Hockey in one room and mimosas in the other. A voice like Morgan Freeman. The niece who shares her Goldfish crackers. A big construction break to put the reception hall together. The wheel of kissy fortunes. S’MORES. What Arrows. Mad Libs and playing cards. The mid-afternoon snow that fell big and fluffy and enveloped everything. Having to snuggle to stay warm. A new year and a new page in life: married.
To my complete surprise, January was jumping. I always start the year a bit behind after the insanity of the holidays, and this year was no different in that regard, but normally the rest of the month is fairly leisurely, indoors & think-y/plan-y (the technical terms). This year I was out and about constantly, with events and/or shoots every weekend. Actually upon review I was out doing stuff and seeing people 13 days straight now, which is highly unlike this homebody! I did absolutely no thinking, though. (Just kidding.)
For starters, I’ve already knocked out my first two weddings of the year: Kupa + Mike’s part one (with the rest to come this summer), and Melanie + Jon’s winter wonderland, coming up next. I shared my final engagement shoot of 2015, Justina + Lacey, and my first of 2016 with Laura + Ron. I caught up with past clients Heather + Randy as they wait for their new baby to arrive, plus I made a trip to NBCCD for the fourth year in a row to tell them everything I know about this whole photography thing. I wrapped up 2015 with my best of the year roundup, and – not a moment too soon – wrote about what I’m looking forward to in 2016.
I celebrated my 33rd birthday (celebrated accidentally by eating at restaurants 3 days in a row) and the first adoption anniversary for our crazy cat. Got to knock a couple of items off the winter fun list with a sleigh ride at Mactaquac Park and seeing a few Shivering Songs shows. Trivia, tennis, Turandot, tea, trails… de-trimming the tree? Now I’m reaching to keep that alliteration going. Point is, it was busy and it was fun. Let’s keep that going.
Photo by Sean McGrath.
I’m a relentless goal setter, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all the years that I’ve been thinking of things to achieve, it’s that I’m not very good at predicting the future. I’ve never been able to imagine what my life would be like in 1, 5, 10 years with any degree of accuracy; for example, this time last year I would not have believed I’d be writing this from the cozy comfort of my own house. But still I like to make these resolutions… or more accurately, set these goals. Little compass guideposts to point me in the direction I want to go, even if the actual destination is not what I anticipated.
2016 PERSONAL GOALS
(Pretty much the same as last year.)
1. Try to walk 200 km/month. Last year my goal was 150 km/month and my actual average turned out to be 190 km/month, so I only have to kick it up a notch to make this happen!
2. Finish printing my photos from the past few years, and do that album organization. Sigh. My album situation has possibly gotten worse in the course of “not quite finishing a #KonMari” plus “moving.” My intention is to tackle this, for good and ever, in February.
3. Cook a new recipe from each of my cookbooks. Luckily after the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, we once again have fewer cookbooks than in 2015. For now. I’m a cookbook addict…
4. Yoga. Go sometimes. (I did go sometimes in 2015! 76 times to be precise, which is more than double what I did in 2014. But I haven’t been since May, so… there’s room for improvement here.)
5. Make my best effort to be the FREX’s Grand Champion Knitter. I knit a few things in 2015, but then ended up booking travel over the FREX week for the second year in a row, meaning I didn’t enter anything AGAIN! I will try to avoid that this year, but… travel IS great.
Some other things I’m looking forward to include our upcoming trip to Iceland (with an extended layover in Toronto), (hopefully) getting kayaks and doing lots of kayaking, and working on making our house a home.
LOOKING BACK: 2015 IN BUSINESS
In 2015 I hit a milestone – six years in the photography business, and five years of being a full-time professional. Thinking back on the year it strikes me how, for maybe the first year ever, my business was not my #1 priority. That seems awkward to admit, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a priority. I think it was a good & healthy thing — my work was and is very important to me, but for the first time I was able to let it be in the background — working hard in my business without having to work so hard on my business.
The main changes that I made – delivering all sessions in both colour and black & white; delivering weddings on USB; and making wedding slideshows – all went great. I was more proactive about sending timeline information early, and got good feedback about that. I was also more thoughtful about the quantity and timing of each wedding I accepted, allowing me to stick close to my goal turnaround times while also maintaining some semblance of a life!
2016 BUSINESS GOALS
2016 is shaping up to be about a 50/50 split of home weddings vs. on the road weddings, so I know it’s going to be a busy summer! I’m really happy with where things are right now, and there’s not a lot I’m looking to change. Here are a few things to tackle:
1. Improve my shooting & storytelling. As always. I can get better.
2. New website. I still get compliments on this site, which makes me very happy, but at the same time I’ve been living with it for 3.5 years (! whoa!) and I’m feeling ready for a refresh!
3. Get my office space finished. I have the beginnings of a really nice set-up at home, but much of my junk has been in a semi-unpacked limbo state for the past few months. I need to truly move in!
Plus, a potential to-do list: move to all-digital delivery of images when my current supply of media runs out; try outsourcing editing?; get some gear serviced; look at different photography associations to join.
What’s in store for you in 2016?
2015 was a great year. I photographed 15 weddings and a whole bunch of portraits, won a Junebug award, spoke at NBCCD, scored features on Ever Ours and Reef to Cove, and worked up and down the Maritimes from Glassville to Charlottetown to Halifax. Plus I got a cat, bought and moved into a house, and went on my honeymoon in Peru. There was a lot going on.
In between the action I spent a lot of time at my computer, because over the course of the year, I delivered 31,787 images to clients. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favourites.
(PS… to see Best of 2014 and earlier, click here!)
A lot has happened in the 2.5 years since I last photographed Heather + Randy (at their wedding!), but one thing that hasn’t changed a bit is how wonderfully warm they are. A quick little mid-afternoon portrait session was just the jolt of joy we all needed.
The full shebang is coming later this summer, but at some point Kupa + Mike decided life would be better if they just got married now. I’m on board with that!
Diving through my archives for my best of 2015 is taking way longer than anticipated, so in the meantime why not slide straight into 2016? I met Laura + Ron at their family’s camp outside of Fredericton, and it was a wonderful place to begin the new year.
My final shoot of 2015! Justina + Lacey were pretty freshly home from somewhere much warmer than wintery Moncton… all the better to facilitate snuggling in the snow.
I had really grand plans for a half dozen blog posts I was going to make in the back half of December, but instead I just spent the month cavorting around New Brunswick, stuffing my face and my heart with family and friends. In retrospect, this was a best-case scenario. Good times are fleeting, email is forever.
Caitlin & Travis’s engagement shoot took me to Saint John, and still to come is another session I just photographed in Moncton, but otherwise the rest of my posts this month were of the good times we had all over the place this year: our honeymoon in Peru was a two-part experience, behind the scenes photos saw us all over the Maritimes, and our first ever winter fun list is an indicator of good times to come.
Decking the halls of our new home, board games until 3 am, baking with Baileys, evening trudges through fresh-packed snow, hugs and giggles, an outing to see Star Wars, cooking class with friends… we lingered over everything. Even finished that crossword.
We made it! Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Things (well, daylight) can only go up from here.
Yet the winter days ahead will surely include bitter cold and weary drudging, perhaps some pining for the tropics. That said, this season I want to make more of an effort to enjoy the unique opportunities presented by a New Brunswick winter. I recently read an article about how Norwegians relish winter as “something to be enjoyed, not… endured.”
Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter… Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: “There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix.
…”One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter,” says Leibowitz. “It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter.” This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics.
Well. Why didn’t I ever think of that? AG & I have been totally devoted to making a summer to-do list for the past three years, but perhaps a winter fun list is even more necessary! Here are some of the things we came up with; activities big and small to stop the whining and embrace the #snuglife.
drink egg nog (with Kahlua obviously)
- take a drive to admire the Christmas lights
complete the Globe & Mail’s Holiday crossword (a tradition… at least in the attempt) go snowshoeing
- board game night(s)
hot chocolate with tons of marshmallows
- make bird seed ornaments
- do Friday afternoon knitting at the library
- build a snow fire pit and have an icy fire (if the snowfall permits!)
- go ice skating
- build a snowman
- play Wii (seriously haven’t touched the Wii in over a year)
- go to Quebec City during Carnaval?
drink hot cider
- do TakeoutThursday at Corked Wine Bar
- make an epic breakfast
- curl up with a blanket and a cat and read a whole book in one go
- marathon a show
- Ridgeback Lodge for the hot tub! (Maybe not this season, but someday)
- take on a new adventure during Frostival
- do something home improvement-y (paint a room?)
- make an Ethiopian feast
- warm up with hot yoga
- take a new class or workshop?
- explore the Midland ice caves
- do a puzzle
catch some tunes at Shivering Songs!
As always, I’m open to write-in votes, so if you have more ideas please let me know! Let’s fill up the darkness with fun.