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2016 Engagement Session Favorites

What can I say about another year of amazing engagement sessions? I mean, besides the fact that these sessions were some of my favorite moments of the 2016 season. Or that I loved every moment of getting to know our couples? We shot at some new locations and returned to some old favorites. We traveled (by train!) to Philly to photograph one of our destination wedding couples for the 2017 season, and we woke up at sunrise to fight tourists at the Cherry Blossom (here’s a hint…don’t go on Easter Sunday!). We took lots of photos, we laughed, I told bad jokes, and lots and lots of nuzzles and kisses were had. Mostly by our clients, but some by us too 🙂

We had the time of our lives in 2016 and we are so excited to get to know more 2017 and 2018 couples this year!

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2017 Goals

2017. This year holds so much weight for me personally because it’s kind of a big year…I’ll turn 30 in July and I’ll also celebrate the TEN year anniversary of when I started dating John in the Fall. It’s Lucy’s ten year birthday in February (how is my baby so old??!?) and it’s also the ten year anniversary of when I moved out on my own from my parent’s house and in my mind, officially became an adult. It’s pretty much  the ten year anniversary of what I feel was one of two of the most pivotal years of my life to date!

So, this year, I think I want to focus on building out my long term business goals a little more. What is my vision for my future? What would I like my life to look like in the next ten years? It’s kind of scary to think about my vision for the next decade, but, I kind of take solace in the fact that you never really know what the future holds. For instance, I never would have imagined ten years ago that in 2017 I would have been a wedding photographer for almost six years and that I’d have been married to John for nearly as long! So many amazing things are ahead in our futures, just hidden from us until we get there. So while I want to plan for the long term, I also realize that you can only plan so much because you’ve also got to let life take you where it wants to!

Here are my goals for this year:

  • Meet my 2017 booking goal and book half of my 2018 goal
    Pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I think it’s important to have booking goals based on the income I want and the amount of work I’d like to take on this year. If you haven’t made a booking goal based on actual numbers rather than what you think sounds good, now would be a great time to work on that!
  • Strive for authenticity.
    I’ve felt for some time now that there’s a lot of fake-ness in the wedding industry. So many people feel like they have to hold up a certain facade in order to seem successful or to be popular. I really value authenticity, so I want to be sure that everything I’m doing in the business this year is something that’s really true to who I am (and who my business is!) at the core.
  • Look for ways to be more strategic with my business income.
    So many of us as small business owners fail to look for the big picture and think like CFOs. I want to strategize my income this year in a way that sets me up for success in the future! Maybe there are things I’m spending on now that are not super efficient. Or there are better solutions and I just haven’t found them yet! I’d like to let my money work harder for me, so I don’t have to!
  • Start a retirement fund.
    Speaking of letting my money work for me…I’ve been self employed for almost FIVE years now and I’ve yet to set up a retirement fund for myself. It’s been one of those things that I say I’ll do tomorrow…which becomes next month, then next year…and finally I wake up nearly five years into running my business full time and I STILL haven’t done it! No excuses this year…I’m turning 30!!!
  • Blog 3x per week
    I let the blog slide a little bit last year because I couldn’t tell if it was making a difference or not…and I really just needed a break after blogging five days a week for four years! I’m committed to this blog though, because it’s done really great things for my business over the years. It is, after all, a free way to market and advertise, and what’s better when it comes to marketing than FREE?? The only thing it really needs is a bit of love and care, so I’m going to re-commit myself to it for 2017!
  • Start a monthly duty day
    This one has also been on my list for years! I was so inspired by Katelyn James’ idea of having one day a month set aside for random menial tasks that just need to be done and knocking them all out in one day. BUT…I never went ahead and actually implemented my own! I’m realizing that this would be so helpful in getting through some of the tasks that are never as fun, like tracking mileage and shipping packages!
  • Create an inventory list for all of the packing/packaging supplies I use regularly
    One thing that was frustrating last year was constantly running out of packaging supplies. Whether it was notecards, envelopes, boxes, etc, I felt like I was always having to wait to send things because I was out of something. I think creating an inventory list would help me out a lot, because I’d be able to go through on a bi-weekly (or somewhat regular) basis and see what I’m getting low on so I can do a re-order once a month or so.
  • Utilize Instagram more efficiently
    This year I’d really like to become more intentional with how I utilize my Instagram for my business. I’ve been somewhat attempting to do so in the past, with using hashtags and trying to curate my feed, but I think I need to sit down and overhaul how I do things and really look at what exactly I want to accomplish with my account and how I think I can do that.
  • Be more of a source of encouragement for others
    Have you ever noticed yourself thinking encouraging things when you see other people, either in real life, or on social media? I do it all the time…at the gym, out in public, of course on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll see someone who is doing a great job, or who looks like they could use some kind words and I’ll think it to myself without actually approaching that person. I think it’s because I’m more of an introvert than not, but I’d like to make it a point to reach out to more people to encourage them this year.

Personal

  • Create 2-3 more home videos
    I’ve discovered I have a love for putting together little videos! It started with my Hawaii video at the end of 2015 but has grown into a fun little hobby. I hope to make a few more of these this year!
  • Finish my 30 Before 30
    Kind of speaks for itself…if you haven’t heard about my 30 Before 30, read more here!
  • Spartan Trifecta
    Last year I ran a Spartan Sprint and enjoyed it so much! It definitely gives me something to work towards in the gym every day and I find that I am so much more productive fitness wise if I have a specific goal (like running a marathon or deadlifting x amount) so I think this will be really good for me! Plus the bragging rights are pretty enticing 😉
  • Eat more vegetables
    I want to take care of my body better in order to keep it healthy for racing and lifting weights and shooting weddings, so I think this is a necessary goal!
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Darby J Sinclair

Katie!! I’ll be 30 too and my 2 sweet cats will be 10 as well. Cheers to you always being authentic and this year of milestones 🙂

Lifestyle Baby and Mama Portraits

When I first met Sarah, it was because of her incredibly sweet and heartfelt baby videos! I have seen a ton of amazing wedding cinema out there (some of our favorite stuff is also by our friends the Lovells!) but I have yet to see another person do birth videos as well as Sarah does them. Seriously, you’ve got to see them for yourself! And be prepared to grab a box of tissues! I reached out to Sarah after watching one of her films and being completely touched by the stories of strangers I’d never met. Over the past few years since then, we’ve bonded over our love of food and lots of chats about wanting to someday be moms. That time has finally come for Sarah and I got to meet her little boy at just a week old and take a few photos of him in their home with her!

Looking through these photos makes me so happy for my friend, but also so excited for the idea of the future of John and I being parents. When I asked Sarah if it (motherhood) was everything she thought it would be so far, she said “It’s even better than I imagined”. I can’t say that I know many others who are more suited to be mamas than Sarah, and she wears it very well, as you’ll see in these images!! You won’t believe that she had a C section only a week prior to these photos being taken! She’s killing it at the mom game already!

Enjoy a few of my faves from our time together!

 

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These are beautiful! 🙂

2016 Goal Recap

One thing I’ve learned about growing the business continually over the past five years is that things changes and priorities shift. Especially in an industry that changes as fast as this one! In the somewhat short amount of time I’ve been a wedding photographer, I’ve already seen things in the industry shift and several trends come and go. It’s important to keep learning to adapt if you want to survive, and part of that is realizing that your priorities will have to change too.

It’s funny that I learned that this year…because this was a year when I really saw my focus shift. In years past I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things that aren’t important (like how many instagram followers I had, or how many people were reading my blog). But this year, I decided that the only things that were important to me were my clients and my friends and family. If it wasn’t something directly related to being able to grow my business and provide for my family OR related to taking care of our clients, I did NOT make it a priority.

This meant not submitting to magazines this year and not going to many networking events. It meant spending evenings doing things like going to free outdoor concerts and having pizza with friends rather than staying up late blogging all night because I “have to”. Living my life more intentionally made me a better business owner than getting featured would because it made me happier and more relaxed. It made me more excited to create and more motivated to bring my clients an even better experience. Most importantly, being happier and more relaxed made me ready to invest in what is really important in my business, and that’s people! If you find yourself getting frustrated or burnt out, I highly suggest taking time out and refocusing a bit.

With all that being said, you’ll see that some of the things on my to do list were a bust. And you know what? That is really okay with me, because like I said before, sometimes we discover that our priorities are just different, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  • Meet booking goal – I’m happy to say that we exceeded our goal this year! And we are more than half way to our 2017 goal, too! Yay!
  • Be consistent with submissions – I let this one slip off of my to do list at some point because I realized that submissions are not as important to me as they once were.
  • Professional branded headshots – Fail. John had surgery this year and then spent quite a few months recovering, so this one was not at the top of our list! It’s definitely going back on next year’s!
  • Collaborate more with fellow wedding vendors – This is a win and a fail. I did get to collaborate with some new folks this year (like my good friend Brandi on her headshots AND our Safari themed styled shoot) but I’d like to do a couple more projects next year.
  • Secret project – I keep telling myself I want to do this project, but I haven’t yet! I swear I’m going to do it next year…cross my heart and hope to die!!
  • Re-examine each part of our wedding day shooting flow and see what we can do better. I’d say this one was a win! After having a bit more time this year to focus on things like this since John was home with me for five months recovering from his surgery (and able to help with a lot of small tasks I had) I was able to sit down and come up with some strategies for how to handle some common wedding day challenges. Maybe I will blog about this soon!
  • Education of some kind – Besides listening to a few new podcasts, this one was also a bust. I’m still looking for a great workshop for advanced business owners, so if you know of one, let me know!
  • Read a business book a month and blog about it. I read three books and then didn’t keep up with this project. I’d like to try again next year though!
  • Cut out unnecessary business spending. I think this one is a win! We spent less on frivolous items like fancy bags and cool camera straps, and I ended up being able to have a little bit more in savings this year, which meant we could go to Hawaii! Double win!

Personal Goal Progress

  • Do a strict pull up. I am SO CLOSE to being able to do this!! Come on shoulders and lats!! Let me do it already!!! It’s been a long time goal to do a strict pull up. I can do them flailing my body around and using momentum, but I think that’s cheating and want to be able to do a strict one next year!
  • Pay off our car. We did not do that this year. Instead we (John) had his surgery and we used some of our savings to go back to my favorite place…Hawaii!
  • Get a second tattoo. I finally got the tattoo I’d been wanting since 2013! It’s a small tattoo of roman numerals XXVI.II for the marathon I ran that year.
  • Take two trips. I went to California to visit my good friend Jen and we took a road trip together to Las Vegas! I also went to the mountains in North Carolina with her in the fall, and to Florida by myself to meet my nephew, who was born just after I left! I also went to Charleston with my friend Sarah, and John and I went to HAWAII for the second time this past December! We’ll round out the year with another trip to Florida after Christmas to see friends and finally meet my baby nephew!
  • Shoot one roll of film a month. This definitely didn’t happen (for like the third year in a row!) but I did shoot a lot more film than I ever have, so I consider that progress!

Overall, we had another great year! We had so many kind and wonderful clients and witnessed another year’s worth of marriages beginning. I am so appreciative to all of the people we got to work with and I am just so thankful to get to do this another year!

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Love this post. PLEASE do the blog post about the wedding day strategies you came up with!

2016 Outtakes

Last year I didn’t get a chance to post an “out takes” post because my computer, with all of those images on it, was stolen right at the end of wedding season! Although I was really glad that none of my client images were lost, it sucked to lose the behind the scenes photos I’d been collecting for almost a year! This year passed without a computer fiasco and so I got to share yet another year of behind the scenes candids of us 🙂

One thing you’ll notice in viewing these photos is that it seems like I wear the same outfits…A LOT. This is actually true. I have three or four shooting outfits I wear depending on the weather and I usually stick to those!! If you are interested in getting in similarly plain, but dressy enough outfits for yourself, check out J Crew Factory and Loft, which is where most of my shooting clothes are from!

Enjoy a few of these silly photos!

John and the groom’s first look! HA!!!!

Shooting the rings at the reception since the groom’s ring wasn’t at getting ready. Though this is not what I normally like to do, if you have an off camera flash setup and you hang on to a copy of the invitation, you can make it work!

I’m always there to carry your dress!

Showing the couple how worth it it was to stay outside in the cold for just a few more minutes of photos! THAT LIGHT THO.

These little girls were so cute! And so interested in what I was doing!

My favorite summer wedding dress! From Loft!

I don’t know why I was doing this…I blame the over 100 degree heat!

Styling details!

Don’t mind me while I’m in your personal space while you eat dinner…

I call this one “calves”.

Styling details again!

Waiting for the ceremony to begin. I promise I’m more thrilled than I look!

Chatting with our third shooter for Abby and David’s wedding, Serena. Probably about Pokemon.

SERIOUSLY, that December light!!!

When it pours during the ceremony, bust out a giant umbrella.

Last but not least…I had John stand there to test an idea I wanted to try with our clients. It turned out great, but I never got the chance to do it with them after the reception started. At least I have this cool photo of John!

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Love this post! And hah – that photo! Our conversation was probably was about Pokemon… 😀