2020: The Pandemic

I just spent 30 minutes writing an entire paragraph about how much 2020 sucked and then I deleted it. The infamous year of 2020 will forever be etched in our minds as the worst year in recent history. But you know what? A lot of awesome things happened, too! I learned I was stronger than I thought possible; I learned that I have the grit it takes to be a small business owner; and I had to grow in many ways that I didn’t really like in order to adapt to our changing world. I’m still growing and 2020 is still changing me. But today, I realized that the infamous year didn’t kill me (not to be extremely cliche here), it made me stronger.

by Beth Hanson Photography

Our little church is outside of the major city limits so we were able to distance ourselves, hold multiple services that were much shorter than normal, and split the members into risk categories. It also meant that we didn’t have to miss Sunday service through the pandemic; we complied with every law and were able to worship God. It showed me that I belong to a group of Christians who want to follow after the truth just as much as Paul and I do. It was encouraging during a time when I needed to focus my mind on my faith the most.

A few months ago, our very, very small church unexpectedly lost a leader… much before his time. On many Sundays he was our preacher and he frequently shared his knowledge of bible history during study. While this was devastating for our little congregation, it created room for growth in the leaders of the church. It also brought us a new preacher with a fresh perspective, and I am really enjoying learning from him!

About an hour before I was scheduled to meet some of the ladies on my model team for the very first time, I got a phone call that would shake my world for the weeks and months (and likely years) to come. We thought my grandmother had years to live, but it turned out we only had a little bit of time left and I was too far away to make it. Driving home from church with tears streaming down my face, I called Paul (who was at work), and then I started to pray. I needed to somehow not only pull myself together enough to be presentable in public, but also meet a group of ladies and make a great first impression on them. Even though they had applied for my Senior Model Team, I was still in the sales pitch phase. Thank goodness for prayer and makeup. To this day, I don’t know how I made it through those meetings.

Living far away from grandparents who are aging is one of the most heart-breaking things I deal with. Sometimes, it’s too sad to think about. I lost my grandmother to cancer. Soon after, I went home to try to visit my living grandparents, but I wasn’t able to due to COVID-related reasons. On that trip, I got to spend a few precious days with my sister and my nephew. We had the most amazing and unique photoshoot experience. I photographed my sister and her oldest son in the back of a Target parking lot, in an overgrown corner, on some city-water access platform (our mom called it a water vault). To say that it was a less than ideal location would be correct. Those photos of my sister and her first born are beautiful. They are classically him, and she is radiant. The best part is that it was a memory we got to share with our parents. They had so much fun watching me work and my nephew playing. I’ll never be able to express how special those 20 minutes were to me surrounded by weeds and my family, telling my nephew to “jump, jump, jump”.

During that same trip to Oregon, I was fortunate enough to have lined up two Senior Photoshoot Experiences with two amazing senior ladies. It was a dream to be in Oregon and photographing senior clients; I felt like a super star! These ladies were so awesome in working with my schedule and they were a dream to photograph. Smart, beautiful, wonderful ladies!!! The images that I took for Cassidy and Lily’s photoshoots are some of my favorites from 2020 and will live on as some of the most special photoshoots to me, because they were of home.

I had a multi-phased marketing and networking plan for 2020 that would launch my business even farther into the senior and wedding industries. Days and weeks before launching many parts of this plan, the entire world shut down. I remember crying over a Zoom meeting with many other photographer friends because somehow “deflated” just didn’t seem powerful enough of a word. Luckily, I was able to “open my doors” again and my business grew in ways that I couldn’t have ever planned! I had incredible growth in a year that was very difficult for some. I delved deeper into parts of the wedding industry that I wanted to but in ways that I hadn’t planned on. I was able to photograph 16 weddings and serve 10 other incredible photographers by second shooting at weddings with them. I made wonderful friends in the wedding industry this year. I was also able to watch and experience other vendors as they worked. Lastly, I was sought out by a photographer I absolutely admire and is a well-known photographer in Tulsa… y’all, I got to work with her! Me! Paul doesn’t know many names in the world of photography, but he definitely knows that one and I called him instantly. His excitement matched my joy.

There are a ton of other very wonderful things that 2020 brought me. Paul painted our house white and I love it. Even that experience has a very funny yet twisted 2020 tint to it. We got to spend another year with Knuckles and Nova who are looking more and more their age as every day passes. I learned how to use the drive thru lane at the bank and even though I don’t like it all that much, I still do it. There were many things I needed to adapt to or conquer. And I did them.

My word for 2020 was ‘hustle,’ which, looking back now, just feels like a lot of energy without any real direction. That sums up 2020 pretty well in that there was a lot of emotions, anxiety, and frenzy. Watching the news and recording weekly updates and statistics of a pandemic will do that to you. My word for 2021 is ‘strong.’ Yes, what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. It also reminds me that I need to be strong in my faith and my relationship with God. It reminds me that I need to be strong in what I do have, to not be too reliant on what might come because it isn’t here yet, and… it may never be. No matter how much I wish, plan, dream, cry to plead. (I tried it all in 2020 and none of it worked.)

by Terri Graves Photography

Would you like me to be apart of your 2021 or 2022? I am currently booking for both years and would love to hear from you! Contact me here!

Every year I create a blog post to encapsulate my year and in 2019 I couldn’t come up with anything better than “Dazed and Amazed”. I remember being in awe of what I had accomplished while being so exhausted by the amount of hustle it required. You can read more about my 2019 by clicking here! One thing is for sure, 2019 feels like a different life- ago after the kind of year that 2020 turned out to be.

Favorite 18 in 2018 where I name my top three changes and 15 favorite images!

Then in 2017 my blog was titled – “These are a few of my favorite things”.

My favorite 16 Instagrams of 2016.

And if you’d like to take a leap WAY back in time… Favorite 15 from 2015.

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