It’s the end of yet another year! Not quite sure how that happened! The older we get, the faster the years go by, don’t you think? And like me, I expect you have spent some time reflecting on what the last year has represented to you, what’s been great, what has been crummy, and what resolutions you are making for the next year. I’ve definitely been reflecting on this last year; actually I’ve spent months doing that, with a good chunk of time during my holiday back to England spent in reflection mode.
I have almost filled an entire Moleskine book with so many notes in the last couple of months, while I’ve been doing all this refocusing, reflection and rethinking. So I’m now waiting on a couple of Kickstarter projects – Spark Notebook and Passion Planner, to fulfill my important stationary needs (I’m kind of a stationary nerd). I have been rewriting an all-important new business plan, feverishly watching photography and business webinars, and reading all sorts of things, in order to reinvent my social media side, repackage my brand, and present the best photography session offerings that fit what I believe my photography stands for (I’ll reveal what’s new soon!). I want more people to enjoy and share what it is that I do, by way of having me capture their companion animals and families with beautiful images that they will hold on to forever. Since my actual business has taken a backseat in 2014, with me focusing quite a bit on rescue work as well family issues, I’m ready for this next year to be different!
8 Favorite Things About My 2014
1. First great thing was definitely getting a new laptop, one that could keep up with me and all my photos. I can’t express how much of a difference it makes having the technology to keep up with you when you’re dealing with and processing hundreds of large image files. I would definitely express this to a photographer starting out, when determining what gear to make sure they have. That, along with some good external hard drives for digital storage. Efficient digital asset management is so important!
2. Being a part of the studio audience of Rachael Hale McKenna’s course ‘Animal Photography’ on CreativeLive. I felt so honored to be chosen to be on set for this course (luckily CL has a studio here in Seattle!), to get the chance to see how Rachael works her photography magic on everything from a rabbit, to a pot-bellied pig, to a pair of Great Danes. Being among my pet photographer peers was an added bonus; it woke me up to the importance of networking with your peers, which can be a bit tricky when people are working in home-based businesses. Rachael’s approach is one of patience and simplicity, which I also feel are paramount to good animal photography; patience is vital for connecting with your animal ‘subject’ and keeping it simple is definitely my style: I believe animals are beautiful in their own right and don’t need bells and whistles to make them shine.
3. This year saw the official opening of a new space for the rescue that I volunteer my photography for: Seattle Area Feline Rescue became the cat rescue so many of us imagined and worked hard for it to be, and it was and is wonderful. With a light and airy space, brand new state-of-the-art enclosures for the cats, new protocols for handling the cats, and it being so much easier for me to get good images in there without flash photography and such tight space limitations, I know it has made a difference to all of us volunteering, and ultimately for the cats. We are adopting out kitties at a much higher rate and morale is so much better. Cats being at the rescue for a shorter period of time before we get them new homes is just fabulous. More and more lives will be saved in 2015!
4. We moved. In my book, this was a personal victory. My family and I had been living in an entirely unsatisfactory living situation for way too long, and although this was just a move within the same zip code right here in Seattle, barely a 5-minute drive away, it had to happen. We moved away from landlords that didn’t care, and a nightmare of a neighbor, and gained a space that felt safe and clean and hopeful. I also finally got my own workspace, where I could keep all my gear and use my laptop in peace and comfort. I can’t even describe how good all of that was for my psyche and outlook. Never underestimate the need for a healthy living space for keeping you sane and productive!
5. I was chosen for a second time to be in the studio for a CreativeLive course and this time it was for a different kind of photography that resonates with me and am passionate about, Family Photography: Modern Storytelling with the brilliant, talented Kirsten Lewis. This changed me…really changed me. It gave me the permission to move forward in the future with the kind of family and pet photography that I’ve always wanted to do. Since studying photography and journalism in college, I’ve been fascinated with photojournalism, war photography, and candid, lifestyle photography. It’s the raw, unposed, everyday moments that need to be captured on camera to tell our stories; our stories are important and they need to be captured, recorded and shared. So many memories slip by, our children grow up, our pets never live as long as us…moments are fleeting. Recording all of those things is what I know I am here to do.
6. Click Away Conference 2014. This was my first photography conference, and first trip out of town alone since having a child (7 years!). It was put on by the fab Clickin Moms forum that I belong to, which inspires, teaches, and encourages photographers the country and world over. Aside from getting out of town to Salt Lake City, which I so needed, and attending workshops that gave me lots to absorb, what really was wonderful was connecting with so many of the talented photogs, and getting to know some of the Seattle ladies, which I’d not had the fortune to do before. Extra brilliant part of the trip: seeing the Salt Flats. Amazing.
7. I was able to go home to England for the holidays. My previous plan had been to go back again in the summer, but I felt my son and I really needed a trip home to see family sooner than that. We had had a tough few months at school, and my boy especially needed some grandparent time. I hadn’t spent Christmas back in the UK since 1999, so it was a treat, even if it was a bit crazy as compared to the usual holiday for us here. Being with family again, and around all things English (you know, castles, chocolate, biscuits included) made it really hard to leave…it gets harder each time we go back, it seems.
8. Ultimately, this year was one of great reflection and a time to refocus for me. I’ve worked on a business plan, reevaluated priorities in my life, and helped my son through some really tricky spots. These things have all been quiet, solitary and sometimes very frustrating endeavors, and from the outside, I could look at 2014 as a bit of a wash in some respects. I didn’t do the business I really wanted to, I let too many personal photos go unprocessed again (naughty me), and I discovered my first couple of grey hairs. Some relationships were really hard. But I’m trying to look forward, work on acceptance, and to embrace opportunity and change.
So, onto 2015! A re-launch and rebrand of my business is to happen, and there are tons of photos to be taken, and many cat’s lives to be saved. And I want to tell as many stories as I can with my images, so that they may be revisited and enjoyed tomorrow. I wonder what’s on your list…. Why not resolve to get your family and pet’s images taken by a photographer this year, for starters?! Make it the year you commit to preserving your memories for years to come.
Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale of all. ” ~ Hans Christian Andersen
Happy New Year!!