Okay wow. I dont't even know where to start. This year has been a freaking roller coaster and I've grown and learned SO MUCH this year. I feel like I say that every year but this year just felt extra crazy, you know?
At the start of the year, I was still working full time as a financial analyst and my goals for the year were just to grow my business and to pay off my car and student loans. Silly me to think I could work a full time job this year. I was not prepared for my business to start thriving this year but I am sooooo grateful.
Back in December 2020, I decided to book a trip to Arizona to attend the YELLOW workshop to level up my business. It was SO much fun and I met so many incredible people that I still talk to regularly. If anyone is wonderinf if they should attend a workshop or not... DO IT. We did two styled elopements and a styled wedding, had lessons each morning on how to grow and thrive in our businesses, and hung out and just had so much fun.
This was also my first full year in business and I was a little nervous, if I'm being honest. I didn't know how many weddings I'm supposed to have booked at the beginning of each year (I honestly still dont, we're still figuring it out haha), and I was still just trying to figure it out. I was a little stressed but I ended up booking NINE weddings that month! It was insane. Again, I was also working full-time as a financial analyst Monday through Friday. I was so silly to think I could do it all. But ya gurl wanted to pay off her car and student loans sooo....
I'm going to be sharing tons of blog post links throughout this blog too! Unfortunately not all of my weddings and session have been blogged yet but hopefully eventually!! Enjoy :)
In February, I think I was just trying to live my best life before wedding season started, especially since I thought I was still going to be working a desk job AND shooting. I did do a fun proposal at The Donum Estate though - I LOVE shooting there and recommend booking a tasting and ATV tour if you're in Sonoma looking for something to do!
I also went on a couple trips! My friend and I decided last minute to book a weekend trip to Cabo. I had never been to Mexico before and I was STOKED. If you know me, I'm not the "chill by the pool" or "lay around at the beach" kind of person but that's what we decided this trip was going to be because we were exhausted and it was.. surprisingly nice. A couple days of hanging around isn't so bad ;) I also went down to San Diego for a few days and hung out with friends and went on a cool 17 mile hike in the desert to a trestle. All around, it was a good month :)
Back in 2019, I decided to switch my gear from Sony to Canon. In doing so, I obviously couldn't get alllllll the lenses I wanted. But in March, engagement session season was beginning and I decided to get all the lenses I wanted and invested in two new lenses - the 35mm 1.4 and the 50mm 1.2. I'm honestly not sure how I survived so long without them but I'm OBSESSED. I did TONS of engagement session this month and I was sooo happy and excited to have these new lenses. My friend Nicola from Nicola Leigh Photography also did a fun little shoot together so we could get some new headshots for the year!
I was NOT ready for April. I did a bunch more engagement shoots and had so much fun meeting all of my 2021 couples. But I also... QUIT MY JOB!!!!! It was such a weird thing. Not having to wake up at 6am every day? Making my own schedule? Going to the grocery store at 10am on a Monday instead of sitting at a desk? What was this new life? Haha no but it really was such a strange transition. You know those videos that are like "I was tired of working 9-5 for someone else so now I work 24/7 for myself"??? It really is like that haha. But my goal was to try to find balance and not let my work take over my life! Stay tuned to see how that played out...
May was a roller coaster of a month. I started off the with a few gorgeous engagements sessions. I got to shoot a wedding and elopement for the talented Aly Tovar Photography while they we busy growing their family and having a baby. I also did a fun shoot for Naysayer Coffee and Toasted Napa! I love shooting for and getting to know all the people behind the small business in Napa!
But THEN... I got really sick and had a ton of stomach issues and I was down for the count for about a week. For those who don't know, I'm lactose intolerant (I know, sad) and have IBS and this has been a crazy year continuing to navigate and figure out how to manage that. It's especially hard when you have a weird schedule (like during wedding season) and there's no routine and your body is like "wut r u doing????" But it's all part of life and we're figuring it out!
Fortunately, I was better and ready to go by mid-May for my first wedding of the season. Thank god, because I had six weddings in the second half of May and it was wild. I thought it was going to calm down a little after that but it was actually just a foreshadowing of this year and my whole 2021 wedding season was insane. So buckle up.
Okay so at the end of each month, I write in my notes app what I did that month so I can make this blog post later. For June all I wrote was "lots of wedding, started to feel burnt out" HAHA. I guess I was just done with everything at the end of June. It really was a good month, I was just tired! I had lots of fun hangs with friends throughout the month and had so many stunning weddings and engagements! I diiiid have to say goodbye to my childhood home though, so that was sad. But overall, 7/10 good month!
I kicked off July shooting at three GORGEOUS venues back to back to back, driving all over Northern California within the first three days of the month. Right after that, my friend and I went on our annual backpacking trip. We did a lollipop loop in Desolation Wilderness and it was so beautiful but it was ROUGH. On this trip I learned that I need to figure out how to take breaks throughout the week so I can actually enjoy when I do fun things and I'm not exhausted. I can't just keep go go going. It sounds dumb but it's hard for me haha.
But seriously, I was reeeeally starting to feel burnt out by this point and it wasn't even halfway through the weddings season. So I finally decided to outsource my editing and hire an editor! It was SUPER helpful for last year but I think I'm going to do it a little differently next year. That's the fun part about running a business - you get to try things and then YOU get to make the decision if you want to stick with it or try something else!
Okay but the most exciting part about this month.... Back in 2018 (I think I was 22 or 23?), I had a MELTDOWN over how much I owed between my student loans and car loan. It's so crazy to me that everyone is just casually in debt and so many people just pay the minimum. Like, does that not drive you INSANE??? Anyway, so I had a meltdown and made a game plan to start really paying off my loans and I had the goal of paying off my loans by the time I was 26. Once covid hit, I thought those dreams were over (haha, so dramatic). And then THIS year I decided that I was going to work full-time AND shoot a million weddings to make it happen because I turned 26 in September of this year. As we know, I quit my job in April and I just accepted that 23-year-old me was going to be disappointed and maybe I'd pay them off next year. All that to say, I PAID OFF MY CAR AND STUDENT LOANS AND YA GURL IS DEBT FREE BAYBEEEEEEEE. I still can't believe. I remember thinking before quitting my job "how am I supposed to pay off my loans as a wedding photographer if my income is probably going to be inconsistent???" So I just want to say that you can literally do WHATEVER YOU WANT. If you want to do something and you work hard to achieve it, you will.
I feel like every month just gets crazier and crazier - this month I did eleven weddings. In just the first week of August I did 6 weddings, a proposal and an engagement session and yes, I did feel insane. And you might not believe me but I DID start to figure out how to balance my time that month! Hiring an editor helped A LOT.
I also went to yosemite to shoot a fun elopement for Nicola Leigh Photography. And I don't do a ton of shoots for "fun" anymore but my very talented friend Allison and I did a fun food shoot and it was a blast!
Unfortunately, my blogging slowed down a little at this point in the year, but more will be shared later!
My birthday is in September so I always take the first two weeks off from shooting and it's always MUCH needed. My friend and I also have a tradition to go somewhere new for Labor Day Weekend and this year we went to Denver and it was SO MUCH FUN. We explored the city, went to Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, did the Manitou Incline hike - it was a blast. I had also never ridden electric scooters before and I came home wanting to buy one hahaha. I did not but I really wish Napa has electric scooters.
After I got back home from that trip, I went on a roadtrip with another friend up the coast of Northern California. We played tourist in Calistoga, went to Lake Sonoma, Booneville, hung out in Mendocino, went to Eureka, campled in the redwoods and went and enjoyed some champagne baths in Ukiah. It was lots of fun!
After a much needed break from life, I came back and dove right back into wedding season but I unfortunately have no blogs to show for it.
October was easily my most insane month of 2021. I did eleven weddings, sesven shoots and two events (including the Judgement of Napa, which was such a cool event to get to capture). I also upgraded my camera bodies to the new Canon r6s and I'm IN LOOOOOVE with them. If you're considering switching to mirrorless, save yourself the time and just do it. I researched for soooo long before getting them and I wish I had gotten them sooner haha.
Every fall, not matter how busy I am, I always go back home to Placerville to go to Apple Hill for apple donuts. If you know.. you know.
And then I ended the month hanging out in San Francisco as Barnacle Boy for Halloween. It's called balance, haha.
I shot a few more weddings this month before I headed out on an excited adventure. Remember how I said I made lots of friends at that photography workshop in January?? Three of us planned and went on a roadtrip together through New England and it was so much fun! I had never been to the East Coast so I was super excited. I started in Maryland and met my first friend and we had a fun touristy day in DC. Then we ventured on up through New Jersey, went to Philadelphia, PA, passed through New York and on up to Vermont where our other friend lives in the cutest tiny home! We went through New Hampshire to get to Maine and explored Portland and Acadia National Park. I loved Maine so much, I will definitely be back! We went to Boston where I was reunited with one of my 2021 couples for a quick, fun shoot! We met some more friends in Rhose Island and then ended the trip with a gorgeous sunset at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York before my flight.
From New York, I flew to Oregon and spent Thanksgiving there with my family before heading back home for a few short days. I did a fun studio shoot with Sunshine Shannon and the Good Vibes Creative Studio, wrapped up the 2021 season with a double wedding at SF city hall, and had dinner with my friends celebrating Hanukkah before heading off on my next adventure...
If you know me, I LOVE sunrises. They just hit different than sunsets, you know? I started off the month with a beautiful sunrise overlooking Napa Valley. Then I headed off to Belize for a week and had THE BEST TIME. We hung out in the jungle for a few days, swimming in caves, exploring Mayan ruins, and relaxing for once haha. Then we hopped in a little plane and flew to the islands where we explored and snorkled and adventured in our little golf cart.
I came back feeling refreashed and excited to finish up my last couple 2021 galleries and finally get to work on the backend of my business - I have sooo many fun projects that I want to work on and I can't wait to share them with you!
I also shot one last wedding with Sunshine Shannon in California before she moves to Boston. Who wants to start a petition to get her to stay?!
It's still crazy each year to look back on the previous year and see how much has changed and how much we've grown. I really really wanted to learn how to achieve balance in my life this year and I haven't figured it out yet but we're getting there! I think my goal for next year and going to be to slow down and remember that I don't need to go 1000 mph. Whatever will be will be, you know?
I looked back at my past recap blog posts and I end every blog post with this so I'm going to continue...
We only have one life and only you have the power to decide that each day is going to be a good one.