It’s Sunday 3rd of January 2016, I have a glass of wine by my side, and I’m doing the thing I’ve had on my mind since November. Reflecting on the year that’s passed. More than a month overdue, this item on my to-do list was going to be a wrap up of all the shoots, business successes (and failures) and wonderful clients I’ve had the privilege to work with. I’ve been beating myself up for most of December for not making the time or having the energy to get down and actually write it, but as with most things, when you forgive yourself, let go and trust in divine timing, then things will work out exactly as they should.
So in addition to recapping the work front with some of the shoots that I did for my clients last year, I’m also going to share some things on the personal front – some of my personal growth and life lessons. Not to brag, not even necessarily to share this with the hopes of helping or inspiring others, but purely as a record to document the highs and lows that each fleeting year brings. As my husband would say – “If it’s not documented, did it really happen?”. This brings to mind a quote from the late Steve Jobs, which has stuck with me since the first time I heard it…
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
So this here’s my 2015 dots…
Early Summer 2015
On the personal front…
I started 2015 with huge ambitions and goals in the name of creativity. To push myself out of my comfort zone with the aim of creating art, for the pure enjoyment, that would be revered and acknowledged. This saw me waking up before sunrise on New Year’s day 2015 to walk down to the beach to make a self portrait. A portrait which, I can now say, was completely empty and ill-formed.
Or the time I was poking my head in a bush of tall grass at a wine farm in front of complete strangers while my family was wine tasting – in the name of doing something that scares me. However, the beauty of this lackluster start to my creative challenge of 2015, is that it led to me discovering the enjoyment of composite photography and my ‘Small Girl, Big World’ personal project. This, by the way, was meant to be a 365 day challenge – creating an image every day of the year. I failed at that. But the images I did create have sparked in me something that I feel is set to change my future as a creative.
I also got to connect with family members that came from the UK to visit my folks in their new home in Yzerfontein. Reminding me that although I grew up with a small family of four here in South Africa, I actually have roots in a far greater collective on another continent and each visit is an opportunity to get to know my family just a little better.
There was also that time, as the long summer nights began to get just a little less long, when I danced like a teenager at the Goldfish concert at Kirstenbosch. Jumping up and down and feeling euphoric until the stitches and breathlessness kicked in. For a brief moment, I was 20 again, partying like it was 1999 without a care in the world.
On the work front…
I continued to work the wedding season like a demon – shooting, editing, proofing and delivering, all while continuing to keep up with the usual admin, marketing, networking and the odd portrait shoot thrown in for good measure.
I also publicly admitted defeat with my 365 project and discovered that people were more supportive than judgmental and that showing my vulnerable, authentic side in a business context, wasn’t actually a bad thing.
Today I fessed up about failing my 365 photo project. I did however learn some valuable lessons. Read them in my latest blog post where I share all…. www.abigailk.co.za/blog #nota365project #nowa52weekproject #failure #52weekproject #fail #lessons #photoproject #personalproject
A photo posted by abigail (@abigailk_) on
I decided to put more effort into my instagram account, which is still a work in progress….
On the Personal Front…
Easter was a chance to reconnect with my folks on a mini break to the Cederburg, where I once again challenged myself to do some creative shooting. We also did some rock climbing to watch the tight rope walkers risk everything for a thrill. I discovered that I was a big-assed party pooper, stopping my parents from climbing too far up the mountain, because I was scared that they might fall and hurt themselves and I wouldn’t know what to do if they did. So we watched from a safe distance.
I discovered what it was to meet creatives in other fields and to share experiences of life and business as a means to help each other out and for finding common ground and a sense of companionship with a ‘we’re in this together’ feeling. Just because we’re on a solo journey as a self-employed person, doesn’t mean we have to travel alone. It’s like buying a single plane ticket and then expecting to be the only person on board. No – there are many people who have bought their single plane tickets, and all of them have boarded the plane. So although you have your own itinerary, there’s nothing wrong with conversing with others, mid-flight, in the cabin. And one day – we’ll be chatting up in first class!
On the Work front…
I put on my big girl panties and moved into a bigger studio – with bigger space comes bigger bills. I remember the feeling of sheer panic as I realised we’d signed the lease and I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to be able to afford the increased costs. I also remember being determined to make it work and that I would make the money I needed to be able to pay the rent. I resolved to do things differently, to be proactive and to go out and find business as opposed to waiting for it to come to me.
I started putting some real effort into writing blog posts (spoiler alert: I dropped that ball in December!), and discovered that I really enjoy writing. Note to self: If you enjoy it, do more of it in 2016!
I proactively reached out to people I followed online to see if they wanted to connect on a project, accepting that I was going to face rejection, but deciding that I’d be ok with that if it happened. As a result I managed to put together my #CTConfidence campaign which saw me photograph 10 beauty bloggers in a reverse before and after shoot.
I woke up, the earliest I’ve ever woken for a shoot, and created some magical engagement images for Samantha and David. Let it be known – I’m not an early riser.
I was nominated for a Business Women’s Association award, which I didn’t really want to accept because I didn’t think I’d win. I decided to accept my nomination and I lost. I survived.
I established a regular goal setting session with Rose which helped us both enormously. Keeping us on track with our desired achievements throughout the year and our weekly to-do lists.
I discovered that logistics and event planning is not my strong point. I started a group meetup for photographers who follow the Sue Bryce portrait photography business model. We managed 1 meeting. I also developed and started offering a Blog Photography Workshop. It was enthusiastically received, but not so enthusiastically attended. What is it with Capetonians and their commitment issues? Or is it just me? I’ve since decided to create an online version of the workshop which is still currently in production, due for launch in the coming weeks.
On the personal front…
I officially discovered a new hobby – walks and hikes. Forests, mountains, beaches. All of the above. I really enjoy it and it’s the best thing I can think of doing with my husband and dog on a Sunday morning.
My goal of visiting Paris in July didn’t come to fruition. I watched the event in my calendar come and go. That deflated me somewhat. But I soldiered on.
I got flu and instead of taking it easy and giving myself some time off to recover, I upped my expectations and demanded of myself some of the most challenging work I’ve done for a project, with the motivating factor being “Do the work once, do it now, and reap the rewards later.” It remains to be seen if this will pay off, but I’m confident it will.
I cut my hair short in the hope that it would be easier to manage and I wouldn’t tie it up as much. The jury’s still out on that.
On the work front…
I introduced personal branding shoots to my repertoire and discovered that I really enjoy shooting stylised still-life, so will be focusing a lot on that this year.
I upped my Abby’s Abstracts video regime. And later back-tracked completely, sighting lack of content ideas.
I did some amazing portraits, from Luxury Portraits to Professional Headshots, with amazing people who really made me feel talented and who encouraged me to do what I do, affirming that I’m on the right path. I collaborated with some great people and organisations – Meg from Mind the Curves, Dancers Loves Dogs, Fashion Flavour & Art & I gave a talk at the Xtraordnary Women Network. I also reconnected with friends I’ve met along my business journey and reflected on where I was in my business when I first met them years previously.
I truly began to believe in the value of my portrait work and began to speak about and show my work with more confidence.
On the personal front…I celebrated my birthday by booking some time off and away in Robertson. The first downtime for the year. I realised how powerful and important it is to switch off your mind and separate yourself from your work. It’s not something that should be done as an optional extra. It should be mandatory for all self employed persons.
We discovered the best pizza place in Cape Town, and the best part is, it’s walking distance from home! I’ve since introduced many of my friends to Ferdinando’s.
I attended a styling workshop which changed the way I define my personal style and how I choose my outfits for the day.
I flew my best friend down to Cape Town from Joburg for her birthday and we climbed Lion’s head.
A photo posted by abigail (@abigailk_) on
I took a leap of faith and booked a trip that ticks 2 big bucket list items in one go! But more on that in a future blog post… Hint: my Paris trip is happening!!
On the work front…
I made plans to get more productive and structured with my work and designed my weekly planner. I created portraits for a friend, Emma and watched as her business took off with her new branding images. I created portraits for clients, worthy of the word, art. I collaborated with Rose and Liezel van der Westehuizen to create her ‘Small girl, big world’ series.
I did a couple of catalogue shoots for Rose and Anna from Jacoba Clothing, with the fabulous model Bia AKA Little Harlequin and had an absolute blast with each! So much belly laughing!
I was reminded of the importance of working with the kinds of clients who are on the same page energetically and expectationally (new word!) and I made a decision about the services I choose to offer which will impact my business in 2016. A scary step, but a necessary one, and one that ultimately feels right and makes my coming year feel lighter already. I still need to implement this change so watch this space in the coming weeks for announcements and website changes.
Late Summer 2015
On the personal front…
I made the decision to start working smart, not hard. Being busy is not the same as being successful. To prioritise living and life as much as, if not more than, business success (Thanks to Danielle La Porte’s Desire Map Workbook). To no longer put living a happy life at the bottom of the priority list. I’ve realised that I’ve been so focused on business that I’ve lost touch with the point of the whole exercise, which is to live a life designed and optimised for happiness. Running a business is only one part of that journey. The rest is real life stuff – experiences, growth, enjoyment, health, spirituality, relationships – all the things that matter.
This year I discovered that I really enjoy bubbly, capers, and Graham Beck’s Chardonnay (I’ve been a red wine drinker for most of my adult life). I kicked my jelly-tot addiction and I started a morning cardio routine. On New Year’s eve, I also discovered that we have one of the best sushi and Thai food places within walking distance from home. It just goes to show, that there are new experiences to be enjoyed so long as you’re open to receiving them.
So the last part of 2015 has been the start of a shifting and growing process for me. Nothing changes if nothing changes. So it’s time for some change, and the new year could not have come at a better time.
On the work front…
I worked my ass off. Non-stop. Headshots, maternity shoots, makeovers & weddings. I honestly feel exhausted and burnt out. I took a long weekend off for Christmas and a long weekend off for New Years, and I can feel that it’s not enough. I’ve worked damn hard to keep it together to provide a high class service for my clients, with a genuine smile and heartfelt sentiment. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of all of those who’ve had a few weeks break from their normal work routine. It felt like, when everyone was winding down for the start of summer, I was winding up, to kick it up a gear.
I’m honestly grateful to get to do the creative work that I do and to work with such friendly and appreciative clients. I’m beyond appreciative that I work for myself and I get to choose how I earn a living. And that’s just it. I get to choose. And now as I sit on the other side of the new year’s celebrations, I’m choosing to change. I’m choosing to do things differently.
And finally… the Bubbly
Over this weekend, I sat and wrote out my goals for the coming year and as I searched deep to figure out how I wanted to feel, rather than what I wanted to gain, I feel a sense of calm, clarity and even energy as I look to 2016. I almost feel like my 3 day weekend was in fact a 3 week holiday, just because I took the time for some introspection, and realignment with my truest personal and professional desires.
So rather then ending on a ‘woe-is-me’ note, I’m ending this on a ‘hell, yeah! – let’s do this!’ note.
I’m so excited to see what this coming year reveals for my business and for me, and if 2015 is anything to go by, I know that I’m in for an amazing journey – with all it’s good, bad and bubbly!