February 22, 2019
Honestly, I almost deleted this blog post so many times…hence why it’s only now going live…I didn’t want it to come off as me bragging so I contemplated deleting it. I didn’t know if anyone would even care enough to read a summary of my year so I contemplated deleting it. The longer it sat in my “Drafts” folder, the more I started to think it wasn’t even good quality material to share with my audience so I contemplated deleting it…until I read a post on Instagram from a photographer I follow. She was saying similar things to what I was feeling in regards to not wanting to hit “publish” on her 2018 year in review blog post for reasons of her own. It made me realize that no matter what you go through, your life is always, ALWAYS something to be celebrated. Your strengths and weaknesses, your hardships and triumphs, your happiness and sadness, your accomplishments and failures, it’s all part of your unique journey that has had a hand in forming you into the person you are right now. Now that this blog post is live (after a little self pep talk), I feel like I’m at a place where I can say I’m so incredibly proud of myself and everything that I did in 2018. It was a year of many firsts and I think the one big takeaway I got after looking back at everything that happened, is that risks are scary as hell. There’s no way around that one, no sugar coating. I mean, they are called risks for a reason right? But more often than not, those risks are so worth taking when all is said and done. That feeling of fear you get before you take the risk can’t even begin to measure up to the feeling of confidence and happiness and joy you feel when you’re on the other side.
That was a longer introduction than I had originally anticipated! If you’re still reading, you’re probably one of my cheerleaders and I love you for all of your support! So without further ado, here is what my 2018 looked like!
I don’t know about you guys, but 2018 FLEW by and now I feel like I’m trying to organize my life after the whirlwind of a year I had! It wasn’t until around July that I decided I wanted to write this blog post, so I started making notes of all of the things I was doing so I wouldn’t forget because for someone who lives a fairly ordinary life, this year was CRAZY BUSY for me. There were a ton of business things I accomplished, but also some general fun life things that I did as well. I think I want to make these “year-end recap” blog posts a reoccurring thing. When you’re living life day by day, it’s easy to look back and think “yea that was cool I did that and that and that” while not really giving yourself the credit you deserve for actually accomplishing “that and that and that”. It’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back from time to time and this blog post is my way of doing that for my 2018 year!
After making my photography business official in November of 2016, I immediately set a goal to book at least 5 weddings in 2017. I had NO idea what my workload would look like with 5 weddings and a full time job, but I told myself I could do it and I ended up surpassing that goal and had 6 weddings booked by the end of January 🙂 That was a HUGE win in my book for my first year in business and still something I’m so proud of. I’m proud but more THANKFUL than anything because I know without the trust of my couples, I wouldn’t have the portfolio that I do today to show off my work, so THANK YOU to everyone who trusted me to capture their most precious moments thus far! I dedicated an entire blog post to those couples and you can find my favorite images from their sessions HERE.
My husband and I celebrated 1 full year as homeowners! This may not sound like that big of an accomplishment, but for us, it’s big. We looked for a house to buy for 3 YEARS. 3. LONG. YEARS. Trying to not only agree on a house, but find one that was decent and in our price range was no small feat. When we would agree on one, something always fell through and it never worked out, until one day it did. It was just meant to be!
My friends all know this, but for those who don’t, I’m a total homebody. I love being home with my family and sometimes even going out to the grocery store can seem like a daunting task (which could be my anxiety coming through but I digress…) Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and seeing new places, but if I’m not traveling with my husband or my mom, I’m not comfortable at all. It’s like something always feels out of place until I get back home. This is why traveling to Texas for my first time and seeing Magnolia (without my husband or my mom) was a HUGE win for me. I, like many others, am a big Joanna Gaines fan and always dreamed of seeing the Magnolia Silos in person one day, I just never thought that day would come. Now I have hundreds of pictures from my trip to Texas and feel so thankful that I was given the opportunity to go see it all in real life, not just behind my phone screen. You can read all about my trip HERE.
Back in May, I came across Kelsey Regan Photography, a New England wedding and portrait photographer who’s work I admired instantly. I quickly found her website and scoured every inch, soaking in as much as I could and saw that she offered mentoring sessions, both in-person or online. I immediately started debating whether or not I should take the plunge. It was a lot of money for someone like me just starting out, but I talked myself into it and I’m so glad I did. I believe in having a strong education foundation to my business and I will never stop investing in learning as much as I can. Not only that, it’s so important to connect with like minded people in this industry because word of mouth is so strong and it’s good to have someone you trust to refer clients to if you’re already booked for their wedding day.
I was fortunate enough to attend my first real concert (yes i’m almost 30 and just recently experienced a concert!) And it wasn’t just any concert – I got my husband and I tickets to Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour!! It was everything I had imagined and then some. She puts on an AMAZING show and it definitely set the bar high for any future concert experiences I’ll have. The only downside was that it was a FULL RAIN SHOW, meaning, it didn’t stop raining. If anything, it just rained harder as the concert went on (see pics below for reference), but even though we were beyond freezing and soaked down to our bones, it was still an awesome time and I’m so glad we went! I’m just bummed I couldn’t get any concert pictures because my phone would have been ruined in .2 seconds if I brought it out to take a picture due to the downpours!
Okay so this was pretty neat. The small town I live in recently renovated what is called The Strand Theater. Now that it’s shiny and new again (it was originally built in 1924!), it has played host to a plethora of shows ranging from silent movies to magic shows. It was here that I got to meet Mike Super from America’s Got Talent and winner of NBC’s Phenomenon! I’ve always been a huge fan of magic and seeing someone this good live was so incredible. The audiences jaws were on the floor the entire show and you could hear people exclaim “WHAT?!” after every trick he did. It was amazing and after the show, I was able to get a shirt signed by him and a picture as well!
When I was first starting my business, I longed for the opportunity to photograph more and more weddings. However, given the choice between a new photographer or an experienced one, couples aren’t likely to trust a new photographer to capture one of the most special days of their life, which is totally understandable! I knew I needed to build up an impressive portfolio and just get more practice if I wanted to photograph more weddings. I had seen beautiful styled shoots hosted by SSAA (Styled Shoots Across America) so I visited their website and joined their mailing list to get the most up to date announcements on upcoming tour dates, hoping one would land close by. Lucky enough, they had one scheduled for August only 2.5 hours away! I booked my ticket and don’t regret a single minute of it, even though it was a SCORCHER of a day! I went home with a full memory card and new industry friends which is priceless! You can read all about that experience HERE.
My dreams came true in October when I attended an in-person 2-day workshop with the one and only, Katelyn James. I’ve touched on how this opportunity came to be on my social media but just a quick recap…Katelyn James was the first wedding photographer/educator I came across after deciding I wanted to peruse a career in photography. Her teaching style spoke to me and helped me so much in the beginning that to this day, more than 2 years later, I’m still learning from her through her various online courses. My goal was to have enough money saved up by 2019 to attend one of her in-person workshops which she hosts right in her living room. Well, little did I know that life was going to make that goal happen about a year earlier. I received an email from Katelyn via her mailing list that stated she would be hosting 2 more in-person workshops for 2018 and that would be it for the foreseeable future. I didn’t hesitate. I booked my ticket so fast, my heart was pounding, but I was so incredibly excited. I spent two jam packed days in her living room learning from her and meeting like-minded creatives, it was an experience I will never forget. You can read more in-depth HERE!
Along with passing my goal of booking 5 weddings for 2018, I also had the opportunity to second shoot with some amazing, well established photographers. I couldn’t believe that the businesses I looked up to (still do!) wanted ME, to be there next to them shooting on a wedding day. I loved watching them work in their own unique ways, how they handled wedding day stress, how they interacted with their couples, it was all such an amazing learning experience for me! I’m so grateful for their trust and allowing me to gain more experience for my own business. If that’s not an amazing example of #communityovercompetition than I don’t know what is! *Special thank you to Jared & Debbie, Greer Cicarelli Photography, Julia Rebecca Photography, and Kelsey Regan Photography for letting me tag along!*
As if everything above wasn’t enough, I also completely re-branded and launched a brand new Showit website! I had wanted a Showit site from the very beginning but couldn’t afford one so I went with the next best thing, Squarespace! And although that site served me well for my first year in business, I quickly outgrew it and wanted a site that better showcased not only my work, but who I am as well. One thing I’m constantly reiterating is that I don’t want to be just another vendor on wedding days. I truly value the time it takes to get to know my clients so I can provide them with the best possible experience. When Danait from Heart & Vine Creative started sending me previews of my new logo and site, I was instantly motivated and excited for the future of my business because I knew it would help me better connect with my ideal clients – couples in love who value photography! You can read all about my heart behind my business HERE.
In November, I hosted my very first set of holiday styled mini sessions. Now let me just say, these were a challenge for me. I specialize in weddings and portraits and natural light photography so very rarely do I photograph in a “studio setting” unless the situation absolutely calls for it. It’s not something I advertise because first and foremost, I don’t have a studio because I like natural light way more and because I know there are photographers out there better suited for that specific type of photography. However, since this was my first year in business I didn’t want to say no to anything and I don’t believe in writing things off until you’ve tried it, so I envisioned what I wanted the set to look like, advertised the sessions, and ended up booking close to half of the available slots. I of course enjoyed meeting all of the different families and getting the setup ready, but I know going forward that my time would be better utilized perfecting my skills for couples and wedding days since that is my passion. So unless I see that the demand is there for this coming holiday season, I probably won’t be doing these again.
And last but certainly not least, I celebrated my first full year in business! Erin Marie Photography turned 1 in November and I feel like I’m just getting started. 2019 here I come!! I plan on taking you guys along for the ride as long as you’ll let me so to keep you in the loop, here are 3 goals I’ve set for my business for 2019:
WHEW. That was a long post haha! Thank you to everyone who is following along on this crazy small business venture of mine! I wouldn’t trade this life for anything and I can’t wait to see what my future holds.