Well I am overwhelmed as I sit down and try to write a year end review as an adventure elopement + wedding photographer for 2017. This year was full of amazing milestones and highs, and also major challenges and hardships. As my second full wedding season spent in Calgary after moving from Ontario, I had set some pretty tough goals for myself which I was thrilled to end up surpassing.
One of my goals was continue increasing my client base as an adventure elopement + wedding photographer, and joining with Pop Up Weddings Calgary helped me to do just that. They create epic elopements that are intimate and special, while creating fun alternatives to traditional weddings. This opportunity allowed me to shoot in some pretty unique locations (like Village Brewery), and meet incredible couples that wanted their special day to reflect exactly who they are as a couple. Many people find wedding planning very stressful and elopements focus on what really matters: two people in love, celebrating the fact that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. No muss. No fuss. Each elopement couple I had this year were so happy with their decision. They chose to authentically do whatever the heck they wanted rather than “what’s expected” or “what everyone else does”.
Another goal was to shoot epic adventure sessions, and I love that people are crazy enough to join me. From a hiking engagement session, to mountaintop cliff edge wedding photos, to exploring the desert in Nevada during a day after session, I truly found my calling as an adventure elopement + wedding photographer and something I want to focus more and more on. Having started out as a landscape photographer while I traveled parts of the world, adventure weddings and elopements are seriously my jam. If you’re not afraid to get your dress a little dirty and are willing to embrace whatever the day may bring, lets connect! This year brought me all across Canada, to Maui, France, Spain, Scotland, and Nevada. I can’t wait to see where my adventures take me in 2018!
For 2017 I also wanted to connect more with other photographers, so I second shot as much as a could, went to some monthly photog meet ups, and decided to go to my first ever photography workshop. Camp collective is an intimate camp for photographers that centers around nature, connection, and creativity. It was amazing to meet so many like-minded badass individuals, and push my boundaries – not only artistically, but also by opening up and being vulnerable. Connecting on a close level with others and hearing that we all have challenges and frustrations is really quite comforting. Yay for not being alone!
Now for a more personal note. This year was hard. Extremely hard at times. At the beginning of the year my parents left for 13 months to live and work in South Africa. While they were away, my grandmother’s health declined and she was in and out of the hospital all year. I spent almost every second or third day visiting and chatting with her, and on her bad days, just sitting beside her bed editing while she napped. She has been in my life since I was very young, and we often had many chats about our Christmases spent together and my grandfather, whom I was very close to. She also was a very accomplished lady and I cherished hearing about her travels and adventures that she had when she was younger. In the late summer, her health took a turn for the worse and I knew the time was nearing. It was heartbreaking seeing her go through such a drastic change over a couple of months. It also was especially hard on her that her family all lived overseas. In the end, she ended up passing away only a few weeks before my mom (her step-daughter) returned home, which was extremely tough for them both. I am so grateful that I was by her side and provided company and comfort over the year. It made me extremely grateful for this amazing career I have chosen, and the flexibility it provides me. I miss her dearly.
Another challenge I was faced with was when I randomly decided to visit the optometrist for the first time in about 20 years. I have always had perfect vision so was honestly just too lazy to ever bother before. At the exam they found a sizeable hole in my retina and they weren’t able to tell me much else except that I have a huge blind spot in my right eye. About 1/4 of my vision is actually blocked in my right eye. I never noticed because your brain fills in the missing information – pretty incredible right?! A retinal specialist told me that this was either a deformity that I was born with, or something that was possibly getting worse over time which would eventually lead to blindness in my right eye. Pretty terrifying to say the least considering my love of photography and sports.
It shook me pretty hard that the main aspects that I have centered my life around could be drastically affected or not even possible anymore. After months of follow up visits and far too many eye drops, I am happy to announce that the hole is not getting any bigger so fortunately this is probably something I was born with. I will continue to have follow up checks to make sure, but for now I am so grateful that I will be able to follow my passion and continue to capture epic love stories in wild places.
Finally, the night before my last wedding of the year, my worst nightmare happened. I have been severely allergic to peanuts my whole life. Somehow I have managed to go 30 years without ever having a severe reaction. But that perfect record came to an end at the rehearsal dinner of my two clients. Apparently everyone in the world knows what a Móle sauce is…except for me. I thought it looked like delicious bbq pork. As soon as my tongue and roof of my mouth started swelling I knew I was in trouble. I had to quickly explain to the bride what was happening and apologized profusely for having to cut out early. Not wanting to make a scene by calling an ambulance, I ended up taking an uber to a nearby hospital. Fortunately, after a few hours of IV antihistamines and a shot of epinephrine I was as good as new. I photographed their stunning wedding the next day doped up on Benadryl. Luckily I was having so much fun that the drowsiness didn’t get to me! Not to say there is ever a good time to go into anaphylactic shock, but the night before a wedding, while in a foreign country, and on my own, was not ideal. Let’s hope I can go the next 30 years without another reaction!
If you are still reading, thank you. I appreciate that you are interested in a snapshot of what this year looked like. To end on a more positive note, I am going to list my three favourite things from 2017:
1. My hubby and I bought our first home and I still can’t believe how perfect it is. Adulting, while being terrifying, is incredibly awesome!
2. I was fortunate enough to travel and shoot in 6 different countries this year. I don’t believe that any book or lesson is ever better than traveling and interacting with different people/cultures. Each new place I visit is always humbling and eye opening. I am truly grateful for all the couples that I get to photograph, near and far. Each and every one of you has gotten me to where am I today. Thank you for trusting my vision, creativity, and craziness.
3. I ended the year second shooting for the incredible Carey Nash in Lake Louise. He is a world renowned photographer who I have looked up to for a long time, and I was humbled to join him for a day and simply shoot and chat as we made our way around Banff & Lake Louise. For how established he is, I have never met anyone so kind, funny, and down to earth. Despite being socked in with snow everywhere we went, he created amazing images and left me, yet again, inspired for the future. Thank you.
Finally, I am going to leave you with a few of my favourite images from this spectacular year. Thanks for following along and listening to my ramblings.
Merry Christmas to you all, and I wish you nothing but the best for 2018!