Last year at this time I did a big personal & business round-up of 2011 (which we appropriately named “The Year of Change“), so I wanted to do the same for 2012 because it is a great way for me to look back on the big moments of the year (since this also doubles as my personal diary)! 🙂
It turns out that I didn’t have nearly as much going on in 2012, which I suppose is good considering last year at this time we were hoping hoping hoping that we’d get a break from all the BIG changes, and that 2012 would be a year of Growth and Stability instead. And while I definitely feel like I see the Growth part (we shot nearly twice as many weddings in 2012 than we did in 2011) – I think I’d replace Stability with Learning instead. (We’re definitely more stable now than we were this time last year – but I wouldn’t qualify 2012 as a year of Stability exactly. haha. Maybe 2013 will be that?! Let’s hope!)
While 2011 had us reeling from all the changes (losing our pup, going full time with our business, moving to a new place, adopting a puppy – and much more) – 2012 was a year that was hard in a different kind of way. This year we felt a bit like that mountain climber guy from The Price is Right… slowly making our way up a hill day in and day out – sometimes doing the wrong thing that threw us back down the mountain, only for us to start the trek upwards again until we finally reached the year’s end.
This was our first FULL wedding season full-time so it was interesting to see how it all went down. And while I can get frustrated because I feel like there are a MILLION places we need to improve – I know we had to make those mistakes, and feel our way around the dark to get to the next door in our journey. (I’m hoping 2013 isn’t quite so much feeling our way around the dark – and more like we’ve found the door leading to outside and it is early dawn with some soft morning light to help us see our way. That would be nice! :)) Of course I’m always extra hard on myself, and have the highest expectations for everything we do… but even so, I know there were a few things we did right this year (although I haven’t taken the time to note them yet – haha). But the fact that we’re still here means something must have gone right… right?! Now if only we can keep it up! 🙂
Anyway – let’s get this thing going! Between shooting 31 weddings, and 80 other sessions (26 engagements, 4 charity sessions/events, 17 family/anytime sessions, 8 Beautiful sessions, 5 proposals, and 20 mini sessions) – here’s what we were up to in 2012! (In chronological order… naturally!)
- I embraced my first ever true off-season and as such developed a new obsession!
- I announced my first ever Workshops!
- I had a serious reality check when a horrible tragedy happened in my small hometown that got me thinking about regrets & choosing happiness.
- I attended WPPI & Showit United in Vegas for the first time, and connected in person with so many amazing photographers I had become friends with online!! Such an awesome experience!
- Where we also happened to meet TONY FREAKING DANZA in the elevator! haha. (Who, by the way, is the nicest!!)
- I attended my first workshop – Justin & Mary’s Sunrise Shoot Out at WPPI.
- Inspired by Justin & Mary – I talked about “My Why” after returning from Vegas, and really exposed my innermost demons when I talked about the eating disorder I struggled with in college during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. (And as a result was completely blown away by the support in the comments and in private messages from others who struggled with the same, or know someone close to them who did.)
- I spent some time with the cutest kids around during their visit to Chicago in early March!
- I struggled during our first off-season with A LOT of fear and constant worry – but snapped myself out of it when I realized money does not equal happiness.
- I announced the addition of Beautiful Sessions to our offerings (which I am COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH and will have more new things coming on this side of our business this off-season)!
- I finally made my first (and I believe only) video blog – a tour of my home office! (I swear I’ll get better about filming video blogs this off season! It’s on my goal list!)
- I held my first ever Beginner & Advanced Workshops at our house – which was one of my favorite experiences all year!! I can’t wait to do it again in a few months! (Announcement coming soon!)
- I began offering custom websites for all of our wedding clients! (I’m obsessed with these!!)
- James and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary in May!
- During the insanity that was the start of busy season for us – we learned a valuable lesson from Chloe – our wise beyond her years pup!
- We took advantage of summer time in Wisconsin Dells for one of our June weddings and made a little weekend of it!
- We were crazy busy but managed to spend some non-work time with our clients/friends too at some summer BBQs!
- I thanked my 2011 brides for being SO AMAZING by throwing a 2011 Bride’s Day where they were pampered with hair/makeup & their own mini Beautiful sessions!
- My main hard drive crashed and I was reminded why File Management & Back-up are SO IMPORTANT.
- I got back to my roots and shot some film again! I hope to continue this in 2013 and test out some other films (since I wasn’t a huge fan of the Provia 400X I used).
- I had a reality check in late July/early August about my life/work balance (i.e. I was TERRIBLE at it), and vowed to make a change. We did great with this change for a while and then as off-season started to near we got very bad about taking time to spend together because we figured we’d have all off-season to catch up. Not the best idea… but I’m happy to say now that we’re almost there – things feel back on track with us! I hope to be better about this ALL YEAR in 2013!
- We re-evaluated our finances and were happily able to begin donating a portion of each wedding we book to PAWS (the amazing no-kill shelter where we adopted our crazy Chloe pup)! Since announcing this in mid-August we raised $700 for PAWS Chicago! I’m SO happy we are able to give back in this way & can’t wait to see what we’re able to give in 2013!
- I shot my first wedding without J in a loooooong time and realized I’d really rather not do that ever again! So for 2013 we only come as a packaged deal! 🙂
- I rang in my 31st birthday while shooting Amanda & Tim’s awesome wedding, and later celebrated with J in the most low-key way possible… a little R&R, take out, & a movie!
- James & I celebrated 1 YEAR of self-employment!! I still can’t believe we get to do this full-time together day in and day out!
- I was able to enjoy fall in the BEST way – at The Little Farmer with my family!!
- Fall was a bit overwhelming and insanely busy (to say the least) – so I wrote a little post to remind myself why working for myself is AMAZING!
- We traveled A LOT in late September & October (7 out of 8 weekends, to be exact)… but were able to reconnect and relax a bit at Lana & Jon’s wedding in the north woods of WI, where we also celebrated shooting our 50th wedding!
- Chloe rocked out Halloween as a lion (costume made solely from my clothes… haha!)
- I chatted candidly on the blog about some of James’ and my struggles throughout the year, especially as work got busier and busier, in a post called Ebbs & Flows.
- We celebrated another wonderful Thanksgiving packed full with traditions (including our annual cousin’s theme party) back in Wisconsin with my family!
- Thanks to realizing “The Power of ‘No” – I had a weekend free in December to actually spend with some of my oldest and best friends!
- We celebrated a snowy Christmas with my family back in Wisconsin, where James and I FINALLY took our photos for our holiday card!!
- Last but not least, I gave thanks to our clients/friends for an AMAZING 2012!!!
But of course I wouldn’t be here without all of my blog readers as well!! Thank you all so much for a wonderful year, for referring me to the moon and back, and for coming here to read about our silly little life & this business we’re trying to figure out every day. You all keep me going when times get tough and root me on when things go well!! Basically – you’re THE BEST.
Sending so much love to you all!! And here’s to an amazing 2013! Let’s do this thing!!!