A Look Back at 2015 - Behind the Scenes

2015 was a phenomenal year for my business. There were so many huge opportunities and milestones this year. The professional, business owner in me said to act as if it's no big deal, to create this facade that I've always been uber successful and boss. But the truth is that I was screaming inside, unable to cope with how much fun I was having! I just kept pinching myself, thinking, "Is this real life?"

I managed to travel more than ever before and possibly in all my previous years combined. I flew across the country to shoot my first destination wedding. I traveled 6 hours to photograph my first male senior session. I shot my first beach engagement session! In total, I shot in 5 different states over the past 12 months - Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and Massachusetts. 

I started and ended my year of travel with two separate trips to Utah. I was so excited and eager to shoot in the mountains. I never appreciated Utah's beauty when I lived there for school, so I was grateful to go back and was humbled by just how extraordinary the scenery is. Many of my friends still reside in Utah, and some of my favorite photographers work out of the state. It was fulfilling to go back to where my dreams of a photography business began and to photograph some of my very first clients. 

Do you want to know what one of the biggest highlights this past year was? I had my very first Lobster Roll and IT. WAS. AMAZING. Just a few months after sampling this little heaven on a bun, I traveled to Massachusetts and tasted an authentic New England Lobster Roll. Shooting in Martha's Vineyard was an unbelievable experience because never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever find myself there. It's because of my business and my wonderful clients that I've tried so many new things and traveled to so many unique places.  

This past May brought the new challenge of being a second shooter, or second photographer, for the very first time. While many wedding photographers "second" for well-established photographers in order to get their feet wet in the wedding industry, I skipped that step when I began taking on weddings almost immediately.

I couldn't think of anyone better to second for than my own second shooter extraordinaire, Chance Hammock for his first wedding as the Primary Photographer.

I loved relinquishing full control. When you're the Primary at a wedding, there are a lot of check boxes constantly being checked in your mind. Capturing the event as a whole rests solely on your shoulders. Seconding allowed me to focus a lot more on the details since my role was much less significant. Detail shots were an area I really wanted to spend more focusing on, learning to take my time and be more creative. Detail shots also warranted the addition of a macro lens to my arsenal of gear!

When I talk about adding gear, there was no bigger game changer for me and my business than the addition of the Expodisc. With as much as I talk about it, you'd think I was some kind of paid spokesperson for these things. But in the words of Joey Tribiani, "these babies sell themselves". One of the easiest ways to spot a new photographer is the quality and saturation of color in their photos. It's something that even seasoned photographers struggle with. 

That all changed for me with a simple $50 investment. Chance managed to capture a shot of the Expodisc in action. It's as simple as placing it over my lens, standing in front of my subjects and snapping a picture under the custom white balance setting. It takes all of 10 seconds, and saves me so much time in post. 

Anyone who doesn't think photography is a workout, or thinks we're exaggerating when we come home from a shoot and need to pop some ibuprofen is cray-cray. You'd be amazed at how many positions a photographer will find themselves in to get the shot.

Now, what I am about to say is debatable, but to me, weddings are the Olympics of photography. Why? Well, they're an all day event. Round trip, I can spend upwards of 12 hours off shooting an event. Despite the time investment, you're working with a lot of people and a lot of personalities. If you want to be a fierce competitor in the wedding business, you certainly can't be meek. I'm hoarding huge groups at a time, and it's important to be able to command attention. New to wedding photography? Fake it 'til you make it! Commanding so many clients at a time is all about confidence and letting subjects know that they're in good hands.  While there's no gold medal at the end of a long wedding day, there are sometimes goodie bags with cake!  

Speaking of confidence, it's not uncommon to have a good 10-15 people minimum looking over my shoulder when I am working at a wedding. Through experience and communication with my couple before the big day, I don't let the fact that I am out numbered ever frazzle me. I don't let "Uncle Bob" get to me either. Being a good wedding photographer is all about finding the balance between accomplishing what you need to, to best serve your client, and respecting your client's guests. I am always more than happy to step aside for friends and family to snap a shot or to give my bride and groom some breathing room.

This year I definitely took a more visual approach to my instruction and I think it really paid off. I can get very hands on with my clients or find myself on the ground, throwing myself into the shot. I always ask before I touch my clients, and I usually work as the male counterpart so I am touching my female clients.

One of the first things many clients will tell me is that they're very unnatural in front of the camera. They worry about how they will photograph but as you look through my work, you'd never guess it. Clients all need different levels of direction. I can visually describe what I am looking for, and then some clients really benefit from seeing what I'm envisioning. 

I think it goes without saying that I love what I do. I couldn't do any of this without you. Whether you're a client I've served, a "liker" on Facebook or a family member of friend who has given me words of encouragement. 

I want you to know that while some of this past year may have seemed very glamorous, or the life I lead looks fast paced and exciting, your support helped send my children to preschool. It helped fund swimming lessons and gymnastics. It helped my family pay the medical bills when my son had his sledding accident back in February. It repaired countless issues on my husband's commuter car. I'm a small business, but the love and support I receive from my clients is huge. I can't begin to thank you enough for all that you gave me this past year and I hope to do even more for you in 2016.  

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