Another Year, Really??? | Part Two

My last blog took you on a journey through my life in 2015.  What a whirlwind huh?

My hope for part 2 of that blog is to clearly communicate where my personal life & business is headed in 2016.  I’ve set some personal goals for 2016; I figured it would be most appropriate to share them with you today.

  • Be more present & intentional.
  • Re-do my website and make it more personalized to me.  Also switch to a responsive design.
  • Blog more personal things
  • Plant a vegetable garden and/or be involved in a CSA so I can practice some canning for the winter months
  • Spend less money
  • Learn to rest & relax
  • Read books.
  • Finish our front porch
  • Get my hormones in balance!
  • Investigate a solution for making our attic a “useable” space
  • Fix our front yard – it floods so bad when we experience a lot of rain!
  • Take a restful trip with Kevin
  • Condense my student loans!
  • Be even healthier…..this includes resting, being active, remembering to take my vitamins, etc.

As far as professional goals for my business goes, let’s go back in time a little.

I’ve been photographing since September of 2010 and I’ve learned SO much since then.  I’ve been hands on with some of the best photographers in the US, ran a successful business, met some of the best people who I can now call friends….and all because I decided to jump and go after something I enjoyed.  I graduated from Mount Olive College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Visual Communication.  And, for those of you that don’t know, I do work a full time job (in addition to photography) in Public Relations at our local community hospital.  It provides health insurance for our family, retirement and gives us financial stability so that we can live a generous life.  I love the people that I work with at the hospital and my “real” job gives me a chance to give back to the community by planning & promoting wellness events in our town. My loving husband, Kevin, is an ordained minister and is the Worship & Creative Pastor at our church.  He’s been there almost 6 years!  He’s also a phenomenal songwriter & skilled musician.  He writes music for himself & his band while also writing & playing with Matt Bartlett & Majesty Rose.  He’s actively involved in The Burn Goldsboro, a 24-hour prayer movement here in our hometown & he also travels with the other 3 bands to lead worship & play shows around NC & sometimes other states.  In September we will have been married for 4 years!  Crazy.  Time flies.  And, we have an adorable dog, #thedogliza, who we’ve had for about our entire married life.  She really is our baby.  We are passionate believers in living life in community with people.  In fact, most nights during the week our time is spent gathered amongst friends and family, sharing a meal together (or a doughnut).  :)

In 2015, I photographed 16 weddings & engagement sessions and over 20 portrait sessions while working my full time job.  8 of those weddings were in cities that were outside of Goldsboro, more than 60 miles from my house which required an entire weekend away from home and of which I had to use paid time off from work for the commute.  While I loved the traveling, the adventures, and the people who were in front of my camera, I missed out on a lot at home in the meantime.  With everything that happened in the last 6 months of 2015, my direction quickly shifted from photography to loving on my family.  I felt pulled in so many directions….I wanted so badly to be there for my loyal clients & capture beautiful memories, blog their beautiful images & get lots of likes on social media…..but at the same time, my family was most important.  For months I asked the Lord what was going on….”God, what am I doing?  What should I be doing?  Should I quit photographing?  I’m tired.  I need balance, rest & creativity.”  And I just didn’t know what the answer was.  I didn’t want to lay down photography because I felt like I was supposed to be doing it, and honestly I had worked so hard for 5 years learning the ins & outs of running a business.  But I knew, SOMETHING had to give…..before I wore myself out and got burned out.

To help you better understand, for me, a normal week during wedding season looked something like this:

Sunday – attend church, have lunch with our community of friends, facilitate life group at our house, head to grandmas house to spend time with family
Monday- work 8:30-5
Tuesday – work 8:30-5, Taco Tuesday with friends/family
Wednesday- work 8:30-5, photoshoot until 7 or 7:30, head home, download photos, rate photos, begin editing while cooking, Kevin arrives after youth group, eat dinner at 9, back to editing photos, bed
Thursday – work 8:30-5, photoshoot until 7 or 7:30, head home, download photos, rate photos, begin editing while cooking, Kevin arrives after band practice, eat dinner at 9, back to editing photos, bed.  If I didn’t have a photoshoot, I’d continue editing, responding to clients or blogging
Friday – work 8:30-5, unless I had an out of town wedding.  If so, I took the day off to pack & travel to wedding, then attend the rehearsal, charge gear, go over shot list & get ready for bed.

Saturday – Wedding days are an easy 12 or 13 hour day.  I shoot would typically shoot the wedding, download photos, rate photos, then go to bed with a very worn out body.  I would choose to drive home really late or get up early & drive back home to be back for church to support Kevin & to see our family.

The moments in between those things were filled with thoughts in my head; thoughts about mini sessions, shoot locations, payments, quickbooks, what outfits to wear, wedding schedules, how to grow the business, how to love on my clients, clearly communicating with brides, social media, editing photos, paying bills, cleaning gear, downloading cards, charging gear, buying batteries, signing contracts, meeting with new brides, designing albums, editing albums, ordering albums, etc. etc.  I don’t want it to seem like I’m complaining about all the work that comes with running a business, because thats not the place I’m coming from at all.  It just got to be a lot.

After my moms cancer diagnosis, I began thinking of what 2016 would look like: needles, infusions, chemo, radiation, doctor visits, medication…..moments I wouldn’t have chosen for myself or my family.  But yet, thats what we face.  And with all that lying before us as a family, and all the other things I want to be present for this year, I’m setting a new vision for my business.

  • In 2016 I will shoot no more than 10 select weddings. These will be weddings that I prayerfully consider before booking.
  • For 2016, I’m saying no to other types of sessions so that I can spend time with my family.  I will no longer be photographing family portraits, senior portraits, maternity or lifestyle portraits.  (If you have already booked a session, of course I will honor that!)
  • To compensate for the above, and still be able to photograph for the families I so greatly love, I will be offering 3 rounds of mini sessions in 2016.  The dates for those sessions are as follows: March 19, July 30, November 12.  I plan to stick to those dates….unless there’s a lack of interest or if something unforeseen happens in my mom’s care & I need to cancel or reschedule.
  • As best as humanly possible, any engagement sessions will be scheduled on Wednesday or Thursday evenings like I did in 2015.  Kevin is away on those evenings and by me shooting while he’s not at home, I’m not compromising our time together as husband and wife.  The weekends will be reserved for family time, weddings or the occasional bridal shoot!
  • I’m not sure what 2017 will look like, if these changes will stay the same for then or if it will all be different….for now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.
  • I will still be blogging.  Heck, I may be blogging more….who knows?  For a long time I’ve wanted to blog recipes from my kitchen, goals & dreams, our house renovations, essential oils, and natural living…..so keep an eye out. I promise I won’t be silent.
This was not an easy blog to write or an easy choice to make.  I shed a lot of tears in making this decision.  For me choosing to do less & making drastic changes for my business in 2016 was a choice between two good things and I’ve come to realize that there is no choice that will turn out perfectly in every way.

Proverbs 3:6, promises that He will make our paths straight if we acknowledge Him in all we do.

So instead of just wasting time not making a decision for the fear of making a wrong decision, I want to demonstrate my trust in Him by actually making a decision — having made peace with the fact it won’t all be perfect, and yes, it will be hard, but ultimately good.

There is no perfect job.  There is no such thing as perfect health on this side of eternity.  There is no perfect spouse.  There is no perfect church.  There is no perfect time to have kids.  There is no perfect decision.  Each choice will have just enough imperfections to make them some combination of good and not so good.  The great news is that my imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.

God, I trust You beyond any fear I have of making the wrong decision. Today, I hand over all my uncertainties to You.  May you glorify yourself in my life in 2016.

I hope all of this makes sense to you, clients & friends.  Thank you for supporting me in my dreams & in my desire for a more intentional year.  As weird as it may seem, I’m looking forward to a more empty calendar and seeing how much time I can spend with my family & friends.  I promise I don’t love you any less.  I just need some space with the Lord, surrounded by those I love, to breathe, rest & dream again.

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