Im going to be 100% open and honest with you – 2016 was an emotional roller coaster of a year for me.
I moved three times, ended a 4 year long relationship, almost died driving the road to Hanna in Maui, met my best friend alongside a pool in Playa del Carmen, swam with a Mermaid in a cenote in Mexico, was able to take my father on a trip of a lifetime to Greece (the highlight for him was seeing is desktop background in person), redid my entire website -twice, photographed the northern lights in Iceland, unapologetically sang Toto’s song “Africa” at karaoke with my good friends, started working with a wonderful local wedding planner, took a sporadic trip to see my good friends in Finland where I found out there are fresh water seals (still blows my mind!), time travelled to Tallan, Estonia, got two flat tires in one night, found out if you have two flat tires and an AWD car that you need to replace all 4 tires, photographed my first stylized shoot at the Lyman Estate, travelled to Aruba where photographed a couple with wild donkeys and two hours later got stuck in the sand dunes because we were photographing inside abandoned beach shacks, danced my butt off at a Señor frogs, wished I could have seen my little sister graduate from high school, learned to connect better with my couples from Phil Chester in Oregon, was able to start perfecting long exposure night sky shots with the milky way, spent 24 hours on my favorite island (Waiheke) in New Zealand, saw the Sydney Opera house, cuddled a koala & took selfies with kangaroos, crossed off diving in the Great Barrier Reef off my Bucket list, travelled with a stranger to amazing waterfalls in the countryside of Cairns, spent my birthday photographing a bad ass bride in a red dress, learned the dangers of half off martini nights with my friend Patrick in Chicago, photographed an engagement session on a boat, randomly bought a bow tie wearing French bulldog named Taco for my roommate, learned about the magic of strobe lighting and highlighting from Hunter Leone, reconnected with childhood friends, trespassed to get some epic portraits, saw Mayan ruins in Mexico and also found out it is illegal to photograph in a wedding dress there, attempted to salsa dance, OH and I photographed & edited 50 weddings.
Despite 2016’s endless curveballs, one thing has remained constant: I LOVE being a wedding photographer. Every time I open up my inbox and there is a wedding inquiry my heart still skips a beat and I get so excited (like giddy little girl excited) that someone wants ME to photograph their wedding. My couples know I am not your standard wedding photographer. They know I need to push boundaries both creatively and physically – for example, climbing through bushes/trees/ other shrubbery, getting into the water, laying on the ground, getting my camera equipment wet, using smoke bombs & telling my couples not to worry but this make spark a little bit, and constantly trying to avoid getting lit on fire by a sparkler exit.
A few weeks ago at a photography retreat another photographer asked me “Why do you do that? For every wedding? That seems exhausting and a lot of pressure to put on yourself to get unique images for every couple.” You know what – it is. But to me getting all same “safe/standard” shots at every wedding I photograph would become monotonous and I would get bored with this job so fast. I would lose the passion and fire and excitement I have when I shoot and it would reflect greatly in my work. Consequently, every couple and every wedding is different – I couldn’t photograph them all the same even if they all wore the same dresses and every wedding was held at the same venue. Every one of my couple’s love stories is unique and my documentation of their day reflects that.
Last month, I had the pleasure to learn from one of my personal favorite photographers Jeff Newsom
and he said three words that will define the way I photograph for not only 2017 but for the rest of my photographic career:
So while I am immensely proud of all of these images I created this year, I go into 2017 looking to improve my craft, to learn more, to grow more, to push the limit more. I vow to always lay down on the ground, to get into bushes, to brave the cold, and to always go outside despite the weather. I promise to make better art – for you, for me, for this industry.
In closing, I am forever grateful and thankful for all the couples who commissioned me to photograph them, all the photographers who inspired me this year, my second shooters for interpreting my hand gestures and problem solving with me, my father for being himself, and my 4 close friends for keeping me sane.