I've got a lovely engagement session that I'm excited to share with y'all today. I met Clare while we were both in college at UNC, and she and I have kept in semi-regular touch ever since. Starting in 2009, we both lived in Athens, Georgia when she was in grad school and my hubs was in law school. Clare is such a sweetheart; she welcomed me into her group of friends from school so graciously when I didn't know many folks at all. She also got to witness the very humble beginnings of my business and she's been so supportive ever since. Needless to say, I'm SO happy she and Andrew have chosen me to shoot their wedding next summer. I'm also fortunate to have been able to shoot their engagement session in Old Town Alexandria this past June. I love shooting in Old Town; there are so many eclectic spots. Please enjoy my favorites of these lovebirds!
It's been a whirlwind of a year. I honestly cannot believe 2016 is almost here. Blows my mind, actually. Whenever you have kids, the saying "the days are long and the years are short" certainly rings true. Brooklyn is almost 19 months old and we're officially on baby #2 alert (hence my earlier-than-usual recap post!).
If you remember my recap from 2014, I set some goals for myself for the new year. And a lot of the goals had to do with a shift in re-focusing my business. Let's see how things worked out:
1) Focus more on portrait sessions (versus weddings), because they allow me more flexibility with raising our children. I succeeded in making very intentional decisions this past year about what and who I photographed. Unfortunately, this went hand in hand with having to say "no" to almost every non-local shoot or wedding, but I'm happy because it allowed me more time to be at home with my family. Along with caring for my baby girl full-time, I still managed to shoot five weddings, eight newborn/baby sessions, five family sessions, two engagement sessions and one maternity session. I'm very fortunate to have a mother-in-law nearby who cares for Brooklyn so well AND a husband who supports me and realizes that my photography business is still important in my life.
2) Give my online presence a makeover, including streamlining my sites. I'm almost there with this! I've already consolidated my two previous sites to one portfolio & blog URL via Squarespace, which I'm very happy with. I also switched to a new gallery hosting company called Pixieset that is much more user-friendly and displays photos beautifully. The last thing on my makeover: give my logo a little upgrade!
3) Photograph a live birth. Unfortunately, this still hasn't happened. If you know of someone willing, leave me a note in the comments or e-mail me with suggestions!
4) Do a session pro bono. I failed miserably with this. Time isn't something I have a lot of these days, but I still want to make this a priority for 2016.
5) Run a contest with a free session catered to local clientele. I hosted this at the beginning of last year, and Paige, if you're reading this... I still owe you a session! : )
Even though the season in my life has changed dramatically over the past year+ from seeing myself as primarily a photographer first to now a mama first, I still very much love the moments I spend with my clients. I still get that nervous/giddy/adrenaline-filled feeling right before a session or wedding starts, which shows me that I love and live for photographing people. And I don't think that feeling will ever go away!
Thank you so much to everyone who continues to support my little business. Every comment on social media and my blog puts a huge smile on my face. Cheers to 2015 and all my clients who made it so special! Here is a photo recap (in order!) of every session and wedding from the past year. I look forward to what lies ahead in 2016!
And one last thing: as of today, I am on maternity leave until April. I will still be posting some personal things on the blog in the coming week(s), as long as this little dude en utero stays put. ; )
This couple. This light. I LOVED this afternoon! I met Amanda and Rob in downtown Frederick, Maryland for their engagement session, and I could tell from the very beginning of the session that it was going to be a good one. :) These two are so comfortable with each other and share a really special connection, and it really shines through their images. I barely had to give direction; the photos were practically making themselves. I loved how one minute they were intimate and affectionate and the next they were playful and cracking up with each other. It was such a fun and relaxing time! I really enjoyed getting to spend time with them and making some magic. Enjoy some of my many, many favorites. Can't wait for their wedding next summer!
Kristen and Dan met me recently along the Tidal Basin for their early morning engagement session. Dan proposed on a bench with a view of the Jefferson Memorial so the area is extra special to them, which I love. We went to Georgetown for the second half of the shoot and it may have involved cupcakes from Baked and Wired (cupcake lovers near Georgetown - go get you some - so scrumptious!).
I'm not sure how I get so lucky to have the most sincere, genuine clients. Whatever the universe is telling me, I'm grateful that I get to photograph people like Kristen and Dan. They are so easygoing and kind. I loved spending time with them, and I cannot wait until their wedding in DC next year!
Melissa Tuck Photography had another wonderful year thanks to the best clients one could imagine! My camera had less clicks than ever before due to my pregnancy and maternity leave in the spring (but what I lacked professionally, I made up for personally). I only shot nine weddings (in comparison to 22 in 2013 and 28 in 2012), BUT I realized last year's weddings did put me at a certain milestone: I've now shot more than 100 weddings since starting my business in 2009! *Insert happy dance and proud face here.* Last year, I also shot three engagement sessions, one bridal session, 16 baby/family/maternity sessions and one baby shower. It is so incredible to me that within a year's time, I can be shooting a baby shower turned newborn session, a newborn session turned one-year-old session, a maternity session turned three-week-old session ... you get the picture. ; ) I'm so thankful that my clients (who are friends now, really) keep contacting me beyond their wedding day so that I can see their families grow! Even though the main reason for shooting less last year was my pregnancy and giving birth, I also intentionally booked less on average to better balance my work + life flow. I felt less stressed and it also enabled me to give more time + attention to every client I did serve. Since having Brooklyn and becoming a stay-at-home mom, I have had to learn how to work again in a completely different way. I've learned to prioritize my time better (hellooooo nap time!), work more efficiently, ask for help when I need it (my mother-in-law has been a lifesaver during busy editing season) and set strict office hours to spend time with my little family in the evenings. It hasn't been easy, but it's worked, and I'm happy and encouraged to move forward with my new set of skills juggling work and the babe. : )
In 2014, I was featured in several wedding blogs that I admire: Borrowed & Blue blog, Every Last Detail blog, Daily Dog Tag blog, Glamour & Grace blog, Heart Love Always blog & Charm City Wed blog. Thank you to all the editors for your willingness to share my work! I'm excited to submit my weddings and shoots from 2014 to more publications over the next several months!
Now, a note about reflection and goals. It's the beginning of a new year and the best time to think about what did and didn't work in the past and how I can improve moving ahead. I know a lot of other photographers blog in depth about their yearly (sometimes monthly) goals; I never have and maybe I'll start doing it if I need to hold myself more accountable. But for now, I'll just share a few important things on my mind for 2015:
1) I intend to focus more on family/baby/newborn/maternity sessions. As the seasons in my own life change, I've found that my professional interests have shifted. This DOESN'T mean that I won't be shooting weddings and that I don't enjoy them anymore. I still love documenting weddings, but I'll just be targeting a limited number of weddings and very few of them will be out of town. After having a baby and caring for her on a daily basis, it's just way too difficult to travel as much as I have in the past and I want to focus on more local weddings to the DC/Maryland/northern Virginia area. I've already hit more than half my goal for this year's weddings so please contact me soon if you're recently engaged and interested!
2) I want to give my presence on the web a little makeover and streamline my sites. I've seen a gradual shift to consolidate portfolio and blog sites to all one URL (for example, have www.melissatuckphoto.com & www.melissatuckblog.com linked together) and I like it. On top of that, I need to make my web presence strictly mobile-friendly (my Flash-based portfolio site - melissatuckphoto - is not viewable on phones or tablets), and I need to get on that seeing as how everyone is so mobile these days! I'm also going to switch my gallery/reprint site to a more photo-driven/friendly company that will offer immediate high-res downloads for clients. More to come on that later!
3) I want to photograph a live birth. If you know someone who may be willing local to me, please send them my way in the comments!
4) Do at least one session pro bono. I used to make this a priority and I fell slack last year. Back in 2011, I photographed babies in the NICU for families who weren't able to take home their babies right away and I may do it again. Any other great ideas? Leave a comment for me!
5) Because I moved from Georgia to the Maryland/DC/Virginia area last year, I'm looking to spread the word more locally about my business. To do so, I will be running a contest that offers a free session soon on the blog. Be on the lookout!
Lastly, I can't thank my hubby, family, friends, clients and MTP Insta and Facebook fans enough for all of your support and love. You continue to inspire me and my work. Please enjoy photo highlights (two from each shoot, in order!) from my year. Next week, I plan to blog about the personal side of 2014. Spoiler (or not-so-spoiler) -alert: It will surely be Brooklyn-centric. ; )