2016 In Review: Photography

I had all of these goals where photography was concerned for 2016, like making it a more legit part of my site, getting a logo to watermark my work, and switching over to photoshop for editing. I didn’t accomplish any of those things so we can just call this resolution a huge failure. Still, despite that, I don’t really feel like I failed at photography in 2016 because my camera and I certainly were insanely busy.

 

In 2016, I did seventeen standard shoots, shot five Birthday Parties, one Relay for Life Event for charity, and one 1st Communion and once again I had to turn people away during the busiest time of the year because there was no way I could take on more clients that late in the year and promise them edited pictures back in time to ship out Christmas cards while still working a full time job. Turning people away is the WORST feeling. I’ve gotta be proactive about this next year and advertise my availability further in advance so people don’t wait until it’s too late to ask if they actually are interested.

 

In addition to that, I do really need to work on the resolutions I set last year for photography. I think what happens is that I don’t technically start shooting much until Spring and it doesn’t last long and then I get unbelievably swamped again in the fall through the end of the year and I guess my goals are sort of out of sight/out of mind until I’m living and breathing photography like that and then I find myself regretting not having taken the time in between to handle these matters. I even had people ask me for gift cards this year, but there was no time in the heat of the season to work on it and once it slowed down, it’d completely slipped my mind. That’s business I’m losing because I’m not utilizing my downtime to prepare for the busy times better. I’ve definitely got to work on this in 2017.

 

I’d also really like to expand my portfolio a bit in 2017. I would love to get into stylized shoots, like with elaborate sets and costumes – perhaps with a cosplayer or something. I did a semi-stylized pregnancy shoot this year and I loved having free reign to ‘create’ in the wild like that. I’d also really love to do some more charity based shooting, specifically for special needs kids and/or rescue animals. And I’ve had several people interested in the idea of offering photoshoot parties, like for boudoir photography – a sort of mini session where ladies can sip wine and socialize while being glamourized for a shot or two.

 

Hopefully with better planning on my part, I can make my resolutions for this year and last more of a reality by the time 2018 is here.

 

As always, I’m incredibly grateful for my clients, new and old, who push me out of my comfort zone and trust me to capture their most important moments in life. To receive my work on a Christmas card or be tagged in someone’s new wall art arrangement featuring family pictures I took is the highest form of flattery a photographer can receive and because so many of them did this in 2016, I’ve felt more like a legit photographer in this past year than all the years before it!

 

I’ve posted all of these shoots individually here throughout the year, but if you haven’t checked them out, you can view a few of my personal favorites from each by clicking the image below.

 

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2016 In Review: Books

If I broke down the stuff I read in weeks, I would have met my goal of reading 1/2 a book a week, but the truth is, there were times I went weeks and even months without reading a single thing at all, so technically I failed. To further that failure, I read even less in 2016 than the shameful number of books I read in 2015.

 

I’m not sure that any amount of wanting and hoping I can read more in a year is enough to actually make it happen anymore. However, my husband has decided that truly smart people can read a book a week and that we are smart people so there’s no reason we can’t make it happen. I’m still unconvinced that’s all it takes, especially since I have far less free time than him and so I’m not putting the pressure of a book a week on my plate for 2017. I’m not even putting the pressure of 1/2 a book a week like I did in 2016. But what I will agree to, and what I hope helps get reading back into being a regular habit for me, is to read something everyday. Whether that be a few pages or a whole chapter, in 2017 I want to make an effort to finish everyday with reading. For a little while there in 2016, I’d gotten in the habit of working out, showering, and reading a chapter before bedtime. It was a really peaceful way to finish my day and a great way to feed my brain right before dream creativity kicks in.

 

Despite not technically meeting my reading resolution for 2016, I did read some really great books, like The Penderwicks – Book 1, The Isle of the Lost, Black Widow – Forever Red, and Paper Girls Vol. 1, just to name a few. I read some just okay books too, and finally finished a few books I’d been lingering on for too long. As usual, I wrote mini reviews for each on GoodReads (which you can check out HERE!)  or you can check out the spines of my 2016 reads below. There are a few missing, either because I lent them out or donated them, but they’ll be listed below!

 

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Not pictured: A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick, Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith, The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High, Book 2) by Lisi Harrison, Where there’s a Wolf, There’s a Way (Monster High, Book 3) by Lisi Harrison, The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet, 2) by Kazu Kibuishi

 

-AND- Multiple, Single Comic Issues of Jem & the Holograms & New Archie

 

What was the best thing you read in 2016? What are you most looking forward to reading in 2017?

 

Christmas 2016

Christmas had a rocky start this year, with dad being in the hospital for a diverticulitis attack and Mom & I trying to figure out how to make the Christmas Eve dinner without him. Thankfully, we didn’t ruin it and even more thankfully, Dad broke himself out of the hospital in time to celebrate. He wrote on his exit board, “Santa had a bellyache, but the little children need him.” Which is completely accurate b/c my dad is Santa. He suffered through the next two days of celebration like a champ and we found ourselves all the more grateful for his presence. The kids, especially, love their Poppy. Christmas wouldn’t have been the same without him.

 

As usual, Christmas at my parents for Christmas Eve and Morning is crowded and chaotic and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

We ended our Christmas festivities at my Mother-in-laws for another round of good food and fun, feeling so very blessed to be able to spend that sort of quality time with our loved ones.

 

I hope all of your Christmases were just as satisfying as ours, even if they too had their rocky moments. :)

 

To see more pictures of our Christmas, click the image below!

 

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Cookie-Thon 2016

Can you believe this is the 7th year I’ve done Cookie-Thon? I guess it didn’t technically become a “Cookie-Thon” until about 5 years ago, but still… I was shooting for a number less insane than last year’s 3,454 cookies, but apparently less for me, was only by 10 cookies, bringing this year’s total to 3,444. Despite that, this year went a lot smoother thanks to a few things: taking Friday and Monday off to give me 4 full days, my friend Shawn lending me his mixer so I could run 4 bowls at the same time in equally powered machines, having my friends Aubrie and Ari helping on Saturday and my Maw Maw on Monday, cookie sheets as big as my oven that held 30-35 cookies, a giant spatula, and just overall better planning.

 

I filled over 60 packages this year and 6 platters, mostly to the usual friends and family members that receive them every year. But the most fulfilling part of Cookie-Thon continues to be the ability to give cookies to strangers. The surprise of the pizza delivery guy, touched by the offer to come inside and have a warm cookie before he takes the road again. The comfort in the face of a neighbor I don’t really know, but who lost her daughter 2 months ago and is understandably struggling to feel Christmas joy. This is what Cookie-Thon is really about, this token of love, to whoever is willing to receive it. Spreading Christmas cheer is my absolute favorite thing to do and I implore all of you to find a way to spread some too.

 

This year I had the opportunity to do something really worthwhile with the excess cookies and I am excited about being able to do it every year from here on out too. With about a bins worth of leftovers, I asked around for a good place to donate them, or for people who would like a small package themselves, and my old childhood friend Sasha suggested The Sharing Table. You remember, that humbling experience I had last year when I volunteered? She says they get well over 100 people for the Christmas dinner and now some of them will get to go home (or wherever they find shelter at night) with some of my cookies! I know it’s hardly enough to make their lives any better, but I hope it at least serves as a sweet treat in the name of Christmas that they would have otherwise not had.

 

I’ve got this idea about making Cookie-Thon a sort of movement, where I release my recipes online and people all over participate in the same event, same weekend, and then we all set out to get them into the hands of people who don’t expect it – who need it most. Be that homeless people, cops, delivery people, someone who’s been down on their luck, etc… If we could create a movement to spread Christmas Cheer…. gah! it’d be an amazing thing to be a part of. Anybody interested in possibly being a part of this next year?

 

For the most part I posted the progress of Cookie-Thon live on Instagram Stories and Snapchat this year, but I did manage to capture a few pictures with my good camera, too. If you’d like to see the process, click the image below! :)

 

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Neff Kids Christmas Card 2016

Since I started shooting this family, we’ve always done funny Christmas cards, but as the kids get older and the parents want themselves a part of it less and less, we shot some more mature pictures for this year’s card. Still, we did manage to get a pretty funny one of their dog, Rocky, too, though. For old times sake. Doesn’t he look thrilled? LOL! 😉

 

Click the image below to see a few other favorites from this shoot!

 

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Hoerr Kids Christmas Card 2016

When “winging” it works! This turned out so much cuter than I was hoping for considering we literally threw the set together out of random household items in a hardly no time at all at the last minute. :)

 

To see more from this shoot, click the photo below!

 

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Milan Family Christmas Card 2016

Easily one of my favorite families to shoot because Luciano is always so full of character  (he gets it honestly from both parents – lol)! The sun was dying in the sky, creating the most gorgeous flares in the camera and the temperature seemed to be dropping by the minute below 30, but it made for such a beautiful accent to this beautiful family.

 

For more of my favorites from this shoot, click the image below!

 

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Mraz Family || Fall 2016

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do a shoot while the sun was waking up the world and finally someone wanted to be a part of that. It was technically just past sunrise and it was only 29 degrees out, but the Mraz family were bright eyed and ready despite that. It made for such gorgeous shooting conditions. :)

 

To see more of my favorites from this shoot, click the photo below!

 

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David Family || Fall 2016

I’m always so anxious when I take on a new client, but God seems to keep blessing me with beautiful, kind families that make the shoot even more interesting by their kids wanting to capture their hobbies. This family had a ballerina and a paintball player, so wildly different, but both so fun to shoot in the woods!

 

To see more from this shoot, click the image below!

 

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Niekrash Family, Fall 2016 + Ellie Turns 5!

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I was so excited when a girl I’d met at a book signing a few years ago reached out to me to do her pregnancy photos last spring and it’s always an even bigger compliment when they come back for more. This time, Ellie turned 5 and they celebrated it at this awesome horse farm where the kids had that good old fashioned kind of fun, riding horses, releasing pigeons, and playing outside with their own imaginations. We did a mini family session while we were there, too!

 

Click the picture above for some favorites from Ellie’s party and the image below for a few from their family session!

 

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