I've always found it hard to sleep. It's not that I don't like sleeping, I love it. But there has always been something to keep me awake. When I was younger it was Red Bull so I could stay up and watch Michael Jordan lead the Chicago Bulls to yet another victory in the live NBA Finals. Then it was the advent of Pay TV and non-stop movie channels. Planning which midnight movie to watch became second nature. More recently, however, I've been staying awake for a very different reason.
Since I became a professional photographer in mid 2010 I've been juggling my media career with my new calling. 2011 was my first full calendar year of business and it was super busy with 46 client shoots including 10 weddings. Working flat out all day and into the small hours has become the norm. But my ability to survive on five hours sleep a night has got me past the point where others would have eagerly swallowed the blue pill and floated away on a fluffy cloud of duvets and pillows. Even so, at the start of the year I reduced my media hours so I could devote Fridays to resting and exercising - things I have no time for the other six days a week but which are vital when weddings often require fifteen hours on the go. Well, that was the plan. Inevitably Fridays became another day for shooting (a good thing of course!) and just as cars will always find a way to gridlock a road no matter how wide you build it, so my growing business found a way to take up every waking minute of my life. It became all consuming but I loved it, and that confirmed I was doing what I was truly passionate about and believed in. one. hundred. per. cent.
Photographs, images, pictures.
Call them what you will it's what you see that's important, and in 2011 I started to see things differently. With each wedding I photographed I gained confidence and experience which meant I would approach my next wedding with a better understanding and appreciation of the important occasion I was about to become a part of. I also started to develop a real sense of how I want to shoot weddings; how to read, interpret and capture moments, looks and thoughts. I was growing into my new artist's skin and I enjoyed the cut of my jib. I've drawn heaps of inspiration from real wedding blog posts and the work of photographers I admire but I don't want to be a copycat. I want to be original, authentic and honest and I feel I'm heading in that direction.
However, being a good photographer doesn't guarantee success; having a strong support network does and 2011 was a HUGE year for networking. From the daily banter and occasional meet ups of the NSW Wedding Photographers Facebook group to Project Innovate and the monthly gathering of wedding specialists at Thursday Throwdown, I've been able to meet and get to know many of my inspirations for wanting to work in the wedding industry. And I'm now proud to call them my peers, colleagues and friends.
And of course I wouldn't be here without my clients, fans and followers who provide an endless stream of support, encouragement, referrals and bookings. Thank you!
In other news 2011 started off with my first shoot for Heartfelt followed by my first boudoir session (sorry, no pics to share from that one!). I entered my first Canon APPA awards and got first hand experience being on the other side of the camera when I was the best man at my best friend's wedding. I also did a bit of travelling: to Hawaii for my first destination wedding, and Uluru, Koh Samui and Fiji for a bit of down time.
I know this isn't the Oscars, but death reminds us how precious life is and we can always learn from those who went before us. There were three significant but very different deaths this year that affected me. The first was the baby girl from my first Heartfelt session who passed away the next morning. Knowing that her family will treasure those last photos forever means so much to me. The second was felt globally: Steve Jobs. The third I heard about just yesterday. A guest at one of my recent weddings was killed in a traffic accident and the groom contacted me to find out if I had any other photos that I could pass on to their family. That was a stark reminder of the photographer's traditional role in society; that of the documentarian. It also reinforced that a wedding is about everyone who's there; not just the bride and groom.
Going into 2012 I'm now finding it hard to sleep for a different reason: I'm excited! In February I will go full time as a wedding photographer and I can't wait! I have so many ideas for my business and just want to work on them non-stop. Fortunately I live above a cafe so a constant supply of caffeine is ensured, but they might well need to increase their coffee bean order!
Speaking of which I feel another fix is in order, so I'll end here with some of my favourite images from 2011. Have an awesome NYE and see you in 2012!