2017 in review

2017 has been a huge photography year for me. My ability, my passion, my drive has grown and I thought it good to look over the year. I also see I can be the tragic artist that strives for perfection and gets disheartened when it doesn’t occur. Here are 11 photos that I’ve taken over the year that have a special place, with a special story and memory. So much has occurred and so it’s great to see where I’ve been taken by my love and drive to get that shot.

At the beginning of the year I had my first photography exhibition. It was a huge event. I had never done anything like it before and although it was really hectic leading up to the night I was amazed at the result. It was such a beautiful celebration of Australian beauty and I was so grateful to many friends helping bring it to fruition.


I grew up in a small town called Donald, in country Victoria. It’s notable feature is a tree that has a stump shaped like a buloke’s head. When it floods the discussion is “will the buloke drink”. When I was there for my mum’s birthday I took this shot and thought “this is the best photo this tree has ever had”. Now this canvas print sits in the Donald Cafe’.


I love what an animal’s love can mean to a person. Although I don’t have a lot of experience with horses I wanted to capture this love between a horse and their owner. This was my first horse session in doing it. Pally and Shelby were the perfect models for the event, even if Pally jolted at the end of the session when she realised she could.

On Easter morning there was a sunrise church service that I was attending. I’d been asked to take a few photos and so was arriving a little early. When I got there these kangaroos were on the beach. I’ve never seen kangaroos on the Gold  Coast beach and it really was an amazing moment and morning.



One person who attended my exhibition asked me to capture a special place that they held dear and then produce it on 3 canvas panels, a tryptych. It was a challenge and I wanted to get the moment right. Afterward I thought others might have a special place they had so I created an offshoot of Jona Photography called Your special place captured.


In May the hospital I loved working in as a theatre nurse shut. It was such a shock and in the weeks proceeding it I actually had time to do things because I didn’t have nursing. One thing that I did was visit my favourite local swan on my running track. One early morning I captured this.



This is possibly my favourite 2017 photo. The morning I took it I drove out of Alice Springs hoping to find a hot air balloon sailing in the sky. I didn’t know where to go but I prayed I’d get an amazing shot. On the way back from not finding the balloons the sky filled with colour. I couldn’t contain it in a single shot and so this is about 5 photos stitched together.

A few months ago before photo I saw a similar shot. It shocked me. As someone who’d grown up with pet budgerigars it had never occurred to me that they were out in the wild. That’s why when I experienced with my own eye, my own lens is was such an incredible experience. For an hour these budgies darted all over the waterhole, dipping in and out of the water. It also convinced me that I needed a real telephoto lens.



Early one morning my husband wanted me to get up and take a photo of the moon. He was so insistent that he went and got my tripod out and convinced me to get up. This was the shot I got. Some photos are lessons and this one was “even though you don’t always want to get out of bed for the shot doesn’t mean you shouldn’t”.




About three years ago I tried to get a photo of a peacock, it was a friends peacock so I didn’t think it would be too difficult. However the day I went Alex was in a bad mood with his owner so I didn’t succeed. Then about two years ago I went to this peacock park to get a photo and all I got was about 100 insect bites. This year I went to the peacock park, I even was carrying my lens ready to snap if I saw a peacock. When a local resident saw me and my jumbo lens they pointed me the direction to walk and I go this.




I’ll admit I have a special bond with animals. I don’t fear them, I don’t get intimidated by them, instead I want to photograph them. On my birthday my husband took me to the Australia Zoo. They have a lot of animals but I saw this wombat timidly coming out of his hutch. As I walked toward his enclosure he walked toward me and got this shot.

The Joy of Jona

At times I get called Jona. It’s one of those things where I don’t know if I should correct the person. I’ve even had a work friend tell me her husband corrected her when she called me Jona. Is my name Jona? Well kind of, it is a combination of my first and surname. I’m not sure when the trend of combining celebrity names came about but since I created the name Jona 17 years ago I’d like to think I was way ahead of my time.

Recently I’ve discovered another meaning to Jona. The Joy Of Nature & Animals. That is my photography in a nutshell. I have so much joy in capturing the beauty of this world. I’ve even started a photography group at my local Baptist Church called the Joy of Photography, or for short the JOPs. A few months after our first meet up I went to a Joy Of Photography Workshop by Steve Parish, like I said Ahead of My Time.

Joy is important. It gives me joy to photograph but I also want to pass on the joy. There is so much pain and suffering in the world that I’m out there capturing the joy of nature & animals. I want to remind people that worrying isn’t going to add a single minute to your life. In fact it can start to paralyse you, make you believe there is no way out. Instead I’d encourage you to take a moment to look around, go to the park, the beach, outdoors. Turn off the computer, the phone, disconnect from social media and breathe.

Happiness is based your circumstances but I believe joy is from having peace and hope. For me that comes from my faith in something, someone, that can’t be seen but is known. Without peace and hope you have torment and hopelessness.

A woman wrote in her sister’s obituary “Here is the truth: You have value. You have worth. You are loved. Trust the voices of those who love you. Trust the enormous chorus of voices that say only one thing: You matter. Depression lies. We must tell the truth.”

Her words have power because they are true for everyone. No matter how isolated you are you are loved.

Your Special Place Captured

Do you have a special place?
A place that gives you peace. A place that in years to come you’ll think of before any house you lived in.
Capturing that special place and having it in your home is what this is about.

The Jona Exhibition

I’m a little lost. I’m not sure what to do. I’m 6 days away from the Jona Exhibition and all that needs to be done has been done. Yes there will be more to do in a few days and especially on the actual day but for now there is a stillness. And I’m not that good with stillness.

So what to expect in 6 days?

A gallery full of my prints. A combination of landscape and animal prints. The landscape covers the dusty rural roads of Victoria, to spectacular cloud formations in Western Australia to the famous beaches of the Gold Coast. The animals are mainly Australian native wildlife however growing up in a farming community I see these farm animals also representing Australian life. There’s canvas prints, aluminium prints and photo prints ranging from $27 to $599. There will also be keyrings and books that I’ve made. Each photo has a story and as you walk around the gallery you’ll get to read and experience those stories.

My experience?

None with creating and organising an exhibition. That’s good and bad. The good is that I’m not basing it on what others have done but purely what I think is a good idea. The bad is I’d like to have more experience doing this.

The details?

Monday 6th February 6:30-9:30pm is the launch. It’s at Kirra Hill Community Centre, 1 Garrick St, Coolangatta. For those that can’t make the night the gallery is open to the public for the next two weeks Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm. I really feel like a used car salesman, every time I see someone I whip out my card, recite the details and hope that another person gets to see my work.

The why?

I want people to see my work. I want to celebrate the beauty of Australia.  I have such a passion and desire to capture beauty but what’s the point if no-one gets to see it? Presenting it on facebook is nothing compared to presenting it large scale.


There’s two avenues of getting the prints that you’ll see on the night.

The first is buying off the wall. Because I don’t want others coming to the gallery to miss out on seeing all the prints they will be displayed until the 20th February. After that the ones sold will be available for pickup from Divine Dance Tweed in Tweed Heads (5kms from the gallery). Those prints will be discounted 10%.

The 2nd is choosing your own size and print from the wall. Obviously I can’t sell the same print twice so if someone else has already bought the print you want off the wall you miss out on the 10%. However you will receive your product, delivered to your house, within 7 business days.

Destiny Rescue?

Finally I want to bless others with my work. I want to bless those who come along and get to see my work and bless those that purchase my work. I also have the opportunity to bless Destiny Rescue, a not for profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children from human trafficking & sexual exploitation, with 10% of all sales from the night.

A story behind every photo.

For me, the joy behind each photo is knowing the story behind what triggered that button press. This one however has more sadness attached than joy.
Eight years ago when I was living in Melbourne I worked with Mark. He was a recovery nurse who essentially was a country boy. He had a place in Kinglake and told me I had to check it out with my camera.
One cold morning I made the drive and while it was still misty I captured this. I was still using my film SLR Minolta camera and didn’t know how it would turn out, remember those days? I took photos on my drive home but this one stood out. Later I put this Psalm verse with it. I thought the fear and powerlessness through looking at this view combined with the comfort and strength of the Bible verse was a good fit.
When I heard of the Victorian bush fires in 2009 I didn’t worry about Mark. I knew he was a smart guy who wasn’t about to risk his life for a property. I found out later that people didn’t have time to make smart decisions during that Black Saturday. When he was listed among the missing then I feared the outcome. He, along with 172 others, died in those fires. Tears roll down as I type this remembering that terrrible period for so many.
When I created the 2010 calendar I dedicated this picture and it’s month to Mark. If I hadn’t met him I would never captured this shot yet he was taken too soon, like many others. There was no happy ending on that day.

Moment of clarity.

Have you had that moment when everything around you is chaos and confusion and in the midst you have a moment of clarity?
For me that moment came 7 years ago. I was working as a nurse, at a major trauma centre, and everyday was a struggle. I wasn’t learning what I wanted, the work was physically, emotionally and mentally draining and I was tired.

One night I went out with my camera and took this photo. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out as I was still photographing with film. However I knew how I felt. I realised that being out taking photos gave me life, it energised me. Being in a stressful hospital environment de-energised me. I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and now I knew it.
I’m not sure how many weeks later but I resigned from my job. I even went into my boss’s office and showed her my basic portfolio. At the time another person resigned to focus on photography (I’m not sure what happened to him). I assumed I’d be able to get my old, less stressful, job back and focus more on photography. This I did.
I wish that I could say that at that point I started selling my work and becoming a successful photographer. However I am a nurse, I am creative about my work, passionate about photography, love learning and up until this point have made very few good business decisions. I will try to change this. I will try to appreciate my work and allow others to do the same. But for today I’m still a cliched work in progress.

Keep calm and carry on.

Have you ever gone outside at twilight and you’ve seen the world in a whole new light? It’s not just the sky that’s a unique colour. It’s everything around you. You don’t see it very often so when it does happen you feel blessed to be a part of it and want to share it with others. I’ll go drag my husband out to show him this special beauty. Maybe you’ll take a picture to share it on instagram, Facebook, the world?
What’s so special about it? I’ll let you in on a secret. It probably happens a lot more than you realise but unless you go outside at that particular minute you’ll miss it. Usually we’re busy preparing dinner, watching tv, working or even scrolling the internet.
The most important part of this moment is that you’re there and it stops you in your tracks. Even if it’s just for a few minutes we’re still. The moment is so glorious, so unique, our eyes force us to take in the beauty of it all.
So why have I titled this Keep Calm and Carry On. Would you believe the Keep Calm and carry on poster was originally a motivational message to strengthen moral before WWII? Sadly now we use it because our life is in constant crisis mode. We’re busy. I don’t even need to elaborate, you all know what I mean.
Next time you’re stopped by that moment of beauty, breath it in, still your heart and accept that this is a gift.

Humans of New York

Have you heard of the photographer that takes pictures of people in New York and posts them and their stories online? It’s a hugely popular website and has 12.5 million followers on facebook. Of course being so popular others have followed the idea in other countries, including Australia. Inspired I started a Dogs of Gold Coast page on my website.

The first time I went out I was really nervous. What if people were negative, refused or even laughed at me? I found a dog tied to a post. It’s owner was with her daughter on the play equipment. It was the perfect opportunity. I took a photo and yet didn’t approach the woman. The photo was actually pretty good, yet my rule was that I ask permission and I ask for the dog’s name. Ten minutes later it started raining and I was off the hook.

A week later I tried again. This time I was full of a determined spirit. Each person I asked was delighted by the idea. Each new dog challenged me to think more about the setting and being able to capture the dog’s character. At one point I could hear barking and realised a group had their dog, Louie, in a shaded carry cage. I asked if he could come out for a photo and here is my reward. A cute little chihuahua who was happy to pose. Most are.

My page is only just beginning but I’m glad I got past the stage fright and am now able to do something I wanted to do. I get to meet strangers’ dogs and maybe I’ll start asking some for their story. Not just humans have a story to tell.

How about you? Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone? The sad thing (for me anyway) is the older you get the more tempting it is to take the easy way out and not take risks. What’s the reward in this though? Doing the same thing, no adventures, no growth. I challenge you to try out something you’re just that little bit nervous about. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t succeed the first time. Just don’t give up.

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

Introducing me, introducing you.