BEST OF 2017: MORE THAN JUST WEDDINGS | ZAKAS PHOTOGRAPHY
"What you focus on, you create more of. Choose what to focus on to strengthen your faith and patience and you will be victorious."- Jen Sincero
First, here is a little list of what my 2017 looked like. I like lists, a lot. Then I will get a bit personal on my journey of 2017 which is a bit more than weddings.
- I decided to educate myself in marketing and advertising. I decided to invest in myself and my business for the first time in order to take it to the next level. Because of that, I have shot about triple the amount of shoots this year than last year. I have booked 7x's the amount of shoots for next year than I had booked last year at this time. I have already booked 2x's the amount of weddings for next season than I shot this season which leads me to being 50% booked already for 2018. (Shameless plug: if you want me to shoot your intimate wedding or adventurous elopement, email me because I have limited spots left. <3 )
- I got accepted as a preferred vendor for my favorite wedding company in Iceland.
- I went to Copenhagen as my birthday trip, which solidified that I am going to make having a birthday trip my new tradition. And in 2018 I am going to Berlin + Iceland for my trip.
- I FINALLY got the confidence in myself after 10 years of shooting and took the leap and left my safety net job to go full time.
- I got an MVP award at a derby game I played this season.
- I traveled out of the country more times than any year prior.
- I got accepted to 3 stock photo agencies to be a contributing photographer.
- I got 4 photos accepted into Vogue Italia photovogue.
- I was published in Rock n Roll bride, Dark Beauty Magazine, NUVU magazine, Feroce magazine, IMIRAGE magazine, and Volition Magazine.
- I was featured as wedding of the week on Rangefinder and put on the list to be considered for the 30 emerging photographers of 2018. (fingers crossed, send good vibes, I would die of happiness.)
- I got to travel to Malmö, Sweden to shoot roller derby at the first European playoffs in history.
- I got accepted as a Fearless Photographer.
- I won The Knot's Best of 2018 pick.
- I got to shoot roller derby Champs this year for Bont skates.
- I am going into 2018 with shoots booked for England, Iceland, Norway, Orlando, Kansas City, and farmland of Kentucky.
So the year has ended, and I am unsure where to start this end of year round up. Most wedding photographers seem to be posting blogs about their favorite wedding images from the year, but I think I need more than that. This year has been wild, and amazing, and actually a new chapter in my life. The world around us has changed drastically with all of the tension and political trauma we are all going through, but my personal year has been the best yet and I can't really sum it up in just a few of my favorite images from my weddings I've shot. To be honest, I love shooting adventurous elopements and intimate weddings, they are my jam, but I love them because of the experiences they give me and the art it lets me create. I love to create and capture stories and feelings, however that looks. SO, I am not going to just post my favorite wedding photos from this year, but post photos that gave me the experiences this year that have made my year so amazing. Which won't be only wedding photos or couples photos, because when it all boils down to it, I am an artist and a creator. I live to create images that have emotion behind it, that is my craft. So this is going to be more of a personal reflection blog than a sneaky advertisement. I will probably say 'fuck' a few times, so read on if you want.
This year has forced me out of my comfort zone and also forced me to put on my big girl pants and just fucking do it. I have been shooting for-fricken-ever, and this year I FINALLY got the courage within myself to learn to trust myself and know my worth. For anyone reading this, and wondering how I accomplished all of the craziness I accomplished this year (which I will list at the bottom, because I like looking at lists), and want to know what my secret sauce is, here it is: I LEARNED TO HAVE FAITH IN MY ABILITIES, TO TRUST MYSELF THAT I CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO DO, TO KNOW MY WORTH THAT I BRING TO THE TABLE, AND TO REALIZE I AM AWESOME. YOU ARE AWESOME, AND YOU CAN DO IT, JUST TRUST YOURSELF. I started the year with some decent momentum from 2016, which was a year that opened a lot of opportunity for me. I started to realize that what I do, other people really do like. And I made it my fricken mission to make the big leap, make myself a corporation, get my business going past a D.B.A, and survive on only my photography full time. I am proud to say that I did it, I left my safety net job, and am my own boss, running my own business, and receiving THE BEST CLIENTS on the planet. If I can do it, you can do it. On my goals list I put 'to wake up without an alarm every day and start the day off drinking a coffee I didn't make'. And well friends, that is now my life. And it is wonderful.
Being my own boss and losing the structure of a M-F job has taught me a whole lot about myself. It brings in the artistic insecurities of 'what if no one likes the art I am putting out, then what? Am I even doing enough? I haven't put on pants in 4 days, is this normal? How will I hit my goals, what the eff am I even doing??' And with that, comes a new person that you have to survive off of. It's you and only you who has the weight on their shoulders of being successful or not. It is no one else, there are no excuses, and failure is not an option. Keeping myself focused and in a routine that I have to create myself is something new and I love it, though it is a struggle at times. I have been able to create something out of nothing. I feel so hashtag blessed and grateful when I think about all of the travel my job lends me, how many countries I visited this year, and most of all that I have been able to create a second home in Iceland. I have some of the most wonderful friends there and I am able to go every few weeks and shoot. It was a lot of hustle, and creativity, but I did it and I can not wait to see what that island has in store for me for 2018.
In all honesty, I don't want this to be too wordy. I just want to say that I am proud that it finally clicked in my head that I am worthy of success and worthy of having the life I want to live. I worked towards what I wanted, I changed my mindset on how I view the world and myself, I decided to never let another human ruin my happiness, and that life is great and it's ok to be different. I have always been the black sheep and forging my own path, even when sometimes the path was not the easy way. Most of the time it was not the easy way. When I started shooting, I was working 4 jobs in order to make enough money to buy equipment and network. I ran myself ragged but I had to. Then I moved to NYC almost 6yrs ago with 2 suitcases and no apartment to live in. By the grace of some beautiful friends, they let me crash on their couch until I found an apartment, then I lived in that apartment and slept on the floor for about 9mo. until I could afford a bed. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing, but I knew I had to move to NYC to challenge myself and find myself because there is no city as hard as this city. If I can create myself here in the sea of all of the other photographers, then I would be set for the rest of my life. And after many years of pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and creating opportunity, and shooting and shooting and shooting, I finally am at a place I wasn't sure I would ever get to. I have worked really hard for this and I can't believe I am here sometimes. I know I have a long way to go until I am where I see myself in the future and I am going to evolve 15 times over again in my art, but I am here in this place that seemed impossible to get to. I am booking dream clients that I honestly feel INSANELY HONORED I get the opportunity that they trust me and want me to document their lives. I get to shoot fun, weird, funky conceptual art shoots with a team of insanely talented people who believe in my whacky ideas and help them come to life. And really, what is most touching about this year, is that I have so many friends and family behind me and always supporting me and wanting to be on this journey with me to see my progress. It feels really dang cool, so much that I don't know how to handle it, but I love it. And I love all of you. And I am so stoked, for the fist time in my life, for the new year. I am not looking at my 2018 calendar with open spots thinking 'WHAT IF I DON'T BOOK ANYTHING. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?' I am looking at that open space and thinking of all the possibilities there are to fill up that space and travel to and shoot in. SO here we go 2018, let's adventure together and do this.