As Seen In:
International Wedding Photographer of the Year Winner: Couple Portrait // International Wedding Photographer of the Year Winner: Epic Location // Junebug Best of the Best Wedding Photos Runner Up // Business Insider // Yahoo News // Love on Earth Workshop Instructor
Previous Year In Reviews
It’s that time of year where I set out to only pick 1-2 photos from every elopement and session this year… and I fail miserably. Every time. I can’t help it! Picking favorites is just NOT my forte.
But despite that struggle (lol) this really is one of my favorite posts of the year. I love looking back at all the previous year’s magic, looking ahead or what’s in store for next year, and in general reflecting on life, this business, and all that good stuff 🙂 As I put the photos in order (smiling like a doofus the whole time!), I thought about what I’d say. I crunched some numbers, even originally included them in this post- how many miles driven, how many states and national parks visited, how many predawn starts and nights I got home so late I only had time for spaghettios or easy Mac…but then paused. I did this one year before and it happened again- they really are just numbers and SO not the point, ya know? Sure those numbers are fancy and maybe impressive…but those figures are honestly pretty superfluous to the work I do. They are a happy side effect to what I do, but never the point of what I do.
The point- is the day these couples have. The epic way they start to their lives together that I am lucky enough to be a part of. That’s the point. I have so much admiration for the couples I get to work with- whether their decision to elope is a total leap (one they are bound to get flack for) or the decision is the most natural thing in the world (the only kind of wedding day that ever made sense)- I can’t help but be in awe. Cause every couple you see here is going after what matters to them. They’re doing the fun thing, the rad thing, the brave thing… the thing that makes their heart flutter with the person they’ve decided is their forever.
And friends, there is not a thing in the world cooler than that.
Some specific reflections on this past year: First off- what a year. Full to the brim with amazing elopements, incredible couples, and new adventures. I built continued confidence in this business and in my work. There have been some victories this year I’m super proud of! First work outside the US, honored with winning two categories of International Wedding Photographer of the Year, continuing to grow and expand as a photographer and as a business owner, and getting to speak for the second time at the Love on Earth Workshop.
I learned a lot this about myself and specifically some limits I want to honor in the future. I really believe in pushing myself and experimenting and seeing what works best for me as a human and as a boss (a boss of one- myself haha). The only way to know what works best is to try things out. My big takeaway from this year is this: I’m going to be more strict about my travel schedule moving forward. I have found having a home base suits me better than bouncing all over the western United States like a pinball. I want to have longer stints places- I do my best work that way and provide the best experiences to my couples.
I also want spend a bit more time at home- I spent just under 6 months away from home this year. I had some unimaginable adventures- but I also missed Rob, Jojo, and my home in Flagstaff and thusly learned that 6 months is too much for me. I value being a good photographer just as much as I value being a good wife, daughter, sister, dog mom and friend and want to make sure the professional doesn’t outweigh the personal relationships in my life. In the spirit of full transparency I feel that balance slipped a bit this year. Nothing super major, but I talk a lot about how I love and adore this job and plan on continuing to love and adore it far into the future. Nurturing my life outside of my work is a huge part of that, and plan on being mindful of that in 2024.
But truly, and this is the most important bit- I am over the moon grateful for this job every single day. Even when I drive 14 hours straight, even when I’m living on easy Mac and tuna, or editing in the wee hours of the morning, I love this job. In spite of (and because of) the bits that are tricky. This job is the honor of my life, truly.
2023 couples? Thank you. Endlessly. To say I’m honored to have been a part of your day doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I’m pleased with this collection of photos- it feels true to the type of work I love to do and the days I love to capture. Big landscapes, small moments, belly laughs, fun, joy. Every couple is represented her and every elopement has 2 images or more. I took the approach of wanting to encapsulate the year- I feel good about the finished product. Peak existence days ya’ll. This year was full of them 🙂
I can’t wait for 2024. Exciting things are already brewing.
If you made it to the end you win a prize. Leave a comment so I can thank you!
— Ryan + Styhiln