Looking Back On 2017
2017 was a year of growth, learning, and change, but to be honest, the year started similarly to the years prior. As the holiday season draws to a close so do pictures with Santa and Christmas family sessions. With that comes a lull where you have time to reflect on marketing, new year goals, and what you could have changed to make the previous year better. In realizing that the path of my first three years in business had gone quite similarly I decided to change that in 2017.
I started changing my marketing strategy. I realized that I love capturing the love between couples and I wanted to photograph more destination weddings in Montana. Because of that I decided to not only attend the Great Falls Bridal Extravaganza, but also the My Montana Wedding Expo in Kalispell. I also started dedicating more time to social media to reach my ideal clients.
In 2017 I also wanted to change the fact that I was not traveling as much as I wanted to. With that in mind, I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way. In March I made my first move by booking a cruise to Mexico. I booked the trip with the Global Stars Network and I spent a week working with models and talent agencies. While it was a work trip it also was a chance for adventure and I had a great time touring the three Mexican ports, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas.
The cruise fueled my hunger for travel and the talent agencies were highly responsive to my work. Combine those two facts and you have the reason for the trips I booked to Los Angeles and New York City. During my tours to both cities I again worked with entertainment agencies and their models. The opportunities in New York City and Los Angeles gave me a chance to shoot in places including Central Park, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Long Island, Madison Square Park, Queens, Manhattan Beach, Malibu Beach, Chinatown, and the Fashion District.
In between all of my travels to Mexico, New York, and California I was also busy back in Montana. My summer was full of gorgeous shoots and wedding days. From family sessions in Glacier National Park to sun kissed prairie weddings I had a great time capturing every adventure.
During my time in Montana I dedicated my spare time to charity work. I ran for MRS Montana 2017 and worked to raise awareness to drug abuse and helped run fundraisers to support the Victoria’s Voice Foundation. I also worked to raise money for the City of Great Falls Animal Shelter and the firefighting efforts in Glacier National Park.
With everything going on the summer flew by in a blur. Next thing you knew we were down to a month before our wedding in Pennsylvania. When I wasn’t editing or doing office work I was calling vendors and pulling together last minute plans. Robert and I also spent our evenings creating decorations and working on our wedding day details. I am so thankful that our wedding coordinator at Wyndridge Farm, Molly, was there to answer any questions and to help us plan. In the end the events team at our venue even helped relieve last minute stressors by decorating for us.
During our wedding trip we had the first chance to wind down. We spent time hanging out with family and just relaxing. Even our day trips weren’t too crazy as we spent them going wine tasting and getting our East Coast food fix.
After the wedding was over we spent our honeymoon week in New York City. We spent the days just taking in the sights and enjoying being able to make our own pace. During the time there we walked Central Park, explored Greenwich Village and Tribeca, took a Sunday drive to the Hamptons, and we toured Oheka Castle, the One World Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
Once our honeymoon ended I started my 2017 fall tour. The fall tour kicked off in New York where I got to work with MSA’s lifestyle models on Long Island and in Brooklyn. After New York we moved on to Maryland and Pennsylvania where I worked with families and seniors. The final leg of the tour took me to Los Angeles where I worked with Envy Models, Wayne Model Management, and Rocky Mountain Entertainment. This branch of the tour also brought around the offer to not only continue working as a photographer, but to become a model!
The end of the tour came at the start of the holiday season. With finding a new studio, getting ready for pictures with Santa, and Christmas sessions things were crazy. However, the weekends with Santa are always so much fun and they make everything worth it. It is so great getting to see the kids as they return each year.
The holiday season is also when Robert and I found out that we are having a baby! So far things have been so great and we are so excited about this new chapter in our lives. We cannot wait to welcome our little one and to see where this life takes us now that we will have a family.
As I mentioned earlier this time of year makes me reflect on my goals and what I want to improve. In the spirit of preparing for the next chapter I can’t help but look back on 2017 and see my 2018 goals in a new light.
So What Did 2017 Teach Me?
In 2017 I saw a lot of growth and change and with that I learned a lot too. So what did 2017 teach me?
I realized that I need to pursue what inspires me. So many people will tell you to copy the entrepreneurs that you look up to. I disagree. You lose your self identity when you model your life after others. Being yourself is key. You shouldn’t wear something just became someone else does or edit your images differently just because an industry trend is going that way. Don’t be trendy, be you. Being genuine is timeless.
I learned the importance of valuing myself and my work. If you don’t value yourself, who will? If you recognize your self-worth others end up respecting you. They stop treating you as a doormat and start treating you as an equal. Sure, you can’t make everyone happy that way, but YOU will be happy. At the start of 2017 I wanted to please everyone. When I was overworking myself for the sake of others happiness no one respected me. It left me feeling so worthless and I questioned my every move. I started feeling like I wasn’t good enough. The moment I realized that I will never make every person happy I started doing things that made me happy. I decided to let people know that I knew my value and guess what? They started valuing me too.
In 2017 I realized just how much time I spent away from the things that I loved when I was trying to please others. I missed out on so much. Even if I was there, I wasn’t present. On kayaking trips I wasn’t taking in the scenery, instead I was worrying if people would like my pictures, if my Instagram hashtags were right, and if maybe I was wasn’t worth what I was charging. When I stopped questioning things and stopped worrying I was able to be a part of my own life.
What Are My Goals For 2018?
In 2018 I want to remember the things I learned in 2017 so that way I can make wiser decisions. However, with that said I don’t want to live in the past. I want to focus on the positive and not on grudges and the negative thoughts that poison your outlook.
This year I want to:
Be present in my life
Balance work and family
Travel more and take the time to appreciate the opportunities given
Give myself the chance to be creative
Be true to my personality and artistic tastes
Run a smarter business
Remember my self-worth