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5 Things I Learned in 2023

It's been ONE year since I started working with my photography business coach and it is time for me to reflect and share what I have learned.

1. Work-Life balance

Confession time here, while I used to preach work-life balance in my corporate roles with tips on meditation, breathing exercises, simple stretches, and more, I was finding it difficult (especially during the pandemic) to practice work-life balance for myself. I got myself a therapist in 2020 and got better at managing my stress levels and finding my balance. And one thing we discovered buried in my brain was my next steps, my dream job, my purpose, and it wasn't corporate (though my big time fashion company goals did give me great satisfaction, wonderful experience, and amazing coworkers).

So, when I went full-time into my photography as my career (instead of the side hustle it had been for many years throughout high school, college, and beyond), I knew my focus had to be on work-life balance. And I found a photography business coach who also had her balance leaning more life than work on the scale.

My coach calls her philosophy "family first" and this resonated so much with me for two reasons:

  1. My husband, my cats, my parents, and my extended family are the most important in my life and I was NOT getting enough time with any of them. I wasn't getting the happiness and love that I desired because my balance scale was so heavy on the work side.

  2. I want to focus on bringing the happiness and love of my clients to the forefront of their moments with me during the planning, the session, and the photography reveals (and beyond).

So work-life balance became more of a 30% work, 70% life on the scale and I am SO much happier and able to bring that happiness to my clients. I am so thankful for my coach, my clients, and my family and friends, who all support me.

2. Prioritize serving my clients

With the focus on happiness and love for myself and my clients, I knew I needed to make the entire photography process for my clients as EASY as possible. I want my clients to focus on their relationships, celebrating that love, and being excited to have those photographs of love forever.

I have talked about my services before, but in case you have missed it, here is a TLDR on how easy it is to be photographed by me:

  1. Inquiry Call — I find out who you love, how we celebrate them, and talk about all of the different ways we can print your photographs to have around your home.

  2. Planning Session — We meet (usually in person) to decide on outfits for everyone involved, a location for your photography session, and to make sure you are comfortable and know me. No stressing last minute for you.

  3. Your Photography Session — It is easy and fun, we are friends hanging out and I happen to have a camera. I capture your happiness and love in the most natural ways.

  4. Photography Reveal and Investments — Party time! I share your top, very best images from the session and we laugh (maybe cry) at the happiness, love, silliness, and genuine relationships captured. We order your wall art and get digital files as a bonus to share online until your printed photographs arrive.

  5. Delivery Time — I hang your photographs, deliver your albums, place your frames, and we celebrate your happiness.

3. Volunteering and Donating

With my work-life balance greatly increasing my "life" hours each day I absolutely use this time to spread love and happiness to others. I volunteer locally within my community and I donate a portion of my sales to places I cannot physically help.

In 2023, I volunteered a total of 19 hours in NYC. Most of that time was my monthly visits to Urban Outreach Center in the Upper East Side (just down the street from my apartment) and a few hours with Comprehensive Youth Development in the East Village. In previous years I had volunteered once a year for 3 hours with my corporate team at God's Love, We Deliver in SoHo, so I am very happy to have increased my time helping others and spreading happiness.

In 2023, I also donated a total of $1400 to a variety of local children's fundraisers including school auctions and international children's aid funds.

I am looking forward to more volunteering in 2024 (and have already gotten started). I highly encourage volunteering for everyone, even if you can only go once a year. Advocate that your job dedicates hours to volunteering, matches your donations to fundraisers, and organizes local community events, or take your family and friends out for volunteering events on the weekends.

4. Keep going

Life can throw all sorts of challenges at you in a year (my 2023 was a huge rollercoaster with three huge family losses) but the best thing to remember is to keep going. Continue to bring happiness and love to yourself and others. Strive to grow, learn, and do good things. Keep reaching for your goals. And most importantly, give yourself grace daily.

I was able to get through my difficult times in 2023 with a focus on my clients' happiness and ensuring they have photographs with their favorite people and pets while it is possible. Hugs to anyone else who lost someone in 2023, and keep going, we've got this.

5. What's next

In January of 2024, we moved out of New York City and back to my hometown in Northwest Arkansas. I am so excited to serve this community that raised me and has grown so much while I was gone for the last 11+ years. I will also continue to serve my NYC clients as my husband's family live in NY.

I have a huge goal this year to volunteer 40 hours total (so double of last year). Do you know anywhere in NWA that needs help? Please comment below or email me to let me know.

I will also continue to donate to children and pet fundraisers, now locally in NWA and continue my international donations as well. Do you have a local auction or fundraiser needing sponsors? Let me know.

And of course, I will spread love and happiness. And give myself grace for my goals, I do not yet know what rollercoasters this year will bring. Let's do this, 2024.

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