Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Year to Come | A Semi-Personal Post :)

Since it's February, it's probably time I post this "new year" blog, huh?  I've had this saved in my drafts for about a month now but just couldn't finish it.  I kept changing it and second guessing it and over analyzing.  I do this frequently which is probably why I get so behind on my blog!  But it's time.  So here it is...a "what's to come" post with some personal stuff sprinkled in.

When I started this business, almost 4 years ago, I had a couple of goals in mind.  The first was to pursue a personal passion and to have a creative outlet. I had been a stay at home mom (who had side jobs) for almost 9 years.  It was so good for me to step out and overcome fear, to do something that I loved.  The second goal was to bless my family financially.  I knew I needed to bring in some money and this was a way to do that without getting a 9-5 job that took me away during the day when my kids were still home. The idea was that this little business could be a great blessing to my family.

{Thanks to my dear friend Lauren (Lauren Gay Photography) for these photos}

Fast forward to fall of 2012.  I was more than 2 years into the business and things were hoppin'!  "Busy" became my answer anytime someone asked me how things were going.  That answer was really an understatement.  I was working ridiculous hours, away from my family every weekend and experiencing serious burn out.  One night I had a major breakdown.  {Picture a major ugly cry here.}  Those original goals I started with (pursuing a creative passion and blessing my family) were no longer in sight.  I was merely surviving!  I knew something had to change, but I wasn't sure what.  At that time I had ideas of how to make things better, but I never put a plan together and so 2013 looked a lot like 2012 and this past November, I found myself experiencing the same burn out once again.  (They call doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, insanity.  I was insane!)

So as this year began it was time for me to make some lists--what I was doing right, what I was doing wrong, goals and steps to make those goals reality.  I read a lot of other photographer's year end and year beginning reviews and gleaned thoughts and ideas.  I talked to my husband about what I wanted the year to look like.  He is, and always has been, my greatest supporter.  Then I spoke to my amazing friend Lauren, who has been at this longer than me.  On the way to a wedding in Maryland she gave me great advice and told me things I needed to hear.  (Side bar: I am forever grateful to Lauren for her friendship and the wisdom she's shared with me.  She has been an incredible mentor, and, as you can see above, she has also blessed us with beautiful family photos! I love you, Lauren!  End of side bar.)  And  I prayed.  I prayed for wisdom and clarity and decisiveness.  And the word that kept coming to my mind was SIMPLICITY.  Over and over again that theme kept coming back to me.  I knew then that I was ready to sit down and make a plan.  Honestly, I've debated on whether or not anyone is truly interested in this story, but I feel like putting these thoughts out there holds me accountable to them.  And if this can be helpful to anyone else who is trying to find or maintain balance in their work/family life, then I'm glad I shared!

2014 is going to look much different than the past two years.  I am determined that 1)  my business will be a blessing, not a burden, to my family.  (I heard this phrase...or read it...somewhere else.  I can't remember where and so I can't give proper credit, but if you know who said it let me know so I can quote them!)  and 2) my business will honor God by serving my clients with excellence.  Those sound great, right?  I mean easy that I have those things in mind I'm golden.  :)  Not quite.  I knew that with these two goals in mind, I had to come up with some steps to maintain balance.  I won't bore you with the long list, but I want to hit some high points.

First, I'm going to be working less.  Period.  I am finding incredible joy in this slow season and I'm realizing that the sessions I'm doing now feel more exciting and I'm finding my creativity again.  Trying to slam a billion sessions into a week drains me physically and also creatively.  In order to bless my family and give an excellent product to my clients, I have to limit the number of sessions I take on.  This means saying no, which is incredibly hard for me.  It also means I've raised my pricing a bit.  (A terrifying leap for me!)  But friends, I was making less than minimum wage when I really did the math.  Even when you love your job that just isn't acceptable.  And it meant taking on way too many sessions in order to meet our budget needs.  I still feel that my pricing makes sense and is reasonable for most people and I hope my clients will stick with me.  Fewer sessions means receiving your photos faster (if I can get my butt to the post office!) and receiving a better quality product.  (I'm also working on upgrading my gear, which makes for better photos as well!)  This also means, I'll be scheduling further in advance. Taking only a couple of sessions per week (even in the fall) means I'll fill up quickly.  I will also be offering more mini session dates this year, for those of you who just want a new family photo for the wall or something to use for a Christmas card. :)

Second, I'm going to be limiting my weddings.  I LOVED my brides and grooms in 2013 but all of them got married within a couple months of each other...okay, not all of them but most of them.  And it happened to be in the fall when I was also incredibly busy with family sessions.  This year I am only taking one wedding a month, or if I happen to take two, I will not take a wedding the month after.  This will help me to get my couples' photos back to them far sooner and will help me to not feel overwhelmed with editing. This also keeps me from being away from my family too many weekends in a row.

Third, I will be teaching workshops this year!  I hosted my first in January and had a blast!  I love teaching people how to use their cameras and get the best possible photos of their families.  I'm hosting the DSLR basics workshop in my home.  (The next is March 8th and there are still 2 spots available!)  I'll also be offering a follow up workshop in the Spring as a stepping stone from the basics class.  I see a big future in this and I'm pretty glad to be using my teaching degree alongside my love of photography!

I think that's probably as much as any of you really want to know right now. :)  If you haven't already, check out my website.  (  It's updated for the first time in a long time.  And keep checking back for more blogs.  I'm determined to keep up this year!

And to end, a salute to 2013 with a few of my favorite iphone photos.  If you don't already, follow me on instagram! (mistydrodda)  (My phone is my most used camera!)  Blessings to all of you in 2014!

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