'Pinch me' moment as Dragons' Den 'best-ever pitch' books Joan as his wedding photographer

Sam Jones and his wife Georgie on their second wedding day at Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe. Picture: Joan Jellett.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: August 29, 2022 | Updated: 29th August 2022

Joan Jellett can’t quite believe how quickly her photography business has taken off since – in her words – “quitting the rat race” of London.

The French-born, and now Bournemouth-based, wedding photographer relocated to Dorset 14 months ago.

It was a decision based purely on the quality of life.

She said: “I knew places like Christchurch and the New Forest from my visits to the area.

“I also used to holiday in Biarritz as a child.

“Bournemouth is very similar which is why I love it.

“I couldn’t be happier to be living in this gorgeous beauty spot.”

Joan, pictured, moved to the UK 18 years ago, initially working as a French teacher in primary schools before taking up photography.

She credits Paul Rogers, a former news photojournalist with The Times and now a highly successful wedding photographer in his own right, with demonstrating many of the skills she practises today.

Joan, 36, said: “Paul was like a mentor to me and showed me how to approach photography in what I call a ‘fly on the wall’ way.

“I call myself a documentary wedding photographer, capturing real and not fairy-tale memories.

“I photograph weddings in a very natural way, nothing staged or forced.

“I simply go with the flow and document the day.

“The days are always fun and relaxed, with no pressure.

“Even after ten years of shooting weddings, I still thrive on making, and seeing, people happy on their special day.

“I believe this is why I became a wedding photographer.

“Love, displays of emotions and happiness truly is what drives me.”

Rebuilding her business from scratch, one of Joan’s best decisions was to take a stand at The Ultimate Wedding Show, held at the Bournemouth International Centre in February.

It resulted in 15 couples booking her services within the space of 48 hours.

She now has 23 weddings booked for this year and next.

One of her biggest breaks came in June when she was asked to cover the wedding of tech startup entrepreneur Sam Jones, credited with delivering the best-ever pitch on the TV hit show, Dragons’ Den.

It was judge Touker Suleyman who labelled Sam’s presentation as “the best pitch” he had ever witnessed.

Subsequently four ‘dragons’ offered to invest in his Generat8 Ads business.

Sam, who attended Dumpton School and Canford School, eventually raised £2.1 million from angel investors.

They included TV dragons Touker, Peter Jones and – after the show – Tej Lalvani with Tinie Tempah and Poole’s Harry Redknapp also joining the funding round.

Joan was invited to cover Sam’s wedding at Poole Register Office at the Guildhall in Market Street and a second ceremony two weeks later at Tunnels Beaches at Ilfracombe in Devon.

She said: “I was contacted by Sam’s sister, Maria, who found me on Instagram.

“It was a real ‘pinch me’ moment.

“Sam later shared the pictures on his LinkedIn account where he has over 129,000 followers, resulting in more than 3,500 ‘likes’ and 260 comments.

“It was such a kind thing to do and Sam has become a really good friend.”

Since taking up photography, Joan has now shot more than 200 weddings – and not just in the UK.

She has travelled all over the world including the USA and, this year, Paris and Sicily.

Her images have also been published in Vogue.

Joan said: “Wedding photography is something I simply cannot get bored of.

“I can honestly say no two weddings are the same.”

But as well as weddings, Joan also photographs families and business clients, once again in a creative non-obtrusive way.

She said: “It creates the most beautiful story-telling images.

“Successfully rebuilding my business in Bournemouth was a challenge.

“But I thrive on challenges.

“In London I felt I’d lost my passion and mojo but here I feel so happy.

“I have been overwhelmed by the help and kindness of the lovely people of Dorset.”

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