2013: Be Better, Do Better ~ New Year Goals ~ Chicago Wedding Photographer

James and I went out to lunch yesterday for what we called our “Yearly Review & Goal Setting” meeting. (Fancy, I know…) 😉

We talked about what went well in 2012, and what needs some TLC in both our business & personal lives, and we laid out goals for the new year. We each wrote down our thoughts separately and then shared what we came up with. It turns out that we’re really on the same wavelength for our thoughts on 2012 (especially in our personal lives) and I’m excited to work on things we chatted about! In general – we want to BE BETTER and DO BETTER in 2013.

And in true Christy fashion, naturally I’m sharing our joint lists with you guys so I can check back in here and hold myself accountable for these things throughout 2013! So – here we go!



  1. Faster turn around time – Blog weddings within a week of the wedding, and deliver images within 2-4 weeks. This happened early on this year, but as the double header weekends stacked up and family sessions filled up other days in the fall – I started to fall further and further behind on this. This by far was my biggest frustration this year. I hold really high expectations for myself and was pretty disappointed in myself by year’s end, if I’m being honest. James always reminds me not to be so hard on myself, and that we still got images back to clients within the time promised (which is important), but even such – it was still not as good as I wanted to be with this!
  2. Outsource our wedding editing (which should help with #1)! This sucked up SO much of my time this year – it’s a bit crazy to even think about. Also – I actually dread doing this. So rather than continue to do things in the business I don’t love – I’m going to outsource this so I can focus more energy on moving our business forward elsewhere! So we’re looking into using Fotofafa. We have everything set up – but before we roll with it I’m going to send a test wedding (of one I’ve already edited) to compare their edits to mine to make sure the quality is up to our standards. (I may or may not be a perfectionist, so we’ll see how this goes!)
  3. Improve the overall client experience. This one is on my goal list every year – as it should be for any business! We’re looking to make a few specific changes for clients in 2013 that better fit us/our brand. I’m not going into details because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for our clients! 🙂
  4. Include James in more business responsibilities and the process as a whole. James wants to be a bigger part of the business than he already is – which means I need to stop being such a control freak and trust him to handle more than I already give him. Just. Let. Go.
  5. Get info sheets from clients at least a month before the wedding with vendors and important information. I don’t do this at all and it is super hard to get it this info after the wedding when couples are over all the wedding stuff – so I need to create a document to send them to complete way in advance so I can more easily submit weddings, AND credit the awesome vendors in the wedding blog posts I write!
  6. Include submitting to blogs in our wedding work flow. (By doing #5, this process should go more quickly/smoothly! I had big goals for this in 2012, but only ended up submitting 2 weddings all year! Oops. I plan to catch up this off-season & stay on top of it in 2013!)
  7. Manage social media time better. i.e. Set a timer for myself when I go on at specific times of day to share links, interact, and then log out and be done. This is a major time suck for me right now, and while it is vital to build relationships and interact with clients/other photographers – I need to make it more structured so it doesn’t take over my time.
  8. Throw a CTP client party this off-season. I’m super excited about this and will be sending emails out to all our past, current, and future clients with more info soon!
  9. Work smarter, not longer…. which includes having a focused productive day, then shutting down my computer & closing my office door when I’m done for the night. No late night emails. No social media or emails on the cell phone after this time either. (Cell phone goes in another room plugged into a wall and out of sight.) By working more manageable hours I won’t completely burn myself out and as a result I will be much more focused and productive during the hours I am working!
  10. Hold another round of Advanced & Beginner workshops this spring. I had such an amazing time doing this last year that I can’t wait to do it again!
  11. Shoot more with James this off-season and critique one another’s work.
  12. Take at least one full day off per week. We tried this last year but it only stuck for a month or two. :-\
  13. Set 1 or 2 days a week that are AT HOME office days to aid in productivity – no meet-ups, no shoots. Last year I swear I had a shoot, a meeting, or something that required I leave the house nearly every day we weren’t shooting a wedding and not only did it totally run me down, it made it difficult to be productive because I was always watching the clock, and thinking about my obligation I had later in the day. I plan to write these days on my calendar for the entire year in the next few days so I know not to schedule anything on that day in advance so I can stay home and have a productive day in the office. Let’s hope it works!
  14. Book 35 weddings. I would be happy shooting 30, but since we shot 31 last year – I feel like we should dream bigger. haha We have 22 on the books so far for 2013, so I think/hope we’re well on our way to this goal!
  15. Include James in scheduling and keep him better informed of my schedule in general. He’s in school full-time and helping me run the business full-time, and we only have 1 car. Obviously we need to communicate better about these things! haha
  16. Get James the 85mm 1.2. I’ll go over this in an FAQ post on our gear soon – but basically James uses the 50mm 1.4 for prep photos and the 70-200mm 2.8 for the rest of the day (because he gets the candid far away shots to round out our coverage), but he needs something still relatively long, but faster – so we’re thinking this lens would be the perfect addition!
  17. Update our website. I haven’t updated much except the galleries since Promise designed my site almost 2 years ago (how has it been that long already?!) – so we need some serious face lifts over here… Update galleries, get new photos taken of us & include more of James in them, and update info pages with new/accurate information.
  18. Create a separate website for our Beautiful Sessions. I meant to do this last year and it totally slipped away on me. I don’t feel like these are a good fit for our general site – so I want to create a separate site with a little different design feel to it to house these photos and information about sessions.



  1. Have more date nights! We are constantly working on this. Hopefully the outsourcing & taking days off will help with this.
  2. Save $_______ by the end of the year. (Not getting into specifics here, clearly – but now that we’re somewhat more off our feet than in our first year full-time – we want to make this more of a priority.)
  3. Take a trip sometime during wedding season to reconnect and regroup. I’m hoping that a gap will present itself where instead of booking it up with families & engagement sessions, we can take a little mini vacation to get away in the middle of the craziness that is wedding season. We could have used this last year but no gap ever happened. This year we are making it happen some how!
  4. Be more present. Closing the office door & putting away the cell phone should help greatly with this!!
  5. Workout at least 2x a week, even if it is just an at home workout. 
  6. Move/walk more. Obviously this ties into the one above, but in less of a workout way and just a general movement way. I used to walk EVERYWHERE before I went full-time, but now I basically walk from our bed to the office, then to the kitchen for breakfast/lunch each day – and that’s about it. Not okay. I hope to walk & play with Chloe more and walk to run errands if at all possible (which isn’t as easy in this neighborhood as it was in our old one, but we’ll see).
  7. Get life insurance before James turns 35. I’m embarrassed to even write this one down – but yeah… we need to make. this. happen.
  8. Learn to accept the word “No” from James (i.e. don’t make social plans for us as a couple without discussing with him first). hahahaaaa. Yeah. This will be difficult for me, but I’m going to do my best!
  9. Print personal photos and put in albums. This was on our list last year and I didn’t get to it – but I plan to make it a priority this off season!
  10. Design and print our own wedding album!! I know – we’re like the cobbler with no shoes over here. Truth be told, I lost the external hard drive that had our RAW files on it (a friend shot our wedding and gave us the files), and only have a handful of very edited too-small JPGs on my computer…. so I need to LOCATE that external hard drive before I can cross this off the list… 🙁 Let this be a lesson to you clients! Back-up your digital files everywhere and PRINT YOUR PHOTOS from your wedding! Even if you don’t lose the digital files – when do you ever look at them? I seriously cannot wait to get ours in a beautiful book and have an heirloom for our kids & grand kids to look through someday!


So there you have it. Our 2012 review turned into 2013 goals. Let’s do this thing!!!


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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!