Personal: 2016 Year in Review

January 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This was my first full year as a stay-at-home mom and running my photography business full time. Though there were times I felt like I could barely keep up with editing and taking care of a baby, when I look back at 2016, I realize that I did actually accomplish most of my goals for the year (see 2016 goals here). On top of that, I was able to begin and complete some personal projects that I could not be more proud of (more on that below) and these projects have certainly shaped the direction I want my photography to go.

If I can speak honestly for a moment, the biggest struggle I have had this year has been comparing myself to other photographers. It is all too easy to feel like I don't have enough "likes", that my work is not as good or creative or emotional as so and so, etc. I know it seems petty and I have to remind myself that what really matters is that I am doing what I love and that my clients are happy with their images. And also to remember that success for me is not about being more popular or making more money but about finding purpose in my work and have it be life giving. All that to say, one of my goals for 2017 is to be less about comparing and more about embracing my talents as a photographer and focusing on what I do best. I know I'm not the greatest at marketing myself so perhaps another goal should be to seek some expertise in that area. After all, one purpose of owning a small business should certainly be to make a profit or at least provide for your family, right?

One of my goals for this year was to focus more on doing assignments that I love. My photography has always been about people, and I've been realizing more and more that joy and color are the elements that often appear in my favorite images. In addition I have always loved being able to combine my passion for social issues with photography and have been able to pursue two personal projects this year, Invisible Americans and Who's Who on the Hill, that have been exactly that. Also, I was able to participate in a last minute fundraiser called Portraits for Aleppo in December that allowed me to give back through photography (see photos here). I can't say that any of these projects have brought in tangible income, but I have faith that they will bring more paying jobs in the future. 

The two images above were taken for my personal project "Who's Who on the Hill" which features residents in my historic Lancaster City neighborhood known as Cabbage Hill. Over the year I've done four of these features and plan to continue this project in 2017. My hope is that these photos and interviews will help put a face to our south west corner of the city and grow more personal connections between neighbors and outsiders alike. View Amber Kane's feature here and learn about her incredible artistic talents and her in home weaving studio. My photos of Amber were also featured in an issue of The Inspired Editorial.

My other personal project, Invisible Americans, was a collaboration with Church World Service Lancaster, where I worked previously in the Immigration Program. This collaboration was unplanned and fell into my lap unexpectedly and I could not be more glad with how it turned out. This project features first-person stories and portraits of immigrants in Lancaster, similar in style to the well-known Humans of New York. It began with a gallery show at the Community Room on King and turned into a book featuring 50 immigrants and their stories. In truth, I have wanted to do a project like this since college (almost 12 years ago now) so being a part of this completed one of my long time dreams. To hear so many positive, moving words from viewers who saw the images as well as from participants made my heart so full and grateful. The image of Touna from Sudan above is probably my favorite of all the images I took for this project. Her hopeful gaze, proud beauty and vibrant colors are what I love about it. The image below of Joe (owner of Tellus360) is another of my favorites. You can view more images on my blog here

And now to share a few more of my favorite images from 2016, starting with weddings! Though I only photographed 6 weddings this year (my goal was 10) I'd say each of them was unique and memorable in their own way.

Despite the rain on their April wedding day at Lauxmont Farms, there was so much joy in Angie and Brendon's day

I love this greenhouse image of Laurie and Mike on their June wedding day. This image was also featured on Huff Post Weddings (#17)!

Another favorite, since I love reflections, from Chris and Anya's wedding in July at The Inn at Leola Village.

This image, above, was taken while second shooting for Rebecca Shivers Photography. I love finding perspectives that allow me to add layers and depth to a photo. When I saw these paper doilies hanging in the air, I knew I had to use them to frame the couple sharing a kiss at the end of their first dance. I was blessed to have the opportunity to second shoot with Rebecca this year and make a new friend.

One of my goals for 2016 was to do more networking and one of the greatest additions to my year was becoming part of The Rising Tide Society and Tuesdays Together. Every second Tuesday of the month, various groups of small business owners gather together in towns and cities across the nation to share and collaborate in community. I have looked forward to every meeting with the Lancaster group and it has greatly benefited me and my business. If you are a small business owner and haven't checked it out, you MUST do so in 2017!

My last wedding of 2016 was in September at the historic Rock Ford Plantation.  Jackie and Jim wanted to have some photos taken in Lancaster City where they live and my favorite images ended up being from that series. I'm such a fan of the colors and textures that can be found in hidden alleyways. See more from their wedding here. 

I had hoped to collaborate on a styled shoot in 2016, and though that did not quite happen, I was able to pull a couple friends together to make flower crowns and model "just because" for an early spring "Urban Bohemian Styled Shoot". The image of my dear friend Drea, above, is one of my favorites.

And below are some of my favorites from my family and children portrait sessions. 

The wildflower field in Lititz was a new discovery this year and I did several sessions there, though this lovely photo (above) of Beth and her daughter Ima ended up being one of my favorites. See more on the blog here.
When I am able to capture genuine smiles and/or emotion from both parents and kids, I consider the shoot a success!  These adorable little blondies (above) are my nieces and I had so much fun with this tea party portrait session! Newborn lifestyle photography by Lancaster photographer Melissa Engle Photography Two of my favorite mother-and-son photos, above and below. 

And a few other random favorites below. See more from the Gandy Family's fall photo session here View more from Janet and Isaac's fall maternity session here. View more from Vanessa and Don's spring maternity session here. See more from Laurie and Mike's engagement session here

And I know this is not people related, but I have to share because I think we did such a stellar job planning this Backyard Bohemian Bridal Shower at my house this summer. I found all of the colored glass containers at thrift shops and put together the little succulent planters for the centerpieces.

Last but not least, here are a couple favorite images of my daughter. The black and white photos were taken on medium format film with my Holga. I love how the double exposure turned out! Getting back into film was a fun experience (haven't used it in at least 10 years) and I hope to continue experimenting with it in 2017.

My daughter Cora peeking through one of my dresses as we were folding laundry. This is my first instagram photo of 2016 and also the last. I'm realizing more and more that I am drawn to color, movement and joy in my photography and this photo certainly reflects that. Here's to new adventures in 2017!

And here's to more fun and creativity in 2017! Tangible goals:

1. Create an Instagram account

2. Participate in The Bethadilly 52 Week Project Challenge (one photo a week for a year)

3. Learn how to market myself better

4. Do a better job of saying no to assignments that I know I won't enjoy and don't benefit my business

5. Attend at least one in-person workshop



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