As we’re all getting ready to welcome 2017, I’m reflecting on the last year and thinking forward…dreaming of my 2017 goals and what I want the year to hold in store for me and my family.
Before I say another word, I want to extend a truly heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who allowed me to take part in their lives this year through photography – whether for a wedding or portrait session! And of course THANK YOU to everyone who trusted me with creating photography for you in the past – it’s all led me to this point now, and I can’t thank you all enough.
Reflecting on the Year Gone by
2016 was a total rush. It’s only been since the end of February that I re-branded my business to Fifth and Chestnut as you see it today. And I have never been so busy as I was this year!
Last year, I was still recuperating from maternity leave, and I was feeling a bit of that this year due to my re-brand with not as many weddings as I prefer to book. It was kind of a bummer in April when I realized that I was going to probably only shoot about half of what I try to book. But then, I opened my studio in May!
Opening a Photo Studio
Going from the overhead costs of working from home to the overhead costs of running a full-fledged photography studio with premium rent in Downtown Reno was a huge risk. I took a leap of faith with my two friends and studio-mates, who have become essential members of my tribe.
It was a scary (but exciting) change for my business. Luckily, my portrait bookings more than doubled with the opening of my photography studio. It all evened out in the end and 2016 was my most successful year since picking up a camera eight years ago!
Getting our keys to the studio was definitely one of 2016’s memorable moments.
The studio has really been a game changer for me. The studio along with the re-brand have been the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business. I’ve been so, so, so busy…like I always dreamed I would be as a professional photographer, and it’s because of these risky business decisions I made in 2016.
2016’s Personal Achievements
2016 was also a fantastic year for hitting some serious personal goals. In March, I committed to eating healthy and losing weight. I worked hard and by September, I had lost 25 pounds. Yay!
I felt amazing and started to enjoy the skin I’m in again. I had more energy and felt like I was REALLY close to hitting my ideal weight.
I also became SO overwhelmingly busy by September, that I needed a consistent schedule for daycare for my youngest son. So, we started him in preschool where I could have set “work days,” and I could work late on days when it was needed. It was a an insanely difficult decision to let our amazing nanny go and switch Cooper to the preschool life. He isn’t home anymore as I edit, and I can’t simply go downstairs and kiss his sweet face whenever I want. But I am far more focused on my work during the three days he is in school, which has helped me become very productive.
When Work Started Colliding with my Personal Goals
Amidst all the success and busy-ness, I quickly started to lose sight of my personal goals. My photoshoots scheduled right before sunset, plus pre-photoshoot meetings and post-5pm meetings, combined with my stepson’s intense taekwondo schedule, turned our lives into a constant rush. Go go go.
My family would usually convene at home around 8pm. We stopped eating healthy meals at home and started eating out a ton again. As I write this (after Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, of course) I have gained back 10 of my precious 25 pounds that I had so proudly shed. Boo!
From September (at least) until the day before Christmas, I had been spending EVERY free moment answering emails, editing sessions and doing the overabundance of “behind the scenes” tasks that keep my business running when I wasn’t out there shooting.
And I sit and struggle because OH MY GOD, I love photography and I love running my business, but where is my personal life?!
All that being said, I realize that what I was missing in my life in 2016 was simply a life-work balance. And honestly, it’s been missing from EVERY year since the moment I picked up a camera. I’ve always been doing way too much. Always working overtime when I had full-time jobs, and then going home and working on freelance projects and/or photography to keep my soul fed. Always carrying so much weight on my back and never focusing on myself.
In November, during the amazing madness that is holiday portrait season (which I am so thankful for, don’t get me wrong), I didn’t even take my son’s 2-year photos. And I only JUST NOW realized it! <<insert crying emoji here>>
It’s been like trying to bloom as a flower under a constant barrage of hailstorms. I want to get to this “perfect” point SO BAD, but it’s just never within my reach. I want to be out doing photoshoots, and on my computer editing my beautiful photos AND eat a healthy dinner AND spend an afternoon just playing with my youngest son without the anxiety of having too much to possibly take care of without staying up until 2am every morning.
Thinking ahead to 2017
My main goals for 2017 are very simple.
One. Adjust my studio policies to allow me the time to enjoy life and actually hit my other personal goals…to enjoy my time with my children without feeling this nagging urge to run into my office and put in over 40 hours of work per week. This will mean increasing my efficiency and productivity, and limiting my post-5pm appointments. I know makes it a little more difficult for some clients to see me for their ordering appointments. I hope that my amazing clients will stick with me and understand that I, too, would like to eat dinner with my family in the evenings, lol! And preferably not Taco Bell ALL. THE. TIME.
Two. Re-group and get back on track to hitting my goal weight by eating healthy and exercising (see: no more Taco Bell). I’ve struggled with my weight for my WHOLE life, and it would be really nice to feel comfortable in my own skin again.
Three. Wean myself from wearing makeup except for special occasions. It’s so sad to me that I don’t like my own face unless I’m “done up.” Like…what the heck happened to our society where I have been led to feel this way about my own face? I want to strip away the chemicals and things that cover up my ACTUAL face, and learn to love the face I was born with..freckles, scars, wrinkles and all.
And that’s all, folks! Of course, I do have other specific goals…like getting new studio lighting, for example, and buying the Sigma 35mm Art Series lens that I’ve wanted for a while, or hitting certain marketing goals etc. But the three goals above are the things that will add enjoyment and happiness back into my life. Those are the things that must be achieved for me to do anything else happily. After all, how awesome is a new lens if I am drowning in work and not spending any time with my toddler, stepson and husband?
I hope that 2017 is even more successful than 2016 for Fifth and Chestnut, but I also hope it can be that way AND allow me to be a happy, balanced person at the same time.
Now, tell me what YOUR goals are for 2017? My stepson says his goal is to beat some Pokemon video game. Oh, to be eleven.
Cheers to 2017!! No matter what your goals are for the new year (or if you’re totally cool without proclaiming any particular goals), may your year be filled with beauty and joy!
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite photos from 2016 – my kids having fun 🙂