As 2018 came to a close, I reflected on what the year had in store for me.
After a tragic and unfortunate start to 2018, I decided to move from New York City back to Orlando, FL.
In my move, I left my New York City apartment, a good paying full-time job, my church family, and along with those things, my stability. I spent 5 years in New York and had built great relationships with the people I did life with. In reality, the move back to Florida was my hitting of the restart button on my life in almost every way. In leaving my previous job and moving, I decided to focus my energies on taking my photography business to the next level.
I never set goals. Believe me - at the beginning of the year, nor at any other point in the year do I set goals. But since I now had time to think about what I wanted the rest of my year to look like, I set some goals for my business back in May.
Since then, I’m surprised at how many of those I’ve been fortunate to have achieved. By God’s grace and provision, and with the support of my family and friends, I have thankfully been able to check several of those off my list.
Here are 4 that I’m really proud of.
Get Into Wedding Photography by Second-Shooting/Assisting
When I took my photography to a professional level, one of the things that was on the back of my mind that I wanted to do but had delayed going after was wedding photography. It seemed like a lofty goal too far out of my reach when I thought about it. I heard photographing weddings was complicated, time consuming, had too many moving parts, was stressful, and you only had one shot to capture the moment just right. While those things may be true, providing photos to a couple and family who will treasure them for the rest of their lives sounded like something I was interested in. Similarly, it was a new artistic avenue I hadn’t explored. Plus, I now had the time to invest in learning and doing this kind of photography. So I decided to take the leap and learn by second-shooting/assisting a photographer at a wedding. My goal was really to help a lead shooter photograph 2-3 weddings before the end of 2018.
Fast-forward to the end of the year and I have been a part of photographing 15+ weddings this year, plus one that I was the lead photographer for - in Hawaii! So I am not only more experienced in photographing weddings now, I have a destination wedding under my belt as well! I’ve thankfully been able to far exceed my goal of simply getting into wedding photography this year.
Build a Relationship with an Established Photographer
A large part of my story on learning wedding photography and growing confidence in my skills is due to Victoria and her husband Jacob at Victoria Angela Photography. Victoria and Jacob are successful luxury wedding photographers in the Orlando area and I am so thankful they took me under their wing and let me come along with them on many weddings this year. Both she and her husband have patiently taught me, answered my questions, guided me, and supported me on my journey. The information I’ve learned from them has been invaluable. In all honesty, the fact that they keep asking me to return to help them on shoots has been both humbling and amazing. I reached out to Victoria soon after my move to Florida and she didn’t have to reply. But I’m glad she did and allowed me to help, beginning an ongoing relationship. They are a part of why I continue to do photography today.
Start Blogging Regularly about my Photography
I was never into blogs - reading or writing them. I think people don’t really read blogs anymore and the days of getting any meaningful size of an audience on blogs are over. But I thought to myself - what am I going to do with all these photos I take? I don't like the idea of my images just being in some hard drive or in the cloud somewhere not being seen or doing anything after I deliver them to the client. I have time. So my thought to myself was that maybe I should put those images in a blog!
And just like that, I decided to start blogging. In the blogs, I write about my process in photographing, what gear I used (in case any other photographers are interested in seeing), a bit about my experience on the shoot, and hopefully provide some inspiration or joy to anyone who likes the content. In my mind, it’s another way to display the images I took for people to see and it’s a better alternative than the photos collecting digital dust in storage. So I blog about many of the shoots I do. And it thankfully doesn’t feel like work. It hasn’t been difficult for me to write the content, nor has it felt forced. In this, I think I’ve discovered that I like to write too.
Get Published in a Website/Magazine
One of those “really far out there, shoot for the stars, work really hard to reach” goals I thought about was to get published in a website or magazine by May 2019 - one year since writing down the goal. I gave myself one year to make it onto a magazine or a website other than my own.
After starting to blog, I realized I had some content I could submit to websites for consideration. Fast-forward a little bit and my work has been featured on two sites. I got so excited when both sites replied that they had published the articles I submitted. I couldn’t have imagined my name and images being on sites “real” photographers would see. I hadn’t tried submitting anything before and out of the two articles I submitted, both got picked up by different sites - PetaPixel and DIY Photography.
Similarly, I replied to an ad for a pool magazine that needed some photos. To my surprise, they selected me for the shoot and a month later, I see the cover of the magazine is my photo.
My original goal was to be published in a website or magazine and I got both!
In 2018, I:
Made my biggest sale ever.
Learned Wedding Photography.
Improved to become comfortable using Flash in my photography.
Earned the most I have ever earned in Photography.
Completed the most shoots I have ever done - 53 since starting my business in May!
Traveled the most I ever have for Photography - 2,900+ Miles (plus Hawaii).
Purchased a Full-Frame Camera, which I had been wanting for a long time.
Updated my website regularly.
Stepped out of my comfort zone and reached out to individuals, vendors, businesses, and establishments offering my services, which led to some great referrals.
One of the goals I made for myself was to make a YouTube channel and create videos. It was one way I could put myself out there, show potential clients who I am, and build a community by putting out educational and informative videos on the internet. I challenged myself to make photography-related videos beginning on my 27th birthday. I wanted to loosely make somewhere between 2-4 videos a month. But I made two videos, went out to film a third, and realized I didn’t enjoy editing video at all. In fact, I disliked editing video more than my desire to build a following on YouTube. So I scrapped that goal and idea. Somewhere in my hard drive is an almost-finished video of me showing good locations around EPCOT Center for portrait photos. Maybe in the future I’ll have a change of heart and try it again because I do really enjoy watching videos and like passing on my knowledge - even if it’s just for beginners. But for now, making YouTube videos will be a “no” from me (lol).
I plan to keep all of these goals going, and dream bigger. I want to submit more content to sites, continue photographing weddings, travel more for photography, continue building professional relationships, work with more experienced photographers, continue learning and growing, and get more of my images published.
I appreciate the support of my friends and family that have helped me get to where I am today. The Lord has blessed me and my business, and I’m looking forward to where He guides me next in 2019.