I vividly remember the resolution I made to myself in January of this year; I would try my best to grow as a photographer. I would put myself out there, expand my business, and by the end of the year I would have more knowledge than ever before.
It’s true, I’ve learned a lot this year. My photos have noticeably improved in the last 12 months. But with each new skill I develop, there’s something else I realize I need to work on. Every answer brings a handful of questions and I guess the more I learn about photography, the less I feel like I know. Sometimes it feels discouraging. Other times it’s incredibly motivating, because I know I will never stop learning.
From January to about April, my focus was portraits. I was 100% certain that THAT was my specialty. Senior photos, working with models… I really was in love with how much you could do with just one subject.
I remember the shoot that changed this. My good friend Abby asked if I could do her prom photos with her two best friends. I remember panicking the entire way to the location because the thought of working with three people at once seemed so impossible. But once I saw the chemistry that came from putting people who love each other in front of a camera, I was hooked.
May was the month I shot my first wedding. I remember being so incredibly proud of the photos, especially since I’d literally never been to a wedding before. It was my first real experience doing couple’s photos as well; being able to put that into my portfolio lead to so many more opportunities. I focused on couples and groups and parties for awhile before sneaking back into portrait photography with a session at a sunflower field.
September and October nearly broke me- two weddings, two events, a couple’s shoot, a senior shoot, and a family session. It was the most photography I’d ever done in such a short amount of time, and the break I took afterward felt so strangely rewarding. I gained two amazing friends out of those shoots; Ethan and Gabrielle, newly weds expecting a baby in January. Their wedding was truly a beautiful experience both as their photographer and friend.
The year ended with a senior session of my amazing friend Megan, who I met at a camp for cancer survivors. I can’t explain how proud I was to be doing those photos, and to see her make it to graduation.
I haven’t looked back since making that decision in January. It’s been terrifying to throw myself with an art form that so many people want to be successful at, but at the same time, I’ve never felt so liberated. I do my photography with no conditions or expectations. I don’t need to make a ton of money off of it, I don’t need to be the best in the world. All I can do (and all I really need to do) is promise myself year after year that I will continue to grow as an artist and as a photographer. I’ve made a lot of promises that haven’t been kept; this is one I know I’ll never want to let go of.