2014 Goals | Life, Love, and Business!

Whew, the last week of January!! After spending the majority of this month under the weather and recovering from the flu, I know why it feels like I “lost” half the month. You don’t just hop right back up on your feet after that kind of bug.

Soooo… 2014 Goals are a little late in coming. I was actually hoping all of my “lists” would congeal into something more cohesive before I put them out there in blogland but… that just doesn’t seem to be happening. And, I really had intended to get to this post a little earlier in the month and include January goals as well… that didn’t happen either. Darn that flu!!

Let’s play a little catch-up before we get to BIG goals for this year.

December Goals: (from this post)
– Set foot in the gym – seriously, at this point, just once would be great
Prep for 2014 – goals, planner/calendar, tax documents – made a decent start, which counts!
– Finally get the Portraits by Anna website setup
Make a gingerbread house – it’s been such a long time since I’ve made one! – well, I made the pieces, then Rex ate the roof…
– Portraits by Anna systems & packages – set myself up for success in 2014!!
Continue to focus on wedding and bridal marketing – while keeping up the kiddo side of my business! (Don’t worry, I still love photographing little ones!!) – did a little work on this, still a little work to do
Photograph more of our personal life – Christmas on the farm helped with this!
– Blog twice a week at minimum – this is always a goal but for some reason, life seems to interfere. I’m hoping December is the month it finally happens! – yeah, I tried, maybe Febrary will be my month for this…

As you can see… I was kind of hit or miss with December’s goals. But, I was able to decorate my house, complete all my Christmas shopping and wrapping in a timely manner, and enjoy a stress-free Christmas on the Farm. That, my friends, means December was a success!!

There are still a few days left in January, so I’ll share those goals with you and how I did with them next week when I share February goals. And maybe I’ll get a few more checked off in the process 😉

Okay, now for those BIG, Scary, Year-long Goals for 2014:

You Should Do Them

Before we get to the lists, my biggest hope for this year is that it will be a year of positive change. The last two years have been filled with an onslaught of challenges that just kept piling on top of each other and honestly, made life feel like trudging through sludge. I couldn’t seem to make any progress or dig my way out no matter how hard I tried. Thankfully, many of the events that made the last two years so rough have been wrapped up, and as for the rest, well, let’s just say boundaries are being established and margin is being created. 2014 already feels like a better year and we’re only a few weeks in!

Business Goals:
– Book three weddings – ten would be great!
– Blog twice/week and work up to every day
– Book a minimum of two non-wedding sessions every month
– Upgrade to L-series lenses – and pay cash for them!
– Upgrade to full-frame camera body – also paying cash!
– Develop a workflow

Life Goals:
– Sell my house!
– Debt repayment and financial freedom – this wedding debt needs to go!
– Read the entire Bible before my 30th birthday – I got a headstart on this one in 2013
– Organization!! – and a whole lot of purging, we combined two households into one when we got engaged and some days it feels like we’re drowning in stuff. We have two (or more…) of everything and so many things we don’t have and don’t have room for. Plus, my goal is not to take any unopened boxes to the next house.
– List the hub’s townhouse and start shopping for our home!
– Buy a new car – When my car was totalled back in October, we made a team decision to stick with our debt-reduction plan, rather than add to it. Sooo… I get the pleasure of driving Chris’ “A to B” car. Honestly, despite the rust, I’m so thankful we don’t have to squeeze our budget any more than we already do.
– Develop a workout habit
– Celebrate life and love and marriage – everyday!! It is a gift I never want to take for granted.

I needed to take a deep breath after all that… there’s a whole lot on that list!! But, I keep reminding myself that as humans we greatly over estimate what we can accomplish in a day and grossly underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Baby steps in the right direction add up to a lot of progress if we are able to stay focused.

Go and Do

Beach Snow | Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, VA

After being cooped up recovering from the flu and then the crazy weather we’ve had here in Virginia Beach this week, I was starting to feel a little like a caged animal. When we all woke up to snow and ice on Wednesday, it was pretty disappointing that my little car wasn’t going to be able to venture out. How often do we really get opportunities for snow pictures here? We really have to take advantage of every snowflake we get! Thankfully, Surfer Hubs was more than willing to sneak out of work a little early – the big truck means he didn’t have to work from home like I did that day – and drive down to the beach to check out the snow. We hit the beach just in time for those last few golden rays of light. Definitely worth the hustle to brave the ice and make it out to the sand – It was gorgeous!!

Portraits by Anna_Snow at Dam Neck-2.jpg

Portraits by Anna_Snow at Dam Neck-6.jpg

Portraits by Anna_Snow at Dam Neck-1.jpg

Portraits by Anna_Snow at Dam Neck-7.jpg

Portraits by Anna_Snow at Dam Neck-8.jpg

Portraits by Anna_Snow at Dam Neck-10.jpg

Our Holiday Session | Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

Now that the Christmas card are all out, I wanted to share with you some of the images from our holiday session with the wonderful Amanda Hedgepeth.

If you’ve been around the blog for any amount of time this year, you know how much I adore this lady! She was our wedding photographer turned mentor and friend and I can never say enough good things about this amazing woman!

When planning our wedding, my biggest priority was the photography. I know it’s cliche, but the only thing left when it’s all said and done are your memories and your pictures. As a photographer, I wanted to make sure we captured every possible moment! We definitely maxed out Amanda’s wedding packages… and then some… with what turned out to be 2 engagement sessions, 2 bridal sessions, cocktail party coverage (in lieu of bridal shower), rehearsal dinner, and 10-hours of coverage on our big day. Whew!

Unfortunately, thanks to the drama and stress of planning my own wedding, we ended up cancelling the second “fall” engagement session and only having the “summer” session. But, I wanted to make sure my ideas still went to good use, and thankfully Amanda was able to squeeze us into her calendar this fall, so we were able to make it up!!

I think it’s really important for photographers to step in front of the camera fairly often and with someone who they look up to in the industry. It’s a really good learning oportunity, not only for coaching and posing, but also as a reminder of how your clients are feeling during your own sessions. Good thing Surfer Hubs is usually down for my crazy ideas.

Ps. Ladies, if you need help encouraging your man to participate or show some enthusiasm toward your portrait session – showcase something they love. In this session, it was his shiny new truck. 🙂















Special thanks to Chris’ mom for coming out to help wrangle our monsters. We couldn’t have made the session happen without her!! Thanks, Jobel, for all that you do!


Also, a huge thanks to Back Bay Farms for allowing us to use their property as a backdrop for our session!! The property is gorgeous and my inquiries were met with the sweetest responses. Thanks again!!

The Cloke Family | Family Portrait Session – Elmira, New York

Finally!! I was finally able to get the Cloke family, all three of them, in front of my camera for a portrait session! Amber and I have been trying to make this happen for a looooooonng time. I’m so glad it finally worked out!

Amber and I go way back. Waaaaayyyyy back. Her grandparents built the house I grew up in, the same house where my parents still live. My dad likes to tell about her running around the house in diapers when he was there for a showing. You can’t go much further back than that. And let me tell you, we have some stories.

Recently, what I have loved most, is watching one of my very best friends become an amazing mother. The transformation has been remarkable. For someone who was so scared she wouldn’t know what to do, she is a complete natural. I love hearing about all of the adventures they have, all the little things Noah is doing, and all the picutres she sends. I’m so proud of the wonderful mother and trully outstanding woman I have the pleasure of calling best friend.

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff, now for the real reason you came to the blog today. Tell me this isn’t this one gorgeous family??

Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-1.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-11.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-16.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-17.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-21.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-22.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-28.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-3.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-4.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-5.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-6.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-46.jpg
Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-47.jpg

And of course, one of this adorably silly little boy, hamming it up. Noah, buddy, I wish you weren’t so far away.

Portraits by Anna_Cloke Family 2013-51.jpg

Thanks for braving the cold for me, Cloke family!! And for totally rocking this session!

Happy 2014 Ya’ll!! | 525,600 New Minutes

It’s amazing what a difference one day really can make. Today feels different. I feel different today. I feel excited and relieved and hopeful and… dare I say… motivated!

It is such a wonderful feeling to finally, FINALLY, be able to say that LAST year was a really rough year. Not this year. But last year. This is a new year. January 1, 2013 felt like a continuation of the struggles that started in 2012. This year, January 1, felt different. This year will be different. This year will be better; it feels better already!

While the surfer hubs and I were visiting my folks for Christmas, the youngest of Farmer Johnson’s daughters, the thespian of the group, while singing her way through our visit, like she does every day of her life – I swear, that girl’s life is a musical – reminded me of a song from Rent. I’ve seen a few other bloggers reference the song, but it was Nurse Melanie who made me really stop and think about how we measure each of those 525,600 minutes that we’re given every year. And about how I want to measure the moments that comprise those minutes of 2014.

More love, more laughter, more hope, more dreams, more doing, more seeing, more being.

And less of so many things like electronics and social media and television. And let’s not forget, less drama, less hurt, less pain, fewer tears.

More time with the people who matter the most to us and finding more of those awesome people to fill our lives with. More support, more encouragement, more togetherness.

It feels good to close the books on 2013. And it feels even better to start the next chapter and begin 2014. I’m looking forward to measuring all 525,600 amazing and wonderful minutes of it.

2013 – A Year in Review

2013 was… so many things. Wonderful. Challenging. Amazing. Crazy. Unreal. Scary. Heartbreaking. Awesome. Dramatic. There’s just no one word that sums it up. I’m thankful for all the good and for all the lessons learned from the not so good. There were many blessings and many challenges and I’m not sure when it’s all said and done that the scales tipped in our favor but I do know that we finished the year in a better place than where we started and that in itself is a success.

It was a big year for my photography dream. It was the year I turned a seven year hobby into a business and maybe one day, that business will become a career. Thank you so much to everyone who supported and encouraged this little adventure of mine and to all of my clients – past, present, and future – it’s only because of you that I’m able to make this happen! It has been such a blessing to capture your memories and some of your biggest moments.

Here’s a little photographic recap of all that the year brought to Portraits by Anna. Enjoy!

Karen & Mike

The Seymour Family
Expecting Baby Smith
Miss Kayleigh
The Bedingfield Family
Erica & Nick
Rex & Sylvia turn one!
The McLaughlin Family
The Dow Brothers
Kayleigh & Jocelyn
Barrett turns two!Kayleigh's 6-month session
Peyton's Princess Teaparty
Sassy Sister Styled Session
Shoot-a-Thon with Sharon Elizabeth Photography
Styled Session with Amanda Hedgepeth Photography
Reagan turns one!
Brooke and Nicholas get married!
The Cloke Family

I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!! Remember, the best is yet to come!