i wasn't going to do one.  then i was.  then i wasn't.  and then it was april and i had a slow-ish week and i decided, hey - i'm gonna.  so i did.  i hope it's good you guys.

at the end of the year i watched many other photographers i admire posting their end of the year recaps - and i scrolled through every single one.  post after post i was blown away with their photos.  and maybe that's why i hesitated a bit in putting my own together - because the talent out there is insane.  insane, insane.  and sometimes it's intimidating.  it's easy to feel 'less than' in this industry when facebook and instagram constantly show me what other people are putting out there - making me feel like my content isn't as great.  bad social media attitude happens over here more than i'd like to admit.

and then after briefly scrolling through some session folders from last year i decided - screw that.  last year was awesome and i'm proud of what i shot.  damn proud.  over the moon about it, actually.  and it's worth sharing - if for no other reason than to thank the people in these photos.  the ones who made my year what it was - a success, a learning experience and a dream come true.  if i haven't said it enough already - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

there is a saying i can't remember verbatim but it's something along the lines of do not compare yourself to other people - compare yourself to your past self.  or, something like that.

so that's what i'm going to try to do from now on - see my growth based on what i've done in the past - and where i'm headed.  and when i look at it from that lens [ so punny, right? ] i really do have something to be proud of and excited about.



- quit my day job in June to pursue this gig full-time.  this takes the cake as the biggest highlight of the year, obviously.  when I first started out [ see selfie - may 2013 with my first 'real' camera ] people would ask me if i ever saw myself doing this full time.  which was literally crazy because i wasn't very good [ see image below selfie - sorry, hallie ].  which was ok with me because i enjoyed it and i honestly never saw myself as a PHOTOGRAPHER - i was just a person that liked taking pictures of my family.  ya know?  i also followed many photographers that did it full-time [ shameless plug, jenn anibal was my all-time favorite inspiration ] and i never thought i'd be there.  then i started taking classes through the kendall college continuing studies program and shooting small family sessions here and there for practice which led to connecting with another photographer which led to second shooting my first wedding and then booking my first solo wedding in 2014 and then three in 2015 and then 15 in 2016 and whaddayaknow i had a full-time job on the side of my full-time job.

obviously being self-employed takes a lot more than just having a lot of bookings - i could not have done it without david's support [ both emotionally and financially ] as well as my parents who have all contributed in some way to make this a reality.  whether it was helping me pay for classes or equipment, babysitting when i had shoots, lending an ear or some advice on how to manage this thing - they have done so much.  like raising children - raising a business takes a village and i would be ignorant to convey the message of LOOK AT ME ALL ON MY OWN DOING IT BY MYSELF.  ain't happenin'.  i have a huge team of supporters behind me.  I LOVE YOU GUYS.

- shot my best friend's wedding.  no explanation required.




- traveled to colorado to attend my first workshop.  i have pretty big anxiety over doing things or going places in large groups where i don't know anyone - so this was a risky thing for me socially.  but it was being led by one of my favorite photographers [ abbey moore ] and being accepted was fricken insane.  like i think i cried.  i had to go.  and thank goodness i did because it quite literally catapulted me into a huge year - lighting a fire under my butt that i so needed with new business tactics, shooting techniques and amazing connections.  AND INSPIRATION.  all the inspiration.  i met so many amazing photographers that i remain connected with over a year later and i love seeing what they're doing.  they're all killing it, btw. we have a group on facebook where we can always go for advice, support or just to say hello.  i will be forever grateful to that group of people and the colorado mountains.  #TEAMAVOCADO. p.s.  if you're a photographer looking for a boost in your life, check : www.ownitworkshop.com

- organized a shoot out-of-state.  alexis and caleb booked me last summer for a michigan wedding this summer but live in houston, so they didn't think they'd be able to get an engagement session in when the michigan weather was ideal.  at the time of our conversation, i was traveling to san antonio to visit family and asked if there was any crazy possibility they could meet me for a shoot [ not really knowing anything about texas geography - houston is 3 hours away ].  but alexis and caleb are awesome people so they made it happen and we pulled together a shoot in downtown san antonio, two days after our call, where none of us had ever been before.  i think we spent about five hours together [ it was that fun ] and my girl boss // badass vibe was at an all-time high pulling it all off.  i hope to do more of this in the future.

- shot 46 family sessions.  this number just makes me feel cool.  idk.

- got social on some media.  created an instagram account [ www.instagram.com/taylorjphotog ] and designed my own website [ you're already here ].  i LURVE squarespace and the ease of updating it but also it is a terrible thing because i feel like overhauling my site on a monthly basis.

- welcomed three new members to the family.  sigma : 35mm 1.4 // 50mm 1.4 // // 85mm 1.4 .  these lenses are my babies and workhorses and pride and joy.  i'm happy after lots of dumb lens purchases that i finally found my sweet spots - ALL PRIME, ALL DAY, BABY.


- figured out lifestyle sessions are my jam.  one of the best takeaways from the workshop was the motto 'good for them. not for me.'  this idea came from our hero amy poehler - and it meant that you can feel sincerely happy for other people doing a thing but not feel like their thing has to be your thing.  for us, that meant you don't have to be good at every aspect of photography, rather, hone in on what you love and feel the strongest at and feed that part of your photo soul.  initially i wanted to do it all.  seniors, studio newborns, lifestyle newborns, business portraits, weddings, couples, boudoir.  AH.  i wanted it all.  but realistically - that wears me thin and to be honest - i'm not as strong in some areas as i am in other areas.  so my focus is now on weddings//couples and lifestyle family sessions.  since i made that decision, i feel like i've gotten immensely better because i can pour more into those two instead of trying to be good at everything and therefore not being really good at anything.  i feel like that sounds very confusing but i hope it makes sense.

- attended a wedding as a photographer but felt more like an actual guest.  kate + paul's wedding at lost arrow resort will probably be one of my favorites forever.  kate was my roommate from college - and graciously housed me during my workshop in colorado [ they live in denver ].  david got to come along as my assistant and it was the most fun wedding ever - tucked in the woods on the side of the lake, surrounded by close family and friends.  they even put us up in a cabin like a real family member.  it meant so much.  for more deets : kate + paul, northern michigan wedding

- drove over 6,000 miles for photo shoots and weddings.  this is not a highlight, but still worth noting.

- collaborated on a stylized shoot.  my creative friend and fellow ladyboss alyssa of fleurology designs created beautiful bouquets to reflect some grand rapids vibes for a styled shoot for wedding day magazine.  we shot one of them at founders and the bouquet featured real hops and raspberries.  she's amazing and i hope hope hope i get to work with her on a wedding someday.

- shot a wedding at founders brewing company.  a bucket list item, for me.

- featured by BRIDES.  i know it's just the repost app but whatever it felt amazing to see my username on the brides insta account. 

- booked 29 weddings for 2017.  ok progress, i see you.  i am nervous and excited and anxious for this season to really kick off - and can't wait to see what this year brings.  it's probably going to be chaotic and overwhelming.  but also so fulfilling.  i will apologize in advance for being MIA from may to october.  but it's worth it.

i hope this isn't sounding braggy-braggy-look-at-me because it's starting to feel that way as i'm writing and it's making me feel kinda uncomfortable thinking about it.  that isn't the motive here.  i just keep remembering things that made me happy last year.  and that thing leads me to think of another thing and overall i just have a whole lot to say i guess and a whole lot of utter gratitude and amazement and surrealness to share with you.

i feel like 2016 is really going to be a hard year to top.  the first year of finally doing your own thing that you love is a feeling i think is truly one of a kind that i wish everyone to feel just once in their lifetime.   i know that this is only going to get better and harder and better and better. because it already has.  i have never been so happy in my life and i genuinely feel like this is what i am supposed to be doing.  this is where i'm meant to be.

thank you - to the faces in these photos, the faces in the photos before these, and the faces in the photos to come.  i truly cherish the trust and friendships that form through this work and love creating magic and memories with you all.  it's a fricken riot.  

side note : i was initially unsure about making this recap post because - HOW AM I GOING TO PICK MY FAVORITES?  so i decided to select just one photo from each session // wedding.  it wasn't easy, but i picked the ones i remembered making me feel something.  i hope i chose well and you feel it, too.

LOVE AND STUFF - xoxxoxoxooxoxoxox - taylor

BLOG READ TUNAGE : she lit a fire // lord huron

the hountras' // family photos

i met the lovely hountras family shortly after moving into my cozy alger neighborhood.  they can often be found walking their cute little dog, callie, up and down our street throughout the day, with beautiful 2-year-old jaina in tow.

lauren [ glowing mama pictured here ] reached out to me to do some family photos to capture some moments of this family of three - soon to be four.  we decided to do two sessions, one now [ just two weeks shy of due date - you go, lauren.  you go. ] and another shortly after baby girl #2 comes home.

i was thrilled they wanted to do a home [ backyard ] session [ can i get an amen for lifestyle sessions?! ] - and even brought the adorable personal touch of a picnic blanket tea party into the mix.  the evening was gorgeous, to say the least.  we got some amazing photos of these three just loving each other.  

i left this session feeling giddy with the positive energy you get from being around happy people in love.  and giddy over the images, of course [ i could barely wait to open them on my computer].  but as i walked home that night i felt another sort of excitement, too - one that stemmed from the humble realization that photography has been fun, for sure.  i have loved this process of crafting a hobby into a business, and the learning that comes along with it.  but moreover, photography has brought me in contact with so many amazing new people i would never otherwise have known.  people that i get the chance to soak in for just a session - or if i'm lucky - people i get the chance to create relationships that develop into genuine friendships.

this is amazing stuff i feel blessed to do everyday.  i get to meet people from all over, have tons of fun with them at weddings and in sessions and make them happy with photos, in return.  it's work, but there's nothing else i'd rather be doing.

[ ok, long tangential sap aside, here are the hountras'! ]