It feels so strange to say it, but hello 2020. I’m not one for resolutions, but I am an enneagram type one and INFJ, and to be honest, new year’s time and new decades and birthdays always bring up a lot of introspection, reflection, and anxiety over all of the goals I didn’t accomplish or ways I failed. I’m sure many of you share the same struggle. What a deadly personality combination!
Personal notes aside, at this time last year, almost to the day, I had my final day at my old day job as a marketing manager, and a week later embarked on the greatest adventure (other than my marriage) I’ve ever experienced: journeying through 26 states over 3.5 months with my husband and dog in our R-Pod. What a gift we gave ourselves after a really tough 2018 for us personally. I just recently made some photo books of our trip and it took four volumes to tell the story. From clogged toilets to beautiful vistas, the trip was a once in a lifetime experience that I’m glad we got to do.
This also means that I’m writing as a celebrate my first anniversary as a full time photographer/small business owner. Wow! In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I ever thought I’d make it here. When I graduated college back in 2013, I had no freaking idea what to do with myself other than get a job. So I did that and I tried to convince myself that I was a successful humanities major that “made it.” Ha! Do any of us really “make it”? In 2019, I was 10 years out of high school and I will tell you that in 2009 I never imagined that I could even own a business. In fact, I’m pretty sure I scoffed at anything “business” related. HA! But in 2017 when I decided to really do this, I let my determination, perseverance, and inability to let a goal fall to the wayside guide me here.
In 2019, I just had my most successful year of business. I don’t measure this in dollars or weddings shot or shutter count, but how I feel about the work I’m producing and where I am headed creatively and business-wise. This year I completely changed my business name, revamped my website, worked on upping my client experience, attended my first business workshop, and got better and better with every single session and wedding and edit. By the time December rolled around, I felt like I was finally hitting my stride and headed in the direction I had been seeking for so long.
I am still in awe that people hire me to tell their stories. I am still in awe that they invite me into their most vulnerable moments. I am still in awe that they trust me to be a part of their lives, however small that may be. All of their positive feedback and support always gives me the boost I need when I worry that I should quit or that this won’t last (if you have cure for self-doubt, let me know). They remind me that this job is important and that love is the most beautiful thing in the world. I truly adore working with people in love, no matter their age, because they make me believe that there’s still good in this dumpster fire we find ourselves in daily.
2020 looks a lot different than I thought it would, but I am excited to stretch my creativity even further and really put people at the center of my work. I want to push the documentary aspect of my work because as you’ll see below, those are my favorite images. I know you all print the formal photos, but the moments are why I do this job and why every single wedding and session is different, which I LOVE.
The photos below aren’t exhaustive, but I spent the day going through all of my images from last year and loved reliving every wedding day and every session over again. It was such a full year, but a fun year. There were so many more laughs than tears, and capturing that joy has been the greatest privilege and honor for me. Thank you all for your vulnerability and for sharing yourselves with me.
Happy 2019! I hope that you all had an amazing holiday season. I took a solid week off to be with family and then finished up my 2018 wedding season with two winter weddings. Now it’s the first Friday of January and I’m reflecting on the last year, culminating in sharing some of my favorite images from the year.
It’s always hard to put together any “best of” list, especially when you’ve shot over 85,000 images in just a year. Yes, that’s 26 weddings, nearly 40 engagements, couples, and family sessions, plus who knows whatever personal stuff I did (not as much as I should have).
Honestly, I sometimes uncover images that I forgot about when I’m editing (that part is super fun) or come back to a wedding day after many months to put together a blog post and find more images that I love more than the day after I shot them when I choose previews.
I’m an INFJ and we LOVE reflection, but it wasn’t until pulling together these images from my 2018 archive that I stopped for a moment to reflect, possibly the first time in a long while. It’s all so subjective, but I’m so proud of the body of work that I created this year and when I was looking back, noticed how much I’ve truly grown as a photographer. I think I’ve really honed in on my style and craft, though it feels like things are always evolving in this industry. I have worked with some incredible people this year, many of them feeling more like friends than clients. I welcome a new set of couples starting in March, who are all equally as lovely (some of their engagement photos are featured here).
I cannot post this without mentioning some personal reflection of the year, as it’s my goal in 2019 to infuse more of me in my outreach. I was just telling one of my friends that I never have a problem being myself and sharing in person while in small groups, but struggle with putting everything online. Sharing emotions, struggles, and triumphs in public makes me uncomfortable, but I know it’s necessary. If you care not of personal things, skip to the pretty pictures.
This past year was tough on me. I worked the entire year at a full time job in addition to my business that quickly became full time by summer. I found myself working A LOT, which apparently I am not cut out for. But I wanted my business to flourish, but being the pragmatist I am, I didn’t want to give up a much higher paying position before proving to myself that my business could succeed. Between Labor Day and Christmas, I took maybe three full days off from any work.
During this time, my husband was traveling for work – A LOT and at last minute. During September, he was gone half the month and I often had no idea when he was coming home or when he was leaving. Difficult on him, all of this travel was a bummer because we had agreed that he would take over a lot of household and dog-related things in the second half of the year so that I could remain focused and also balance self-care. As you can imagine, this did not happen and there were many days where I forgot to brush my teeth or shower until late in the day (I worked my day job mostly from home). Later in the year during my busiest season in the fall, Josh was home but working 60+ hour weeks and on weekends.
Needless to say, we ended the year very tired, very stressed out, and very much in need of rest. More on that later. We did it; we made it through somehow. For me, it required cutting out workouts, seeing less of my friends and family, and no time for any “me time.” There just wasn’t enough hours in the day, and I refused to give up my 7-8 hours of sleep per night, my personal form of self-care and a necessity for my focus.
Though the last year exposed many of my faults and problems, it also taught me that I can indeed run a business. I am really good at prioritizing and multi-tasking. With an anxious mind, I’m someone who enjoys a clean space, but I let some of that go this year in favor of some time spent with a friend. I care less about my appearance than ever before, which I’d say is a good thing overall. It taught me that I need time for myself, even if it’s 30 minutes per day, so that I can recharge my batteries for everyone else.
I won’t lie…I’m happy to welcome 2019 and some big changes for me (stay tuned), but I’m also looking back on all of 2018 with gratitude. I cannot say it enough: I am so grateful for this job. Even when I’ve been totally stressed, thinking that I’ve failed myself and my clients (thanks anxiety!), and I haven’t had a moment to myself, I have been grateful. What a privilege to be able to serve my clients and to capture moments that they will cherish and share for generations. I don’t take this job lightly at all. I’m grateful that 26 couples entrusted me with capturing their wedding days. I’m overjoyed that many families sought me out to capture their babies and moments together. I loved every moment behind the camera and spending time with you all.
I loved the variety of couples and places from this year. From backyard weddings with drag queens, to Catholic ceremonies to breweries to intimate restaurant affairs, what a year and what a group of clients. I can’t wait to see what we create together in 2019.
photos of me & josh by athornsphoto.com