I don’t know about y’all, but 2015 FLEW BY! I cannot believe how much has changed in only one year, 52 weeks, 365 days. Seriously.

My first order of business in this post is to welcome in this brand New Year, 2016!! No pictures for this part of my post, but a few reflections from last year that will hopefully continue to guide me well into this promising New Year. Stick with me to see the farewell photos of 2015 though!

I recently reviewed a post I wrote last year, ( https://shelbyleigh-photography.com/new-years-eve-post-reflecting-on-2014 ), and I became really excited about the words that I wrote. I feel…accomplished! Because, although 2014 brought in the technical aspects of being a photographer and licensed business owner, 2015 went a step beyond that and gave me the creative boost and encouragement that I needed. I started last year off by listing some goals, and I’m pumped that these were met – some differently than I anticipated, but met nonetheless, and surpassed in the way I look at my expectations for fulfilling them.

Although I didn’t officially “teach” (and receive payment for) photography, I was able to befriend a few new budding photographers and although not all want to be “professional” they are learning their equipment, and that’s huge! Why own a $300-$600 piece of equipment that you don’t understand?! I still desperately want to help teach others, and begin mentoring other photographers with not only photography and editing, but also with the business side. I started this a bit before my busy season last year, but hope to pick it up a bit more with a few people that I know have shown interest in this. I would also love to teach a Basic Photography Course for Moms – nothing too crazy or technical, but again, why own the equipment (which I know MANY, MANY of you do…you’ve all told me!) and not know how to capture these memories? So, that’s in the works. To be honest, I had hoped to offer one in January, since it’s my slow season; with that said, we had a few health issues come up in January, so I’m playing a massive game of catch up with life! But, soon.

I’ve also become great friends with another photographer in the area, and it’s been great for both of us! Not only are we able to bounce ideas off of, drink coffee together, and just enjoy our passion with one another, we can also feel comfortable asking for critiques and business advice. This is so, so important! I truly believe no one can go at this alone, and I’m thankful I have someone local to chat with.

Beyond that, I’ve found a WONDERFUL community of photographers online that have become…well, like family. Sure, we don’t exactly get together for dinners and such (though…I’m sure we can figure something out one day!), but catch us on the right day, and we’ll talk your ears off on videos, I’ll chat with a couple online for hours, and beyond that, we support one another! HOLY COW…non-competitve love and encouragement from like-minded artists who are willing to help each other? This is like some parallel universe! But, it’s a wonderful one, and one that I’m blessed to be a part of! Through this group, I’ve also developed a full blown friendship with my friend Nikki, of Nikki Smith Photography (https://www.facebook.com/NikSmithPhotography ). I have NO IDEA what I did before this amazing lady became my friend. Even before we were “friends,” she lifted my spirits and encouraged me through another community. God truly does things for a reason, and one day, I hope to hug this lovely lady (on my tip toes 😉 ) AND have her photograph my family. What an honor that will be! One day!

I’ve also found my target clientele and pricing. I found what has worked for ME, AND my clients. This is SUPER important to me! I’ve LOVED every family that I’ve been honored to capture memories for! I’m not even kidding! Everyone has been so gracious, patient, encouraging…and honestly, I feel that they’re thankful for their images, which is huge. And with pricing, I decided long ago that I do not want to be a photographer that will make my clients break the bank. I know groups who get giddy (like, really, giddy) over charging essentially as much as they can get away with, regardless of their professionalism, experience, equipment and knowledge. I don’t agree with this model…and I’m not sorry for that. It works for many photographers; it just won’t for me. I charge what I feel I would be comfortable paying, and thankfully this model has worked very well this year. I’ve made a few changes and added a package to my pricing, but I’ll stick pretty close to this range, and I feel that it offers a little something for everyone. If prospects come my way who love my work and want ME as their photographer, I’m fairly confident my pricing is doable, without going broke, but while keeping cherished memories close to your heart! That being said, I also value myself and my worth more than a typical “shoot and burn” photographer – if you know me and/or have had a session with me, you know that I will put time in before, during and after your session. It’s not an hour with you, come home, burn your CD and charge you $50. My experience and knowledge is vastly more valuable than that, and thankfully my clients know it, for which I am truly grateful! Memories that you can pass down  from generation to generation are priceless, but thankfully, I can both value myself and time away from my family, and have my clients afford these quality memories to cherish!

So, THANK YOU to 2015…you’ve been wonderful to me, and I am truly blessed!! Now, I am super excited about 2016 and what it has in store for Shelby Leigh Photography! I won’t list every goal in this post (it’s long enough; I know, I’m verbose and always have been and always will be), but the biggest goal is to continue on the path that I’m on…learning, growing, inspiring others, teaching others, and having faith in myself to continue posting, entering challenges and contests and getting Shelby Leigh Photography “out there” in the vast world of photography, and for my clients. I want everyone who comes to me to know they will be taken care of and that I will do my best to make their photography experience a wonderful one! Getting my name “out there” won’t happen in a blink, but with hard work and determination, I will continue, thanks to so much encouragement!

Oh, and #goalfail. Sort of. Although I did manage to do *most* of my M4H P52, I did not, however blog each week! I think I wound up falling off the blogging wagon around 20 weeks, and then it was hit or miss! Ha! BUT…vast improvement in both blogging and consistent theme shooting from years past, where I never did either! Fail or success? To be determined! Brings me to another 2016 goal…better workflow consistency!! I’m going to play catch up with my family session blogging this first two weeks of January, then head into 2016 with a clean slate! And, the only reason I didn’t stick with the last few weeks of P52…my busy season hit, during my kids’ school stuff busy season, and well…life happened. I won’t regret getting my clients’ images and orders to them in a timely manner…and I’ll always be thankful for SO MUCH business in 2015! I’m still SUPER pleased with myself for sticking with the 52 week project that long (I think through October), and it truly filled the creative void I had when I didn’t have clients during the off season! I still highly recommend 52 week challenges. I know 365 would be too much for me, but I loved my experience with 52 weeks!

I’m off to spend the remaining hours of this First Day of January 2016 with my family…to share and talk about many of the memories that you’ll find in this collage:

And, thank you to each and every client that has given me the honor of capturing your precious families!