I am not going to dwell on the fact that 2020-2021, has shaken up the industry in crazy ways thanks to COVID-19. It is obvious and the industry has beaten this phrase to the ground. Am I right?
I pride myself in being different than other photographers, completely vulnerable and honest, and not sugar coating reality.
The fact is, 2020 was an absolute shit show. Besides not knowing if I would still have a business still afloat or not. It was emotionally one of the roughest years I have ever experienced since my mother passed away in 2005. Personally, I struggle with being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Thankfully, I do not have it as severe as some individuals have. Regardless, 2020 handed me more than I could handle. I was full of rage. I was crying more than I was smiling/laughing. I was full of anxiety. Which, while I am being an open book, hindered my ability to think outside the box and provide work I was deeply proud of. I was, to put it bluntly, safe in my outcome. We don’t do “safe.”
Good News – we purchased our forever home at the end of 2020. This drastically shifted me out of that depression funk I was in. Business started to pick up and new booking were happening. Even better, my autistic son was back in school! This was such a gift itself.
2021 was a shit show still. Just in an entirely different way. Unlike other photographers, I know my limits and didn’t over book myself. I stuck to those limitations. I gave my all (mind, body and spirit) to each couple. I can confidently say that. Do I wish I could have done more photographs for each couple? I’d be lying if I said “No.” But I focused on all the important moments vs forcing them to happen. And WOAH … I have never been more proud of the work I have given. Truly. However, my personal life has been non-existent. And I took on the roll as a caretaker to top it off.
Which leads me into, what are our plans for 2022?
Meraki IS NOT going anywhere. Fuck no! We are just taking less weddings than normal though. We are currently, only booking for our Associate photographer, Matt, for 2022. Family and friends come first, always. I believe this to my core. They are who have your back through thick and thin – and they have. Yet, I have missed so many important moments because I was working. It has caused some major mom guilt. I am not ok with that.
2022 is about personal development for myself. Connecting with everyone around me and really pushing myself to be a better version of myself. I didn’t start this business solely for money. I started this to make people like me, feel valued and heard. To let them know, they are enough! They are rockstars! They are … badass! Yet, I don’t feel that way about myself. I feel drained. I feel burnt out. I feel depressed when I am not celebrating life with people I love. I barely even got to enjoy something as simple as the sun in 2021! Sun is something we need as human beings. Sun is vital for someone with Bipolar Disorder.
I am going to travel. I am going to meditate. I am going to do yoga. I am going to enjoy riding my Peloton. I am going to have date nights with my wife and son. I am going to watch my niece play soccer. I am going to watch my favorite band play in Vegas! I am going to have girl nights with my best friends. I am going to read/listen to podcasts. I am going to self reflect. I am going to work on my own trauma that I never given myself the time to cope with. I am going to try new techniques and both fail and achieve them. I AM GOING TO …. period!
In my heart, I know this is just going to make me an EVEN BETTER photographer. I share this journey to normalize that it is not healthy to be in a constant hustle. It is damn near impossible to provide EPIC photographs that truly reflect the subjects, if you are not given yourself the time to listen to them, get to know them, and take a breather between moments to let things naturally unfold. It is damn near impossible, to be fully present (mind, body, and spirit) when you are in a constant hustle. It is damn near impossible, to give a luxury experience when you take on bookings every damn weekend. Communication goes out the window. Preparation goes out the window. It all is just… safe. At that point, you are photographing with absolute no intension and just hoping and praying you got something usable!
To my past, current and future clients: I vow to always be grateful and never take your trust for granted. I vow to always listen to you. I vow to create a top notch experience that is unlike anything you probably will experience with another photographer. I vow to be open and honest. I vow to help guide you through planning. I vow to be the photographer you truly deserve.
I hope I was, am and will be that person for you. I am not a bullshit artist who talks a good game. Actions to me, speak louder than words. For me to continue to grow and stay focused, I need this time for ME. I can’t thank you enough for following this journey with me!