2018 Taught me a lot. As each year comes and goes, I realise that no year is either bad or good. But filled with bad and good experiences.
Out of 365 days, it’s hard to say that not one good thing happens. Lessons can be good things. Even though at the time they don’t always feel so.
Sitting down and reflecting on 2018, here are the things that I learned this year. Mixed in with my favourite shots from this year.
It’s About The Long-term Game
Me three years ago would have been terrified of 2018. Moving from Melbourne to Vancouver, I lost a lot of clients my business relied upon groundwork I’d done there to make a name for myself.
I’ve learned that gaining and losing clients is part of the game. We have to reinvent ourselves time and time again over the course of our lives.
The long-term game is so much more important than the short term. I want my business to be in it for the long haul.
So I have come to peace with the fact that whilst I may not be seeing immediate results, I know that long-term the things I am doing will bring me business and fulfillment.
I’ve known this for a while, but being at peace with it and trusting it is the next level. And the hardest to do.
Trusting Myself Keeps Paying Off
I still have to work through my imposter syndrome. But I am learning to live with it and not let it make decisions for me.
One of the biggest things I have learned in my life is to trust myself. Trust that I am smart, kind and authentic. I can work out whatever comes my way.
That if I mess up, I can fix it. That the fears I have are usually false fears, and I can fix any mistakes I make.
With each year I see more and more evidence that trusting myself pays off.
#GetMinimal: It’s How We Use Props That Matters
Props matter, but also they don’t. It’s how we use them that matter.
With the #GetMinimal project, I wanted to face the challenge of starting over with props, backgrounds, and gear as something to celebrate.
I wanted to create with less.
We can make magic happen regardless of what we don’t have.
I never intended it to become as popular as it did, or that people would even care to take part.
But the response from the community was amazing and shows that people are up for a challenge. (And to grow).
Click here to learn how to create minimalist images.
No Matter What, No One Can Create Like You
A highlight of this year was co-hosting a workshop with Bea Lubas in London.
And then spending a week creating with her.
Despite shooting the same thing, in the same light with the same props, our style always shines through.
Which I think is rather special. No matter what, we are unique and we all have something beautiful to share.
So don’t ever think that you aren’t good enough.
Investing in Yourself and Your Business is Important
I’ve battled with spending money in the past. And spending money on myself.
I used to squirrel away my money, saving it for doomsday (whatever that would be!).
My business grew slowly in the beginning because I was fearful of spending money. Since working through that, I actively put money aside to be spent. Businesses have to spend money.
We have to spend money to learn, to grow and to make money.
I was surprised by how much I have grown with respect to this and kinda proud to have overcome that fear.
In fact, I actually have enjoyed spending money. And this leads me to my next learning.
Read my tips for creating photo-worthy pie crust.
I Love Supporting Other Small Businesses
This year I supported more small businesses than I have ever before.
It brings me joy to make money with my business and part of that is so I can support others doing the same thing.
Despite the hard work and long hours, I love my business and the lifestyle it’s brought me. I want that for others.
So the way I can help bring that about is by spending my money with small businesses.
I also think that if we want people to support our business, we need to be willing to do that ourselves too.
Growth Comes From Discomfort
I hate being the center of attention or having eyes on me.
I don’t enjoy being in front of the camera or posing. But I am getting better at it.
This year I did more of that. Mostly cause I know that growth comes from discomfort.
I wanted badly I have a portrait taken amongst a sea of sunflowers. And there was about a thousand other people wanting the same thing.
Although people were staring at me, maybe judging me, it doesn’t matter what other people think. They will literally forget me in about 5 seconds. And now I have this photo (for the rest of my life. Worth it).
Read about my journey with food photography here.
Connection is Everything
Since moving to Vancouver, I am reminded just how hard freelance photography can be. And how hard running your own business is. Connection with creatives and real people is everything.
Feeling like you are part of something, that you belong to a community of like-minded people have kept me going when things feel rough.
Taking this further than emails lists and Instagram, I started a mastermind called Food Photography Pro: create your own photography business and get paid doing what you love.
Putting time into real people and real businesses has been such a blessing. People coming together to support one another is such a gift.
I couldn’t do what I do without the support, connection and love that this community brings. It pays to give back.
New Light Hides So Much Magic
I lucked out when we moved to Melbourne. We were in an older apartment block that only had 9 units, on the top floor. And were flooded North and South light all year round.
But moving to Vancouver, the older housing lacks light. And there is generally less light most of the year with the weather.
It was scary at first. I wondered if I would lose my style. Could I even get that bright and airy feel that I love?
But there was new light, new magic to discover.
Light in the Northern Hemisphere is different. Light in the Pacific North West is different.
And different means something new to explore. Deciding not to care about that, moving to Vancouver presented me with the option to explore moodier work. But with natural and artificial light.
New light hides so much magic, I feel like I want to keep moving and exploring light all over the world.
We All Have The Same Fears, Really
Mentoring two photographers this year allowed me to see that they have similar fears that I did (and do have) when I started or ramped up my business.
It was very humbling to be able to share that with them and help them get through those fears. Because great things were waiting on the other side.
Like fears about shooting your first job. Which lead to being rehired by the same client. A huge win.
And fears about increasing your pricing. Which was so well received by the clients, they actually said it was nice to see the price increase and value herself.
Celebrating The Wins of Others is Important
Jealousy is a normal human emotion. We aren’t bad people just we feel jealousy.
What matters instead is how we act when we feel jealousy.
People in our community will have wins and do things that you want to. And maybe you’ve been working hard to achieve the same thing and it’s not happening.
Being supportive and celebrating the wins of others, even if they are wins we want, is important. Both for the people achieving things, but also for our growth.
It’s taken me some time to feel ok with others ‘getting there first’ or ‘being better at something’. This year, I’ve really seen that we are all on our own paths.
Tying in with trust and the long-term game, people winning is a good thing for our craft.
Summer in The PNW is Incredible
When we announced that we were moving to Vancouver people had one of two reactions.
They were either so excited and would tell us how beautiful it is, OR they would cringe and tell us we won’t survive the weather.
Plus, they’d say that there is no summer in Vancouver.
But all of that was untrue. The summer here exceeded my expectations. It was beautiful and in the summertime, there is no better place to be than the PNW.
Even when the gloss and happiness of summer faded and November rolled around, I didn’t find the weather bothered me so much.
People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy ~ Anton Chekhov
And it’s so true. Read the quotes food photographers need in their lives.
2018 Taught Me To Love The Process
It can be hard to keep moving forward and being motivated. But the more I realise that we succeed because we love the process. That’s something I have learned from Gary V.
And if you’ve made it to this sentence, it means you’ve made it to the end. Thanks for reading!
Now before you go, I am curious to know what was your biggest lesson in 2018? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear what 2018 taught you.