March| Personal & Professional Goals

In like a lion...

In like a lion…

There’s no doubt that March certainly has lived up to it’s reputation. What is up with this weather??!

I think we’re all more than ready for a little spring weather after the crazy winter we’ve had. Each year, no matter the pep talks I give myself, I realize a little more just how much short days and cold weather really affect my productivity levels. It’s much more tempting to cuddle up and hibernate til spring!

Needless to say… I didn’t do so well with my February goals… Let’s recap:

– Keep up the workout efforts – if only a few crunches and a pushup here and there really counted…
Design personal photo albums and finally get those pictures somewhere other than hard drives!I’m going to cross this one off since I put a whole lot of work into our Bermuda album… three… seperate… times…
– File taxes – so close, just double checking the business stuff
– Install new carpet in my house โ€“ last step before it goes on the market!! – this one got delayed by the unwelcome news that we’re going to have to rent it again
– Organize my bedroom closet
Make a freezer mealtwice!!
No spending โ€“ except Valentineโ€™s Daysuccess two months in a row!!
– One evening each week with my business (minimum) – probably came pretty close to this one, on average
Read for pleasurefinished three and a half books this month!
Read the Wordfinished Ezekiel and nearly half of Daniel
Something craftyCalligraphy!
Weekly date night with Chriswe’re pretty good about this anyway but after I spent most of January recovering from the flu, I wanted to make sure we got ‘caught up
– Blog twice a week โ€“ this will happen one of these days, I know it will! – but not in February…
– Drink more water and take my vitamins every day – didn’t quite get every day checked off but did much better, especially on the water intake

Okay, now here’s what I hope to accomplish in March:

– Get back on track with working out – we’ve got a little mini vacation planned for next month!!
– Sew something
– File those taxes!
– Get my house ready for renters
– Keep working on the super secret new project… ๐Ÿ™‚
– Attend a church service – we’re still looking for a church to call home
– No spending! – except for gift giving, someone has a birthday coming up!
– Keep reading the Word
– Read a business building book
– Blog consistently – still aiming for that twice a week mark
– Practice calligraphy – I’m loving my progress already!
– Clean/organize something
– Throw away/donate something
– Drink more water
– No soda – I gave this up for lent!
– One night/week with my business

Nothing measured, nothing gained!! I’m hoping to see a lot more crossed off at the end of this month!

A & B Dance Company | Dress Rehearsal – Virginia Beach, VA

This one is a little bit of a stray for me from my typical portrait sessions but one that I absolutely loved and was so honored to be invited to capture.

I had the pleasure of photographing the gorgeous ladies of A & B Dance Company at the end of last summer, during one of their regular lessons, really just to see if I could do it. Low light and high speeds can be challenging for any photographer and when you add the element of timing, to capture full height and extension of every leap and turn, well, I just wasn’t sure what I’d be able to get. That day in the studio taught me so much and thanks to lots of practice since then, I was excited to see these ladies again and really see how much I had grown as a photographer.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I was invited back to photograph the Company’s dress rehearsal. What a difference a few months can make! The routines they had only worked with a few days when I first met them had now been polished into awe-inspiring elegance and so many more had been added to their repertoire. Every piece was mesmerizing. And, what was even more remarkable and inspiring to see was the way that they all work together and encourage and support each other. This is an amazing group of girls!

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It was hard to choose just a few images to share with you, there were so many and these ladies have so much talent. They have great personalities, too, which you can see here in a few of the company portraits:

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Thank you so much, Ashleigh and the ladies of A & B Dance Company, for sharing your gifts and inviting me to capture them for you! I wish you all big, amazing successes and blessings in your lives – I know that each of you will go far and touch many!!

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 โ€“ seriously, at this point, just once would be great
Prep for 2014 โ€“ goals, planner/calendar, tax documents – made a decent start, which counts!
– Finally get the Portraits by Anna website setup
Make a gingerbread house โ€“ itโ€™s been such a long time since Iโ€™ve made one! – well, I made the pieces, then Rex ate the roof…
– Portraits by Anna systems & packages โ€“ set myself up for success in 2014!!
Continue to focus on wedding and bridal marketing โ€“ while keeping up the kiddo side of my business! (Donโ€™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 โ€“ this is always a goal but for some reason, life seems to interfere. Iโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Sassy, Southern Sisters | Styled Shoot – Yale, Virginia

The end of October has been busy, busy, busy over here at Portraits by Anna. Now, this is not me glorifying busy – scheduling yourself within an inch of overwhelmed is no way to live! This has been a good kind of busy, a productive kind of busy, a Making Things Happen kind of busy. But, there hasn’t been much time to sit down and focus on editing and I wanted to give you all a little tease of some of the amazingingness from last Sunday.

Last spring, I was really inspired by the gorgeous images a few of the photogs I network with, who are also in their first year-ish of business, had in there portfolios and they all seemed to be from the same styled shoot. After a little blog stalking, I discovered Sharon Elizabeth, a super talented photographer in Suffolk who I had also happen to see grace Justin & Mary’s blog, and SHE was the one who was hosting these styled shoot-outs! Well, I signed up for the very next one… months away in October. I couldn’t believe I was going to have to wait that long!!

Well… time has a way of passing… haha cheesy, I know… and suddenly I was a week out from this awesome opportunity and hadn’t even rented my lenses yet!! Yikes!!

Now, I wrote a little bit about renting lenses in Monday’s post, but I want to give you the real reason I rent lenses for this type of portfolio building opportunity: As a new photographer to the wedding and portrait industry, I’m still building my equipment collection. This is an expensive craft and it takes time to save all those pennies for each new lens. But!! I would never, ever want one of my brides not to have the very best that I can offer on her big day and renting lenses helps me do just that. Because of this, I want to make sure my portfolio also showcases the best that I can offer and exactly what I would bring to the table as your wedding photographer. Whether I rent or own the equipment, I’m going to make sure I have the tools to capture each and every blissful moment to the best of my abilities.

Okay, now that you know the back story, the who, the what, and the why, let’s get to those images I promised to tease you with!!

These to gorgeous gals were just unbelievably unreal to work with – and they’re sisters!! I love how you can really see the differences in their personalities… both sassy, one sultry, and one sweet!

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BIG thanks to the vendors who participated in this event and Sharon for hosting!!

Venue: Clay Hill Garden Events Decor/Event
Styling: Debbie Harrup Wilson of Clay Hill
Makeup: KristineMarie Makeup Artistry
Hair: Kara Shae Hair Designs BTS
Coordinating: Pinch of Charm Weddings
Hosted by: Sharon Elizabeth Photography

Wedding Wednesday | Advice I wish I’d been given

**Disclaimer: this will not apply to every bride, but is something nearly every one of my recently married girl friends, and then I myself, experienced and something I’m sure someone will find helpful. And let’s be real, anything to make wedding planning go more smoothly, even for just one person, is worth putting out there.**

I totally fell into the “I used to be an event planner, planning my wedding will be a breeze” frame of mind. I knew exactly what I wanted and how to make it happen and I had the craziest idea that everyone would stand back and let me handle it. Because of course, I was a former professional!!

Feel free to laugh at my delusion. Roll your eyes at my ignorance. Scoff at my… well you get the gist.

Back to the point of this post…

When you finally get the chance to plan your wedding, you’re so excited that you just want to tell everyone about everything you’ve always dreamed for your big day. All of a sudden, its your chance to wax poetically about everything from favors to fonts.

Here’s the advice I wish someone had told me, that would have made thirteen months of wedding planning go a lot smoother:

Before you share the details of your big dreams, take a moment to step back, let the dust settle, and examine the situation. Your status has just changed in a big way, and not just on facebook. All the people who are most important in your life, and your fiance’s, are now going to see you in a whole new light. And they’re going to become a lot more involved in your life. You’re no longer just the “young dating couple” or the “here today, possibly gone tomorrow girlfriend”. Both you and your fiance, are now “soon-to-be-part-of-this-family”. Taking a moment to get a feel for the new change in the family dynamics will help you to navigate your journey to the altar a lot more successfully than.. jumping right in before looking to see where you’ll land.

And here’s why:

You aren’t the only one who has been envisioning this wedding and some have been at it a lot longer than you have.

When you share your dreams and ideas with someone, the most common response is for that person to then share their ideas with you. Weddings are family events and knowing where everyone stands can be helpful. Plus, its always nice if you can incorporate a little bit of everyone.

The unfortunate side of this, is it also allows the opportunity for people to express their opinions of your ideas.

Our wedding was absolutely perfect and beautiful in every way. It was exactly what my husband and I had wanted, we received many compliments, and were even featured on a couple of wedding blogs. One of the compliments that meant the most to me was echoed by quite a few people who said they could see my hand in every detail of the event. But, I can honestly say, there is not one detail of our wedding that someone didn’t tell me, at one point or another, was a bad idea.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I knew what I was doing, I never expected to be told otherwise. But, I also didn’t take the time to realize that the context in which I was doing the planning had shifted. If I had taken a moment to assess the situation in the beginning of our engagement, I wouldn’t have been so surprised by the reactions I received. I would have been a little more prepared for what was coming, and been a little more careful of the information I provided for judgement. Our wedding day still would have turned out exactly the way it did, neither my husband or I would change a thing, but the journey to the altar might have been a little less tearful.

My ideas weren’t bad ideas, and neither are your plans for your wedding. They just may not be anywhere close to what anyone else had in mind.

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    (Image by Amanda Hedgepeth Photography)

Pungo Strawberry Festival

On Saturday, Chris and I headed out to Pungo it his dad to check out the Strawberry Festival. The festival is held every year over the Memorial Day Weekend.


This sign cracks me up. There’s no way you could stay skinny eating all the yummy – mostly fried – food available at the festival.


Check out this big-momma rolling pin!! I remember my dad joking about my mom keeping him in line with her rolling pin… I’d hate to see the damage one could inflict with a rolling pin this size!


The hubs and I trying out some teak patio furniture, which was surprisingly super comfortable. Too bad we don’t have a patio at our current residence…


A Pungo resident who lives on the main drag of the festival had his antique car on display. For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of the entire car (photog fail!) but check out these awesome detail shots!!


The owner had a scrapbook on display documenting the restoration process. The hubs and his dad took some time to inspect the work.


After wandering around to all the booths and stuffing ourselves with mini donuts and fresh lemonade we headed over to the 4-H tent. What country girl could resist some farm animals??


Aren’t these baby ducks precious??! I really thought long and hard about trying to convince Chris to let me keep a few in the bathtub… we need a farm! (bahaha… that will never happen… ๐Ÿ™‚