Category: personal

2016: what worked and what didn’t

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As 2016 winds down, we’re all thinking about what we did right and what we can improve upon, which goals we achieved and which ones we didn’t. It’s kind of incredible to look back and see how far you’ve come. When you’re living your life day to day, it can sometimes feel like you’re just stuck in the same place, stagnant and accomplishing nothing; but, when you look back at your life over a longer period of time, you can really see the growth and change that has taken place. We’re always moving forward, even if we’re not fully aware of it.

This was truly a year of transformation for me both personally and professionally. I learned so much about myself and how I fit into the world around me. I learned that I am a master at creating the life I want; a life that brings me joy and comfort. I also learned that part of my life’s purpose is to teach other people how to do the same. More to come on that!

So, three things that I know I did right this year:

1. I put a limit on the number of weddings we photographed. This is something that has always scared me, because I’ve never wanted to limit myself, but after shooting 44 weddings in 2015 with a newborn at home, I knew that something had to give. It wasn’t fair to anyone for me to spread myself that thin. So, around this time last year, I decided that we would cap our wedding calendar at 30 weddings, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made. It allowed me to feel more like a human being. It allowed us to take family vacations, and give our clients the most personalized attention possible. It also gave me the space I needed to fully step into motherhood, which was something that I really struggled hard with in 2015. This decision was such a good one for us, that we’ve decided to take on even less weddings for 2017! We are shifting our focus to quality over quantity in all areas of life.

2. I gave myself space to step fully into motherhood. 2015 was not a good year for me. I really struggled with my new identity as a mother, and I didn’t want to let go of who I was before Elsie came along. This may seem like a weird thing to feel, but it’s the truth; it’s exactly how I felt. This year, I made the space to step fully into my new identity as a mother and create a new belief system around what successful women entrepreneurs look like. The truth is, I never really saw myself having children because I was so career focused, so it took a major shift in thinking for me to feel comfortable and fully secure in this new life. I did some creative shoots that were just for me with the intention of resetting my creativity, and I met some really amazing people in the process. I focused on putting systems in place that made me feel more organized, I set work hours and stuck to them as much as possible, and I hired help for the areas that I just couldn’t get a good handle on. I don’t feel like I’m drowning anymore, and there’s really no better feeling than that.

3. Last year, I knew that I was feeling called to work with other photographers and business owners in a mentoring type capacity, but I honestly had no idea what I wanted that to look like. I just knew I needed to do it, so I set a goal for myself of 10 mentoring sessions. I ended up working with 12 incredible entrepreneurs toward getting “unstuck” in their businesses, and it was a very transformative experience for me. Honestly, it did just as much (if not more) for me, as it did for them. It made me realize that one-time coaching sessions are great and can be so helpful, but they just didn’t allow for the kind of deep, transformative change that I want to facilitate for people. I will be doing a whole blog post on this topic in the new year! I’m so excited for what’s to come!

And, these are the three things that didn’t go as well as I had hoped:

1. One of my goals for this year was to unplug more, and I was not even remotely successful with that one. I discovered Snapchat in 2016, and that only added to my feelings of social media overwhelm. That dog filter, though!! Haha!!   I figured out toward the end of the year that I needed to just choose ONE social media platform to put my energy into, so I chose Instagram and left just about everything else behind. This was part of me getting a handle on my new identity as a mother and a business owner: simplification. I think I will still post on our Facebook business page a bit here and there, but for the most part, all of my social media efforts and energy will be invested into Instagram because that’s where I feel most happy and comfortable sharing personal things about my life. Please join me!! (instagram.com/jennayresphoto)

2. Another one of my goals for 2016 was to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Well, that definitely didn’t happen, but honestly, I’m okay with it, because that was yet another part of me stepping into my new identity. Do I want to exercise five days a week? Yes. Am I passionate enough about it to work out at 10pm every night after my child goes to bed? Not even slightly. I use that time for personal growth in other areas, like taking online classes or practicing calligraphy, or working toward my business goals. This year, I’m setting looser goals around exercise, and it’s all good. I know the day will come when Elsie will let me work out in the living room without crying and clinging to my leg, so I’ll just wait patiently for that day to come and be proud of the body that I have right now.

3. And, yet another area that I wasn’t able to make much progress in was my morning routine (or lack thereof). I had a goal of waking up before Elsie, doing a few minutes of meditation, and journaling, but somehow she ALWAYS KNOWS when I get up and is awake five minutes later, so that didn’t work out. Again, I am trying to be gentle with myself and patient with her during this phase of life. I don’t want to wish away these special years of toddler-hood; I want to be 100% present in them. It IS frustrating to not be able to make things happen in the same way that I used to, but it just means that I need to set more realistic goals for myself in this new season of life. Slow and steady progress is better than no progress at all.

Even though I didn’t achieve all of my goals for 2016, I feel like I grew so much more than I ever expected to. I made it from a super confusing place of not knowing who I was to a place where I’m comfortable with who I am, and I can’t really think of a better place to be than that. This is going to be a really big year for me both personally and professionally, and I’m so excited for all that is to come. What about you? What is one thing you did right and one thing that didn’t really work out for you? Please feel free to share in the comments or hop over to Instagram and connect with me there. :)

Cheers to growth and change and transformation and moving forward!!  Happy New Year to you, my friends! Thank you for being a part of my journey!

michele

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Personal work: the act of creating just for creativity’s sake.

I became an English teacher all those years ago because I loved to be creative and I loved to facilitate “light bulb moments” in people. Using my creative talents to help young teenagers fall in love with literature and writing set my soul ablaze. It was my dream job.

Then, things started to shift. No Child Left Behind. This initiative. That literacy program. And, before I knew it, I was given a script from which to teach my students, and told not to deviate from it. My creative fire was extinguished, and slowly, over time, it broke my heart. Going to work every day made me feel physically ill.

This is the plight of creative people. The creativity within you is like a plant that has no choice but to grow toward the light. You can move it to any location within a room, and it will still grow toward the light source. If you take away the light completely, it will eventually die; but even the tiniest ray of light will encourage it to hang on through the darkness. In much the same way, creative people MUST create.

So, I picked up a camera. Photography became that tiny ray of light that sustained me through the darkness. I was able to create for the sake of my innate creativity, and little by little, it healed me.

Over time, my creativity evolved into a business, and this business of creating evolved into something that is beyond my wildest dreams. I am in love with what I do, with the stories I get to tell. Things have now come full circle, and I am once again using my creativity to facilitate light bulb moments in people. I am deeply grateful for the many ways photography has enriched our lives. Sometimes, though, I get so caught up in the momentum of creating for others, that I forget to create for myself. 

When I actively set aside the time to create purely for the sake of creativity, I notice a huge difference in the quality of my work overall. I need that time. The couples I create for and with need me to make that time so I can do my very best work consistently. This year I am setting aside more time for personal work than I have in the past eight years, because I finally realize how important it is for creative people to nurture their souls in this way.

There is a stigma in our industry that makes photographers feel somehow “lesser” if they are not being paid for the work they do. I reject that idea completely. You simply cannot be a master of your craft if you don’t allow yourself the space to create freely, hold nothing back, and push the boundaries of your comfort level. And, you cannot possibly be in love with what you do for the long term if you aren’t making the time to create purely for your own enjoyment.  It is absolutely the key to long term success.

These images of my friend, Michele, are my recent personal work, created purely for my own enjoyment. I hope you enjoy them, too. <3

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