When I think about the past 365 days of Heather Etheridge Photography, I immediately feel thankful, humbled, excited, proud, tired & a flood of other emotions. How did all of this happen in a year?! A combination of Jesus, hard work + long hours, amazing clients & a rock solid support system, if I had to guess. (*insert shoulder-shrugging emoji here*)
As a way to wrap up the year + celebrate HEP's 1st birthday (!!), I wanted to share SIX takeaways + learnings from this year that was full of SO much growth:
- I never expected this adventure to take off so quickly. Earlier this year I shared the story of how this all got started -- & how I expected 2017 to be a year for learning & growing (which it certainly was!). I never expected to shoot two weddings. Or for 50+ clients to book me for sessions. Or to be fully-booked for 2018 weddings by September of this year. I am amazed & completely blown-away. And SO excited for what’s to come. AH!
- I really, really love what I do. Seriously. Capturing such special moments of life for my clients is something I don’t take for granted. And speaking of my clients – they’ve all been such an absolute joy to work with this year. I am so incredibly thankful for each one of them because they are allowing me to live my dream. So to my clients: THANK YOU. Thank you for hiring me. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for recommending me to your friends & family & for the glowing reviews you’ve left. Thank you for letting me know how much you love your images. Thank you for treating me more like a friend than just your photographer. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I would not be where I am today without each one of you.
- For me, there’s a fine line between busy & too busy. For the most part, I like being busy & having things to do. I’m easily bored & don’t often enjoy just… sitting. I thrive when I’m busy. That being said, this year I’ve definitely learned that I need downtime. The “too busy” me definitely isn’t the best me – I find myself snapping at Nathan for no reason & thinking about everything I need to be doing when I should be sleeping -- & then I look at my calendar & realize it’s probably because for five days straight I’ve gone to work (at my marketing day job with IHG) & left to go straight to a shoot or straight home to edit / work until 11:00 p.m. BUT you know what the beauty of owning your own business & being your own boss is? Making your own schedule. Huge perk! I’m 100% in control of my schedule when it comes to photography which means that I’m in control of how busy I am. I can take as many or as few sessions per week and / or weddings per year as I want. There will always be busy seasons (hello, Fall 2017!), but outside of those seasons you can find my laptop closed by dinner-time & me snuggled up on the couch with my best friend watching the latest Netflix show. The work / life balancing act can be tough (especially when “work” doesn’t feel like “work”). While I think I do a pretty good job of planning “work” around life & not vice-versa, it’s not always possible & that’s ok. Even so, I refuse to let photography – something I love & enjoy so much – be a major stressor in my life.
- Planning 1 (& even 2!) years ahead is strange. Between the weddings I’m shooting next year & the weddings we’re attending, plus vacation / travel dates, I can already tell you exactly where I’ll be for about half of my weekends next year (& a few in 2019). Crazy! But the Type-A planner in me loves it.
- There’s a lot more to a (successful) photography business than shooting & editing. I mentioned above that one of the perks of owning a business & being your own boss is making your own schedule, but, on the other side of that is the fact that there is ALWAYS. Always. A.L.W.A.Y.S. something to do. I currently have a running list of about 20 things on my to-do list, many of which have been on there for months. Between responding to inquiries & clients within 24-hours (I try!!), scheduling shoots, delivering client galleries, blogging recent work (I’m literally so bad about this. Can I hire an intern?), sharing recent work on social (Instagram + Pinterest, plus my poor abandoned HEP Facebook page), updating client / potential client materials, updating my website, submitting work to publishers, etc. it’s literally a game of prioritization every single day. What needs to be done now & what can wait?
- None of this would be possible without my support system.
- Nathan, my husband, is just the greatest thing to ever happen to me & this business. He’s my biggest cheerleader & encourager, & he’s helped make this venture successful in a million ways – from being my official light-tester (I can honestly say I have thousands of photos of him at this point. Not complaining.), to being my accountant (because numbers are hard & keeping up with income / expenses / write-offs / business accounts, etc. is not my strong suite), to being my assistant at sessions (everything from shaking a rattle behind me to get a toddler to look at the camera, to holding my reflector…), to being my go-to Photoshop pro (because Lightroom is life) & SO. MUCH. MORE. He’s also stepped up his game as a home-maker & does the meal-planning / grocery shopping / cooking when I have a busy day or week. There’s nothing like coming home after a long day to dinner on the table & a poured glass of wine, am I right? THANK YOU! I adore you.
- My family & friends. Sometimes something as simple as reaching out just to ask how things are going / what’s new mean the most. HEP has become such a big part of my life this year, that it almost feels like an extension of me, so the support, encouragement & excitement from those around me go a long way. Thank you!
- My photographer friend Allison Pedigo who gladly accepted my random email request to get coffee & then offered to take me under her wing for a couple of her weddings. I learned more from you than you probably realize. Thank you!
- And special shout-out to my lawyer Jacob for helping make HEP, LLC. official, talking me through all those forms & explaining why I have to have monthly business meetings…with myself… where I take minutes / attendance….? Thank you!
I have learned + grown so much this year & I can’t wait to continue learning + growing in 2018.
Here's to the next 365 days of Heather Etheridge Photography!
P.S. Here are some of my favorite images from 2017.