Each year, right around Christmas, I evaluate my goals from the ending year and then write out my goals for the coming year. I them let them sit for a few weeks while I evaluate other metrics - making sure that these are the goals that really resonate - and eventually come back to them during the first week of the new year to write this blog post. This year I've been so busy that I'm just now getting to it!
Nonetheless, I'm more than a little excited about this coming year. While each of the past 6 years has brought be a step closer to my ultimate career goals, this coming year is the first one where I feel like I'm really on the right track towards doing exactly what I want to be doing. It took me a while to figure out that exact intersection where my skills, enthusiasm for the work and ability to help people all coincide to create my "calling", but I'm only 24 so it's hard to complain. So, without further ado, here are my intended plans for 2018!
Photograph more full day weddings
I've probably bored everyone to tears repeating this statement, but one of the main reasons I love photographing weddings is that they allow me to use my skillsets in multiple photographic genres; candid "action", stylized editorial portraits, detail or product shots, architectural images, and so on. While I love capturing love regardless of the setting, my favorite weddings have been the ones that provide the opportunity for a wide variety of photographs to tell the complete story of the day.
Thus, moving forward I would love to shoot more full day weddings; those 8 hours and longer. This way, I can start early in the day, capturing all the details each couple has meticulously curated to match their personalities. I can then document the getting ready process - something that people might write off as unimportant, but if a bride is spending 3 hours getting ready with her best friends or mother or aunts or grandmother or all of the above, then there are so many opportunities for family moments that they will all want to remember once they have time to sit down and relive the day. Photographing full day weddings also gives us time for more portraits - with bridal party, family, couple or all three - and certainly for more creative ones if we have more time to move around to a variety of locations. All of these help to tell a more thorough story of the wedding day, including everyone who helped make it special for the couple, as well as capturing the ceremony and reception where most of the traditional wedding action happens.
The only bad part about photographing full day weddings? When it comes to choosing images for each wedding album, the more photos there are, the harder it is to narrow them down!
More elopement, particularly destination elopements
Now, this might sound like it contradicts everything I just said about weddings, but bear with me. I love photographing elopements because they're completely about the couple's love and commitment to each other, stripped down of every other detail. The simplicity of forgoing the guest list, the catering plans, the napkin rings and selecting a meaningful location to say your forever vows is a beautiful idea - and it lends itself to much more intimate portraits.
As weddings get fancier, elopements are also on the rise and many people are still taking the time to select breathtaking gowns and coordinating flowers to go elope, just not inviting the second cousin twice removed to attend their mountaintop celebration! The elopements I photographed last year were some of my favorite ceremonies as the couples were able to be as emotional as they wanted without feeling awkward about being around a lot of people. They also gave me more latitude for making portraits of the couple (because we had no timeline!) and really capturing their elation as well as their chosen location.
Ideally, I'd love to capture destination elopements because they combine my love of intimate elopement photography and my love of travel. And I don't just mean the traditional elopement destinations like Paris or Greece; I'm open to anywhere! I could document the couple's entire trip from an engagement style portrait session at their destination to dinners and festivities (just the two for a traditional elopement or with a few family and friends if they did still want to share their occasion) to, of course, the ceremony and even newlyweds portraits around their location the next day (like for Monica and Justin.) This would give us the ability to really create some really unique photo albums telling this whole chapter in your love story.
More family portraits
If getting married is one chapter, having a family is the rest of the book. I love capturing each milestone from maternity portraits celebrating the last quiet time for the couple as they transition to a new family dynamic, to newborn photos documenting the child's first days to kids and family sessions each year as you grow and change. It's so important to capture each milestone so that years down the road when your kids are off at college or starting families of their own, you can pull out each photo album and enjoy each stage of their lives again.
The reason I want to help families by capturing and recording their memories is obvious. But the reason I want to do more of these sessions purely for photographic enjoyment might be less so. As a lifestyle photographer, I prefer candid sessions, particularly for younger kids, and I have so much fun just hanging out with families for a few hours as they go about their day at home or enjoy an afternoon in the park. My favorite things to photograph are love and laugher, so children running around having fun while their parents happily watch - or even join in! - suits me perfectly. I'm working on creating a Milestone Photography Plan right now so that each of my couples and families has a plan in place to document their special moments throughout this next step in their journey and won't have to debate each year whether they really need photos or not.
More personal storytelling shoots
All of my shoots focus on storytelling, but for this I mean honing in on one person's story rather than a couple's or families. This can be anything from cosplay shoots creating a whole narrative around one character to personal photos simply documenting your personality at this stage in your life to branding images telling the story of your business. As I've learned in the past year especially, knowing and understanding yourself is imperative for living the life you want to live, pursuing your goals and enjoying everyday things, so my goal for these shoots is to help more people tell their own stories.
That isn't limited to portraits, either. Sometimes your story includes a giant affogato! Who am I to tell you otherwise?
Growing my YouTube channel
This is something Erin (my best friend/assistant/videographer) and I have been working on for the past few months and are inching closer to launching. The goal is to create a channel for my clients with playlists of product videos, photoshoot or wedding planning tips, ideas of what to do with your photos (think gallery walls!), behind the scenes videos showing my process and more. You can find me on YouTube at Adrian Etheridge Photography and feel free to send me a message if you've got any questions you'd like me to cover.
Creating an internship program
If you've followed me online for any length of time, you know how much I love teaching art. I certainly plan to continue my work with the middle school's IRL after school program, but I also want to expand my teaching to more hands-on commercial-based work. When I was in college, I did 4 internships, all of which gave me skills I use now when running my business. I've started working with the UNCA career center to develop an internship collaboration with my business so that art, mass communications or marketing students (or students interested in those fields) can get hands on experience in an art-focused for-profit business. While I doubt that I'll have the time to take on an intern this year, my hope is to get the framework in place to start offering the program next school year!
More personal work
I talked a little about this in my 2017 review post, but after giving up my art to focus on commercial work, I've finally found a balance where I can enjoy both. This year I plan to delve deeper into the ideas I've been sitting on for years, working more with 35mm photography to create a complete body of work that I can exhibit. I'm not entirely sure what that will look like yet, but for now, the idea is the continue creating double exposure portraits of artists with their chosen tools of expression to explore the "why" behind each artists' creative drive.
On top of that, I plan to make more time to make more street photos, both because it's fun and to sell my art. I'm working on my Etsy store this month and should hopefully have it well-stocked within the next few weeks so that I can share my art with you all.
I think every year I make this a goal, every year I achieve it, and then the next year decide I want to travel even more than before. I love traveling because it gives you perspective; you learn you're not the center of the universe and that that's perfectly fine. I also love exploring different places through their food culture and their landscapes, both of which I also enjoy photographing. I want to travel more this year for personal enjoyment, but also to begin growing my travel and destination photography business capturing weddings, elopements and engagement sessions as I mentioned above as well as family vacation memories and solo travel excursions. So far I'll be in
NYC: February and again in March
Washington, D.C.: End of March
LA & Joshua Tree: April
Portland, OR: April
Then several more trips in the works for the second half of the year - feel free to send me destination suggestions! If you'd like to schedule a session with me in one of these locations or have friends who do, just message me for specific dates.
Be creative daily
This last one will be a big challenge as I spend a lot of time hustlin', but I want to make it a priority this year to rest from work and spend time being artistic, both for myself and so that my work can remain fresh and creative. I've recently gotten back into photographing live music, something I've always loved. I love going to shows anyways so I may as well bring along my camera. I also started playing my violin more frequently, have several books on my shelf ready to read, and want to start writing more often as well. Wish me luck!
As always, thanks so much to everyone who not only took the time to read this post but to those who push me every day to improve. If you know anyone looking for a photographer, send them my way! ;) Let's make this a great year!