What. A. Year.
Not only was 2017 the 5th anniversary of Shared Light, it was also the year I saw the most growth- both professionally and artistically.
Just by saying 'yes'.
For me, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. I find something that works, I like it, I know it, that's where I stay. And I kind of feel like that's what I let happen to my business . About mid-2017 it hit me that I was getting too complacent with my work. It was good, I liked it, it worked and that's where I had been hovering for about a year and a half. I had stopped pushing myself. I stopped trying new angles because I was afraid they would be bad shots. I stopped experimenting with editing because I was afraid of not 'doing it right' even though I have an awesome working knowledge of color, curves, etc. in Lightroom and Photoshop. I quit playing with light.
Well, 2017 is when I started to shake that off. I decided 'whatever. I'm doing this weird thing. It might work, it might not, but at least I'll know'. And as soon as I made that decision, I started LOVING my work again. I mean, I've always liked what I do, but I fell out of love for a hot second and that made for a long few months.
My biggest area of growth was in the wedding world. I set a personal goal of booking 10 weddings in 2017. Wonderfully and amazingly I booked 17 weddings. I went from booking 3 in 2016 to 17 in just a year- without marketing much for them, just by saying 'sure, I'll try that'.
I shot weddings in churches, coffee shops, backyards, hillsides, vineyards, golf courses and an old mansion in Galena. I worked with bridal parties that had upwards of 18 people and a bridal party that was made up only of the bride's two young daughters. Guest lists of more than 300 and as few as 12. Weddings that lasted 10+ hours and weddings that lasted 90 minutes. Weddings for friends, strangers and strangers that became friends. And you know what I realized? I love the very act of marriage- of two people willing to say 'you're my person' to a room full of people. I love people in love. I love people who celebrate love. I love weddings.
Another thing happened towards the beginning of last year. I found my wedding photos. My very own wedding photos that had been buried on a hard drive resurfaced and I spent hours looking through them with my husband. We reminisced about the beautiful day, how young we were, the laughs, the memories we made then and since. And that's when it really hit me that not only do I love weddings, but I love shooting weddings. The day I found my own wedding photos and realized how special this day and all the details were that I had started to forget; all of a sudden I realized how important it was that I photograph weddings. And it was then that I really fell in love with the love couples feel.
While I am already at my goal of 10 weddings for this year and won't be taking many more because baby number two will be here at the end of May, I am already booking for 2019. Who knows what my goals will be for 2019. But one thing's for sure- I'm going to keep pushing myself this year and next. I'm going to keep falling in love with couples and crying during Mother/Son dances. I will keep laughing at hilarious speeches and applauding newlyweds. And I'll keep saying 'yes'.
Thank you to all of my 2017 couples. Thanks for letting me play with light and angles. Thanks for saying yes when I say things like 'How do you feel about walking through that patch of weeds' and 'Want to lay down in the grass for a bit?'. And to all my 2018/2019 couples and beyond: I can't wait to keep pushing myself to get even better, discover more and deliver galleries that will continue to stun and delight.
And most importantly I will keep loving my husband and every time I come home from a wedding and feel the urge to dance with him, I'll hold him close, tucked up under his chin and listen to his heartbeat while we slow dance in the living room. But really, that's all I wish for any of my couples, past, present or future <3
So these are some of my favorite images from the year. Couples in love, couples connected and couples that made me cry.