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An early farewell to 2010

If I had known I was going to end up posing for a self-portrait against this wall, I probably would have worn a hoody or something more ghetto looking to fit the scene better. But sometimes you just happen upon a place where you are inspired to do something and you just go with what you got. I haven’t done a SP for awhile now, but there was awesomeness in this wall and the graffiti and for some inexplicable reason, I knew I had to stand in front of it.

That’s kind of how the year has gone for me in general. Going with my gut, finding shots on the fly during a busy storm chasing season and winging it when it comes to my portrait business. I’m not a planner…I tend to hate planning, I don’t write down goals and rarely strategize. I have visions in my head of things I want, but nothing down on paper. But that needs to change.

I’m on vacation from my “real job” until January 4th and during that time I will likely not be posting much on the blog (if at all) and will be instead focus on three things: Spending time with my girls, catching up on movies and TV and planning my 2011 strategy for the photog business. I may get so bored and so excited about an image that I’ll have to post it, but otherwise, I’m on vacation from the blog as well *grin*

There is no doubt that 2010 was an incredible year. In many ways it was Year One, despite having started some of the portrait work back in late 2009. So much happened. My mission to storm chase all over Arizona and then publish a book ended up coming true (okay, I guess I do have SOME goals). I was counting on doing more photoshoots for people and that really boomed the last few months. I’ve been a part of a gallery, a few farmer’s markets, got into Shutterbug magazine and have sold over 25 prints in the last 12 months. And one of those prints endedup in a performing arts show in Canada! I’m so very proud of that.

But likely my favorite part of the last year are the relationships I’ve formed along the way. Of course I love the people, the families, the kids, the horses, the new parents, the new babies, the newly engaged, the-about-to-be-married…all the clients that have had me take photos for them. I’m beyond appreciative of all of that. I thank you for your trust. I thank you for telling your friends about me. And I hope to see you again next year.

The largest impact on me personally this year has been the bonds I’ve formed with my fellow warriors behind the shutter. My buddy Dee at work and all our conversations, Rick who taught me how to use an off-camera flash correctly and Brian M, one of the very best guys I know who is a constant help, inspiration and friend (I seriously owe you a few beers man). And to all my Twitter peeps like Heath, Dave, Oscar, Phil, Pat, Jim, Bob, Jacob, Jacques, Jay, Chris (F and L), Scott (Wood, Wyden and Frederick), Steve, Doug, Viveca, Jon, James, Mark, Stefanie, Jesse, Justin, Tobias, Tim and others. I know that since I mentioned a bunch of names that I’ll miss someone, but I appreciate you all.

Some photographers keep all their secrets to themselves and don’t want to help others. Not these guys. They share in the struggle and would rather help those facing the same problems then to just sit and watch a guy drown himself without tossing out a life line. A few even bought prints from me and a few more bought copies of my book. Thank you guys for your unbelievable generosity.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Facebook, because I have a ton of supporters on there, too many to name. Needless to say, I love all the comments and all the kind words from you guys…some of the things you guys tell me about my work is incredibly humbling and confidence boosting. Again, thank you.

And of course, never last, never least, Jina. You are, as always, the reason I ever succeed at anything. You know this. I know this. Thank you.

So what is coming in 2011? I’m not sure yet, that’s what the break is mostly going to determine. I do know that I will be changing up my portrait photography business model to a more standard format. I’ve used the last year as practice and I’m ready to go to the next level. I will be taking a 4-5 day trip to the midwest this spring for some stormchasing, so expect something awesome to come from that. Depending on how busy the portrait business gets, I will be doing more stormchasing in Arizona during the summer months and will probably do another book.

My other big goal is to start teaching people about HDR photography. I always have photographers asking how to do it and that they’d be interested in a workshop. So I’m going to make it happen…hopefully in a few months we’ll get together a first attempt at one and see how it goes. I’m super excited about it, nothing is more fun that teaching what you love to people who want to learn.

If you are interested in those workshops, let me know. Also, if you’d like to see something else from me, please ask!

Mostly I want to keep doing what I’m doing. While I’m going to plan strategy and goals moving forward, I think my best strength is to stick to being me. I think most of us struggle with confidence and the desire to always be “as good at this other guy”…when in reality, we need to trust in our own vision and our own ideas. It’s good to aim high, but don’t sell yourself short. People are going to be drawn to you because of YOU, not necessarily because of what your photos look like (although having good images can’t hurt, right? *grin*).

Speaking of a lack of planning or strategy, this blog post wasn’t even an idea until last night, so here I’ve gone on rambling for an eternity. I’m going to skip the Happy Holidays mumbo-jumbo and just wish you all a Merry Christmas like the good Lord intended. And a Happy New Year. I’m sure I’ll still be all over Twitter and Facebook, looking at other photogs work and interacting, but I’m honestly looking forward to a little bit of a recharge and some relaxation. And relaxing to me is getting up at 6:30am in stormy weather and driving around downtown Phoenix.

Also rewatching the entire Firefly series on Blu-Ray (thanks Jina!) and catching up on the Event, Chuck, Dexter and Boardwalk Empire.

A few of us will be out shooting over the break, so if you are interested in an early morning downtown Phoenix photowalk, let me know!