The first year of this business comes to a close and above all else, I am grateful. In the beginning of this adventure my emotions ranged from excitement to nervousness, joy to fear. Feelings of "Finally!" to "Oh my gosh what have I done?"
The best part of all is that year one far exceeded the expectations I had buried deep in my mind. Just opening this business was a success to me. I knew it would take time to "get off the ground", so my expectations might have been a little on the low side. I didn't realize how quickly things would happen. I feel extremely fortunate for how it all shook out. This whole year, I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and really had to dive into the deep-end without my arm floaties. Scary as that is, it has been well worth it.
Aside from all of the lifestyle portrait sessions I did this past year, which definitely bring me their own type of joy! It is no secret, wedding photography is the direction I want to go in. I booked a total of 10 weddings this year, two of which have come and gone - and were absolutely wonderful. Eight of which I still get to look forward to in 2015!! I am on cloud nine knowing that fact. Remember when I said my expectations were a little on the low side? I definitely didn't think I would book 10 weddings this quick. To some, that number is maybe low, maybe laughable; to others, they will completely understand my happiness with it. That second group, who truly get it - you are my people.
I drove away from several sessions this year in tears. And I wasn't crying because I was questioning if I had nailed my exposure, or if I had done "good enough" - though there were moments when those thoughts crept in. I cried because this was it. I was doing it. Photography has been what I've wanted to do for years and to finally be doing so is a feeling of elation I can't quite describe.
So, as 2014 comes to an end, it seems only fitting to share some personal thoughts about this year!
---- The Clients ----
Within this first year I found myself at many family and engagement sessions, and at two weddings. Making friends and building relationships with strangers I wouldn't get the chance to meet otherwise. I was given the trust to capture one of the most important days of people's lives for those two incredible couples. Sharing that special day with them, their friends and families, - it was both humbling and rewarding. I have been oh so blessed by amazing clients. You guys have made me feel like a rock star, and I thank you times a million fafillion.
---- The Balance ----
Working a full time day job while doing the dance of a balancing act with ELP and my personal life was, and is, exactly that - a balancing act. During busy months this year of averaging 65-75 hour work weeks of day job + photography, I definitely teetered on the fine line of insanity. I might have put one foot over the line once, just to see how crazy felt. But of course it was all worth it, and I made it happen. It isn't ideal, but is my current state, and I'll take it for what it is worth!
---- The Cost ----
Everything I earned this year was turned right back around and put into ELP. I know some thought I was nuts, and probably still do - Why spend everything you're earning? Well, I decided early on that I didn't want to start things off being belly-up in debt. Is it easy to wait? Heck no. I'd love to buy it all right now. One big gigantic brown box on my doorstep please! But, I personally think it is more wise to earn that coveted gear, piece by piece, by saving all my pretty pennies first, and paying cash. I created a list of gear that is in order of importance - the importance being which lens will further help my photography improve. Which lens will help me to further define my style. As much as I wish I had it all now, that list still exists. So 2015 will continue with the same game plan!
----The Lessons ----
I could rattle on for ages about what I learned from each and every session and event this year. I tried to take away multiple lessons after each one. On my drive home, I asked myself every single time, "What did I do right?" - "What did I do wrong?" - "What could I have done better?" Over and over. I made checklists from these conversations I had with myself in my phone, in tons of Word documents, and in my mind. I've told myself if I can learn a few things after every shoot I have, then I'm growing and becoming a better photographer.
On a lighter note, I learned the hard way that I seriously need to pump some iron... Holding my camera at a wedding for 5, 6, 7+ hours is quite strenuous on my wimpy arms.. So in 2015, I think I need to work on that!!
---- The Embarrassing Moments ----
I've had some embarrassing moments this year, what's 365 days without that though...Am I right?! So for giggles, let's recap those.
I managed to get myself and my clients parking tickets on one particular engagement shoot. That was a great day. And that park patrol guy was a gigantic turd.
That same e-shoot was the scene of probably the most awkward moment ever. Luckily it has nothing to do with my clients or myself, but still, so painful. Basically we witnessed a lady crash her bicycle into her husband's bike while going downhill...fall sideways and flip upside down into a ditch. It was like a slow motion train wreck. The good news is that she was okay, we helped her up and dusted her off. But talk about a way to kill the mood of a happy engagement session! Yeesh!
I once forgot I had unsnapped the cross-body strap of my bag. You can probably see where this is going. At the end of a wonderful engagement session, I grabbed my bag, hoisted it into a full sling-over-the-head-technique, and....across the floor it went. Not my best moment.
I'm a short girl. It isn't great. Mostly I don't mind until it matters, and when it matters it unfortunately really matters. Pretty much all my clients this year were taller than me. I made it work where I could, you know, I'm just going to stand on this here rock, folks! Sometimes I carry a little step ladder along and this is where the embarrassment comes into play. More times than I'd like to count, I came a little too close to totally biting it right off that ladder. I feel it is my fate. One of these days, I'll go sailing right off of that thing.
Speaking of accidents. I've convinced myself that not a single client witnessed any of the following. I'm certain that a magic curtain came up and shielded me from their sight. Saving me from death by embarrassment. Such as.... Walking backwards off of a curb I didn't know was there. Trying to run up a slight hill, losing my balance and completely going down on my hands and knees. Walking into not one, not two, but five tree limbs. I have skills!!
--- The Future! ----
Excitement overload best describes how I feel about 2015. I am pumped to see what all it will bring for ELP, and I'm eager to learn more, grow more, and become more!
I'm also looking forward to hopefully continuing this post, year after year. Sharing how the year was for me, behind the scenes. It seems only right that I end with a photo that I took...approximately 10 years ago. When I was shooting with an old school 35mm, Canon Rebel G. Spending lots of time in dark rooms, staining my clothes with film chemicals and creating what I thought, was awesome art.
I was just a girl with a camera and a dream! Not much has changed :)