2013 | What Worked & What Didn't.

How on earth is it seriously already 2014?!  I simply don't understand where the time has gone, and how it's gone so fast.  I had every intention of blogging this .. ya know .. before the new year was actually here.  But here I am, in shock, that 2013 has already come and gone in it's entirety.  So, before 2014 does the same - my look back at what worked and what didn't this year.

I did a lot of things in 2013; some new, some scary, some that worked great, and some that .. well, didn't.  As the new year begins, I've been brainstorming like crazy about so many things.  One of the biggest goals I have for the new year is to blog more, and blog personal.  To kick off the new year that came in what feels like a millisecond, I've decided to put it all out there; the good, the bad, and the in-between.  I got the wonderful idea from Tiffany Farley, and I'm so excited to look back and see things change along the way!

PS - Are you following Tiffany Farley?  I sure hope so.  Talk about some gorgeous branding!

Here's what DID work:

1.  Making it official.

At the beginning of the year I made my business "the real deal".  I chose my official business name (which also happened to be my new married name, exciting!), and began filling out all the lovely paperwork involved in getting your business in the books.  Tax ID, Business License, becoming incorporated, getting a web domain, etc.  Totally not my favorite part of owning a business, but I'm ecstatic that I can now say I own a business, a *real*, official, law-abiding *business*!!! =D  Now, let me tell you, it feels good, like realllll good.  If you haven't done it - do! 

2.  Hiring Manda Koolis for my new brand.

Manda is amazing.  I knew that long before she worked over my brand, but her talent in yet another area reminded me just how much she impresses me and how thankful I am for her!  She helped me sit down and think about what I really wanted my brand to say, and who I wanted it to reach.  She had me send her inspiration boards, and random clips of things I love, and sketches of how I wanted my site laid out.  I wanted my brand to be bright, fun, and modern, and she mixed everything in just right!  Having her make everything custom and unique for me is irreplaceable.  I am so proud of my logo, my site, my brand, and I'm happy to tell anyone who will listen all about it.  =D  I've spent a lot of the year getting other bits and pieces to match my brand - business cards, stationary, notebooks, stickers, and tying my brand into everything I do.  The butterflies I get when I see my brand on things is unexplainable!  Another step to being and feeling official.

3.  Shooting in Manual.  

I've been practicing, learning, practicing, striving, practicing, trying for some time now.  But this year I can proudly say that Manda gave me the push I needed to shoot 100% on manual, and I'm so thankful she did!  It's amazing how much control you have over your equipment when you switch your dial to that little "M", and it's oh-so-worth-it.  If you're on the edge, just jump.  You'll be so glad you did.

4.  Editing primarily in Lightroom.

Oh.holy.timesaver.  Before I happily ran into the arms of LR, I was editing in Photoshop.  We're talking opening each photo, editing, saving, and closing, repeat.  Lightroom, and it's incredible batch editing has saved my life, and my sanity.  I can now import everything, cull, batch edit (for the most part), rename, and export in one simple swoop.  I do still pull a couple things into photoshop - that I want to edit in a bit more detail, but psh, that's easy peasy these days.  LR also lets me edit capture time, and put into color folders - and has made editing a wedding with a second shooter a million times easier.  Lightroom is definitely one of the things that I'm shouting from the rooftops to you, that you MUST try if you haven't!

5.  Using an online gallery.

Clients love it.  Having the images accessible immediately after I've finished editing them, is wonderful.  Last year I used a system called the PASS gallery, and it did work great for 2013.  However, as I move forward in 2014 I plan on changing this part of my package, and am super excited to show you all new and exciting things!

6.  Working with second shooters.

This has worked wonderfully for me this year, in multiple ways.  I've learned a lot along the way of working with second shooters - and am so thankful for the wonderful photographers I've worked with this year!  Every wedding I photographed this year, I brought a second shooter, and I totally recommend it.  Communication and teamwork is key, but if all goes well, it goes great!  And second shooting for other photographers has been an incredible experience as well.  The relationships I've built have been irreplaceable and so much fun!

7.  Networking.

Speaking of second shooters - they've been beneficial to me in so many ways.  Not only on wedding days, but throughout the year.  Having second shooters you can rely on is priceless.  And getting the opportunity to shoot a wedding with someone is lovely.  But the knowledge, additional creative mind, and the support that comes along with it - there's no replacing that.  A lot of the time I work from my home, which is great, but definitely causes me to be extra excited when I get to catch up with photographer friends outside world-Kitts.  I can find myself being shy and staying inside my box, so I'm proud of myself for stepping out more last year, and hope to do even more so in 2014.  I also worked on networking with vendors in 2013, and it was a great as well.  I made some wonderful vendor friends and relationships, and it's been so much fun to expand my industry circle and work on fun projects together!

8.  Requiring retainers.

Worked.for.sure.  I've been bailed on one too many times, so requiring retainers has definitely saved me stress and frustration.  I explain to my clients that I require a 50% retainer to book any date.  I simply will not block off my calendar without one.  It's not fair to me, and it's not fair to my other clients to waste the time waiting when someone doesn't show up.  Pretty simple and to the point, but it's worked great for me, and I definitely won't be changing that any time soon.

9.  My phone calendar.

I use my google calendar, and sync it to my phone, and boy do I love it.  Having everything I need to know go to my phone makes my life so much easier.  I put everything in there, from work, to my personal life.  Reminders of inquiry dates, sessions, weddings, meetings, deadlines, Dr. appointments, playdates, hubby's football games, family events, the list goes on.  They're all in my calendar, and I truly don't know how I would survive without it.  Something new we (my husband and I) did this year was sync our calendars - and that has worked great!  I'm generally the one with the less predictable schedule, and the one who does most of the household planning/lists/banking/etc - so being able to pop everything into the calendar, and it automatically sends him reminders, love!  And, I can control which things are synced to him and which aren't, so he's not getting a million reminders that don't apply to him.. even better!  =D

10.  Posting work.

Posting work in locations like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and on my blog has worked great for me.  I've reached, and met so many people that I probably would have never met other wise - and that my friends, is just plain cool.  But, this is an area I definitely need to improve in throughout the new year.  Time flies and before I know it I'm looking over my accounts thinking "What?!  That post was already xx days ago?!"  So, in 2014, I will post more consistently in all aspects of the networking world.

11.  Staying positive.

 In an industry that is so competitive and personal, it's easy to take it personal.  No lies here, I've had my days of doubt.  "Is this right for me?  Am I doing this wrong.  What was I thinking?"  But, I can undoubtedly say, that I am the only me.  I can't help but think of the Dr. Suess book - "Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive that is youer than you."  It's so true (no pun intended) ;) -- no one can be you.  It's so simple to think about, and so simultaneously empowering.  I'll always be the only me.  Always!

Here's what DIDN'T work:

1.  Not having a plan.

 All throughout the year I found myself throwing flyers together, or thinking of things at the last second.  In all reality, they probably would have been much more effective if I had thought it out completely.  I'm one of those don't-read-the-directions, just-jump-right-in types ... and I will definitely be using 2014 to make myself sit down, plan, and execute.

2.  Not having blogs ready.

Blogging.  It's a love/hate relationship really.  I love to read blogs.  And I love to have a blog.  And I love to write down blog ideas that I have full intention of writing about.  But actually getting the blogs completed.. now that's a different story.  I don't know why, but blogging gets pushed back on my to-do list more often than not, and that's something I aim to change.  I hope to have a plan, have them prepped, and have them posted continuously throughout the year, instead of whenever I get around to it.

3.  Not having exact deadlines.

Similar to blogging - there are lots of things that I have on my to-do lists that just get pushed down the list.  Balancing being a business owner, a "stay at home mom", a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, isn't easy for me.  I *have* to improve in all of these areas, and I'm hoping that going into the day/week/month with more of a plan of how to get it all done, and by when, will help me!

4.  Balancing life and work.

Maybe this one falls into the "not having a plan" category - but as this year as flown by I keep catching myself feeling like I'm just not doing enough.  I don't get the things done in our household that I need to, that I want to.  I don't get things done for my family and friends that I should be, and want to be.  I find myself frustrated with myself that it's all just not getting done, and then frustrated that I didn't have a better plan to get it done.  So, this year, I will have a plan, and I will get it done.  Work, life, and everything in-between.

5.  Having a clean workspace.

Short and sweet - my office looks like a tornado went through it 99% of the time.  Not good people, not good!  Who can work like that?  Not me.  So, I work all around the house, and have stuff all over - and now that just doesn't work either.  My work space and my home space should both be neat and tidy, and separate, so that I can enjoy them both and be productive in both.  Right?  Right!  We've been in the process of going through our house and rearranging, so this is a project I'm excited to see complete and keep it clean and fresh!

2014 - you don't know what's coming for you.  It's me!  And it's for real.

2013 was a wonderful year.  So many amazing things have happened, and I'm looking forward to see what the next year has in store.

What went wonderful for you in 2013?  What are you looking forward to in 2014?!  Tell me all about it!!! =D

Photograph by the incredible

Falling Star Photography