2015 was a perfectly wild year. I've never been huge on New Years Resolutions but just like every each one of these rings we've spent a lot of time this year being refined. We're going into 2016 with a fresh list of things I want us to accomplish. Here's the top Ten :
Clever right? Ringing in the new year. I know I mentioned I’ve never been super huge on New Year’s Resolutions. Probably because I guess I’m a bit cynical about how many of them get broken. Before I was blessed with enough clients and people paying attention to my photography to do this job full time I moonlighted as a personal trainer and the minute the New Year got close we all found ourselves like rabid dogs waiting for all of the new clients who we knew would commit to us for a short while but likely never accomplish all of their goals. The truth is I’ve been a huge goal oriented person since college. I had a professor that pounded into my head the power of setting goals and not being willing to come short of accomplishing them and I can honestly say that it has been the single biggest source of ambition for me (other than providing for my family). All that said, as we dig into 2016 we’ve got a whole new challenge ahead of us - how to live up to the hype! Last year brought with it an enormous number of new clients and new friends following our work and wanting to push us to succeed - so here it is. My top 10 list of the things I want our team to accomplish this year.
10. BE OPEN : This industry is so full of photographers and videographers who are convinced that their little way of doing something is the only thing that sets them apart that they have no friends. We are a complete industry full of lonely individuals who are scared of helping their competition and insecure about the line between their product and being an artist. We’re committed this year to breaking down those barriers in our business. We want to encourage our industry to evolve for the good of the clients. To pursue adventure and passion and beauty simply for the sake of being artists. We want love to be the single largest driving force behind what we do. Love for our clients, love for the love that they share, love for our families, and an outspoken love for a God who gives us the blessing of traveling, playing, and enjoying our lives for a living.
9. BE WILLING : I never want people to see us as elevated above the clients that keep us going. A few of my favorite clients I’ve ever worked with have been couples who simply could not afford our services without a little help. I think there’s a tendency there to be greedy about the money that I feel like my work is “worth” but in reality these couples found more value in a little bit of humility and willingness to work with them than they would have in spending every dime they had for their wedding on photos. I want to make sure none of us lose sight of that.
8. BE CONNECTED : 2015 gave us some killer relationships with some amazing brands. Getting to know the people at LOWEPRO bags and continuing our relationship with Bedford Camera was amazing. I’ve noticed that we have a ton of people who follow us on social media just to see what wild adventures we’re on and though I love keeping everybody up to date with that stuff, I love connecting our passion for creating with other companies who love adventure. We’re expecting some big things with some big companies in 2016 along with some collaborations with other photographers that we’ve been wanting to work along side for years.
7. BE AVAILABLE : I’ll admit that at times the number of emails, texts, Facebook messages, voicemails, etc.. can be a bit overwhelming. With 60-70 clients a year, 20-30 communicating with us for the next year, and at least 20-30 still working with us from the year before the number of emojis that I use day to day is unbelievable. That said, I also know that our number one critic back from clients is that they wished I was quicker to respond some times and since I’m totally committed to hearing what our couples ask for I’m going to try as hard as I can to be quicker, more available, and at the same time more willing to set boundaries about when I am and am not able to be reached. (I’ll probably have to stop the text conversations about my favorite flowers and dress styles before midnight this year)
6. BE ACTIVE : There’s a little bit of fun in climbing, jumping, hanging, crawling, and diving for the right shot for us. We see so many photographers sit in a corner and document a story from eye level removed from the action that it has made me really hungry personally to not simply tell a story to our clients but to experience it myself. I’d say this is probably the single biggest hurdle a photographer has to jump when doing documentary work. Being willing to not just shoot a wedding but be in a wedding. To blend with the guests and the family and the wedding party and to express the energy and emotion from the inside is something that can’t be faked. So this year we’re going to keep pushing our limits on getting exciting angles but also getting involved in the action.
5. BE A BLESSING : I know that it’s pretty politically incorrect these days to reference God as much as we do. I also know that people tend to be super gun shy about working with people who are all outspokenly Christian. Truth be told our company has no interest whatsoever in judging the beliefs of our clients. We love being a part of weddings for people with all religious beliefs and are most focused on the two of them and the love that they share. But what I know for sure is that I want this year to be a year where our couples can walk away from their wedding saying that we were humble, helpful, and willing to help them.
4. BE FUN : I want to shoot more film. Want to shoot my new Fuji from time to time just because it’s cool. Want to take time to see things from new angles in new places with new friends. My biggest fear in this industry is waking up and realizing I got irrelevant along the way and didn’t know it so our goal is always to be pushing trend and exploring new ways to see light and moments for all of our couples.
3. BE PRESENT : I’m pretty bad about not knowing when to work and when not to. I have two little boys now and an amazing wife who spend a lot of days waiting for Daddy to finish up one more thing. Saturdays leave Melissa alone with the kids all day and Sundays for me have got to be focused on recharging and focusing on what’s important. This is possibly my biggest resolution for the year - to be completely committed to work when I’m working and to be completely committed to my family when I’m not. I don’t want to miss moments on a wedding day because I was distracted and similarly I never want to miss a moment with my kids or my wife because I just happen to love my job.
2. BE ENCOURAGING : Our employees make up a team of guys who I’ve never really considered employees. They’re an incredible group of friends who I work as hard as I can to not only shield them from the parts of this business that aren’t any fun, but also do my best to give every opportunity for their own personal growth I can. This year I want to keep growing and adding to our team as much as possible but I also want to make sure that these guys are having fun. I want to be the kind of boss that our guys wake up excited about work and growth and success. More than anything I want them to know that their role in this company is critical and that the weight on their back is really important to us reaching the goals we have as a collective.
1. BE GRATEFUL : This is by far the number one thing I want to focus on in 2016. I want to realize that the number of people who support and hold us together is humbling. I want to thank my wife every day for letting me pursue these dreams. I want to appreciate every couple who hires us to see them experience such an important day in their lives. I want to publicly share how much I appreciate our sponsors and our friends who build this business up and make our brand a name that is respected and known. Most of all I want to be grateful that I have an outlet to encourage people to love love and live happy moments like they really do matter.