Today is my 30th birthday and as excited as I am to celebrate and start out on a new decade of my life, it’s also a little bit bittersweet saying goodbye to my 20s. My 20s were life changing years!! The lessons I learned and experiences I gained over the past decade are going to be pretty hard to top, but I think I’m up for the challenge!
In honor of this milestone birthday, here are ten of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past ten years!
- Experiences are more important than things. This is at least true for me (and John too). I value making memories over buying new things and that’s just where our priorities are right now. I’d rather watch our circa 2009 TV and be able to afford trips and evenings out with our friends than spend the money to buy a new one!
- Sometimes it’s better to be nice than to be right. When I was younger, being “right” was very important to me. I have the temperament of a know-it-all and I love dropping knowledge on people. I’m also somewhat competitive, which means from time to time, I can be annoying. I’ve learned that there’s a time and place for being right and sometimes (actually, more often than not) being nice trumps being right because in the end, only kindness matters! (Do you like how I snuck those Jewel lyrics in there??Ha!!)
- Exercise is about more than just looking good on the outside. When I was 20 I joined a gym for the first time. I weighed probably 110 pounds and my “workout” was running on the treadmill exactly 30 minutes (there was a time limit…) a couple times a week to “tone” my body up. It’s funny to look back at that now and realize not only how much I really didn’t know about working out, but to know that future me would be someone who works out religiously 6-7 days a week. I think the biggest key to enjoying exercise has discovering that exercise does so much more for me than what it does for the outside of my body. Exercise for me is about seeing what I can accomplish, it’s about challenging myself and getting better. Sometimes I wish that I’d found my love for fitness at an earlier age, when I might have been more at a physical peak and/or capable of more, but I’m glad that I found it when I did so that I can carry the lessons I’ve learned into my 30s.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. Oh boy. If there was ONE huge lesson that I could impart upon myself at age 20, this would be it. In the past ten years, social media has only gotten bigger and bigger and with that, it’s ridiculously easy to compare yourself to other people. Sometimes people you don’t even know! If there’s one thing I would tell myself at age 20 (or really any age at all) it’s to keep your eyes on your own paper, because comparison isn’t going to do anything but hurt you.
- You only get one body, so you’ve got to take care of it the best that you can. I’ve come to the realization in this past year (thanks to some health issues) that my body isn’t just a floating orb that just kind of bobs around doing things…it’s a delicately balanced organism that actually runs better depending on how I fuel and take care of it. As stubborn as I’ve been about never giving up my love for junk food and being lucky enough to metabolize it fast, this all goes back to a similar point as #3…your body is so much more than what’s on the outside…what’s on the inside is even more important. If you’re not taking good care of yourself, making sure your body has the nutrients to function properly, then what are you even doing? This isn’t like it is with a car…you can’t trade in once yours starts performing terribly because you never got oil changes! You only get one body and you have to treat it right…or so they say 😉
- Invest your heart into good people. Forget about the rest. And also, in order to have great friends, you have to be a great friend as well. I spent a lot of my early 20s looking for love (friendship-wise!) in all the wrong places, so to speak. In my late 20s, I’ve become more selective about my friendships, but what’s funny is, that’s led me to more amazing relationships with more really genuine, kind people than I would have had otherwise.
- Just because something worked for you once doesn’t mean it always will. Be adaptable or get left behind! This is certainly true for my business, especially in this rapidly growing and changing industry, but it’s also a great metaphor for life. If you aren’t willing to change or grow, you will eventually stagnate and no one wants that! It’s important to be open to new experiences, trying new things, going a different way.
- Holding a grudge or holding onto anger doesn’t hurt anybody but you! I could write an entire book on this subject, but in order to not make this blog post 375 pages long, I’ll leave you with this thought: forgiveness is the most powerful thing out there and it’s important for you to forgive people not just for that person, but for yourself, because it’s too big of a burden to carry anger around for very long.
- Don’t be afraid to wholeheartedly love whatever it is you’re passionate about. Basically, forget about trying to be “cool”. I used to think it wasn’t cool to admit I was 20 something and went to see Pixar movies by myself sometimes or that I still really love 90s country music. But what I’ve learned is that the coolest people are the ones who are unashamedly who they are. So whatever you love, let your freak flag fly! Be you!
- Ain’t nobody got time for drama. Really though. If there’s anything that my 20s FLYING by has taught me, it’s that our time on earth is limited and it shouldn’t be full of drama, it should be full of champagne, sunshine, and as many bellyaching, tear inducing laughs as possible.
That’s just a little of what I’ve learned! What I gained over the last ten years in both knowledge and experiences could fill an entire Harry Potter sized series, but it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to anybody but me. I am so excited to see what I’ll think about this list when I look back at the end of this next ten years. And I can’t wait to know what I will add to it. And as sad as it is to say adios to one of the most life changing decades of my life, it’s also really neat to be starting a new one because there’s just so much possibility ahead!
Before I go, I wanted to quickly share ten of the biggest moments from my 20s (in no particular order)
- 1. Running my first (and ONLY) marathon
- Moving in with John
- Marrying John
- Became a wedding photographer
- Started running my business full time.
- Seeing the world! Italy, Hawaii, San Fran, Florida, Vegas 4 times, Boston, Maine, Chicago, Mexico, and more!!
- Deadlifting double my body weight and climbing a rope…aka my fitness journey
- Finding Lucy in 2008
- I became an aunt.
- I’ve struggled with my fertility
Thank you for following along and for being a part of my journey! I’m so thankful to have the most fantastic friends and clients around. Thank you for making my 20s such an incredible time in my life! I’m excited to make tons more memories through work and my personal life in the next ten years and I hope you’ll stick around to be a part of that too!
Last month I hit a huge first for my business…my first international wedding! While I’m no stranger to traveling for weddings (we photograph all over the East Coast!!), going to Mexico for Caroline and Josh’s wedding was an entirely new experience! And although I will definitely say I’m for sure no expert on destination weddings, I thought I’d share some things that I learned that may come in handy for someone else in the future!
Here are a few tips:
- Head to the location early. I would suggest giving yourself a couple days ahead of the wedding. This will account for any flight delays or disruptions and allow for any missing baggage to arrive. And it will give you some time to adjust to the time change (if there is one) as well as give you a chance to location scout. For a typical wedding, I don’t do much scouting before the big day because I’m used to shooting on the fly based on the light, but for a destination wedding it helps to go early to get the lay of the land! Giving yourself extra time will keep it less stressful!
- ONLY carry on your gear. I can’t imagine checking my camera equipment at all, much less to a destination wedding! I keep my things in an inconspicuous backpack wrapped in items of clothing and I wear my backpack and then keep it under the seat while I’m flying. Never check your gear and keep it within your eyesight as much as you can!
- Board as early as you can when flying. Speaking of which…I know that it may not be fun to get on the plane early and sit there even longer in those super comfy seats, BUT I think it’s important to board early to ensure that you’ve got overhead space within your eyesight when you’re traveling with thousands of dollars of equipment and heading to a once in a lifetime event. If your airline offers priority boarding, consider upgrading. The additional cost is a small price to pay for peace of mind!!! I’m lucky that I have priority boarding through American Airlines, so this is something I didn’t have to worry about, however, I wouldn’t think twice about adding it if I didn’t, because I’d hate to board late and have to stow my gear way far away from me!
- Consider bringing a business credit card. Credit cards are better than debit cards when it comes to traveling, especially international travel. They’re safer and more secure and many of them offer incentives like no exchange fees or foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. I chose to use my credit card rather than exchanging money because it was one less thing to worry about.
- Double check the types of electric outlets where you’ll be staying.
Can you imagine anything worse than getting to a wedding and realizing that you CAN’T recharge your batteries??!? If you’re not used to traveling internationally, you might not realize that some countries have different types of outlets with different voltages and you may need adapters to make your equipment compatible.
- Research the WIFI situation and consider renting a MiFi device if necessary. If you’re shooting a wedding at a resort, chances are there will be WIFI available. If you’re traveling abroad and there’s no wifi, or it’s inconsistent (read Trip Advisor to see what others say about the WIFI…) or if you’ll be at multiple locations, consider renting a mifi device for internet/phone access while you’re away. I rented this one when I went to Italy a few years ago and it was great!
- Charge what you feel your time and effort are worth. I know there are a lot of people who are dying to shoot destination weddings who might do them for little or nothing at all, however, destination weddings are not only a lot of work, they’re also a huge time commitment. In addition to the wedding day, you’ll also spend time traveling to and from the wedding…that’s time that you don’t have to grow your business, but are technically working. Don’t do yourself the disservice of doing it for free or super cheap because it is a LOT of work despite how amazing it looks on insta-stories. With anything in business, you have to make sure it is worth it!!
- If you’re shooting in a humid climate, be sure to take the time to allow your gear to de-fog. This one is mainly for weddings in tropical locales. I thought it was humid here in Virginia, but the humidity here is nothing compared to the humidity in Mexico! I was in for quite the surprise one morning when I woke up to take my camera out around the resort for a few photos of details and landscapes. The lens and body fogged up after being taken out of our cold hotel room and into the sweltering heat and humidity and I was forced to wait about 20 minutes for it to acclimate before I could begin to photograph. Luckily I discovered this before the wedding day and we were able to account for it in the timeline! About 20 minutes before I was to make the transition from shooting getting ready indoors to shooting the first look outside I set my camera in my bag out on a balcony so it would be ready for me!
Those are my super simple tips for photographing your first destination wedding! I had a blast shooting in Mexico and that was also largely because our couple, Caroline and Josh, were so wonderful to work with! I’d be doing you guys a disservice if I didn’t also mention how important it is to ensure you and the couple are a good fit for one another…traveling can be stressful enough without adding any tension or awkwardness. We’ve all worked an event or two where ahead of time we may have seen a red flag or two…but a destination wedding is not the time for that!! Not only will you want to be at ease with the people you’re photographing to make your experience go great, you’ll also want the couple to have someone they vibe well with so that their wedding day and travel memories are the absolute best they can be!
Want to see photos from our destination wedding?? See them here!
I am so SO excited to be sharing this wedding with you guys today. I’ve been dreaming of photographing a destination wedding since I became a wedding photographer, and that dream finally came true this past weekend!
Caroline and I first “met” over the internet back in 2013. We emailed back and forth about photography things and then she reached out to me one day in 2016…about her wedding photos! I was ecstatic! Not only was I so excited to work in Mexico for her and Josh’s big day, I was so excited to finally meet this internet friend in real life!
The day of the wedding was overcast since it’s getting close to the rainy season in Puerto Vallarta, but, it was beautiful and so perfect for photos! The heat was slightly less intense, which made it even better. Caroline, being a wedding photographer herself, budgeted lots of time for her portraits and first look so we got to take a variety of shots around the resort. Speaking of the resort, this was our first time visiting an all inclusive and we LOVED the Hyatt Ziva!!
Some of my favorite moments from their wedding day:
- Their ceremony recessional where their guests waved custom “terrible towels” that Caroline and Josh had personalized as a nod to Josh’s love for the Steelers.
- Caroline’s brother’s speech where he encouraged everyone to really soak up the memories and the moments….and their brother/sister dance to Lullaby! I think every single person was crying at that dance!!
- Caroline taking off her shoes and jumping off of a rock in her wedding gown to get down to a spot I wanted to take portraits at…that’s dedication!!
- Josh had written a special note on the bottom of her shoes as a surprise for her during getting ready…I loved seeing her read it for the first time!
All in all, this was a wedding that will be really hard to top! Not only was it one of the sweetest and most heartfelt days I’ve ever been a part of, it was probably the most fun and close to the most photos I’ve ever taken! Here are a few favorites!!!!
Wedding Venue: Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta // Flowers: Hyatt Ziva // Cake & Catering Hyatt Ziva // Cocktail Hour Music: Trio Veracruzano // DJ: Eden Mendez // Hair & Makeup: Vitamar Spa at the resort // Stationery Suite: Britt Larson Graphic Design //Bridal gown: Olivi’s Lace // Groom’s attire: Men’s Wearhouse //
See my personal snapshots from the trip here!
Today’s sneak peek post will be pretty quick because we’re still in Mexico enjoying the gorgeous Hyatt Ziva, but I couldn’t pass up sharing these previews with you guys! Caroline and Josh’s wedding day was SO incredibly perfect! It’s going to be pretty hard to top. And even harder to go back to reality later this week when we get home!!
Here are a couple little peeks at how beautiful everything was!
You know when you shoot a wedding photographers wedding day it’s going to be amazing and their day totally lived up to that!! Can’t wait to share more! Catch you guys later on in the week!