OK. So I’m back from my one month blog vacation… not that I planned one. And I didn’t get to go away anywhere tropical. Things got so busy with the website, and Christmas, and friends and family I had to put the blog on hold to maintain my sanity and life balance.

2011 was quite the transition year for me. Taking risks, overcoming fears, and learning what life is like in the real, working world. More than any other year I can remember it was a year of getting started. Full of firsts. In January 2011 I was working my first Mon – Fri job. The most horrible, dreadful cubicle job I found online, where everyone sat silently typing ….all day. No joke. As much as I thought I could handle (and maybe even enjoy) the solitude, the lack of communication and socialization made me feel like I was going crazy. My first goal for 2011 was plain and simple. Find a new job. Anything would be better. In hindsight I learned a lot from that situation. Most importantly, I learned that I need to work with people. I’m just not made for a lonely cubicle life.

By luck I found a job in TV and Film Post Production and, despite the longer commute to downtown Vancouver, I was instantly happier. I can’t say enough great things about my co-workers, and I even learned to enjoy the (one hour each way) commute.

In the meantime I had decided to take an online class at BCIT in Human Resources. After a whole year out of University it felt good to learn (I felt like my brain was out of shape)… nonetheless I decided it was time to follow my gut, and pursue photography. This thought still scares me and probably always will, but it’s a good fear that comes with the risk of becoming transparent and sharing your work for others to accept, or criticize. One pivotal piece of advice came when I told my brother-in-law how nervous I was for an upcoming photoshoot. His response was simple…

“If you’re nervous, that’s good.  It means this is important to you.”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. Don’t turn away from your fears, or think of them as negative. Embrace them, use them to your advantage, and overcome them… and then repeat the process with the next set of fears you encounter. You can do it! :)

The timing of this decision was impeccable. That very same week I heard about a photography workshop being put on by the very talented, and super sweet photographer Jamie Delaine. Timing is everything. I scored the very last seat in the class. The workshop was a highlight of the whole year. I learned so much in just one day. My eyes were opened up to the whole wide world of wedding photography… from budgets, to marketing, to shooting, to clients, to networking, to outsourcing, to being in business for a purpose, to finding your strengths and being yourself. All of her advice was amazingly helpful. In the weeks after the class I continued to educate myself about wedding photography and began to see how unique the industry is. So many people are sincerely willing to help any way they can. I plan to pay it forward as the opportunities to do so arise.

I think the greatest opportunity and experiences of my year came when I posted an online ad offering to be a wedding second shooter. I heard back from Matt Kennedy who offered to bring me along to assist a wedding at Swan-e-Set Bay. I was a little nervous heading to the first wedding. I arrived extra early and had to take a few minutes to convince myself to go inside. But Matt is an awesome teacher and over the course of the summer I learned an incredible amount from him (both by watching him in action, and by the advice he offered). I hope I was (at least) a fraction as helpful to Matt and he was to me. Looking back, my experiences last summer remind me of the (short but sweet) advice Zach Arias gave during his CreativeLIVE workshop…

“If you wait until you’re ready.. you’ll never start.”

This is so true. There is no such thing as ready. If you don’t seize this opportunity when it presents itself, it will pass you by. Take it from me, I would be still waiting to be ready today.

To make sense of what I needed to do to start a business of my own I took some of Jamie’s advice and started a huge to do list. Or, as Jamie called it, a ‘brain dump’. In 2011 I managed to cross off a few key items. My logo design was a really fun experience. Vanessa Warren of Butterfly Sparks did an amazing job of combining all of my ideas, and tweaking the tiniest of details. Thank you Vanessa!! :)

The other highlight, more recently, has been the construction of my website. Earl & Layne have been incredible to work with. They have taken my fragmented ideas and turned them into something that is totally me. Of course I must also say THANK YOU once again, to all of you who voted for me to win a credit towards my Earl & Layne website. Your support was (and still is) overwhelmingly wonderful and enthusiastic.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the new website go check it out at www.hayleyrae.com!

With 2012 now in full swing, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us all. My list of goals, and to do’s is longer than ever… and I’m sure there will be many more lessons to learn, and share in 2012 and beyond. I hope you all have a great year. :)

Written by Hayley Rae