Year in Review: Some of my favorite images from 2016


Holy cow, it's been an exciting year! This is the year that I finally started doing photography full-time without depending on income from another job. It's the year that Mason and I bought our first home (my office is no longer in the kitchen!) And it's the year that I shot 28 weddings and around 100 portrait sessions. To say that it's been sunshine and rainbows all year would be a lie, however. I've had many frustrations and difficult moments but it's all been worth it. I'm still ecstatic that I get to wake up every day and live this life. 

Before this year, I always felt like I was in transition and now that I've "made it" I know there's still room to grow as a photographer and as a business person. Here's what I've learned this year:

I need to take a break sometimes. I had a mini-meltdown in October (my busiest month of the year) and Mason convinced me that I need to start taking one day off per week. I chose Thursday as my day off. I don't edit photos and I don't schedule sessions or meetings (but I sometimes respond to emails - I can't help myself). It's been difficult to force myself to relax and honestly, I'm still learning how to do it. 

I can't always control every outcome. I kick myself a lot if a session doesn't go perfectly. I'm a perfectionist and extremely hard on myself - even when nothing is my fault. I learned this year that I can't control the weather, I can't control other people (mainly children haha), and I can't control the choices others makes. There are so many elements that go into making a great photo - the light, subject, location, pose, outfits, the subject's mood, the stuff I'm doing behind the camera, the composition and so much more. I'm juggling a lot of things and I learned that it's not always my fault if something is not quite right. I'm trying to stop beating myself up over it. 

I'm always developing "my style." I was looking at my Instagram profile the other day and I noticed that even at the beginning of this year, my photos were technically good but it was hard to tell they were taken by the same photographer. They didn't really flow together from session to session. However, starting this fall, I feel like my images have developed more of a look. I felt frustrated back in June and I decided to change the way I edit to a more filmy look. It wasn't a drastic change but I'm so glad I took that risk. 

I'm not going to like every single photo I take. To be very honest, I get nervous every time I send a gallery out. In every session, there is something I could criticize and worry about. Whether I feel like there are weird color casts, something is slightly out of focus, or there is digital noise in the image - I can find something to be nervous about. I am still learning to accept it and move on. 

I need to get rid of 30 minute sessions. This is a pretty tangible thing that I learned only a few days ago. I learned that I can never get what I want out of a 30 minute session. It usually ends up running into an hour and I'm losing money in the process. It's difficult for clients to warm up in such a short amount of time. I've also noticed that clients who choose a 30 minute session want all of the perks of a longer session in a shorter amount of time. This isn't possible and I end up creating images that I'm not happy with because I am rushed. 30 minute sessions are out for 2017 (unless I do a mini-session event). 

I really, really need Jesus. As a small business owner, it's easy to let the enemy tell you things like, "you'll never get another client" or "your income stream is going to dry up." I've been struggling with this a lot lately and I know that it stems from a lack of trust in God. I'm learning every day to depend on God for my security and strength and it's a theme in my life that will continue into the new year. 

Anyway, here are some of my absolute favorite images from 2016. I have no idea how many pictures I took in 2016 but it was hard to pick just a few. These photos are how I want to define my work in the coming year.