Fourteen months ago today, I was traveling towards Pine Bluff, Arkansas with just a few cameras, my husband of two weeks, and giddy hope that maybe, just maybe, this crazy dream was becoming a reality.
Fourteen months ago today, I photographed my first wedding as a full time photographer. As a I-graduated-college-and-quit-my-job-and-now-this-crazy-dream-is-all-ive-got full time photographer. As a I’ve-been-doing-this-for-two-years-but-i-still-don’t-feel-ready-to-be-a full time photographer. It was a terrifying, beautiful, and exciting day, and somehow over a year has slipped by and here I am. Still chasing my dream, and so much closer to it than I ever thought possible in a mere fourteen months.
I thought about rattling off a few statistics on how many weddings I’ve photographed over the past fourteen months to validate just how wonderfully successful this past year has been. But honestly? I consider this past year a success not because of the weddings I’ve photographed, but because of the things I’ve learned and the person those lessons has made me.
I’ve learned to put others before myself and serve them in ways I previously couldn’t have imagined.
I’ve learned a bit more about the depths of the beauty of marriage, and the uniqueness of each time a family is joined together… yet how it’s simultaneously universal and timeless.
I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others, because really, what good does that do?
I’ve learned to create the work I love, even if it means doing what no one else is.
Especially if it means doing what no one else is.
I’ve learned a lot about my habits, and I’ve learned how to become more disciplined and driven.
I’ve learned that the key to success is to continue working when everyone else takes a break.
To stay focused and train hard.
I’ve learned that, in an age of Facebook and email and constant notifications and distraction, those who can still focus and pay attention have a major advantage.
I’ve learned that being a business owner not only builds skill in your craft, but in your character.
And I’ve learned to embrace that, be present, and celebrate the little daily victories that are part of this crazy, beautiful, strange one life I’ve been given.
Looking back, it’s crazy to think that I’ve really been a full time wedding photographer for fourteen months. An eight-hours-a-day-but-really-more-like-twelve full time wedding photographer. I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible, created friendships that mean the world to me, and learned what it means to be so thankful for someone that my heart could explode.
To those of you who have trusted me to serve you over the past fourteen months… Seriously. I’m so thankful for you that my heart might possibly explode with gratitude. It’s because of you that I’m here today, and I’ll never be able to explain how much each and every one of you mean to me. And for those of you who have trusted me to document your wedding in the future? I’m so excited and thankful and happy that you’re in my life that I just can’t even.
The past fourteen months have been fantastic, but the best is yet to come.