For 2014, I made a nice set of tiny, manageable goals that more or less went out the window the minute we got engaged at the beginning of February and life became all about wedding planning (my couples: I feel you.). The cool thing about life is that for stuff like this, you can take a mulligan pretty much any time! So here are my new year’s resolutions, same as the old year’s resolutions:
1. Try to walk 150 km/month. (Now that I have a FitBit, I also often try to hit a monthly average of 10,000 steps per day, but it’s tough this time of year!) Maybe throw in some running sometimes.
2. Finish printing my photos from the past few years, and do that album organization. (I made close to 1000 prints last year, so I certainly made progress on this goal, but it’s a huge project!)
3. Cook a new recipe from each of my cookbooks. Now here I really erred, because we have more cookbooks now (33) than we did in 2014 (27). Oops.
4. Yoga. Go sometimes. (I still would like to do that 30-in-30 and 108 sun salutations, but… let’s be honest here. To get there, I need to start with “go sometimes.”)
5. Make my best effort to be the FREX’s Grand Champion Knitter. I knit a few fine things in 2014, including my wedding bouquet, but I certainly did not have time to knit the sheer volume of things required to meet this goal. Even for 2015, I need to get cracking!
Some other things I’m looking forward to include our honeymoon in Peru, and snuggling with our sweet new cat, Sheta!
Unlike my personal goals, my professional goals, or the way I want to do business, were totally revolutionized over the course of the year. Between hiring two very different (but both great) photography studios to shoot us, and my experience of wedding planning that was mostly bad, I feel like I have all new perspective on what is important to me as a photographer/artist, to me as a business, and to my clients who are getting married.
1. Improve my shooting & storytelling. This was my top goal last year as well, and I feel like it always will be.
2. Change the way I deliver photos.
- All sessions will now be delivered in both colour and black & white. The artist in me has resisted this for years (some photos just look better one way or the other, the end), but the business person in me recognizes that it’s easier to do it this way than to re-edit photos later (or to say ‘no’), and while the client in me might be slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of photos, I absolutely see how easy, beneficial, and generally great it is to have options.
- Weddings will now be delivered on USB rather than DVDs. (Engagement & portrait sessions will still be delivered on DVDs… until my existing stack is gone!)
- Wedding slideshows. I cried when I watched mine, now my wedding clients are getting them, too.
3. Be more consistent about pre- and post- wedding & session communications. I think that I do a pretty good job of this in general, but this year I want to make extra sure that you know what to expect about things like: how your engagement or portrait shoot will work, how I work on your wedding day, how to build your wedding timeline, and when you can expect to receive your photos.
4. Be a boss. Whether it’s to tell you to tuck your shirt in, to admit that the photo location isn’t working and move on, to talk you into an additional portrait session in the evening, or just to stand up in front of all your guests to get a great shot, my goal is to really take charge of situations to get the best photos for you.
5. Be a person. Can I get to a place where I routinely shut my computer off by midnight? Do something on the weekend without manically trying to clear my entire workload to feel like I “deserve it”? I’m still seeking that white whale known as work/life balance, but I feel like I learned a lot in 2014 that sets me up well to work smart and hard without getting burned out. Three months ago I promised to give AG the best of me, and I can only do that if I’m also giving ME the best of me. Time to start.
Have you made changes or resolutions for 2015?
In 2014 I shot 20 weddings from Edmonton to Annapolis Royal, and 42 portraits and commissions from Phoenix to Charlottetown, resulting in over 16,000 photos delivered to clients!! Got included on Weddingbells’ list of Most Inspiring Photographers in Canada, and had one of my images appear in a book. Visited Salt Lake City, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Alberta, Montreal, Portland, Halifax, Charlottetown, Edmundston, St. Andrews, Saint John, Campobello Island, Cocagne, Wolfville, Cape Breton: over 36,600 kilometres travelled! Gained one new niece and lost two old cats. Participated in one collaborative art project. Spoke twice at NBCCD. Snorkelled, kayaked, hiked, skated, and rode a horse (and narrowly avoided being thrown off a horse). Got engaged and then married. 2014 was a pretty big year.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite frames from the past twelve months.
Sparkles and glitter. Opera performances as ceremony readings. Board games and a cutthroat Wii tournament. Giant cut-out faces on the dance floor. A full can of Static Guard. Doing outdoor portraits in 5 minute intervals due to the cold. “The Greenest Grass.” A new best friend, and a new year. This time, they’re married.
I promised myself “family, coziness, overeating, and crashing on the couch” and December mostly delivered. Long walks and board games, Christmas parties, baking cookies, travels, snuggles with nieces, movies, beer, a bit of gift knitting, and tons of turkey. We got our wedding photos a couple of days before Christmas, and I cried happy tears while looking at them. (A post to share some is in the works!)
The month was quiet for shooting, until the last week of the year which was packed with two weddings in the space of four days: Amanda & Ryan’s Halifax wedding, and Carol & John’s New Year’s Eve celebration (coming soon!). I updated my website and portfolio, designed and ordered new sample albums, and shared a huge post of 2014 behind the scenes images. Bonus wedding features: Kady & Seth on the Styled in Lace blog, and Ashley & Hannah on the Reef to Cove blog!
All last month though, something was missing. I think it was peace. I should have been quietly living in the moment, and instead my mind was racing the entire month. Plans, promises, to-do lists, changes I want to tackle, goals to make. On the bright side, January is exactly the time to deal with those things. I have a to-do list that’s currently 30 points long and growing, so let’s go.
A secret handshake. Beer break at Gahan House. Perfect weather. Admiring the view at Halifax Central Library, as other patrons admired them. Wedding mittens. “I’ll Be There for You.” Arms outstretched to the sky, victorious. The happiest couple on a wonderful day.
Another wonderful season – my fifth summer of shooting weddings – came to a close a few weeks ago. As usual, I wanted to share some of the behind the scenes action (mostly shot by AG and I, with a couple of shots from Ebony), but to shake things up a bit, this time I included some of the delivered client images that were created in these scenes. Guest stars include lovely second shooter Ebony, and Nick & Dana from Nick Wilson Videography.
At the end of October I was absolutely wiped out. I’d shot more weddings than ever before, and planned and executed our own wedding on top of that. It was stressful, but that’s what makes looking back on this set of images so great: I can see how much my work makes me laugh. This is a great job.
Since I took three weeks in October off from photo editing (for our wedding!), it seems fair that early November was spent working like a maniac to put the 2014 wedding season to rest for good. I shared Melissa & Nick’s celebration in Florenceville-Bristol, Allison & Jason’s season-ending bash in Annapolis Royal, and then a succession of sweet sessions: Alycia & Jason’s apple orchard engagement, Melanie & Adam’s growing little family, Geneva & Tim’s campus engagement, Stacey & Craig’s winter walk of an engagement session in Charlottetown, and this super fun family portrait session with Katrina, Kevin, Tristan, and Liz. Now I’m officially caught up! Huzzah! I ran the stats and was delighted to find that despite the break, and despite shooting more weddings, my delivery time actually went down in 2014!
And now? Our place is sooo clean. You see, because after working diligently to finish all of that editing, I scheduled three weeks of no-shooting onto my calendar to catch up on other stuff. Like scrubbing my oven, for example. Designing client and new sample albums, ordering and assembling product packaging. Considering Mount Receipts, which lords over the office. That kind of thing.
Fun things, too. Brunch and holiday parties with friends. I baked cookies. Put up our Christmas tree (and the first ritual viewing of “Elf” of the season). Finished knitting a pair of mittens I’d started months ago. Lingering over dinner. Quality time with both of our nieces. Long walks in the crisp air. Made photobooks of some of this year’s adventures. A test drive with the new board game (Kingdom Builder). I even finished a book for the first time in months!
It’s been quite the year: exciting, busy, stressful. I have a lot to process about it; a lot of little things I want to do to make my business better, and maybe to make me, better, too. But I suppose I don’t have to think of all that right now. January is for goals and new beginnings. December is for family, coziness, overeating, and crashing on the couch with a movie. I’m in.