Behind the Scenes | Turning One | Photography Goals
8 years ago, when I first started out in this whole photography “thing”, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I loved photography and I wanted to pursue it, but I didn’t have a clue about running a business. I didn’t really have a focus and my business wasn’t going in any particular direction. I dabbled in this and that and kind of stumbled into wedding photography with a very gracious couple that hired me even though I had absolutely no experience. Over the next 7 years under the name CRJ Photography, I slowly learned and grew as an artist and discovered that what I really LOVE to do, is photograph weddings. So one year ago I took a leap of faith and re-branded my business as Carlin Anquist Photography to cater more to brides and grooms. It’s my first year of being “all-in” – meaning that I have stepped back from other job opportunities to solely focus on photography (while still staying home with my kiddos).
While this year has been incredible, it hasn’t been without its challenges. Being my first full time year, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how many weddings I would book or how much time each wedding would take. It has been kind of a “trial” year – after which I can take a step back and evaluate both the things that I did well as well as things that I need to improve on as I head into another wedding season. And as I reflect, I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I look forward to what’s next for me.
- I learned to shoot and be confident shooting in full manual mode. This intimidated me for a long time. And while I still occasionally use Aperture Priority mode (such as during a ceremony on a partly cloudy day when the light is constantly changing and I don’t want to use those precious, real-time moments adjusting my settings), I have shot all of my weddings this year on manual mode. It has given me better creative control and I find I’m able to get the results I’m looking for.
- I improved my editing skills to provide my clients with consistently, bold, natural, and beautiful photos from their wedding with a shorter turnaround time.
- I booked more weddings than I even anticipated. My goal for this year was 6 and I had 10 incredible couples entrust me to capture their wedding days. I also got to second shoot at 4 more weddings and I am so grateful for that experience.
- I significantly expanded my family of lenses and have transitioned to shooting primarily with prime lenses. I love the results that I can get with primes so much more than my zoom lenses. They allow me to shoot at a wider aperture resulting in that gorgeous shallow depth of field that is a big part of my shooting style. They also force me to think more about my composition, and be more intentional about what type of shot I’m going for, and therefore what lens I choose to mount on my camera. It’s become somewhat of an addiction though, as I tell my husband – “I think I have all the lenses I need”, and he just smiles and laughs.
- Speaking of style – I feel that I have come into my shooting style this year. While I believe that it is helpful to draw inspiration from other photographers, I find that as I come into my own style I’m looking less at what other people are doing. I’m not as worried about posing as I once was, simply because my style is very natural. I pose couples in ways that come naturally to them and only make small adjustments to encourage natural interaction. My style is Bold, Natural, and Beautiful. I love photos filled with emotion, light, and life. I believe that there’s nothing more beautiful than a bride on her wedding day – not because she’s wearing a flawless white dress or perfect makeup. She is most beautiful when she is in love, and at peace with herself on the most amazing day of her life. She is most beautiful when she smiles for real, because she just can’t help it. And it is my goal at every wedding to turn the mirror on the bride through my camera – to show her how incredibly gorgeous she is, and to remind the couple of the deep joy they felt on their wedding day.
- Piggybacking off of #5, I feel that I have grown in confidence this year. When I go into a shoot, I know what I need to get. I know what I’m looking for. Sometimes it comes easier than others, but I am confident that I will be able to capture something really special. Does that mean that I never get nervous? No. Does that mean that I won’t have to work for it? Absolutely not. But I’ve learned to push through the pit in my stomach and let my nerves motivate me to be on my game. I’ve learned to trust my own voice and vision and allow my personal style to come through.
Business and Photography Goals for the coming year:
- I would LOVE to participate in some kind of small group workshop or 1:1 mentoring with a more seasoned photographer. My main goal is to learn from someone that can challenge me in the way that I see through my camera and the way that I look at light. If you know of anything that would fit the bill please let me know! I am willing to travel so if you know of an awesome workshop in another city I would love to hear about it.
- Finish setting up my studio/office and create a better organizational system. We are in the process of developing our basement for my home office and studio. Over the next couple of months I hope to move down there and have a dedicated space for working, editing, small studio shoots, and client meetings. I see many trips to IKEA in my future:)
- Learn more about off camera flash. While I prefer the look of natural light in my weddings photos, there are circumstances that require me to add lighting. I’ve been learning lots about lighting this year and I plan to up my game for the 2016 wedding season.
- Expand my blog. I plan to begin blogging more behind the scenes, advice and helpful tips for brides as they are planning their wedding, as well as tips and tutorials for aspiring photographers. If you have any suggestions or questions you would like me to answer, comment here or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Catch up on Personal Photography projects. I have been posting my own personal photos over on the My Life blog, and I hope that by this time this year I will be up to date (at least since my boys were born). Feel free to check out that site for a peek into my every day life with twin boys.
- Schedule time off. One of the biggest challenges of running a business out of your house is that you are always at work. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the flexibility of working from home. It allows me to be a stay at home mom for my boys and be present as they grow up. It allows me to edit in 1 or 2 hour slots while my boys sleep, and probably best of all it allows me to work in my pyjamas. However, in order for me to stay sane and serve my clients well, I need to do a better job of setting aside time that I don’t work. That means putting my phone away for the evening and not responding to emails that come in until the next morning. That means putting a big X through a few days on my calendar that I am not going to take on any meetings, shoots, or editing in order to just rest and take time for myself. I hope to continue pursing photography for many years and I need to take care of myself better so that I don’t burn out.
- Book 14-15 weddings. 10 weddings this year was the perfect amount. I never want to take on so many weddings that I can no longer provide a customized and personal experience for my clients. But as my boys get a little older and more independent I want to slowly increase what I take on. With 7 weddings booked so far for 2016 and already booking into 2017, I feel that this goal is achievable. And if you’re reading this and are engaged or know someone who is engaged, please have a look through my work and contact me to inquire about availability. I’m always happy to meet for coffee so you can get a feel for my personality, and see if we would be a good fit. There’s never any pressure and I promise I don’t bite! I get that most people have no experience in having their photo taken so I promise to make your experience with me natural, relaxed, and fun!
- Expand into the Okanagan Valley. I spend time every summer in BC’s Interior, and every time I go there I am amazed at its beauty. The Okanagan is truly Canada’s paradise and I would love to begin shooting weddings out there. If you are getting married in Kelowna, Summerland, Penticton, or any of the surrounding area in 2016 I would love to chat with you.
- Plan and execute a styled inspiration shoot. While I definitely need to take some time off this winter, I don’t want to get rusty. I want to use this time to exercise my skills by planning a winter bridal shoot (or 2 or 3!). I’m always looking for people to collaborate with – florists, bakers, hair and makeup, planners, stationers and models to help make my vision come to life. If you’re interested in being a part of one of these collaborations please drop me a line!
I love what I do. I love getting to meet couples right after they get engaged and get to know them as they plan their wedding. I love arriving early on the wedding day as the bride is getting ready, and feeling the anticipation in the air. I love watching the bride tearfully read a letter from her groom just moments before they are to become man and wife. I love seeing the groom fidget with nervous excitement as he waits for his bride to appear. I love listening to my couples say their vows, and often tear up as it once again hits me how incredible this gift of marriage is. I love the time that I get to spend with the bride and groom for their formal portraits. Those few minutes during the day are often the only time that they have to stop and talk to each other. I love being there to witness their love in those quieter moments. And I love hearing all the stories at the reception about what makes the bride and groom so awesome together. Capturing the most amazing day in my couples lives is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I am continually learning and challenging myself in order to capture photos that have depth of emotion. Photos that, in 50 years, will transport you back to the day you married your best friend.
A few months ago, in the middle of the summer and the height of wedding season, my husband Stephen asked me if I would be able to give photography up if we didn’t need the money. Without a thought I told him no. I wouldn’t be able to stop. Yes, I need to work and photography is my chosen profession, but if someone handed us 6 million dollars tomorrow I would still want to be a photographer. It’s who I am. It has changed me, and it continues to challenge the way that I see the world and those around me. I hope that through my lens I can show you just how amazing you are.
Calgary Wedding Photographer. Personal Business and Photography Goals.