Goodbye 2023, hello 2024

I went back and forth on whether it made sense to write this blog. Ultimately I have spent a lot of time and energy on what me showing up publicly but authentically looks like to me, and this is part of it. 2023 was very humbling for me. I spent a LOT of the year reflecting, taking notes in my notes app after every wedding and almost every photo session to reflect- what am I doing well, what do I need to work on... but also, what's next?

I feel like as small business owners it feels like there is a LOT of pressure to know where your business is heading and your goals for the next year. If you don't know me and my photo journey, here's the cliff notes... I first picked up a camera when I was 6 when my mom took me to a local park and let me use her film camera to take photos of (mostly) flowers, then the local photography high school teacher (Mr. Porter) taught me how to process film and print my own black and white photos in the dark room. I fell in love with photography instantly. My mom was an artist in many ways and also a high school teacher. She loved to create and found ways to do that while supporting my sister and I. She was an incredibly strong woman with a badass work ethic. I was always SO nervous about going full-time photography because it's not the most financially stable and to be honest, that scared the shit out of me. In December 2021 my mom found out she had cancer cells in her blood, and 3 weeks later (January 2023) she passed away from pancreatic cancer. To say that my world turned upside down is putting it lightly. My mom and I had a complicated relationship and I still grieve not only her and the hole I have in my heart that was once filled with her, but I grieve the conversations and apologies I wish I would've given her. I ended up taking an extended leave of absence from my full time job to try to process (and not have panic attacks while at work). I returned to work 7 weeks after she passed. I had a meeting with my boss the day I returned that shook me to my core and I decided that day that life is short (my mom was 57) and I didn't want to die a banker. I wanted to follow my passion, photography. A month later I left my job as a branch manager at a bank and became a full time photographer.

In 2023 I was more open on social media about my relationship with her in different ways, and to me I needed that to know that it was okay. I think as a society grief and loss are uncomfortable and we tend to push our "big feelings" down or hide them, and I just wanted people to know that it's okay to have heavy feelings and to express them and I will try my best to be a safe space for those moments. The amount of people that have messaged me expressing their appreciate for posting about my mom or with their own personal stories makes my discomfort with how vulnerable I was feeling worth it. One of my favorites is a single mom that I know through photography that said she saw a lot of her and her two daughter in my mom, sister and I... that's why I shared, it matters...

The anniversary of my mom's passing is January 13th. Because everything with her happened so quickly from Christmas Eve through New Years, the holidays are pretty tainted for me (my partner still works very hard to make sure I feel joy in the holiday season)... About a week ago I was talking to my friend, Rene about how I felt frustrated that I don't know if I will ever feel the "rebirth" or "renewal" feeling that I see everywhere around New Years and she reminded me that just because the masses express that doesn't mean I have to follow that template of life (there was nuance and she said it better than I am now lol but you get the point). But you know what, she's right. I've also always been a little against the grain anyways, so I decided that I would set my business and life goals in the spring. April 1st is the anniversary of me going full time in photography, so that's my new checkpoint.

Anyway, my ADHD is showing ;) iykyk let's get back on track... 2023...

In 2023-

  • I shot 37 weddings. 17 of my own and 20 that I second shot
  • I shot 86 sessions that weren't weddings
  • I got to photograph 5 different friends get married to the love of their lives
  • I delivered 48,018 images my clients (24,009 color and the same in black and white)
  • I worked with 2 charities
  • I met my business goals that I set for myself (even though they were more vague than they will be moving forward)
  • I traveled to the Oregon Coast with my friend, Becca as she navigated a tough divorce and we lit her wedding dress on fire (full blog on this to come)
  • I traveled to New York to second shoot a wedding with Lucie B Photography with one of my friends, Reilly (experiencing NYC with her is indescribable)
  • I went to San Diego to celebrate my 10 year wedding anniversary to my favorite human in the whole world
  • I traveled to the Oregon Coast (and got lost and had a mess of a travel situation) with Rene... thank goodness for her grace when I was a full on crab
  • I photographed a few people I went to high school with (which doesn't sound like a big deal but I was HONORED and I live about 6 hours away now so it made my heart so happy that they asked and trusted me to do so)
  • I read 14 books
  • I met LOTTTT of incredible people and became closer with a few
  • I became part of a co-working group that I now consider family and I am more appreciative towards than I can express
  • I opened an in home studio
  • I decided an in home studio wasn't for me, and closed it
  • I self reflected a lot and I'm really proud of my growth and I'm very happy with the direction I'm going in 2024

2023 was a big year for me and for a lot of people around me. If you were a part of my 2023, thank you. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! I feel so unbelievably honored to be trusted to capture so many big moments in your lives. Your moments and memories matter and I can't wait to see where 2024 takes me and the photography business we are creating and molding together.

If you made it this far, thank you and cheers to 2024. I hope it brings you when you need. And I hope if you feel inclined you'll reach out- whether it's to co-work and talk business/ photography, to just grab coffee and meet a new friend, because you need a big hug, to talk about a loved one that you lost or someone that you're grieving in another way, or for me to photograph your wedding, branding, family or lifestyle photos...

Be happy and know that you are wonderful.


Paige O

P.S. Thank you to Alexis A. and Jordyn L. for writing beautiful and honest 2023 letters that inspired me to show my heart and write my own.