So here is the obligatory "Best of the Year" post, which I approach with both dread and excitement in equal measure. Why?! Because I am the absolute worst at recognising my own achievements, and also pretty dire at picking my favourite of anything. Call me indecisive! But here we are, and since this was my biggest ever year, it's only right that I give it a go.
So.. what was 2017 all about? Besides the babies, the couples and the weddings which you all so happily read about here. What was it really like for me, on this side of the laptop and camera?
It was completely bonkers truth be told. I learnt a lot about how I deal with pressure, workload and creative exhaustion. I learnt to drive, passed my test and bought a car, all the while living breathing and sleeping work. I shot all over Europe, travelled more in a single year than I have in a long time, and covered more miles than ever across the UK.
My portfolio diversified in the most exciting way. Aside from the stunning couples I worked with on their weddings, their bumps, and their babies etc, I gained new clients (and friends!) such as the Vans Family. I photographed more events in my reportage style, and even expanded my portfolio with food editorial and restaurant work. Let's call that 'Lifestyle' work (new section to come in the next month)
And here's the thing, the thing that you don't realise when you are plugging away at trying to build your business and portfolio. Here's the thing that other busy togs will know only too well... The busier and more successful you become, the more insane your desk hours will grow. I am a photographer, and it's awesome... but essentially, I have a desk job which requires me to spend 10 hours at a time, 7 days a week, processing, editing, blogging, planning, and emailing. Not to mention the time that has to go into social media.
But I love it. Every bloody minute of it.
There were so many moments over the past 5 years, where I felt like I was waiting on a dream that might never come. I couldn't imagine a life where I had so many enquires, so many clients and shoots, that logistics and planning would become paramount. I had no idea that my blog would grow to this extent, and what important a part of my business it would become. I didn't realise how much my confidence and experience would grow either.
But above all, the thing I am most proud of (and it's tough to say this, as I am modest to a fault) is that I can really see my own style now.
I can feel it out in moments, I can see it on my own images,
and I can read and approach all jobs in the knowledge that I am hired for this and I am good at this. I cannot tell you how life altering and how emotional that realisation is. I am welling up even as I type.
I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you. I wouldn't want this to become an Oscars-style gushy outpouring of names, which mean nothing to you if yours isn't one of them! But here's the thing, I am a story teller. And generally speaking, I am telling other peoples' stories with my photographs. This means that my success, my growth and my ability is all down to the people who trust me with their stories.
Every single client I have worked with has given me an opportunity to prove myself, to myself. As narcissistic as that sounds, creativity is more often than not, a battle with oneself.
In my life, I have battled with a lack of confidence and self belief. Throw in chronic anxiety over a ten year period, and you have a pretty crippling cocktail of self imposed restraints. Photography has been the first thing in my life, which has truly cultivated self confidence and a sense of purpose.
Therefore, every single person who has asked me to shoot for them, deserves to know how much it means to me.
Thank you for your belief in me, and love of my work.
You have given me the gift of seeing these things for myself.
2017, you have been immense. You will go down in my personal history, as the year Wardette finally arrived :)
Happy New Year to all my clients, readers, friends and family. You're all beautiful.