2015 End of Year Review — My Top 5 Moments

2015 was a big year — full of amazing opportunities, new adventures, and many challenges.  I've grown quite a lot.  Not only as a photographer or business owner, but definitely as a person.  Let me share with you a couple of important milestones of mine from this year.

Photo Oct 21, 21 48 47.png

1.  This was my first full year of business.

2014 was when I finally decided to turn my hobby into a business.  The graduating seniors from my sorority asked me to do their group photos, and I LOVED it.  My website then went live in October of that year.  

2015 was my first full year of doing business.  32 sessions total, 18 of which were graduation sessions (my favourite), and 2 being weddings!  This may not seem like much at all — especially to some established photographers — but I balanced these sessions with:

  1. working part-time
  2. going to school full-time, and
  3. moving to a new state

So 32 is a definite win in my book.  That's 32 people who believed in me.

 

2.  I upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark III.

I know — the camera doesn't make a photographer good... but give a photographer better equipment, especially when it's time for an upgrade, and they will probably cry.  Especially if it's a $3,500+ camera body that you think you'd never be able to afford.

I honestly did cry a little bit.  Opening that package felt like I got a new puppy or something — instant joy and love.  Upgrading from a Canon T3i, which I had since 2010, to this baby was phenomenal.

 

3. I graduated college!

In August, I received my Bachelors of Science in Sports and Exercise Science!  Absolutely proud of it, although I originally went to school for Molecular & Microbiology... but I switched to this major and finished the course load in a year.  While working part-time and starting up this business.

Yeah, I did a victory lap and stayed in college for a 5th year, but that's no biggie.  ;)

 I did it.

 

4.  I moved to a new state.

Florida had been my home for 23 years.  It's still my home.  But shortly after graduation, I ended up moving up north to Southern Maryland.

My boyfriend had gotten a job up here, and after visiting and seeing how scenic and beautiful this area is — not to mention it's closeness to D.C. — it couldn't hurt for me to experience something new!  I never want to feel like I'm stuck in some little bubble; the more I get to see new places in this world, the better.

I'm still adjusting from the move, 4 months later.  But I'm absolutely glad that I took the chance.  I've made a couple of amazing friends already.  I got to see the leaves change in the fall.  And I've had multiple opportunities to capture photos for military families.

Moving pushed me out of my comfort zone: I'm incredibly introverted, pretty awkward more often than not, and overall just am an anxious person.  Moving to a completely new area was a true test to see if my business really was my priority, because in order to succeed, I had to: believe my work is worth it and be social.  Which leads me to my last important milestone...

 

5.  I started taking myself more seriously.

At the beginning of this year, I was afraid to even put a price on my work.  I mean, I did a mini-session for $25 in February.  

My Spring graduation sessions started at $50... then summer, I had the balls to raise my prices again to $100+.  And you know what?  People still booked!

I understand that since I was just starting up, my prices had to properly reflect that.  But looking back, I was still severely undercharging.  Yes, I was still gaining experience.  But, honestly, my time is worth a lot.  I put my heart and soul into my work and services... I can't help it.  I treat each and every one of my clients like gold.  They depend on me — for beautiful pictures and products — and I'm determined not only to meet their expectations, but I try to exceed them.  Every.  Time.

I'm about to get real sappy, but each time a client books with me... it is so touching.  It's someone saying that they find my work valuable; my talent is acknowledged.  And hearing feedback after delivery of how much they appreciate and love my work, I am filled with joy.

My business is how I earn most of my income — these sessions pay for my bills and food.  That income also helps my business grow further.  I do much more than just take pictures; I provide a service, and I create art.  While I am increasing my prices, I understand who my primary audience are: soon-to-be college graduates and military families.  My new packages are designed with these people in mind, so be well aware that an investment with me will always be fair and well worth it.


2016 will be a game changer for me, and I'm excited to see what it has in store for my business!


OH.  ONE MORE THING.

6.  I became a momma to a weenie dog in October.

His name is Sterling Archer (but we just call him Archer).  Slick black hair, rambunctious, and a momma's boy.  He annoys me and pushes my buttons daily, but I can't help but love him.

We couldn't have chosen a more fitting name.

 Asshole.

Asshole.


Here are a couple of my top favourite images from 2015.


 Do not alter/edit these photos
 Do not alter/edit these photos
 Do not alter/edit these photos
IMG_2797.jpg
 Do not alter/edit these photos
 Do not alter/edit these photos
 Do not alter/edit these photos
 Do not alter/edit these photos
 Do not alter/edit these photos

Thank you to everyone who believed in me.

Chantell Rae

Chantell Cruz Photography, 518 Jimbay Drive, Orange Park, FL, 32073, United States

Chantell Cruz is a fine art wedding & lifestyle photographer, dedicated in creating authentic & timeless photos for the romantic at heart. Her work emulates the soft & classic look of film.