December 30, 2011

A Blessed Year 2011

The end of the year always brings the time when people take a moment to stop and reflect about what the year has brought them over the last 12 months: the good, the bad, the sad, the happy, moments to learn from, opportunities to grow from, and how we strive to do the next year better. The word that seems to be lingering in my mind for how to sum up 2011 for me is: BLESSED. 2011 has been such a fantastic year for me and although I sometimes wonder if 2012 can get any better, I know it will. I will take all that I have learned and gained and accomplished in 2011 and apply it to the new year to be more established, more knowledgable, more experienced, more happy, more loved, more friends, more opportunities, and just more smiles.

Thinking back to just one year ago I was an anxious, nervous, and very unconfident being who knew in my heart and mind that I wanted to persue a future in photography but believing it would never happen. There are so, so, so many brilliant and amazing photographers in this world, how is there room for one more? To be anywhere close to their natural creativity and level of art and skill would take centuries for me to accomplish. But one will never reach their dream if they continue to think like this. So, I slowly made a plan to practice, practice, practice all winter on my daughter. I did a few practice shoots for some friends and decided that as soon as I had something to post for a portfolio besides just my daughter's face that I'd attempt to venture into the world of photos and see where life took me. I honestly expected to get about half a dozen or less people inquire about photos. Instead over the next several months I finished out my first year with 40 sessions that ranged from sweet little ones, family, maternity, seniors, and engagements. Not the 6 I expected, but 4-0. It might not seem like that many to those actively in the business but for my first year I am completely blown away and so, so thankful. However, I think the thing that amazes me the most is that not once in my initial plan to persue how the public would react to me this year did I ever imagine that by the end of October I would have also been a part of 9 completely and utterly amazing weddings. Wow! In my head I figured I'd focus on building my portfolio against regular sessions first and then maybe venture into trying to attend some workshops and second shoot in 2012 if I was given the opportunity. But when the opportunity presented itself I had a choice to make. Kindly pass and forever sit there and wonder "What if?" What would have happened if I would have jumped at the opportunity or take life by the horns and run with it. I decided I couldn't pass it up and if I was truly passionate and serious about a life in this industry then I needed to make the most of it and jump when I was given those chances to jump. What did I have to lose? I am forever thankful that I did because without so many stepping stones that happened this year I know for a fact I wouldn't be at this point in my life if I had not put my whole heart into it and jumped on this rollercoaster of an adventure I've been on for the last 6 months.

For those who haven't read the story, let me reflect down memory lane. In May with pretty much only 2 or 3 sessions under my belt I started getting a couple wedding inquiries. One was from a friend who I had gone to school with so she had a decent idea of what I had been doing all along with my daughter. Another was a friend of a friend who didn't know me but was shopping around and was introduced to my work and told I might be promising. I explained to both that I had no experience with weddings but would LOVE the opportunity to if they were willing to take a chance on me. I guaranteed I would work as hard as I could over the months to come to learn and get whatever experience I could if they did decide to take a chance on me. Both said yes. My jaw hit the floor and then....I panicked! I knew I couldn't just walk into one of the most important days of their life and wing it. I needed to do my research, bust my butt to get practice, everything I could. So I started asking around to some of those already established in the business if there was anyway I could mentor and work with them for a couple weddings. Email replies started coming back about how most were already booked for second shooters for the season {which is what I had already figured but knew I had to at least try}. Then I received a reply from Krystal Muellenberg. I pretty much fell over in my seat and passed out. Did it actually say Yes...I could come along for some?! I think I had to read it several times to make sure I wasn't imagining things. When she sent me her list of weddings for the year I remember writing back and hoping to do as many as I could. I sat there with my fingers crossed, toes crossed, legs, eyes, you name it hoping with all my heart that I could. I ended up doing 6 weddings with Krystal who I really owe so much to. From there I also got to work with the very talented and very awesome Amanda Crowe Photography and Rebecca Eby of Studio Noveau. I truly adore all of them. Finally one of the weddings that booked in May was on October 1st rounding out 9 amazing weddings. The second wedding that booked is set for May 2012. And although jumping into an opportunity so quickly may not always be the best bet in many situations and many are told to fully figure out who they are, style, and porfolio before attempting to run a professional business, I am thankful that it appears to have worked out for me so far and I am double blessed that I didn't make a complete fool of myself in my first year and screw up all chances of ever being loved by you all {at least I don't think I did?!} haha ;)

I truly do feel love and warmth all around me though. I currently have 8 weddings of my very own booked for next year already. I could not be more ectastic, overjoyed, giddy, hopeful, and grateful! I am sooo psyched for each and every one of them. The way photography wraps itself around my heart is truly intense and makes me giddy just thinking about what possibilities may come my way in the new year. I am giddy with excitement and what I hope to learn and accomplish in the year to come. To be sitting in this spot 12 months from now and reflecting how 2012 was just as great as 2011 if not better. Many new things are coming to Emily Schmidt Photography in the near future so stay tuned for it all. My list of to-do's for the winter months is already growing long. Below is just a few of what I hope to accomplish in just the first quarter of 2012.
  • Possibility of a "Best of 2011" contest
  • Blog makeover
  • New disc image and packaging
  • Updated images on my website coming soon {click me!}
  • Possible new branding
  • Update Pinterest with cute ideas I'd love to photograph
  • New products
  • The 1st wedding of the year in March
  • and much more throughout 2012
I currently am only booking 1 or 2 more weddings for 2012. I also hope to be able to second shoot at least 2-3 weddings with other photogs I admire. I would love a chance to work with so many of them and most importantly I want to make sure I'm playing Mom and Wife as much as I can. Ok, I'll shut up now since I can clearly ramble on and on and on...

Happy 2012 to everyone!