Reflecting on 2016

If there's one thing we can (maybe?) all agree on it's that 2016 has been a rather strange year for the collective public. I could say more, but I'll leave it at that. But, in a nice twist of fate, for me personally, 2016 was actually quite a successful and enjoyable year. For instance, 2016 was...

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My first year full time in business. 

In October 2015 I quit my second job and decided that age 22 was the perfect time to risk it all and see if I could go full-time in my photography business. After all, aren't we supposed to be jobless and moving back into our parents' homes after getting a useless liberal arts degree anyways? November 2, 2015 marks the day I submitted my DBA to the county, although of course it was only a month later that I began working with the fantastic Kudzu Brands and decided that to match my new visual and literal brand, it was finally time to change my business name to match. And thus, Adrian Etheridge Photography was born right at the turn of the new year. As my business brand is simply an extension of my own personality, this name change was perfect

At the beginning of the year, I had had a few weddings scheduled and an upcoming Bulldogs season to look forward to, but at the time I did not know at all how the year would pan out. As cliche as this #blessed statement may sound, I'm truly thankful to all of my clients - the wonderful couples who depend on me to document their special days, the families who trust me to capture precious moments, Kudzu and the businesses we work with who have faith that I can visually portray their brands and my Bulldog family for letting me watch their dynamic action up close. This year I shot more photos in a wider variety of settings than even I expected and I'm excited to continue that trend next year!

The year I got married!

On May 7, surrounded by all of 16 people, my love, Jeremy, and I made our vows to each other and have enjoyed our first crazy 8 months of marriage. While this has certainly been a huge change in both of our lives - in primarily positive but a few negative ways (I really should try to stop working after 10pm!) - it has also greatly changed how I work weddings. For one thing, now every time I shoot a ceremony it's all I can do not to drown my viewfinder in saline, remembering my own sweet ceremony as I watch other couples promise their eternal love. For another, after planning my own (actually, 3) wedding[s] I can much better understand the brides' process, sympathize with couples' busyness, help with timelines and photography scheduling and capture even better pictures with more dynamic moments because I know what to look for. 

When my best friend joined the AEP team. 

Because being training partners and former roommates wasn't enough, Erin joined the company as my wedding assistant and videographer. For some time I'd been thinking that it might be useful to hire an assistant for weddings so that I wouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting, but I didn't realize just how helpful an assistant could be! From carrying equipment to double checking schedules to coordinating first looks to helping arrange group photos, Erin has been a pleasure to work with. On top of that, she helped introduce video to my brand with her wonderfully fun behind-the-scenes videos. I love how these not only show to potential clients the ideas and process behind my work, but portray just how much fun I have in my work. Check out her videos here.  

The year of the album. 

For the first wedding I ever shot exactly 4 years ago yesterday (happy anniversary, Meredith and Milan!), I made a small storybook album as a thank you gift. I knew even then that I was onto something but did not yet have the vision of how to incorporate my love of visual storytelling into my business. I came into the business with a photojournalism background and this heavily affects my work - I don't just think in single images but how the collective photos work together to tell a story. Thanks again to Murphy and the genius of Kudzu, we decided to introduce a line of photo albums into every collection I offer so that all of my clients can enjoy their gorgeous photos not only on their computer screen, but in their hands as a tangible memory. I love them because they're truly perfect for any occasion - from 10-day-old newborn home sessions to travel abroad to to surprise proposals to, of course, weddings. My favorite part is that because of their design, they're perfect for coffee table books so that my clients can enjoy their photos every single day. 

A great year for learning. 

Photography can be such a cutthroat world, not to mention an ever-changing art. As I've always believed in continued improvement, this has proved more of a fun challenge than a difficulty. So this year I decided it was finally time to really get to know light, not only how to make better use of ambient light, but how to use off-camera lighting to create more dynamic images. By no means have I "arrived" yet, but daily Scott Kelby tutorials have really taught me a lot, helping me to capture beautiful images in even the harshest of lighting conditions (hello backlit afternoon ceremony!) and I'm hoping that next year brings even more marked improvement. 

This studio set-up has really revolutionized my event coverage! The above photos are from Post 70's Repeal Day celebration where I had a photo both set up to capture attendee's fabulous outfits as well as worked the party to capture candids. 

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The year of international travel. 

One of my goals since I very first began photographing has always been to shoot internationally. Like many photojournalists before me, I'm in love with the idea of capturing a nuanced look at a different societies, bringing home images of different lands for all to enjoy, and primarily exploring worlds that I previously knew nothing of and immersing myself in their cultures. Like many photojournalists before me, I've always dreamed of shooting for National Geographic and while I haven't visited anywhere too different from my own culture, I'm starting to get my feet wet. This year, I got to visit one of my old favorites - Paris - and spend a full week traipsing through the city photographing everything possible, macaroon in hand. Only a couple months later, I visited Scotland and Iceland for the first time, enjoying both places immensely. I'm already planning another trip back to Scotland. Then, last month we did a drive-by of the Western Caribbean which only has me more interested in returning and learning more. I even got to travel for work, making the trip up to Brooklyn with the UNCA Men's Basketball team to shoot the NCAA tournament. The only problem with these trips? They've only made my wanderlust more insatiable! As I'm sure I'll talk about in my next post looking ahead to my goals in 2017, I would love nothing more than to begin traveling more for photography - from photographing weddings across the country (or globe!), documenting exotic family vacations or even working on a longterm project in a remote land. 

2016 has been good to me. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time not only to read this post, but to examine my work, to share my business with others and especially those who've trusted me to take their photos! Wishing everyone a great last few days of the year, I'll see you in 2017!