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2020, An Opportunity for Change and Growth

It’s been a while, but it didn’t feel proper to not make some kind of post this Holiday Season. This year has been a real uphill struggle personally, and I am sure you have all felt this way as well. With the pandemic shutting down many people's livelihoods, it is easy to be as bitter and cold as the weather outside. I personally have been trying to counteract this mood with making lists of all the things I am grateful for. It really just puts me in a more positive headspace.

I have really slowed down taking on new clients this year. As a person with not the greatest immune system, this pandemic is a real risk to me and I have been taking it very seriously. I’ve reduced my bookings. I’ve taken on different types of clients than I normally would. And I have started working from home, rather than going to my full time day job. Honestly, all the extra stress was really getting to me and had a pretty hard impact on my mental and physical health.

I, however, view this time as a chance to learn new skills and find new ways to expand the services my business offers. I can’t remember who said this, but I know it was at a photography webinar offered by Photobacks. The speaker had said something along the lines of “in times of trouble, the businesses who adapt and change are the ones who survive.” This has really stuck with me over the years. Change can be quite scary. I find as a business owner it’s scary, not just because it’s something new, but because there is a certain level of risk. What if you lose your business because of a bad decision? What if no one likes or is interested in your new ideas? What if you don’t make enough income to pay your bills. What if, what if, what if? The list goes on and on. However you cannot let fear of the unknown dictate your life. We must adapt and move forward.

I’ve been reading a lovely book this year to help with my anxiety. It’s called The Worry Trick by David A. Carbonell PhD. I highly recommend it to anyone who has anxiety, especially if you are like myself and constantly think about the “what if’s” of life. In this book it talks about how worrying about the future in a constant state of “what if” scenarios hold us back and prevents us from enjoying new opportunities. Once I wrapped my head around that I was better able to change my mentality about this whole year. This pandemic has been a challenge, yes, and safety should still always be a priority, but viewing challenges as opportunities for growth is a much better use of my time, rather than sitting around worrying.

So I guess this leads up to the topic of this post, which is what have I been doing this year? Well I’m so glad you're still here and reading and interested. Thanks for sticking around! After having my weddings cancelled and not feeling safe enough to book more in person bookings with groups of people, I had to take a step back and look at new ways to get revenue. I have been doing a weird mixture of editing work and photography. It's been a challenge, but as I said before, these challenges presented opportunities for growth, and I would like to share some highlights of my year with you.

The first job I booked during the pandemic was honestly, a childhood dream come true. It was a small job, but I am still just giddy about it. I was able to take landscape photos as a paid job. It was for the lovely Natalie Jackson, owner of the Artemis Temple of the Goddess, in Sherwood Park. They are all about empowering women. They offer women's retreats and meditation sessions and so much more. You can find their website here. It’s such a beautiful location, and her puppies were lovely to hang out with while taking photos. When I first started playing with a camera, all I used to do is take landscape and macro photos. However it is hard to make a living doing that kind of work. It’s a very competitive industry. But this year I was finally able to fulfill that childhood dream and get a paid job doing what I love. It was amazing and something I am hoping to do again. I am constantly looking for opportunities to do this kind of work, and this year has really motivated me to look more into this field in my area.

I was also able to do small one-on-one portrait sessions for a while (between lock downs.) This gave me the opportunity to finally purchase some background and lighting equipment I desperately was in need of, but just never bothered to buy. I never had enough portrait clientele to justify buying these items. But covid provided me with this opportunity. I am just so excited about this. I love buying new equipment. I turn into a kid at christmas when it arrives and just play with it for hours. My favorite right now is my new background stand and background. I was getting by with a DIY stand for a while, but this new stand just makes working so much easier. I don’t know how I got by without it.

An area of photography that I had never considered before, that I had an opportunity to do this year, was Branding Photography for social media. It was interesting. I had a zoom call with Katie Dooley, owner of Paper Lime Creative, and discussed her brand and what type of images she would like. It was an interesting process. Also if you are ever looking for branding advice or a designer, I cannot recommend Katie enough. She is super talented, really knows her stuff, and is super friendly and personable. You will love working with her. Anyway, I then had her drop off a bunch of items she’d like photographed, and then was left to my own devices for about 2 hours. I also got to eat some of the product, so that was a nice treat!

I was also able to photograph products for my husband’s gaming company, Practical Sloth. He decided he wanted to sell his dice bags online this year, rather than worry about booking trade shows. Such a fun opportunity to work with my husband, as well as get back into product photography. I used to photograph product back in my university days, as well as for a short time afterwards, but I hadn’t really done it that much in recent years. It was nice to pick it up again and exercise an old skill.

Another weird set of jobs I got this year was actually because of my religion. I don’t usually talk about my faith online, but I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or more commonly called, mormon.) Because of this I have a 16x20 canvas print in my house of the Cardston Alberta Temple, where my husband and I got married. A friend of mine had seen it a few years ago, and she decided to commission me to make one in a similar style, but of the Edmonton Temple where she was married (photos seen below.) I have also been able to sell additional prints of these images, and I am planning on finding a way to offer these prints with custom dates on them. I want to add the Calgary Temple to my collection as well. Next time I am down I am hoping to make this happen, but who knows when that will be. Again, this was another job that I never expected. I honestly took my photo for just my husband and me. It's where my parents and grandparents were married and where his parents were married as well, so it really was just taken for sentimental reasons. I never considered it to be an advertisement hanging up in my house, but here we are with another opportunity this year, and I appreciate it.

The final thing I did this year that I thought I would never do, is I started a print store. As previously mentioned I love landscape and macro photography. This means that everytime my husband and I head to the mountains I bring my camera and I plan a hiking trip. I spend the whole time taking photos that I find pretty. I then bring them home and edit them, and then they just sit on my computer and my external drives and are never to be seen again. This really seemed like a waste. I also have a minor in design and don’t really use it outside of social media for myself. I decided I should mix these two things I never use together and make prints. It’s a passive income, but it’s still something. I figure they are not doing me any good in storage, but at least if they are online, people can enjoy them, even if they don’t purchase them. I am just happy to finally get to share some of my favorite images with others.

Looking back on this year has been interesting for me. I used to feel like I didn’t handle this year very well. Looking back now I know better and can recognise that I was going through the stages of grief, and probably handled it as best I could. That sounds off to say, but everyone around you right now is experiencing grief. It is one of the few times in recent history that the world can say they are all experiencing the same thing, and there is definitely a sense of loss for what could have been and what was. However I now feel that, although everyday is different, and some days are harder than others, your outlook on things is what you need to focus on. I spent a chunk of the year feeling very bad for myself. On top of the covid situation, I experienced a lot of health problems. I am still recovering from those issues, but I do feel very differently towards them now. I am more hopeful. I know that these events are a passing thing. I know that things will get back to “normal” or whatever the new normal will be. Things are hard, but I also know that if I keep treating every speed bump as an opportunity for growth, I will continue to get stronger and better as a person and as a business owner. Things can only go up from here.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support and for all the well wishes. With the holidays here and the New Year almost upon us I would like to issue you all a challenge. We do not know what the future year has in store for us, but we are all approaching it with hope. I ask you to keep this hope year round, and ask yourself what opportunities are you being presented with, rather than viewing challenges as roadblocks. There are still many challenges ahead of all of us. That will never change, and is not something we can change. What we can change is our attitudes. Continue on with hope and your year will surely be more pleasant.

I wish you all a Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Years. Stay safe and stay warm!


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