February 15, 2018

26 (in words and photos)

Reader take note: I don’t often use my business blog to share personal things because I am an introvert and I really think most people probably do not care about my private life. But I know that really I am my business. I always talk about authenticity in my photography, so who would I be I’m not demonstrating my authentic self to you all? Writing these personal posts feels like being in front of the camera. Please be kind.


Monday was my 27th birthday. My birthday coincides with the beginning of the year (close enough), right when winter is starting to get REALLY hard in Michigan and everyone is so ready for some warmth. It’s a tough time to celebrate. For instance, my birthday trip to Chicago was cancelled this past weekend due to a dumping of snow. This would probably never happen to my husband who has a June birthday.

As I was reflecting this weekend, as I always do around my birthday, I realized that over the years I’ve started liking my birthday less and less because I seem to view it as a reminder of all the things I haven’t accomplished rather than all the things I have.

This is pretty twisted logic to many, especially those who just see the outside of my life: I’m married; I own a home; we’re a double-income household; I have a thriving side hustle; I’ve traveled quite a bit; I have a cute dog.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned a lot about in 27 years, it’s myself. And I know exactly why I feel this way: I’m a driven achiever. I may not like being the center of attention, but I always think big picture, and I have this deep desire for purpose (hello INFJ personality), which I feel like I’ve found a chunk of in building this business.

Kind of like how 2017 felt in general to most people, 26 was a beautiful year on my Instagram and Facebook page, but it was the year I struggled the most both professionally and mentally. I was worried, and I still am honestly, about our world and my place in it. However, the darkness of anxiety and depression was punctuated with beautiful moments like my own wedding, my travels, and serving so many lovely couples with my photography.

I’ve never been a good risk-taker, and I’ve never been good at predicting where I’ve ended up. And I honestly would never have predicted that I’d be running a creative business and shooting 19 weddings (thus far) in 2018. I didn’t even think I’d ever be able to pursue any creative career; I thought marketing was as creative as I’d get. Yet, here I am.

So for year #27, I’m focusing on gratitude. On slowing down as much as one possibly can with a full time job and an almost full-time side hustle. On trying really hard to do what I can, when I can. On wellness. And I’m going to try spending less time comparing my timeline to others because that does everyone a disservice.

I hope I’m able to accomplish some of these things, but if I don’t, the biggest thing I need to learn is how to extend myself and others grace. I’ve always struggled with this because I have high expectations of myself and others, but we are human and grace is SO necessary.


Without further ado, my 26th year in photos. Please note that I don’t exclusively carry around my camera and some of these are iPhone photos. Yes, photographers often neglect to document their own life. Goals for 27.


I started the year in Traverse City on a surprise birthday/anniversary trip.

Wedding shower highlights include receiving a toaster oven. Don’t underestimate the value and power of a toaster oven guys.


Oh yeah, in the middle of all this building a business, I got married to Joshua in April. Photo by najdukphoto.com.


We honeymooned in Paris and Italy for two weeks. It was probably the best two weeks of my year because I ignored everything else but Josh. This was taken on one of our many walks through the hilly cliffs of Praiano.


We really love each other and really love Paris.

We got home and decided it was time to paint our ugly piss-yellow house. It now looks like this:

The next month tore our bathroom apart for a three-month remodel. Yes, while I was shooting weddings and engagement sessions. I thought it would take two weeks. HA. I think it was maybe the most stressful thing you can do to a newlywed couple who only has one shower in their home.

Last summer, my parents purchased a pontoon. Finally, after years of our small little 1976 Starcraft, we could all fit (5 people and 3 doggies) without breaking down or sitting on each other. Hurray! I love the water and would prefer to spend all summer at the lake.

Between full time jobs (yes I also started a new job last year), Josh and I took a quick weekend trip to Philadelphia, where I lived for a semester after college. 

It was 90-some degrees all weekend.

But we persisted and visited some of my favorite spots, including Eastern State.

Our flight home was cancelled and we decided to drive home overnight in spite. That was a terrible decision, 0/10 would not recommend.

However, our young marriage survived and we made it home to Nora the Corgi, whom I spent so much time with last year. We are best friends.

In August, we finished all the big bathroom stuff. We still don’t have a door on our laundry chute. The tile is technically not chalked in. But we now shower regularly and enjoy getting ready and using the toilet in a non-wallpapered space.

This isn’t about me, but my grandma turned 95 in 2017. 95! I can only hope I live that long and I should scold myself for believing that 27 is old. I love this photo and think it’s the best I made last year (and I shot more than I ever have).

Fall was hard. It was hot. It was busy with weddings. And Josh and I went on one date to the cider mill.

I did learn how to apply a lipstick thanks to my wedding. Not well, but hey I’m learning.

December was so good. It was slow. It was full of holiday cheer. We cut down our own tree again. I got bangs (bad decision, let’s be honest).

We almost never get to be in front of the camera altogether. Rare treat.

The last photo taken of me at 26. I barely touched my camera in January because Josh and I were both sick over the new year holiday, then I was busy with work and consults while he was traveling. I was able to sneak away to Holland for a girls weekend and I got back into the swing of things with my camera. I stepped in front for a hot moment and here’s the result. 26. I’m not any thinner. My bangs are all wrong. My hair is longer than ever. I know how to do my brows. 27 couldn’t be bad, right?