It has been such a great year. I mean really. I met so many amazing people with beautiful stories and saw so much love. Gabe and I even became friends with some of our couples this year, and it was easily my favorite year of weddings yet. Looking back, I truly think I grew more this year as a photographer and business owner than any year before.
Last year was so difficult and honestly almost resulted in me closing shop and quitting photography all together. But. Rather than running, I chose to learn from my mistakes and grow and create a stronger, more consistent, better brand and business. I learned to take my time and really think about the photos that I was taking and think about the end result. I thought about the kind of photographer that I really want to be and took steps to get there. I dreamed big and did things way out of my comfort zone and met amazing people and made new connections along the way.
I planned and executed my first styled wedding shoot with and amazing team of vendors, which was published on 100 Layer Cake AND Ruffled. I also had multiple weddings published on Wedding Chicks and was featured on Looks Like Film. I made new friends from around the world, other photographers varying in skill level, who helped me to see my work objectively and never stop striving to be better.
I began shooting boudoir (Daring Session) marathons, LOVED it, and - to my surprise - I really discovered that these sessions are a way for me to help women change the way that they see themselves. I have cried over feedback from women who went into their sessions afraid and "knowing" that they would hate the woman in those photos only to find the opposite. I have been thanked for showing them the beauty inside and how others see them, and it means the world to me - especially myself being someone with a past history of eating disorders and just overall self-hatred.
While last year was the year of disappointed clients who truly didn't understand what to expect from me - this year was full of clients who hired me because they really and truly wanted me and my vision and the emotional, dramatic style of photos that I have to offer. The positive feedback from wedding after wedding gradually brought me back up and out of that feeling like I wanted to quit. And I started to believe in myself again.
The first of these instances was Stephanie and Jacob's wedding in March. It was a particularly emotional wedding and filled with so many of my favorite moments captured this year. Lots of tears, and one of the most moving photos we have ever taken - a photo of Stephanie's dad sitting alone in the front row on his daughter's side, eyes closed, with a single tear streaming down his face. At the time, I thought it was a beautifully sweet photo, and I asked Stephanie's permission to share it publicly. She responded to say that after her mother passed away a couple years ago, her dad would often close his eyes and almost seem to speak to her, perhaps without even realizing it - and she was certain that that is what had been captured in that photo. I cried (kind of a lot) and felt such a great sense of pride and gratefulness to have been apart of and recorded something so meaningful. As a photographer, it is so easy to get caught up in the rush, especially during a wedding, and it becomes easy to focus on the beauty in the details and dresses and flowers and the venue and really forget how important my job really is. This was a perfect reminder.
So what's next?
1. We really want to move toward photographing more small, intimate weddings and elopements and travel out of state.
2. Coming in the spring, Margaret from Edgewood Place Occasions and I will be hosting the first annual RockSugar Mid-Michigan Bridal Show! While it is a terrifying and completely new endeavor, I am so thrilled and so excited to see the show come to life - and to help other vendors like myself in the Mid-Michigan area who are struggling to find their ideal client in the wedding world. This is something that I am particularly passionate about as I (and Margaret) have felt that there is such a gap in our area when it comes to the nontraditional, indie kind of brides and grooms. Bringing RockSugar to Jackson is such a huge step in bringing more awareness to this kind of wedding and the vendors who specialize in them while making it easier for brides and grooms to find their perfect wedding team and vendors to be matched with more of their ideal clientele.
RockSugar Mid-Michigan 2018 will take place at Black Barn Wedding Venue in Rives Junction on March 11, 2018 from 1pm-5pm - hope to see you there!
With all that said, I wanted to share a quick slideshow of a few of my favorite moments from each of my sessions (mostly weddings) of 2017. I may have cried watching this. Don't judge me.
Thank you so much to all of you who have believed in me and supported me and allowed me (and Gabe) to photograph some of the most important moments of your lives. It has truly been a fabulous year, and I am so honored. See you all next year! Happy Holidays!