Cookies + Chai | BEST OF 2016 | Michigan and Beyond

This year has been a year of many changes, and I want to thank everyone for all of your support! From growing our family to launching a business, I couldn't have done any of it without you guys. As a photographer, I have grown in leaps and bounds this year, and I wanted to share my most memorable moments and favorite snaps from the past 365 days.

PERSONAL

The arrival of Sophia Marie in February was definitely the highlight of my year. No offense to anyone else, but it's hard to beat out a baby being born. My favorite part of her birth (aside from her being born, of course) was taking candid reactions of all of our immediate family when they first held her. My parents, pictured below, were the first family to meet our beautiful girl.

Not only has Sophia's entrance to the world given me the motivation I needed to step up my photography game, but also the setting necessary to get really damn good at running into photos... and, following that, the purchase of a better camera remote. Well, actually, the gifting of a better remote - thanks Gloria.

Speaking of Gloria, I want to thank my mother-in-law for always bringing her photography a-game. While other creatives online may provide some inspiration visually, Gloria is my sounding board for pretty much all things camera and photography related, especially my stupid questions that may have seemed self evident... A seasoned family photography veteran, I benefit constantly from her knowledge and constant research (and old lenses). I have Gloria to thank this year for two big jumps in my photography game: lending me a prime lens to play with (no going back now!) and pushing me to take up Adobe's editing software. I'm not really sure why I didn't do these things before, but HALLELUJAH, I have now. One of my favorite shots of Gloria, below, is one of the few I have seen of her working her camera, taken during post-graduation family photos at the University of Michigan. It only seems fitting!

I also want to thank my husband and my mom for all of their help with baby care so that I can spare a moment to be a "professional". In fact, Danny is watching Sophia right now... Thanks for dealing with my "I'm almost done" photo editing sessions that eat up evenings and definitely last longer than "another five minutes." Big thanks to my mom for flying out to Michigan over and over, and spending day after day in cold weather I know you dislike. Also, thanks for calling me out on my sheepishness and lack of confidence.

Thanks to the rest of the family for putting up with my constant (and unsolicited/unwanted?) photos of you. Aside from lack of sleep, that pretty well sums up everything that has happened in 2016 in my personal life, so I'll cap this section with my favorite photo of Sophia. (there's no way you can't smile at this photo)

CLIENTS (aka best friends)

I owe my 2016 clients a lot. You guys trusted me to capture your lives and not post embarrassing outtakes, signing the photo releases without reserve. Not only that, you hired on someone with effectively zero portfolio for the type of photos you wanted. From toddlers to teens, you've helped me gain invaluable experience in dealing with all types of people. You've also put up with my photography experiments, such as new camera settings (that only kind of worked out), new poses, and new shooting styles (hardcore documentary, where I literally don't direct you in any way. Also, only kind of worked out). These explorations may not always produce my best work, but they help me to grow in my knowledge of how to achieve the photos we dream of. Maybe someday we'll be Pinterest-famous, and I say "we" because it takes willing subjects to make a photo fabulous. Also, props to those of you who smiled through cold weather like it was a balmy summer day - I swear God laughs every time I schedule a shoot, and turns down the thermostat.

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COMMERCIAL CLIENTS (also best friends)

Without my commercial clients, I wouldn't have the means to explore non-commercial photography, so I owe them lots. There were two standout commercial works for me this year: Sue Grier Pottery's rebrand, and Spotted Dog Brewery's merchandise shoot this past week. Dogs, golden sunshine, and hiking can't get much better - oh, and obviously they brought beer.

LANDSCAPE + THE REST

I have been blessed get outside with my camera, and occasionally my timing lines up with some of God's more artistic weather. Here are a few of my favorites from this year to round out this post. Thanks for reading!

Happy New Year!