2017 Recap | Personal

We’re in the middle of getting ready to move this weekend, (supposed to be taking the first of our things over to the new house this evening, but at this rate I’m thinking that’s not happening until tomorrow) and, in true Rachel fashion, I decided that I needed to take a break from packing to look through all of my cell phone pics from this year and reminisce, which led to me throwing together this blog post over the past couple of hours.

This has been a BIG year in my little life, from taking on only my second paid shoot earlier this year to shooting over 60 portrait sessions and events by the end of December. Aside from that, we also welcomed my nephew into the world, made the decision for me to go full time with photography (hardest/best decision EVER), traveled to 6 different states, got our first puppy, and (as of Friday) closed on our first HOUSE. This post couldn’t possibly represent ALL of the happy moments of 2017, but I did go through for each month and chose a couple of highlights (mostly low-quality cell phone selfies) and one favorite “fancy” picture.

So, first, some of my favorite moments of 2017, then a little reflection on what this year has meant to me as we look toward 2018.

January: a visit from the high school BFF who now resides in Cali, finishing up The Magnolia Story (10/10 recommend…one of the best things I’ve ever read), and adventures with film while my brother and sister-in-law’s farm dog Lucius was staying with us.

February: Surprise Farm Girl Flowers from the world’s best husband (YES, that’s still a highlight of that month!), welcoming my newphew into the world, and getting to take his baby pictures (Ilford Delta 3200 for the win).

March: Getting snowed in at our happy place in Highlands the weekend after the yearbook was published (those who have ever done yearbook know what a crazy accomplishment finishing the book is) and more film fun at Chris’ band’s show at Smith’s. (Check out their album on iTunes *shameless plug*)

April: The best day with Angelina talking about life (pretty sure this day got me about 70% of the way to deciding to switch from teaching to photog full-time), visiting Lucius and his girlfriend Khaleesi on the farm for the first time, and one of my favorite shoots of ALL TIME with Demi Digitals (So fun seeing Belle Lumiere Magazine feature this image on their feed later in the year!)

May: Celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary with brunch at Murphy’s, all the teaching lasts (last semester, last yearbook distribution), and a really fun shoot with our friends Sarah and Colin near their downtown Norcross home.

June: Puppy sitting Miss Dixie (my aunt and uncle’s cocker spaniel), helping my sister find her wedding dress (with the CUTEST nephew in tow!), and a fun shoot with Cat, Cory, Zeus, and Roman before they moved to the west coast. Can’t wait to come visit you guys in 2018!

July: This month, we had our portrait session with THE Noi Tran (so much fun!). Aside from that, I basically holed up like a troll and built my website from scratch (not my brightest idea, but hey-I got it done). I did manage to sneak away for a fun day at my aunt and uncle’s farm towards the end of the month and shot some film while I was there (hence, the chicken- I’m obsessed). Thanks, Aunt Donna for living in the most aesthetically pleasing place ever!

August: By FAR, our busiest (and probably most fun) month of 2017 as a couple. I tagged along with Chris on a business trip to Charleston, shot my first session on the beach, and welcomed my first team of senior spokesmodels. Then, Chris tagged along on a business trip with me to DC to participate in a couple of Styled Shoots Across America shoots. While there, we also traded sessions with Understitch Photography, antiqued through the Virginia countryside, and ate our way through the nation’s capitol.

September: WE GOT A PUPPY!!!!!! (best moment of my whole year), I finally got to go see where my sister and newphew’s beautiful new home in Florida, and my senior spokesmodel girls had their first couple of shoots! 4/5 of my spokesmodels this year I either taught or coached in XC when I was a teacher, so it’s been fun to keep in touch with them this year through our fun little shoots.

October: Family portrait season went into full swing this month, I traveled to LaGrange to participate in a couple of fun, themed wedding shoots with some sweet new photog friends, and we also made time for LOTS of puppy snuggles (They’re only little once, right? Haha).

November: November was full of shooting and editing tons of beautiful, fall-y sessions including Liz and Aaron’s maternity session AND I found out that I won a spot into Emma Rose (one of my photog role models’) workshop next summer in South Bend, Washington (seriously a dream come true. I can’t wait!).

December: After shooting 18 sessions in November (my busiest business month yet), Chris and I unplugged for a few days and headed back to our happy place in Highlands. This was seriously the most restorative weekend for both of us. (I’m sharing more on a blog post in January about the critical role getaways have played in our marriage and some tips for setting aside time and money for them in your relationship, too.) We also enjoyed hosting one last shindig at The Parsons Lodge (a little thank you for my first-year clients) before we closed on our new house!

I hope that you enjoyed this little recap! 2017 came in on the coattails of the most difficult, exhausting season of my life. I remember getting emotional this time last year because I was deeply desiring and hoping that things would turn around in the new year, but I’d also become so worn down and cynical that I doubted if they even could. I loved teaching my students, but the demands of my job were literally sucking the life out of me. I remember feeling trapped, like the reason I was feeling the way I was had to be attributed to something I was doing wrong or wasn’t doing well enough. It sounds stupid to say, but I thought that because I had majored in teaching and committed the first part of my career to it, that there would be some unspeakable shame and failure in walking away from it and starting something new. It was truly only by God’s grace using like, 15 different people over the course of 6 months to get through my thick skull, that I was able to seriously consider turning this awesome portrait photography side-gig into a full time hustle. And Y’ALL, aside from following the Lord and marrying my husband (and picking out Theodore, let’e be real), it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made and has led to more fulfillment in these past 7 months than I’ve ever known before in my life.

So- to finish off this post- let me just tell you that there’s ALWAYS an opportunity for a fresh start and a new season. Whatever it is that you’ve been hoping for in your life- for me it was more time at home with my family- there’s nothing stopping you from achieving it and having the best season of your life in this next year. And I hope that the truly happy, unfiltered moments in this post have served as a testament to that.

Cheers to new beginnings, friends, and to all of my wonderful clients- THANK YOU for the immeasurable blessing of getting to wake up every morning and do this for a living. I can’t wait to love on y’all even more in 2018.

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