taylor's life


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

beautiful englewood, florida.

my stepdad has a tremendous knack for finding last-minute-spring-break-vacation-deals.

originally, when my mom and stepdad purchased their home-away-from-home in pentwater, michigan a couple of years ago, the agreement was that in exchange for taking on another mortgage, they would give up their annual trips down south for spring break to the florida keys.  a hard bargain for certain, but financially, it made the most sense.

this arrangement lasted for "awhile."  awhile...until march that next year.  

until the school teacher crazies get the best of you (both are high school teachers) and the michigan winter won't stop sucking and it's time to get outta' dodge.  like now.

so my tech savvy stepdad (not really at all but he dubs himself to be the only one who can find vacation spots) hops on over to VRBO and a few clicks, a few emails, a few calls later, he presents my mother with an offer she just can't refuse.  "not sure what you're going to do dear, but me and marzy are going to florida." (marzy is their golden retriever who has become quite the travel diva in her five short years of life).

and this year, we got to partake in the spring break wheelin' and dealin'.  in march, (as we can now predict will happen and thankfully my mom has just comes to terms with it) he announced they were headed to florida and asked if we would want to come with.  he found a huge house with a private pool, near-ish the ocean, 85 degree weather guaranteed, for just $400 if we split it and before they finished their question david and i looked at each other and were like YUP, WE'RE GOING.

we would have to drive the 19 hour one-way trip to save money (aka: be able to go at all), but that was ok because we just made the trip down to texas over christmas so we basically considered ourselves experts at this point.

and wham bam thank you 'mam and it was one month later and vacation time was requested, dogs were doggysitted up, summer garb was dugged out, coolers were packed and we were ready head to the sunshine state.  side note: i feel like i should make all of my vacation plans this way.  much less waiting and anticipation and you basically blink and you're trip date arrives.

24 hours, one and a half books on tape, 12 questionable gas station bathrooms and a few torrential rain storms later, we arrived.

i still haven't decided whether the drive-through-the-night method is that great.  sure, it gets you there "faster".  yes, it saves you money on a hotel.  surely, it saves you daytime driving in the car with your kids which basically is a form of torture.  BUT.  you also sacrifice any kind of cognitive function for the first 1.5 days of your vacation.  and this, i am not sure is worth the hassle. at least for me.

because of said driving "hangover", we lounged poolside pretty much the first three days of our stay.  no exaggerating.  we did venture out for dinner (the area we decided to "splurge" on this trip), and we are a humungo seafood loving family so good, local food was necessary.

i had aspirations for making excursions to do some stand-up-paddle-boarding, charter boat riding, zoo-visiting, etc., but all of that kinda went by the wayside once we got there.  it was just too. darn. relaxing vedging out, with no itinerary or agenda - than to worry about filling our time with stuff to do.  other than what time the girls could get in the pool, when we were going to nap and what we were going to eat, not much else went into the planning of our days. and it was perfect.

we did end up doing a few fun trips out, however.  one day we made the hour-ish drive north to the infamous siesta key beach with "the world's finest, whitest sand." it truly was beautiful.  and after a long day in the sun, we headed into the cozy little beach town and ate at my fave place of the week - siesta key oyster bar.

another fun outing was when we drove up the manasota key, admired the multi-million dollar houses, and landed at sharky's on the pier for happy hour drinks and snacks, and a walk on the pier.

the last day we visited englewood beach, which we learned is famous for its shark teeth (we even found some!).  i thought there were a bunch of golfers hanging out at the beach, but it turns out the "golf clubs" were actually sand sifters - for shelling, and shark teeth finding.  i watched them all for a bit - wandering the shoreline - digging around a bit.  not long after watching, i was digging too.

englewood was a cute town.  off the tourist path...like, way off.  like no disney or shamu for miles and miles and miles.  and most of the people we saw were well into retirement age.  but that worked for us.  it was quiet, offered great spots to eat seafood, and lots of great views within driving distance.  most of all, it offered us a place to completely unwind.  to relax and recharge.  and that to me, is a vacation.

here was my facebook post (summing up my feelings about it all) from the day before leaving:

"in the last seven days:
i've eaten shrimp everyday.
i've woken up sans alarm at 7:30am to retrieve a fresh cup of coffee and read from my book in the first day's sunlight, every morning.
i haven't worn a bra, and haven't brushed my hair.
i have watched my kids swim for hours in the pool, and dance in the waves of the ocean for the first time.
i've watched approximately 5 minutes of tv. (ok, except for when david and i had a borat binge one evening...verynicehowmuch)
i have spent some amazing (upmost quality) days with my family - exploring new places, drinking new beer, smiling in the sunshine and reveling in every moment this vacation has given us.
to say i am sad to return home tomorrow is an understatement, but i am so - so - happy to have had this week. we lived it up, drank it down and thanks to the photos, we'll be taking our vacation memories home with us forevs."

and below, some photos with my "good camera" from our trip.  one of my goals, other than reading five books which did not happen (three though if you count the two on tape), was to take pictures without my phone, with my REAL CAMERA.  i wasn't feeling daring enough to bring my third baby everywhere - much due to the massive amounts of sand and ocean all around), but when i did take it out, i tried to make the moments worth it.  

and, i am pretty happy with i got. #radrunningfamilyvacay forever.

p.s. i would like to take a moment to thank my ever-awesome parents who totes gave up a week of barbie-doll-tantrum-splash-zone-less romantical bliss in order for us to join in the fun.  much love to you both.  xoxo

- t