[2017 in Review]
I’ve been sitting here with a blinking cursor for a while now trying to start to write about the end of this year. Perhaps the busiest year of my life, 2017 housed so much growth and change — personally and professionally — you’d think I would have a lot to say about it. But I suppose a symptom of busyness is difficulty slowing down to reflect.
After giving birth to our third child in January, it was a year of learning — learning what I am capable of and learning my limitations, learning to say no, learning to adjust my expectations of myself and those around me. It was also a year of joy. Joy in watching my own family go through new milestones, seeing my girls love each other and love on their new baby brother. Joy in being a part of our little community that we live in, in new relationships and rekindling old friendships. Joy in sometimes staying home in my pajamas all day because getting out of the house with the kids was just not going to happen, and being okay with that.
On a professional note, I felt like after four years in business, everything clicked this year for Julie Griffin Photography LLC. I learned some new shooting and editing techniques, tried new things, and spent some time shooting personal work for just me and my family. After some intentional regrouping this summer, I have a new business model, a new brand, and a new website; all three of which I am giddy about. This year I’ve been able to say 'no' to things that aren’t what I’m best at, and I’ve been blessed to get to say 'YES' to sooooo many amazing returning and new clients this year. I am overwhelmed with how much I love what I get to do.
I'd like to share a few memories from favorite sessions this year as I've gotten to capture people, wonderful people, in all the special stages of life. I've photographed engaged couples, newly married couples, pregnant bellies, newborns, baby milestones, children of all ages, high school seniors, anniversaries and even a set of parents and their adult children getting one more family session in before their beautiful fresh outta-med-school adult daughter moved to another state to get married. I get to be a part of all kinds of memories and that is pretty darn cool.
Pregnancy is such a miraculously profound time. I love the way that motherhood transforms a woman’s body and for eight months, everything that she is nurtures a new tiny human. The glow is real (especially on picture day!). It almost goes without saying that beautiful pregnant mothers are amazing to photograph, but something else I particularly love observing at maternity sessions is an expectant dad doting on his pregnant wife. I see it in how he helps her out of the car and carries her things, how he looks at her, how he lights up talking about their baby-on-the-way, and how he willingly participates in the whole photo session experience. In addition to some beautiful expectant mamas, this year was full of the sweetest adoring dads.
2017 NEW LIFE
I really enjoy the one-on-one time I get to spend with newborns when I do their individual portraits. Once I unload my car, move the furniture around if needed, and get all set up in the right spot in a client's home, I turn on my 'womb sound' app, and then I usually have about an hour where it's just me and a perfectly sleeping baby. I get in total zen mode. This year I fine-tuned my posing flow a little bit and as a result, I produced many images capturing newborn features that I am especially proud of. Out of the fourteen newborns I photographed in 2017, two of them in particular were extra smiley, like smiles on smiles on smiles, and I remember grinning my way all through those sessions.
Another favorite moment from a newborn session: I was photographing a big brother, age 6, holding his new baby and he kept whispering adoringly to her ear (unprompted) “I love you, Claire”. Mom and I both were a ball of tears.
Not once but twice this year I got to witness babies doing something for the first time and capture it on camera: one stood up on his own right there in front of me, and one took her very first couple steps not holding anyone's hands. I teared up both times amidst the chorus of high-pitched cheers. I also got to witness all things endearing about babies — their curious stares, generous grins, sloppy clapping, wobbly sitting, eager crawling, and adorable gestures. Gah. I love babies so much!
[scroll right for more] Children continue to be the subjects of the majority of my photographs. I've always loved children, ever since I was just past childhood myself, and the fact that I get to interact with all kinds of kids, all the time, is so fulfilling to me. It's really hard to pinpoint a specific session or memory because every single child I had in front of my camera this year was incredible to me. I had shy kids, eager kids, silly kids, serious kids, wild kids, pensive kids, dainty kids, adventurous kids, compliant kids, stubborn kids, sweet kids — well, they’re all sweet in my books. I had kids in their fanciest attire and a kid in his favorite dinosaur t-shirt. I had kids that weren’t too sure about me at first and they all came around and connected with me by the end of their sessions, and I had kids who wanted to be my best friend from the very first high-five. I had a few kids invite me to come with them afterward and one kid asked me if I would please be in a picture with him. All the feels you guys. All the feels.
[scroll right for more] Photographing families is a party. My favorite thing about the client families I worked with this year was that I felt like every single one hired me because they trusted me, and that kind of trust results in a stress-free experience for both of us. I am so honored that so many families chose me. I believe that photographs are important, and it's an honor to be trusted with these memories.
2017 IN-HOME SESSIONS
In the past, my indoor sessions have been primarily for families with newborns, and I still do all of my newborn sessions indoors. But this year I had the distinct pleasure of photographing six families at their own homes for a regular session, and I loved making pictures for them in the place where they make their real memories. They jumped on beds, played in playrooms and showed me they’re favorite things, did tricks with dogs, went for a walk or to the playground, ate snacks, read books, had dance parties, took baths, snuggled, all the things.
[scroll right for more] Earlier in December I was photographing a family in the orchard and I pulled the grownups aside for a couples portrait, and I told them to look at each other. The dad looked at his wife and then said to me “I just love her face. I could look at it all day” — I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly so I asked him to repeat it, and he said (beaming) “I love looking at her face, I’ve loved her face since the first time I saw her.” That was one of my favorite session moments this year.
I had the distinct privilege of working with exactly eighty client families this year for a total of eighty-nine sessions, delivering over ten thousand images. I designed and delivered over twenty keepsake books and over 25 custom pieces of wall art. As a business person, it is important that I consider these numbers. Which I have. And I'm overwhelmed when I think about the numbers for this year. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would get to work with so many families when I started on this photography journey. Like, not even close.
But it's never been about numbers for me, it's always been about connecting with people in a special way, through my camera gear and my art; and giving them something that I myself believe to be very important.
A piece of my heart is in every image I deliver. It's personal to me. It's special to me. This year, you all made my day, hundreds of times. Every time I get a note from a client saying they love their photographs, or a texted cell phone snapshot of my images on display in someone's home, or a holiday card proudly displaying your adorable kids in photos I took, or when someone completes my feedback form or leaves me a positive review.... it fills me up in ways that I never thought I could feel full doing a "job."
To everyone I worked with in 2017, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart for letting me be a part of your story. You have all been simply wonderful. Cheers to a new year tomorrow, and I cannot wait to see you all again soon!!!