I will say that I really love this camera! Other than that, I got an iPad, a couple of new Elinchrom flash heads and the odd bit of miscellaneous studio equipment, but I haven't actually been shopping for gear that much. They're just tools to me, and as long as I can do the job with what I have, then I'm happy! One new bit of kit I have is my new Olympus Pen E-PL1 Micro Four Thirds camera.

Olympus PEN E-PL1 Camera

My reason for this is that since having an iPhone, I've been shooting a lot more incidental and off the cuff images. I wanted a camera I could carry around with me and just whip out quickly. I'm waiting for a 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens for it and then I really will be set to go! The other thing is that I realised recently that I don't have many photos of the people I work with. Sure I have lots of the models from the shoots, but none of the rest of the team etc. I started putting more pictures up on my studio wall to make it less sterile and more personal, and this camera will help me fill up the walls as it will always be on hand for any occasion!

Right, so.... 2011? What's the plan? Does anyone know? I certainly don't! I know I'm excited, and I know I'm going to keep going in the direction I'm headed. I do have a few resolutions though...


  • Network more!I did loads in 2010, but it really showed me how important it is!
  • Do more personal projectsI've really found that personal work is the key to moving forward, both personally and professionally!
  • Test more and lessI did a lot of testing over the last 12 months. There was a lot that I should have turned down. I need to be far more picky, instead of trying to keep people happy. That said, I need to test more with the right people and create the images for my book that I know I'm easily capable of!
  • Go to more exhibitionsI love going to photography exhibitions. There were loads this year that I missed. That annoys me! I need to make the time to go and see all the amazing work that's out there! Who's up for coming with me?
  • Shoot on location moreSince getting my studio, I've been able to shoot so much more than ever before... the problem I now have is that a lot of my book is studio based. I really need to shoot more location work. I started to rectify this in the last couple of months, but I need to do more... especially on beaches in hot countries! Haha
  • Blog moreI have a lot to say, I just need to make the time to say it!
  • Do more social stuffKind of a random personal one this. I realised recently that I've been so into my work that my personal and social life are almost non-existant. That's not to say I don't have them, but they're kind of photography related... which is fine, but I think I need to force myself to take time out from work from time to time to let my hair down (assuming I had any). So my plan is to do more fun stuff. Who knows, it might free my mind a bit to be more creative... and you never know, I might even find me a woman! Haha
  • Get closer to my goalsI try to be a realistic person. I have several goals set for my career. I want to be shooting for Vogue within 5 years. My ultimate goal is to shoot the Pirelli calendar. However, I know I'm not going to do that in 2011, but that's ok. The important thing is to make sure I'm moving closer. Things very rarely happen overnight, and I'm still very new to my photographic career in the grand scheme of things, so as long as I'm on the right path, all is good!

I'm sure there are more, but those are probably the most important. I'd be interested to hear other peoples resolutions or goals for the year. Drop me a comment or an email... especially if you wanna come to any exhibitions! Hehe.

Well I hope everyone had an amazing New Year and look forward to speaking/seeing/working with you in 2011! Lets make it a good one!