2013 Goals

The last few years I’ve proudly blogged each of my goals for the upcoming year, and it’s been really great to be able to share the journey with whoever wishes to follow. In the last few months though, and especially right around the holidays and the new year, I did a TON of soul-searching. I really looked at what worked and what didn’t work in 2012, where I wanted my business and personal life to go in 2013, and what is best for ME. I suffer badly from the comparison game, and that’s something that I really want to focus on improving this year. So to change things around and do what’s best for me, this year I’m not listing out each individual goal.

However, I do have some goal-setting tips and am going to share my over-arching goal for the year…basically what all of my little goals put together will hopefully achieve.

When it comes to goal-setting, I may be different in that I take lots and lots of time to think everything through. I don’t just sit down one evening and think about all the wonderful things I want to do the next year, throw it down on paper, and call it a day. Instead I really try to picture where I want to be a year from now, and even a few years from now, and use that as my starting point. What do I want my life to REALLY look like? While numbers and achievements are also a part of goal-setting, I start with the big picture first and then determine the smaller goals that will help me reach that big picture little by little throughout the year. I also put a lot of emphasis on my family, my physical and emotional health, my marriage, etc. because without those things, achieving success or reaching goals means nothing. To make this even more organized (hello Type A/OCD), I break my goals down into categories, because that’s just how my brain works 🙂 For 2013, I have goals under each of these categories:

– Business Foundation/”My Why” Goals: goals that build on the core of my business and why I am a photographer. These goals are key to the long-term health of my business.
– To Do Goals: random goals I have been wanting to accomplish for some time, all business related.
– Achievement Goals: long-term goals that would be awesome to accomplish this year but may be a bit of a reach at this time. These are goals that are sort of “dream” goals 🙂
– Personal Goals: These are misc. goals that I want to accomplish on a personal level this year, like finally running a 10k, and maintaining a daily gratitude notebook.
– Numbers Goals: These are financial and number related business goals.

It’s also key that these goals are specific and measurable. For example, “run more” doesn’t really get me anywhere, because how can I measure that? But “Run a 10k” makes that goal totally different. Then I need to actually follow through. For a goal like that, I should be proactive and go ahead and sign up for a 10k sometime this spring or summer that fits into my schedule. Then, make sure all of your goals are written down, and post them somewhere you will look as much as possible. My goals are printed out and hung on the cork board in my office so that I see them all the time.

Overall, my goals are centered around developing a much more balanced life this year. Being a business owner, it’s so easy to eat, sleep, and breathe your business. To be at clients beckoning call all hours of the day. To sacrifice family time to scratch one more item off that never-ending to do list. I don’t want to live like that. I want to be purposeful with my time and my business, to allow me to be more present and available for my family. This year is about setting boundaries, being organized and efficient with my time, having systems, and staying on track financially so that we can reach one of our biggest goals for the next couple of years; to re-build the main house on our farm. I want to get back to doing things for me…spending time with friends, reading, riding, shooting for me, and experiencing new things with Dustin and Landon. I don’t think years are meant to be any better or worse than the previous, but a new year is a clean slate and there’s something really refreshing about that. I am hopeful that  2013 is my year to re-gain control of my business while also allowing it to continue to grow. We shall see!

PS. For those of you interested, so much of my inspiration for finding this balance between business owner, wife, mom, etc. comes from the fabulous Emily Ley and Lara Casey. I would absolutely recommend following their blogs for weekly inspiration on finding that elusive balance many of us strive to find 🙂

This picture is from our trip last weekend to Maryland. One of my goals for 2013 is to BE in more pictures…so this is my start! 🙂

The 2012 Wrap-Up and a HUGE Thank You

On Monday I mentioned how much of a blur 2012 has been. It’s been a huge year personally and in my little business. With the end of the year quickly approaching, I’ve finally had some time to reflect on the year, start setting goals for 2013, and become re-inspired. It’s kind of crazy, but I’ve been super emotional lately. It probably deserves a post of it’s own, but I’m just feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude. This year I learned what the phrase “my heart is bursting” feels like. I have more love than words could EVER describe for my beautiful family. I love Dustin and Landon times infinity. My dogs are my absolute rocks. They are children, they are key parts of our family, and they are my best friends. And of course I have the most wonderful group of supporters. Without ALL of you who trusted me, patted me on the back, emailed me with support, “liked” and shared my images, blog posts, and Facebook statuses, published my work, inspired me, and cheered me on; this year wouldn’t have been what it was for me.

By no stretch of the imagination did I make “the big bucks” this year. This is not a business that makes me feel wealthy in the sense of finances. In fact, this year was a struggle in many ways, as most of the first few years of any small business are or can be. My 2012 was a year of ups and downs. But this year my heart felt SO whole. Each and every


 new friend who allowed me to be a part of their story made my heart feel whole in a way I didn’t know it could. I am endlessly appreciative to EACH and every single one of you. Without you; this life, this dream, this happiness and balance that I feel, would never be possible. You are who make it possible and I hope you all know how much I appreciate you all. Thank you for allowing me to do what I love and for allowing me to call ALL of you friends.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And yes, I still have a separate second shooting post coming that will have a lot more thank you’s, as well as a favorite images of 2012 post and my favorite film images 🙂 Lots of great stuff coming to the blog over the next 2 weeks!

Here was my 2012 and all of my new (and old!) friends who made it what it was. Thank you all so incredibly much.

2012 Photographer Goals

With 2012 just around the corner, I’ve been spending a lot of time mulling over my 2012 goals. Last week I went back and reviewed what I did and didn’t accomplish in 2011, and yesterday I talked a little about photographers, creatives, and business women who inspire me to live my own definition of a successful and balanced life.

So my goals for next year are very different from this years. I was still in college when I wrote my 36 in 365 2011 goals, I was SO new at what I was doing and just getting my bearings (still am!), and it was the first 6 months I was free from year-round college. A lot of my goals had to do with doing some of the things I just wanted to do for the heck of it (like seeing Charleston and Savannah), and some goals had a lot to do with my long term vision of my business (like working with Ribbons of Red and attending the MJ 2 Day). This year’s new and improved goals are still very business oriented but with some lifestyle balancing kind of goals thrown in there. I’m trying to keep myself accountable! 🙂 Here we go…36 in 365 2012!

Business Goals

1. Have a home office that inspires and motivates me: I currently have an office for the first time EVER!! But it desperately needs some organizing and shelving and such…going to have to be done bit by bit.
2. Learn to shoot film and actively use it for personal work: From the 2011 list that didn’t quite happen, but I’ve got a camera, will have film after Christmas, and thanks to Emilee Fuss I purchased the FIND guide before it disappeared forever! 🙂
3. Book and successfully shoot 4-5 weddings of my own
4. Actively second shoot as often as the opportunity arises: Next year learning and experience is far more of a priority than booking my own weddings!
5. Take part in a styled shoot
6. Continue to volunteer for shelters and pets in need
7. Donate portrait photography for a good cause for people: Since I do so much for pets, I’d love to do something similar but for people…maybe portraits for military families or for those who are facing hardship due to the economy and can’t afford a custom portrait session
8. Put money aside all year for WPPI 2013: Plus a little to splurge at the trade show 😉
9. Do a 52 weeks of Riley and Lexi Project: Inspired by Lexi Vornberg
10. Have each wedding I book and shoot of my own featured on a wedding blog
11. Have a pet session featured on a popular pet blog
12.  Upgrade lenses a little: Maybe a 50mm 1.4 is in my future and the f1.8 can take the backseat? Or a 35mm 1.4 and the f2 can warm the bench?
13. Make more local photographer friends: So important to me this year!! SO important!
14. Photograph more horses and cats
15. Photograph a terminally ill pet
16. Work with 20 new clients and make 20 new friends 🙂
17. Establish a quarterly online newsletter
18. Get a new backup body: Used D700 maybe?
19. Have one “review day” at the end of each month: To review what went on that month that worked and didn’t work, my plans for the coming month, make sure all receipts/records are organized and filed correctly…basically monthly mini check-in’s to keep myself on track
20. Better learn on-camera flash and completely learn off-camera flash
21. Plan a calendar for next year: With a portion of the proceeds going to benefit an organization
22. Finally find a B&W action I like, or develop my own

Lifestyle/Other Goals

23. Come up with a consistent schedule for my weeks and daily plans: ie Barn, breakfast, shower, an hour of admin work (emails, filing, contracts), 2 hours of editing, ordering, or album design, lunch, etc…you get the drift…oh and only check email 3x/day – that’s a big one!
24. Read one book a month
25. Date night out with Dustin once a month
26. Shop for birthdays/Christmas throughout the year: This is mostly because I let the craziness of this fall get away from me and I totally haven’t had time to enjoy Christmas like I thought I would and that sucks 🙁
27. Ride my horses at least 4 times a month each
28. Work one day every two weeks on wedding stuff: I loooooveeee planning our wedding but there’s always so many more business and home things that need to come first so I feel like it always gets pushed to the back burner. I want to carve out a morning every two weeks that is ONLY for wedding planning.
29. Foster at least 2 labs for the Lowcountry Lab Rescue
30. Be at least 1/3 of the way through renovating the main house on our property: Last spring it was partially burnt in a fire started by faulty wiring in the dishwasher, so when we bought the property it was gutted. We’re basically renovating it from top to bottom and hoping to do a lot of it ourselves. Renovation Realities, anyone? Yeh, gonna be us.
31. Run a 10K
32. Compile a Croft Family book for each year: 2009, 2010, and 2011
33. Create at least 10 ideas off of my Pinterest Creative Ideas board

So there’s 33 goals for this year, and I have 3 more written down elsewhere that are personal and business financial goals. I’m super excited about my 2012 goals but the important thing is to keep up with them. I’m going to print out this blog post and hang it on my bulletin board so that I can see and be reminded of these goals every day. Last year I checked in quarterly, and I’m not sure I’m going to do the same this year, but we’ll see. I’d love to see what everyone else’s goals include, though! Sometimes reading other’s goals can inspire you to do things you might not have thought of. If you’ve got a list of goals online, leave a comment with a link!

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”

Looking Back

Talk about one of the fastest years of my life! As I write this, it feels too soon to be writing a 2011 wrap-up post. It doesn’t quite feel like 2012 yet. I think that it goes back to my crazy schedule and how I really didn’t have time to enjoy the holidays this year. Next year I definitely want to slow down and enjoy more of what the holidays mean and represent…and take in each part of the year a little better than I did this year. Life gets in the way but that’s no excuse for not taking the time to appreciate all of the little things.

In 2011, I feel like I did  a little bit of everything. I continued to balance my business in it’s very early stages with my final semester of college. I drove A LOT from school in Baltimore to home in Southern Maryland so that I could shoot some really great clients on the weekends. I traveled to Las Vegas to attend WPPI U, something I truly enjoyed and hope to attend (the regular WPPI) in 2013. I got engaged to the love of my life. I graduated college, on time, I might add, despite transferring like a champ while I tried to figure out where I was supposed to go with my life. I turned 22. I watched my family go through some major changes…hard changes but changes that are ultimately for the best. I moved my entire life 550+ miles south to the great state of South Carolina. I drove back to Maryland a lot. I flew to Colorado for the MJ 2 Day…a really great experience where I made some awesome new photographer friends and learned a lot. I shot my first two weddings. I networked and built relationships with new business and vendors here in the South. I learned a lot more about what it takes to be a mom/step-mom and how hard but rewarding parenting is. I continued to work with rescues and shelters by donating my time to photograph their adoptable dogs. I had my images published on wedding blogs, the Tamron website, and shot covers and story images for a new local magazine. Dustin and I purchased a farm and with the help of Ribbons of Red, I launched a whole new brand…on the same day. Nov. 22 was awesome. I began planning my own wedding. I made new friends in my clients this fall, and I also booked two weddings for next year. Oh and I’m in the process of giving away coverage to a deserving 2012 couple…send them my way if you think they should win 😉

2011 was exhausting. Rewarding. Challenging. Exciting. 2011 pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, go big or go home, and to re-evaluate time management, organization, and what success means to me.

2011 never would have been what it was without the support of my parents, especially my Mom, who encourages me, cheers me on, and supports me constantly in this crazy endeavor. And then there’s Dustin, who puts up with me when I’m down in the dumps about my business, tired, moody, and who makes me sit for head shots for my new blog after I’d tried on a self-timer and gotten mad and felt not pretty and wanted to give up…but he comes home and helps me and makes me laugh and takes some of my favorite head shots ever. And all of my friends and family who are my little marketing team and cheerleaders…who comment the daylights out of my blog, share my links, and spread the word about me to their friends. I would have never met so many wonderful new clients without those awesome cheerleader friends of mine…you know who you are 🙂 There’s my business friends and photographer friends…it’s so nice to be able to vent about small-business/photographer life to those who really get how involved what we do is. And then there’s the incredible clients who believe in me, trust me, and hire me to document something important to them. At the end of the day, NONE of this would be possible without you. You’re a necessary part of the equation and I’m thankful every day that there are people out there who appreciate my vision. Oh and even my blog readers…I love you ALL for having an ounce of interest in what I write!

So as I move forward into 2012, I’m so excited to see how things grow and change for my business. I’m excited for the beautiful brides and grooms I’ll get to photograph, the couples so in love, and of course the fun and furry four-legged furbabies I’ll get to meet 🙂 Hopefully you’ll be one of them and I can’t wait to see you in 2012!

Oh and thanks to Riley and Lexi for loving me despite that fact that they have a camera in their face nearly EVERY day 🙂

2012 Goals Recap

I can’t believe I’m writing this post already. 2012 is almost over and soon 2013 will be here. A whole new year. It’s always a little nerve-wrecking to dig in and see what I did and didn’t do during the year. I mean I kind of have an idea since I kept up with my goals (originally published here) quarterly (here, here, and here), but this year just went by so fast and I feel like so much has changed in a year. For starters, this was my first year being completely full-time, out of college, on my own, 100%. It was also my first full year working here in South Carolina (I moved down from Maryland in June of 2011 after graduation), so I literally started from scratch at the beginning of the year. At the end of last year my horses came from Maryland to live with me, Dustin and I bought a farm (or basically a big project haha), he left to work in Oklahoma from March to August, and we got married in September. I traveled to Maryland 6 or 7 times, went to Wisconsin for a wedding, and put a LOT of miles on my car driving to Charleston, Savannah, and various parts of Georgia for work. It was a crazy year, to say the least. But regardless of how I did or didn’t do with my goals, I’m really proud I at least set them, shared them, and kept myself accountable. It’s been exciting brainstorming my 2013 goals and I hope to share them sometime in January.

So here’s how the year looked for business goals…

1. Have a home office that inspires and motivates me: I thought I had this taken care of about the middle of the year, but then I rearranged my office and everything kind of got all discombobulated. I’m trying to get Dustin to finish building me some closet shelving and then I think things will be a lot more organized and inspiring. So sort of done, but definitely a work in progress.
2. Learn to shoot film and actively use it for personal work: Excited to say I accomplished this. I only shot 5 rolls of film this year due to time and cost, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it although I really don’t know what I’m doing. I will definitely be shooting more film in 2013.
3. Book and successfully shoot 4-5 weddings of my own: Done. I had eight amazing couples this year who I am endlessly grateful for.
4. Actively second shoot as often as the opportunity arises: I am so thankful for the photographers who let me shoot alongside them this year. I’ll be doing a separate post on this (and some things I learned this year as a second shooter), but I think when it was all said and done I second shot 14 weddings this year
5. Take part in a styled shoot: Sadly did not accomplish this, but it will get passed on to my 2013 goals
6. Continue to volunteer for shelters and pets in need: Done
7. Donate portrait photography for a good cause for people: Not done 🙁
8. Put money aside all year for WPPI 2013: Didn’t have the means to accomplish this goal for 2012, but I certainly hope to be able to attend WPPI 2014
9. Do a 52 weeks of Riley and Lexi Project: Not done. Got a little over halfway and had to let this project go.
10. Have each wedding I book and shoot of my own featured on a wedding blog: Still a work in progress…some were published, some not yet. I hope to have all 8 published by 2013.
11. Have a pet session featured on a popular pet blog: Done. Proud to have had my work featured on Hair of the Dog Blog, Dog Milk, The Daily Dog Tag, and to have been listed among many other talented photographers on The Pet Anthology’s 30 Inspirational Pet Photographers Part II
12.  Upgrade lenses a little: Unfortunately I had to keep on keepin’ on with what I currently had this year
13. Make more local photographer friends: Done! Too many new friends to count 🙂
14. Photograph more horses and cats: Photographed a few cats and one one horsey client!
15. Photograph a terminally ill pet: Did not accomplish this
16. Work with 20 new clients and make 20 new friends: Done!
17. Establish a quarterly online newsletter: Done but not really done. I did well the first half of the year then let it slack the second half. Definitely something to work on in 2013.
18. Get a new backup body: Done
19. Have one “review day” at the end of each month: Again, was doing this at the beginning of the year, then slacked off at the end.
20. Better learn on-camera flash and completely learn off-camera flash: Done, but definitely still have a LOT to learn about OCF!
21. Plan a calendar for next year: Did not accomplish this, sadly, since it was something that was important to me 🙁 I will HAVE to prioritize it for next year.
22. Finally find a B&W action I like, or develop my own: Done. Color images, meet desaturate. Easy peasy.

And for personal/lifestyle goals…

23. Come up with a consistent schedule for my weeks and daily plans: I have a “daily schedule” taped to my wall that sits over my computer, but I can’t say I stick to it every day. Definitely a work in progress.
24. Read one book a month: Didn’t quite accomplish this BUT with my downtime this winter I will probably read enough to make up for what I didn’t read earlier this year 🙂
25. Date night out with Dustin once a month: Well obviously this didn’t happen considering once again we lived in separate states for almost 6 months out of the year
26. Shop for birthdays/Christmas throughout the year: Defffffffffffinitely did not do this. BUT, I did shop early enough in November/December to not have to be out at the last minute this year.
27. Ride my horses at least 4 times a month each: Nope. Didn’t do this. But I rode 4 times last week, which is kind of a miracle!
28. Work one day every two weeks on wedding stuff: Done
29. Foster at least 2 labs for the Lowcountry Lab Rescue: Done
30. Be at least 1/3 of the way through renovating the main house on our property: We actually decided to completely tear the house down and build new in the next 2-3 years, so this goal is no longer relevant but we did save a lot this year for our new house
31. Run a 10K: Nope. Not done.
32. Compile a Croft Family book for each year: Also not done. Tried to do this in time for Christmas to be able to give it to Landon this year but I’m completely overwhelmed by the idea of designing said book with now 4 years worth of pictures of us. Geeze.
33. Create at least 10 ideas off of my Pinterest Creative Ideas board: I did a few but definitely not 10. You can call this one a definite fail.

So out of all 35 of my goals (the last 2 were financial goals I kept to myself), I accomplished 17 of them (including the 2 financial goals). That’s not a very good percentage, but it honestly doesn’t matter that much to me. I think 2012 was an awesome year in ways that can’t be quantified by that list up there. More than anything, what I’ll remember about this year are so many of the memories I made with my family and how we’ve made our not-so-fancy temporary little house into a home, the amazing times I had with my friends (and the new friends I made), all of the cool places I worked and visited, my dogs and how grateful I am to have them to keep me company, and the fact that I did a lot of things with my business that I never thought I would or could. I’ll definitely keep that in mind as I build my 2013 goals, because something I’ve taken away from this is that it’s definitely so much more about that quality than the quantity. It doesn’t matter how many goals I did or didn’t accomplish, but about the quality of my experiences and work throughout 2012. 2012 was a good year, and I hope to make 2013 an even better and more fulfilling year both personally and in my business.