RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

While compiling content for this post, I reviewed last year’s Wedding Review post and I was reminded of four things:

How much I’ve grown as a photographer,

How much my business has grown,

How much I absolutely LOVE what I do,

and How blessed I am to have so many amazing clients, year after year!

I seriously cannot thank you guys enough for all the support you’ve shown me! It goes without saying that I would not be here today without all my amazing brides, grooms, and their families but I am giving God all the glory! I honestly believe He put my 2013 wedding couples in my life for a reason.

To recap, in 2012 I photographed 8 of my own weddings. This year was a major turning point! 2013 brought me 18, yes 18 weddings on my own! And because I could and wanted to, I second shot 5 weddings for and with friends. You know how you’re looking back at the year, fully knowing that so much has happened, but just LOOKING at the documentation of what has happened makes it all so much more real? That is what I’m going through right now. I cannot say it more simply: You guys are THE BEST!

Below is the highlight from my 2013 weddings. Enjoy!

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Happy New Year!!! It’s 2014 and can I say how happy I am that it’s here?! Yesterday, I blogged a sort of review of my 2013, what worked and what didn’t. I also listed what could work for my 2014.

Here’s what I’m up to this month:

+ I start my new part time nursing job next week! I’m excited but also a little worried about how it’s going to work out with my business. I am really going to try extremely hard to keep my priorities in line and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.
+ My second Bristol Bridal Expo is near the end of the month. I’ll be busy building my booth and designing and ordering its contents. I can’t wait to meet all of the newly engaged brides!
+ We’re starting fertility treatments up again this month and we’ll be trying some new tricks!
+ I have a few photography project I’m launching soon ;)
+ Neil and I have canceled our gym membership but only because the gym at our church is just as good. Yay for saving money and yay for starting to work out again!

And now for some Goals! These are more along the lines of prayers I am going to selfishly be asking God for this year in particular:

+ We are going to get pregnant! I know this is in God’s timing, and that His timing is perfect, but we’re really hoping that THIS is OUR year! We’ve been trying for 2 1/2 years and I’m not getting any younger, y’all! ;)
+ We want to make a HUGE dent in our debt. I got a part time job specifically to chip away at it so I know we will make progress in this goal. And because I’d like to get rid of it all together in about two years’ time, I’d sincerely pray this job works out well for me.
+ We are going to tackle most, if not all the house projects I have in mind. Our biggest project, the bathrooms, was completely last spring and our second biggest should be happening in a month of so. Everything else is either small or medium – no more big projects, so this goal should be check off this year.
+ I’d like to finishing losing this extra weight. Oh Lordy, I know this goal is a one that everyone has on their list but I’d like to get down to a comfortable pre-pregnancy weight before I gain actual pregnancy weight.
+ And last but not least, of course, I want to continue growing my photography business. 2013 showed a big jump in business from 2012… let’s make that happen again this year!

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While at the Pursuit 31 Conference this year, I heard the wonderfully inspiring Lara Casey speak. I learned SO MUCH from her (and the others that spoke) and she has encouraged me to make what matters happen! I’ve been following both her and Emily Ley’s blog every since meeting them in October and through their blogs, they have showed me some steps I should take to simplify my life and business to make room for what God has in store for me!

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For Christmas, I asked my mom to gift me Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner and I purchased Lara Casey’s Powersheets with my Christmas money. I’m starting 2014 right with the tools I need to make things happen, y’all! And yesterday Lara Casey blogged about another tool, the What Worked and What Didn’t list. I already had today’s blog post planned on my blog calendar but I really felt a pull to blog the list instead of blogging it later. Lara Casey said it well, “Now is the very best time to begin!

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+ For the past few months I’ve started each morning in the Word. This is apart of My Ideal Morning (blog coming soon!) and it’s something Lara Casey encouraged each other at the P31 Conference to do. So far, I’ve completed several “plans” on my YouVersion Bible app but I think I’m going to start a more focused routine in the new year.

+ Doing our own house renovations. So far we’ve done our master bedroom closet, both bathrooms, fenced in the back yard, and have begun laying hardwood in the living areas! All by ourselves (well, and our parents too)! It’s definitely been fun but sooo incredibly rewarding!

+ I took part in the Bristol Bridal Expo last January. It was definitely a turn around for my business and I am very much looking forward to this years!

+ I quit my full time nursing job and went full time with photography. It was the most exciting yet terrifying thing I’ve ever done. Is that saying a lot? Maybe not, but in my controlled little world, doing something so “reckless” (so said a family member) took me out of my comfort zone. And it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my business!

+ Neil and I went to CONNECT: A Marriage Retreat for Creatives. And IT was the best thing we could have done for our marriage! We met so many amazing people, heard so many inspiring speakers, and reconnected to each other in a spiritual way. We are both incredibly excited for this coming year’s retreat!

+ Our Infertility. Allow my to clarify: our diagnosis is NOT something that worked for us in 2013. Obviously, it’s working AGAINST us. It has, however, brought us closer to each other and to God. I have learned to rely on Him alone during this struggle and every day I have renewed peace about the situation. He has allowed me to be torn down so that I will look to only Him to build me back up. I trust in Him completely and I can’t wait to see what He has planned for us!

+ I attended the Pursuit 31 Conference. This week long event was exactly what I needed to reboot myself and refocus my life and business. God as the CEO of your life AND business? Who would have thunk it? ;)

+ I also attended The Workshop Experience with Katelyn James. Now THIS was the second best thing I did for my business. Continuing education is so vital in any profession and I am so thankful that there are wonderful leaders in the photography industry!

+ Neil lost his job in Princeton (50 minutes away) but a week later got a less stressful, better paying job that’s only a 12 minute drive from our house! We were worried at first – I had just quit nursing to pursue photography full time not too long before this happened and we were already running tight on our finances. It’s so awesome to see God’s hand in things!

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+ The 101/1001 Challenge. I would have been my second one, had I continued pursuing it but somewhere around mid summer I found that half of the tasks I had written up for myself were no longer in line with what I wanted for my life and business. They just didn’t matter as much anymore.

+ Having our best friends live 8 hours away. This year and a half has been really tough. We haven’t lived in the same city in almost 6 years but we’ve never lived this far apart… weekend trips aren’t working anymore when two days are spent on the road. In 2013 we managed to make it up to Northern Indiana twice, they’ve come down once, and we took a trip to San Diego together but it’s just not enough. It leaves me in a constant dull sadness missing them as much as I do.

+ Spending too much time on Facebook. I could say social media in general but I know it’s more Facebook than anything else. I’m going to start limiting myself to about 30 minutes a day (or less!).

+ I wasn’t a great friend this year. A major misconception about quitting my full time nursing job and focusing on my already full time photography business was that I would suddenly have more time… for everything! WRONG. Turns out, I quit just in time. Had I waited any longer…. well, I couldn’t have waited any longer. I quit in mid April and two weeks later I started the busiest season of my life that I’ve ever experienced. And it’s JUST NOW slowing down. Therefore, for the last however many months, I have severely neglected what little amount of friends I do have and that really hurts my heart that I hurt them.

+ My lack of boundaries, which is a reason why I wasn’t a great friend (see above). Time management is essential in a small business and I’ve let my business run my personal life. No more!

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+ Work hours! I’m going to set work hours and attempt to stick to them. I’m not going to punish myself if it takes a couple month for the new routine to take hold but I really want this change to happen. And it’s going to HAVE to happen because…

+ I’m starting a part time nursing job next week! Woot! I have sorely missed nursing but the main reason I’m going back to it is because Neil and I have made a major commitment to tackle our debt and tackle it HARD. Dave Ramsey suggests those that are able to get another job to help carry the load and pay off debt faster. Neil already works about 50 hours a week and has a weird schedule so he wouldn’t be able to but working for myself has a very big advantage of making my own hours. It only makes sense! And it really was God’s timing because soon after Neil and I started talking about tackling our debt, this PERFECT job position opened up. AND I GOT IT! Thankfully, photography is slow right now, which will give me the time I need to settle into the new routine. I am so stinkin’ excited to make this extra money and pay off our debt faster, y’all!

+ I’m still trying this whole blogging-every-day thing… so far it’s worked well but I’ve only been doing it for a little over a month. Only time will tell!

+ This hasn’t been officially announced yet but those of you loyal readers, here’s some news. I only going to be taking weddings during the months of March through October. November through February I will be taking on birth clients. Huh? What? Who? Don’t worry, a blog is coming soon :)

+ Fertility treatments! It’s been almost a year since we found out we were infertile. We’ve done charting, Clomid, Hcg injections, and IUIs. We been on a treatment hiatus since June, only TTC naturally, but we’re gearing up for some new and different treatments soon! Another thing I’ll be blogging about soon!

+ More home renovations! We’re about half way done with a lithe kitchen project and will soon doing a hardwood project in the living areas of our house. It’s pretty much a dream of mine and it’s about to come true!

Take a few moments to collect your thoughts…. What worked for you this year and what didn’t work? Now ask yourself, What COULD work for your next year?

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It’s almost The New Year!!!! Before I jump head-over-heels into 2014 I want to make sure I post my Christmas 2013 post. Lord knows I waited WAY too long last year :/

Please enjoy my Christmas Eve with my family and Neil’s…

I finally dug out my late grandfather’s camera bag and what do you know! He had a macro lens that fit my Mark III! I had some fun photographing my rings before I photographed our Christmas decor.

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Don’t hold me to this but I’m hoping this will be the last year we decorate a fake Christmas tree. Also, this should be one of last times you see carpet in our living room! OOO suspense!

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I decorated the mantel similar to last year because I liked it but next year will different because the mantel will be different! Do you notice a lot of foreshadowing here??

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Christmas Eve morning was spent at my mom and dad’s, helping them prepare for my mom’s side of the family. Below is the absolutely stunning red velvet cheese cake my mom made from scratch. Holy cow! I took more pictures of it than anything because I think it deserves to be in a magazine! I’ll be posting the recipe soon – it was not just gorgeous, it was the best thing I ate this Christmas season! No joke!

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It isn’t the holidays without the dogs! And Neil stands in for yet another test shot. Love that patient man!

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Neil and Benny and my brother John and Aly <3 And John and his dogs, Daisy and Lilly.

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My immediate family with my mom’s mom and our little family in front of the Christmas tree.

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My mom reading her Christmas Story trivia. Pretty sure I was the only one serious about playing ;)

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Fast forward a few hours to Neil’s immediate family’s Christmas. After the church services, we met up at Neil’s brother’s house for Mexican. Not your typical Christmas meal but it was very delicious. I can do Mexican pretty much any day!

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Below is the result of my almost 4 year old nephew playing with my camera. I am very thankful the Mark III is so heavy duty because Kolton is constantly asking to use it!

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I stole it back to document the opening of presents…

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And our annual Christmas tree picture! Notice my sister-in-law about ready to pop? Well, she had baby Khloe on the 28th! YUP! I have another niece!! Who’s birth I got to photograph! More on than later as well!

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Jeannie -

Lovely! You look stunning as always, and your family looks happy and healthy. I can’t wait to hear about photographing the birth–maybe we should team up and be an unstoppable doula/birth photographer duo? ;)

Near the beginning of November we got together with Neil’s family for Thanksgiving and to take our family Christmas picture(s). I had already taken Clint & Kelly’s Christmas pictures so all that was left was Tim & Amy’s and the big family picture. Amy took a couple of me and Neil for our Christmas card but I procrastinated in ordering the cards. I’m so glad I did! Because a month later we had our first snow of the season and it was a big one! After Neil snapped a few pictures for me I set up my tripod and was able to capture three, yes, only three pictures but it was all I needed.

The office will be closed for the holidays and will re-open December 30th. All emails and calls will be returned at that time. Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one!

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