2016 was quite the year for me, professionally and personally. It's easy to gloss over everything and keep charging ahead (in typical Chelsea fashion) but I'm trying to be more mindful so what a great time to sit down and reflect on everything that happened. If you read this through the end, thank you -- you're my hero! As an added bonus, you get the link to my best of 2016 playlist.
Well, this might be my biggest highlight from the past 10 years (ha -- only half kidding!) but I finally paid off all my student loans. That debt has been weighing on me since freshman year of college and for a very very long time, it felt insurmountable. When Travis and I were married, we made a commitment to live below our means and pay off the loans. It took about two and a half years and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. But now being on the other side, I can say it was TOTALLY worth it. We don't owe anyone anything. Being financially free allowed me to quit my full-time job and pursue being a photographer full-time (more on that in a few).
I got to travel a lot in 2016. We kicked off the new year in Cancun for Travis's birthday, which I wish we could do every year! It was such a relaxing trip. However, my favorite trip of all was to Paris (duh!) I studied there for a semester in college and was elated to go back and show Travis the city I love. I also went to New England twice, Michigan and all over Texas.
I went to some awesome concerts: Andra Day, Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Night Sweats (where Leon Bridges made a surprise appearance!), Johnnyswim, BORNS, and Andrew McMahon/Panic at the Disco/Weezer (random, I know).
Going from a side hustle to a full-blown business is something I had been looking forward to for about two and a half years. Though I would've loved to do it sooner, I'm so glad the timing worked out like it did (that's retrospect, though, believe me!) It felt so good to end five years of work at the nonprofit I worked for, walk out the door, and be my own boss.
God surely blessed that decision as soon as I quit because I booked TEN weddings within the first two months. I've built some really strong relationships with other photographers and vendors and have just plain loved working for myself. I don't think I will ever look back.
Have I mentioned yet how much I love being a girlboss? Yes? Well, let me tell you one more time: I LOVE BEING A GIRLBOSS! I love making my own schedule and having the freedom and flexibility to meet with vendors and clients throughout the day, instead of trying to jam everything on nights and weekends. I can actually relax at night with the hubs instead of going from one computer at the office to my computer at the dining table. It's been awesome.
I shot film consistently all year and I've really developed my style. I attended a few workshops and worked on multiple styled editorials. I shot seven weddings and 12 engagement sessions (eight of which all occurred during a three-week period!) I have loved all of my 2016 clients and am so excited for my 2017 brides!
The biggest tangible accomplishment of 2016 was being nominated for Belle Lumiere's Image of the Year award (image at the beginning of this post). I almost didn't even enter anything because I thought there would be no way I was nominated! But that just goes to show the answer is always no until you ask.
Below are some of my favorite images from the year (organized by category, obviously). I am so humbled and honored to have been a part of each and every couple's day and every styled shoot. I'm thankful vendors and brides trust me to carry out their vision and document their stories. I could honestly cry I'm so grateful and excited.
But enough with the gushing! Onto the pretty.
Andy & Lib Berger
I'm Chelsea - a photographer, writer, adventurer, traveler, wife, Christ follower and mama to the most adorable rescue pup. I'm passionate about telling authentic stories with meaning and purpose and spreading joy through photographs. Grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile.