January 21, 2020
This year was a W H I R L W I N D for me both in my personal life and in my business. It was my busiest year to date, wearing #allthehats trying to juggle everything simultaneously. So much growth and learning occurred, but not without some tears. Okay, a lot of tears. While everything may have seemed grand on my social media pages, there was a lot that you didn’t see going on behind the scenes. That wasn’t intentional and something I feel somewhat guilty about. I never want my life to seem perfect because it’s the furthest thing from perfect, and I know the comparison game can be so evil and so easy to fall victim to…so this is me, taking off the “perfectly curated social media veil” and telling you “face to face” that I struggled a lot this year. The lags in between my posts are a good indicator of that, but something you would have never known. I’m not hiding anything. I’m real. I’m human. I’m now a busy working mom and it’s hard guys. But here I am. I’m showing up, I’m doing my best, and I can’t ask for anything more than that from myself. I’ve dealt with stress the same way all my life, so I know what I need to do to relax, and that involves secluded myself a little bit from everything and everyone around me. Is it the best coping method? Probably not, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I tend to hide within myself and function on the lowest level to get by until I can see the light again. That’s just what has always worked for me. I take some me time and then I come back refreshed and ready for the next thing. So CHEERS to being in slow season! I honestly can’t wait to just spend the rest of winter bonding with my daughter, making precious family memories. We enjoyed her first Christmas and New Year’s which was the cutest and most precious thing. Her daddy got to spend his 32nd birthday with her while mommy worked, and up next is her first Valentine’s Day! Then shortly after all that it will be back to the grind, but by then, I’ll be ready!
This year was hard, but it was also amazing. I think a huge part of that is BECAUSE of the struggle. It just makes the victories that much sweeter. I saw so much growth within myself and my business, I learned about balance (more so that I need to get better at it but still…), and I learned that the passion I have for this job is still burning bright two years later. 2019 was an emotional, encouraging, challenging, exciting, and wild ride so without further ado, here are some of the highlights:
Just like my bridal shower, my mom, her best friend aka my second mom, and some of our other good family friends threw me the most gorgeous baby shower. Seriously, it was everything I envisioned plus some! There were sentimental things incorporated here and there like the cake topper that was put on my mom’s cake for her baby shower for me! And the tables were decorated with cute mason jar flower arrangements and my favorite candy bar, Take 5! My mother-in-law made some of my favorite dishes like homemade salsa and guacamole. My husbands cousin gave me some diapers that she made in the shape of a giant camera! Not only that, I made sure my favorite photographer (Julia Rebecca Photography) was there to capture it all. From the photo backdrop to the food, to all of the important women in my life (3 of which were also pregnant at the time!) who were able to be there, everything was amazing and I can’t wait to show baby Grace the photos once she’s old enough to appreciate them!
Hands down, the number one highlight of this year was giving birth to my little miracle baby. I already can’t imagine my life without her. She brings so much light and joy into our lives…even the pups are starting to warm up to her! If you aren’t familiar with my story, being a mom wasn’t something I saw on my radar. I didn’t completely write it off, but my husband and I weren’t planning on starting a family for a while. But life has a way of giving you what you don’t know you need, and I needed baby Grace more than I knew. I was so nervous I wasn’t going to feel connected to her because I spent the majority of my pregnancy an anxious ball of nerves instead of hopeful and excited, but that all changed shortly after her arrival and my connection and love for her grows every single day. I’ve spent more hours than I would like to admit just staring at her in awe (while also making sure she’s breathing…new mom worry lol…). One of the things that caused my anxiety when I found out I was pregnant was what was going to come of my business. I had (still have) HUGE goals for myself in this business that I feel like I’ve worked so hard to build from the ground up. I was so nervous all of my efforts would have been for nothing because now I would be a mom and that has to come first. I will admit, I am still working on balancing work and home life, and I do get frustrated when I feel my heart torn between wanting to be productive and get galleries edited and delivered, but then look over at my daughter in her little play seat just smiling at me or occupying herself. “Mom guilt” is real and it’s painful. I don’t want to miss these fleeting days with my daughter. I want to relax with my husband and watch a movie while we eat popcorn. I want to tackle the growing Erin Marie Photography to do list to prevent clients waiting too long for their galleries, and work on how to improve my business for a better client experience. I just want to do #allthethings, but I’m slowly learning that I’m only one person, and priorities and boundaries need to be set for 2020 to hopefully help out the balance (and my sanity) a little bit more. While those priorities and boundaries are still being set, I have no doubt 2020 will be an incredible year for EMP and my personal life!
Now those numbers may not seem like a lot, but with those weddings came the engagement sessions and hours upon hours of editing. With those engagement sessions came email communication, follow up, outfit planning, travel time and at least a full day of editing. With those portrait sessions came email communication, follow up, outfit planning, travel time and editing. Guys, 2019 was H U G E for me and I’m so incredibly thankful! I was super busy but I know this is the hustle period to get my name out there, improve my skills, improve my business mentality and really get this kicked into high gear. My goal for 2020 is 15 weddings and I’m already at 11 so I think it’s shaping up to be a good year! 🙂 Stay tuned for an entire blog post dedicated to my favorite images from 2019!
These were fun weddings for me. I L O V E second shooting for other photographers. First of all, there’s way less pressure because you’re basically only there as backup. Yes, you have an important job in capturing the more candids and behind the scenes, but it feels way different showing up to a wedding as the second shooter rather than the main photog. I show up, do my job, hand over the memory card at the end of the night and that’s it! No editing unless the main photog allows me to use the images for my portfolio, but those edits obviously come after all of my own clients. The image below is probably my favorite image I’ve ever taken ever. Massive thank you to Julia Rebecca Photography for taking me along on this gorgeous day!
This had been a goal of mine pretty much since I found out such recognition existed in the wedding professional world. It’s all about the quality and quantity of reviews you get within a certain period of time. I ended up getting just enough (all 5 star rave reviews!) and got the email saying I had won at the end of November. I was ecstatic and will proudly display my little badge of honor for the foreseeable future for all to see 🙂
Yep. There it is. It’s not pretty but it’s real and in my opinion, something that should be talked about more often. The worst time for me would be at night. I was terrified of nighttime and as soon as the sun started to set, my anxiety would kick into high gear. I was functioning on little to no sleep and was now in charge of keeping a tiny human alive which I had never done before. The exhaustion, the tears (both my daughters and mine), and the realization that my life had just taken a 360° turn, for some reason it would all hit around 7:30-8pm every night and it would last until the sun started to come up. The most vivid memory I have was our second night home from the hospital. I was already in anxiety mode, and my husband looked at me and said “Isn’t it so nice to be home?” Bless his heart, I’m sure he was trying to calm me down because he knew I was struggling, but instead, I started balling and said no and I meant it. When you’re at the hospital, you have professional help. You have nurses who will be at your bedside with a push of a button. They are there to help you breastfeed, they are there to give you pain medication, they are there to make sure you get your meals, they are there to answer any new parent questions or worries we had. Then we came home and it was all up to us. The first time she needed to be fed, I balled my eyes out because she wouldn’t latch and I felt like a failure and I didn’t know what to do. Not only that, breastfeeding was EXTREMELY painful for me. *Side note for new mom’s* – go to Amazon right now and get yourself a nipple shield. You’re welcome. Anyway, she would be up all hours of the night and us being new parents, we had no idea what she needed so we would just try to get her to nurse but with that came the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration. It was just a lot all at once. I didn’t want to leave my bed, let alone my house for weeks, and I rarely got to shower or change my clothes. Most of the time, the desire to do so wasn’t even there. It wasn’t until Grace was 10 weeks old that I got up enough courage to bring her with me to Target. I was a ball of nerves bringing her, but I knew it would be good for us to get out of the house and it was, but I didn’t go out again for a while. I felt like our house was the “safe zone”. If she were to start crying, I could just start trying to nurse her and didn’t have to worry about public judgement or anyone else having to hear her screams, or see my tears.
As the weeks went on, I started to come out from under the covers and forced myself to see daylight. I would bring Grace outside and we would just stand in the yard, watching the puppies play, or I would just walk around the outside of the house with her while I tried soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible. I knew I was struggling, but I felt like I couldn’t do anything about it. People offered their help left and right and while I wanted to take it, I felt guilty about handing my new baby off to someone else because I didn’t feel strong enough or know how to tend to her needs. Guys, TO THIS VERY DAY I won’t bring her out to restaurants and I barely ever let anyone else watch her unless I have to go to work. I’m still struggling with a lot of the same things I struggled with in the beginning, but I know it won’t be like this forever, and I just keep trying to tell myself that one day, I’m going to miss these days so much, even though they can be hard at times.
Comparatively speaking, 2019 wasn’t as busy as 2018 and looking back, I think there was a reason for that. I had quite the 2018 (you can read that recap here if you missed it! Also fun side note…I got pregnant in 2018 but we decided to keep that news quiet so that was ANOTHER thing to add onto my crazy 2018 year in review!). Anyway, I think 2018 was the year of being crazy busy because someone somewhere knew my 2019 would be shifting in a new direction. My daughter arrived in May and everything after that just seems like a blur. I can no longer pick up and go like I used to (some days that’s an easier pill to swallow than other days), so the majority of my time was spent with her during my maternity leave, photographing weddings, editing, then adding in my 40 hour work weeks back at my desk job once my maternity leave was over. There was very little travel, if at all it was necessary for weddings but that’s it. Honestly I felt weird even doing a year recap blog post because I feel like I didn’t do much while actually doing too much. It’s hard to explain, but I’m glad I wrote this. It will be fun to look back and see where I was and what I did each year. I just have to remind myself that even though this year wasn’t filled with shows, workshops, training’s, goal reaching things, I brought a life into this world, and I think that’s pretty spectacular all in itself.
Cheers to 2020 friends! May your year be filled with health and positivity!