A grand hello and Happy New Year to you!
I know – I KNOW everyone’s saying it, but man, 2019 flew by. Every time I think about how quickly time passes, I ask myself, “What can I be doing to more thoroughly savor these days and treasure them while they’re still here?” (Maybe not in those exact eloquent words every time… but you know what I mean.)
I’m not naturally introspective – it takes a lot of intention for me to sit down, process through present-day life, and reflect on days, weeks, and months past – but I’ve found that doing so helps me honor all that God has done and is doing in my life, in my family, and in this little business of mine! I do some monthly reflecting through writing out my newsletter updates (which you can sign up for at the bottom of the page here!), but now that 2020 is rolling into town, it’s time to do a little summary of 2019. Actually, it’s not little. It’s long. But most of it is photos! Peruse at your own pace!
Light Creative’s 2019 Year in Review
If I had to sum up 2019 in one word, I would say…
it was a year of growth.
I’m really excited and proud to say that! 2019 held more sessions, NC weddings, photo art creations, and pay-it-forward contributions than ever before. After doing photography in Virginia, taking a yearlong break as we served with Mission Year in Houston, then moving to Raleigh fall of 2016, I knew it would take some time to form Light Creative into what God has planned for it and get the word out about what we offer. I felt some good momentum building in 2019, and I am so excited to see where it goes from here!
Of course, 2019 was also all about another very important kind of growth… I was pregnant with Isaac all year until we welcomed him into our world mid-August! It’s kind of funny to think about how my belly was physically growing all through the year up until then, right alongside growth in my business. …Okay, I’ll stop with the weird comparisons now.
Maternity photos by Simone McAdams Photography
As you may know, I don’t specialize in any specific type of photography… Instead, I like to say I specialize in relationships. Continuing on with my clients and capturing special moments of their lives over and over is more important to me than focusing on one specific type of session or weddings! My workflows would be a lot more simple by focusing on photographing one thing, but I love y’all too much to work with you once and then move on.
Because of that, in 2019 I found myself photographing headshots, non-profit events, college graduates (undergrad & grad school), families, babies & newborns, first communion portraits, marriage proposals, engagement photos, weddings, baby bumps, high school seniors, courthouse weddings, pets, extended families, styled wedding décor… I even did a bit of real estate photography! I’m not lying to you when I say that I love all of it. Of course there are favorite parts and challenging aspects to each type of session, but I’m just so thankful to be able to capture so many memories for people.
One way to I’ve enjoyed continuity with families recently is through my New Life Collection! The New Life Collection currently contains a maternity session, newborn session, 6-month, & 1-year session, but I’m also considering making a 3-month session an optional add-on this year! (After having Isaac, I’ve been amazed by how much he changed between newborn & 3 months!) Clients receive 10 prints with each session and a 10×10” photobook after the 1-year session to look back on photos from all across baby’s first year. My, oh my, how quickly they grow!
In 2019 we finished Phoebe’s New Life Collection, started Connor’s with their maternity & newborn sessions, and started Jen & Niels’ with their maternity session for baby Bryce (who was JUST born on Jan. 11th! Yay!!). Thank you all for investing in treasuring these precious first memories forever!
I also got to travel a bit for sessions in 2019! I ventured up to Massanutten Ski Resort in Virginia for a sunrise proposal with Alexan & Becky (right by my old college stomping grounds at JMU! Go Dukes!), I had a beautiful family session with Lauren, Steve, & 1-year-old baby Lucas in Baltimore, and I went up to Norfolk, VA for baby Connor’s newborn session. 🙂 I really love that most of my sessions take place close to home in the Triangle area of NC, but it’s also fun for me to explore new places – & meet people where they are for in-home newborn sessions! And I mean… that mountain sunrise!! Couldn’t get that in Raleigh!
Here are some more favorites from my 2019 photo sessions!
All the weddings I photographed in Virginia were “full” wedding days of about 8 hours of photography coverage, but my wedding experience in North Carolina has expanded my horizons and introduced me to different types of wedding days that I am still SO honored to capture! This year I was fortunate to document full wedding days for Taylor & Jenn and Kristen & Darrin, a smaller ceremony and reception for Tammy & Jeff, and courthouse wedding ceremonies & portraits for Linh & Jimmy, Jen & Niels, and Adria & Linsey! (Blog posts still to come for some of my 2019 weddings!) I was also pleased to serve as a second photographer for Story Photographers for another wedding (as I did in 2018, as well).
Regardless of what kind of wedding you decide is the best fit for you and your fiancé/fiancée or how much preparation & planning goes into it, the day passes by in a flash and the memories you have really end up being through your photos. I do NOT take this responsibility lightly – to be tasked with capturing the littlest details and heartfelt smiles so you can look back on your special day fondly, forever. Thank you ALL for inviting me in and trusting me with your memories!
I love my nonprofit partnerships, too! In 2019 I continued partnering with A Place at the Table and Neighbor 2 Neighbor, photographing various events and daily happenings for them to share with people who support them and on social media – and to display in the pay-what-you-can café! Learn a little more about these partnerships here, and definitely familiarize yourself with them if you’re in Raleigh! A Place at the Table creates beautiful community around tables of delicious food, and Neighbor 2 Neighbor does a ton of good work in my neighborhood and its surrounding areas.
In addition to those, I also got to work with Johnson Service Corps for a donor party, Alliance Medical Ministry for a fundraiser breakfast, I had a photo session with the 3 graduating high school seniors from my church Southeast Raleigh Table (gifted by our awesome pastor), I photographed Passage Home’s Angel Tree Holiday Workshop for the second year in a row (continued partnerships are the best), and KidLab invited me in to run a photo booth at the Kids’ New Years Eve party at Transfer Co. Food Hall! I’ve had a blast with all of these organizations & truly hope that I’ll be able to continue serving them as they serve our community so well.
I developed my pay-what-you-can photography system because I don’t feel called to serve only those who can afford professional photography. Everyone deserves beautiful photos of themselves and their families to celebrate life and remember these moments forever, but photography doesn’t come high on the list of priorities to pay for when compared to rent, groceries, transportation, and other essentials (and it shouldn’t). When clients book their photography session with me, they’re able to pay the suggested price, pay more to pay it forward for photography & photo art for those who typically wouldn’t be able to afford it, or pay less if they’re not able to pay the suggested price or save up for their session.
In 2019, most of my session clients felt compelled to provide pay-it-forward contributions! So far, since October 2018 when I started this model, people have generously and collectively contributed $481.82 to help cover someone else’s photography and photo art, between rounding up a few dollars or cents or leaving up to $50 pay-it-forward tips. It’s incredible to see you all believing in this mission enough to pay it forward! This year, I hope to work more closely alongside the non-profits I partner with to invite families and individuals in who would love and cherish photos, and who would benefit from paying less for their session – whether that’s $50, $10, or even $0 – any amount. Your contributions will make up the difference! I am so excited and fortunate to serve people from all walks of life and capture their beautiful selves.
Light Creative Life
As you know, 2019 changed my world forever as we welcomed Isaac Lane Hudgins into our lives! If you’re a parent, you know there tends to be a pretty distinct “before child” and “after child” divide to life – so let’s start with things that happened before Isaac arrived. 🙂
If you’re interested in reading some about my pregnancy (and seeing some baby bump photos), you can see my 20-week (bump)date and 30-week (bump)date posts. I didn’t end up writing the last one I’d planned on, because Isaac came the week I was going to write it (right around 38 weeks)!
In the months leading up to his arrival, we went to Tampa and Orlando (including Disney!), we took a trip to Pittsburgh with Andrew’s family, we went to Baltimore & the Washington, DC area for Lauren & Steve’s session, we stayed at Andrew’s parents’ cabin in the woods for a weekend (where our dog loved romping around until he got sprayed by a skunk), and we stayed at a beautiful mountain house for a weekend with friends from church. We didn’t *intentionally* fill our calendars so much before baby time, but we did enjoy the relative ease of traveling while we could!
We also had some lovely baby showers – a couple with friends & family and a couple thrown by Andrew’s coworkers. Each one was special & we felt love from so many for sweet baby Hudgins (or “Albus Severus” for all the Harry Potter fans out there… we didn’t know the gender or name before he was born, so Andrew decided on Albus Severus for before we decided/announced the real name 🙂 I mostly just called him “baby”…).
Isaac’s nursery came together quite well with how Andrew painted the pre-loved furniture (all previously used by him or his family), and the personal touches of the stuffed elephant made by Andrew’s mom, the Harry Potter / JMU mobile made by my cousin Lisa, the prayer written by our dear friend Maggie, and the poem written by Alex Lane (commissioned by Maggie) are all so special to us.
Isaac was born on August 14! My wonderful photographer friend Simone took photos for us last year, and you can see some of my favorite maternity photos here and newborn photos here. For those interested in our birth story, in short: I went into it wanting to try to have a natural birth without medication, but knowing I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself if I ended up needing it. I was in labor / having contractions for about 11 hours (5 or 6 hours in the hospital) before pushing, pushed for 3 full hours (didn’t get an epidural or other medicine at all), and poor baby was stuck. He was “sunny side up,” meaning that his head was face-up in my pelvis, when babies should be face-down for a successful delivery. He wasn’t budging or flipping, so we switched to a c-section. I’m dang proud of myself for all that labor & pushing without any medication – very intentional breathing and help from Andrew got me through – but WOW was the spinal block a welcome relief when they prepped me for the c-section! Isaac arrived at 4:07pm and all his (earthside) grandparents and his honorary Aunt Maggie got to meet him that evening. We spent a few days in the hospital with some extra time for treatment of jaundice, and we all left quite happy & healthy.
I took the remainder of August, September, and October as maternity leave, aside from responding to inquiry emails, editing Kristen & Darrin’s August wedding (which I photographed at 37 weeks pregnant – still proud of that, too!), and photographing Jessica & Ben’s maternity & newborn photos (those sessions can’t wait!). It was a really sweet time of getting to know each other and finding our new rhythms, and I am so, so thankful that I got to determine my own maternity leave and didn’t feel outside pressure to get back to work somewhere. Andrew also got a good amount of paternity leave, something rare that we don’t take for granted!
The downside about maternity leave as a small business owner is that no work = no pay! I wasn’t sure if I’d end up easing back into things slowly in November due to a small number of jobs, but God provided and Light Creative had the best month yet. I had more sessions/weddings, photo art sales, and income than any month before. AND, it felt manageable even with a newborn! And then December was big, too! I’m hoping and praying that this momentum continues, as 2020 is the first year I really need a lot of take-home pay from the business for my family. So far I’ve been able to reinvest a lot of profit back into the business, but hey, babies are expensive! Will you help me do what I love to provide for my family? 🙂
God also provided for us in November when Andrew went from two part-time non-profit jobs to full-time at one of them. He had been working 48 hours/week, and we knew that wouldn’t be sustainable with a baby – but we didn’t know how to remedy that, & we certainly didn’t think anything could/would change until sometime in 2020. While he was on paternity leave, he found out that his boss at one of the jobs was taking a position elsewhere (at a job that’s even more perfect for her!), and he was able to take on some of her responsibilities and increase his hours to 40 hours/week there. He was only back at both jobs at 48 hours/week for TWO weeks between paternity leave and this job transition, and wow, we are thankful. He’s also able to work from home for the most part two days/week now, so if you’re wondering why I’m trying to schedule as many of our meetings and sessions as possible on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that’s why – we have built-in childcare! 😉
Holidays and family time were also mixed in with my busy November and December, and it’s fun feeling out what those will look like with Isaac. This year we traveled for Thanksgiving (like usual) but stayed home in Raleigh for Christmas on our own, and it was the first time *ever* that Andrew woke up in his own bed on Christmas morning! (Isaac, too… but that doesn’t count 😉 ) It was a nice & relaxing day, and it was awesome experiencing that for the first time with Isaac.
One more note about business life in 2019 unrelated to photography – I launched an Etsy shop! I’ve enjoyed hand-lettering for fun for a few years, and I wanted to start an avenue to serve people with that and potentially make a little extra income with it. I’m brainstorming how to use that in combination with photography in the future – maybe custom card templates? – but for now I’m mostly doing digital downloads for prints & greeting cards. Check them out!
And… now here’s a hodgepodge of other fun moments from 2019. I’d explain them all, but this blog post really doesn’t need to be any longer than it’s already going to be, and I’m not vain enough to think you want to read about ALL of that. 🙂 In fact, I’m pretty amazed if you’re still reading to this point… thanks!
As we start diving deep into 2020, I’ve chosen a word of the year to guide how I spend my time:
I’ve never had a word of the year before, but getting a Powersheets goal planner this year put it on my mind, & very early on I had a suspicion that the word “balance” would be a good mantra for 2020. With Isaac at the forefront of my life now, it’s going to be a see-saw-like ride balancing owning a small business and being the best momma & wife & “me” I can be. I’ve already had some simultaneous mom guilt & biz owner guilt, and it’s a hard battle feeling like I’m not serving someone well when I’m focusing my attention on someone else instead – whether that focus is on Isaac or a client (or Andrew, or myself, etc. …but it’s rarely on us, honestly). However, this year I’m going to try to find a balance and use my finite time well, without sacrificing joy, giving myself grace as I teeter totter along.
As I looked further into this word, I found the French word “balancé” and learned that it’s a ballet move. It’s a kind of 3-step prance to the side with arms gracefully raising & lowering, and it puts a different spin on the efficiency of time I’m striving for. Though I’ll need to be diligent in balancing time for Andrew, Isaac, myself, community, & this business, I want to do so with a lightness that gives permission for flexibility, grace, and going with the flow.
So that’s the mindset I have entering 2020! I am striving for balance and efficiency, met with grace and flexibility. I am excited to capture so many more memories for you all, whether that’s headshots in preparation for a new job, your little girl hitting a milestone birthday, your new journey starting as husband & wife (or wife & wife, husband & husband, partner & boo thang… what have you), a sweet little one making you a family of 3, 4, or 5+ … I am here for it, and I am honored whenever you invite me to be a part of it.
I’m also looking forward to many baby snuggles of my own as Andrew and I bear witness to Isaac’s growth and all the love that God shows to and through him.
I’m thankful for this life and thankful for you! Thank you for joining me here today!
Keep an eye out for a 2019 Silly Photos blog post coming soon (reminiscent of the ones I posted last year!), as well as lots more posts from sessions & weddings in those last few months of the year as I play catch-up on the blog!
If you don’t want to miss a post, or if you want to be the first to know about mini-session dates, special deals, and what’s happening in the life of Light Creative, sign up for my newsletter! I won’t overwhelm your inbox – I send them out about once per month, and you’re always welcome to unsubscribe anytime if you find it doesn’t end up being a priority as you scan through emails. I’d love the opportunity to keep you in the loop!
Also be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for daily happenings in the business & personal life! You’ll see more cute photos of Isaac there than anywhere else 😉
Thank you again, and here’s to 2020!