This only happens once a year...

Illinois Photographer, Central Illinois Photographer, Lincoln Illinois Photographer, Bloomington Illinois Photographer, Springfield Illinois Photographer, Normal Illinois Photographer, Peoria Illinois Photographer Decatur Illinois Photographer, 2019 blogpost, 2019 New Years eve, New Years day blog post, reflection, remembering, 2019 goals, 2019 resolutions

This always happens. Every single year. And yet each year I get older it always catches me by surprise.

Its the New Year. As 2018 comes to a close and 2019 is upon us I want to challenge each and every one of you to pause. Before you pop the champagne and celebrate the new year to reflect on the year that has gone by. The times we opened ourselves up to great adventures… or closed ourselves down because we were scared of getting hurt. Our greatest successes and our epic failures. Because that’s what New Years is all about—getting another chance. A chance to forgive, to do better, to give more, do more, and love more. A time to stop worrying about “what if” and embrace what could be. So when that clock strikes midnight—and it always does—we will be prepared for what 2019 brings to the table.

I invite you to participate with me as I publicly share my reflective thoughts when I examine my 2018.

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| 2018 LOVE FEST |

1.) What made 2018 Awesome?

  • I had a baby! 2 days before 2018 but we came home from the hospital on New Years eve!

  • My business was consistent and successful. I was able to complete personal projects that I have always wanted to do (mothers day makeover sessions) and got to take photos for many new clients.

  • I found myself (my business self)! I sat down with Small Town Social for many hours and truly picked my brain until it literally hurt as to why I want to do what I do and what it is that I truly want to offer my photography clients.

  • I formed many new partnerships to help Photos by Ariel join the local community by supporting other local businesses and helping my clients at the same time.

  • I got featured on the knot and WeddingWire for my wedding photos.

  • I got featured for my newborn photos for central Illinois.

  • My 5 year old started kindergarten. (I’m not crying… you’re crying)

  • My husband and I celebrated 6 years together and I’m still over the moon in love with him.

  • I got to go home for thanksgiving & Christmas. :) Yay! I only get to my sisters like 2 times a year so this is a Big deal! :)

  • Got my branding video done. Thanks Jacob!

  • Have 20+ weddings already on the schedule!!!! Woot!

  • Re-designed my website!

  • Announced my rebranding and it went well! I was so, so nervous! Anytime you go against the grain it is SCARY!

2.) What Areas did I really grow and improve?

  • My photo style. I figured out what I want to represent in my photos and which artistic style speaks to my soul.

  • My Facebook marketing. Opening people up to who I am as a person and really developing my personal brand has been life-changing.

  • I did my first instagram story! Lol *old lady alert*

  • Doing facebook live videos. Getting in front of camera is risky and awkward but I trusted that it would help my clients and it has. * another “milestone” that speaks to my age *

  • My newborn posing and session flow in general.

  • My family posing. Less cheese, more play!

  • Getting amazing shots straight out of camera, making editing less of a requirement.

  • Getting all my email templates set up! Woot!

  • Signing up for a new business/client management system making my life SO. MUCH. EASIER. and making the experience better for my clients.

  • I lost 55 lbs (25 lbs of baby weight but also 30 lbs of non baby weight). <3

  • As I’ve taken the time to pause, my writing has gotten better. Speaking my heart to those around me in written form brings joy to my soul.

  • Work/life balance is slightly better. More quality time with my husband and my kids! We all needed this.

  • Weddings. Better lighting and posing. And everything.

  • New friendships were made! I thrive when my life is full of amazing people.

  • Launching my camera class! I am so excited to teach others to use their cameras so they can experience all the blessings that photography has to offer in their own lives!

3.) What things did I do that pushed me out of my comfort zone?

  • Hired a nanny. It was hard going from stay at home mom full time to having a part time nanny but it was so worth it because now the time I spend with my children is actually quality time.

  • Doing weight watchers to lose 55 lbs. It was hard. I like cereal in the morning and I like a sweet at night when the kids are in bed. But I gave all that up for at least a while in the name of health.

  • Audreys overnight visits in the hospital. In January we were told our daughter may die in the next 24 hours. It was the scariest week of my life. Thankfully she is a totally happy and healthy 1 year old and I get to enjoy her perfect baby smile each and every day.

  • Offering a camera class. I’m being vulnerable here. Its always a struggle between photographers. We are. constantly in competition with one another and sometimes it makes it very difficult to have friendships with other photographers. But at the same time, I am not called to be selfish. I decided to push against the stigma of “hire me and only me” to teach others how to use photography to bless their own lives.

  • Signing up for costly marketing choices. But it has already proved to be well worth it.

  • Branding sessions. I have loved learning how to do this accurately. So much fun!

  • Sending my daughter to kindergarten. 8 hours a day she is someone else’s. Seriously so hard.

  • Saying no to sessions. I want to tell everyone else. But I can’t do so at the cost of my family and my own health.

  • 18 newborns in August!

  • Raised my prices. As much as I want to give my sessions away, I have a family I have to support, childcare to pay for, and business costs to maintain.

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| 2018 Lesson Fest |

Our paths are rarely a straight line. It’s not always bad when things don’t go as planned but there is usually a lesson to be learned. So lets take the time to learn it before we head in to 2019! This is a good time to release any guilt and bad feelings… just let it go!

4.) Some of my setbacks (and epic failures) were…

  • This is so hard to admit but it has weighed heavy on my soul since the day it happened… I had a family emergency in 2018 and I forgot to let a client know during that emergency that I wouldn’t be able to be at her session and the poor thing was waiting for me to arrive and I never showed. Even though there was a reason, and I tried to make it right, the relationship was damaged and I lost her as a client forever. I seriously cried for 3 days over this. I was literally sick over it. :(

  • Right in the middle of busy season I had three computers break. One of them’s color coding system was off so when I would edit the images they looked fine and then I would upload them to the gallery and they would look horrible. Therefore, I had to edit one image, upload it to the gallery to check it, make any alterations and do the same thing over and over again until it looked perfect for each picture during each session. :( It was a disaster. Because of this. I was unable to edit some sessions to my standards and had to just settle for okay. This was so hard but I had 50+ people who were waiting on their images. In addition to this my computer was running so slow that I was only able to edit 5-10 pics in 7 hours of working. Ugh. I hope no client relationships were damaged and people weren’t unhappy with their photos.

  • I was going to do a certain mini session and then another photographer announced that she was doing that same thing. Bummer. :(

  • I spent my entire thanksgiving break at home working. Literally every single minute.

  • I don’t get to sleep anymore…. hahahaha!

  • Personal failure. My husband has gotten the brunt of all of my stress and emotions. He has had to do 100% off everything around here while the computer situation was going on and I feel terrible about it.

  • Turns out I’ve been paying Illinois thousands of dollars in taxes the last 3 years that weren’t necessary. When try to amend them, they said the can’t pay me back but would give me credit. Grrrr!

5.) My takeaways from these setbacks are…

  • Don’t overbook yourself. Know your worth. Your sanity is worth more than any amount of money. If people truly desire you, they will wait.

  • God first. Family second.

  • Everyone needs sleep.

  • Its okay to accept help.

  • Investing in client management software is worth it so that things don’t slip through the cracks. Even when emergencies happen.

  • Mac’s are worth every penny!

  • Taking “me” time makes me a better photographer, mom, wife, friend, and general human being.

  • Every time I say “yes” to something I am saying “no” to something else. I need to weigh which is more valuable.

  • I have to have “fun” in my life. I thrive on spontaneity. When each minute of my life is planned out for me. Life does not go well.

6.) What things did I want to do/learn in 2018 that I didn’t get done? Again, let these things go.

  • Pick an editing style and stick with it. Ugh. I just can’t decide if I like bright & airy or dark and moody. But people need consistency so I need to decide. Can someone pick for me!?! :)

  • I wanted my work/life balance to be perfect in every area. That didn’t happen. My immediate family relationships got better but there are still other relationships in my life that need love & attention.

  • Develop set pricing. I need to sit down and do a price analysis and make sure i’m actually making money on my business.

  • Outsource some business tasks (editing, social media, etc.?)

Illinois Photographer, Central Illinois Photographer, Lincoln Illinois Photographer, Bloomington Illinois Photographer, Springfield Illinois Photographer, Normal Illinois Photographer, Peoria Illinois Photographer Decatur Illinois Photographer, 2019 blogpost, 2019 New Years eve, New Years day blog post, reflection, remembering, 2019 goals, 2019 resolutions

| Your vision for your life |


We are done releasing the ghosts from this last year. Now it’s time to create the vision for our lives. Envision all that you want to accomplish, create, experience, read and become.

7.) Of all the goals you have in 2019, which are your top priorities?

  • price analysis - I need this

  • work/life balance

  • Outsource some portions of my business

Personal Reflections

8.) What do you want more of in life?

  • PEOPLE! <3

  • Spontaneity

  • Sleep

  • Clients who don’t just “price compare” but instead see the value and the difference of my photo experience vs. others

  • Writing

9.) What do you want less of?

  • Being plastered to my phone or computer.

  • editing

  • Grumpy kids (talking about my own here, lol!) Somehow I feel like this sassy-ness won’t be disappearing for another 20 years or so. #girlsarehard

  • more gentle responses from me to my own kids

10.) When you look back on your life… who do you want to be?

  • When I look back on my life I want to be someone who made a difference. I want to know that without a doubt I did what I was called to do. I used my gifts and my talents to let others know that they are valuable and important and loved by God. I want to be an encourager, someone who challenges others to be think deeper and be better. I want to help others realize who they are so that they can live a life they are proud of.

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One more thing

What is your big why? As in, WHY do you want to do what you do? Why do you want to be a stay at home mom? Why do you want to lose weight (don’t give generic answers like be healthier, stay alive for my kids, fit in pants, etc.)? What do you want to add to your life? How do you want it to make you feel?

Reexamine your why throughout the year and make sure that the way you are living your life and the choices that you are making are supporting it!

List all of your whys here:

“ I want to help my clients remember who they are. I want to them to trust me to tell their story accurately. I want them to brave enough to be vulnerable with me and tell me all parts their story, not just the good parts, the rough parts too. I want them to realize the value in their story. I don’t want these things for selfish reasons. Yes money is important and press & praise are nice. But I want this because I believe that people NEED this. Marriages and Parent/Child relationships are crumbling. Whether its divorce or just “mentally checking out” of that relationship, people are forgetting. People either don’t realize its happening or they do but they don’t know what to do about it. But I want this experienced my photos to remind them of their why. I want to remind them of who they are. Because I firmly believe that the more you tell someone who they are, the less you have to tell them what to do. I believe that my sessions will give my clients humility. Clarity. Encouragement. Strength. and Hope. I believe that my sessions will influence their future.”



“I want to have good work/life balance because I believe that if I don’t, the results will be painful. I want my husband, my children, my family, and friends to have an accurate view of me. A strong woman. A capable woman. A brave woman. A vulnerable woman. An imperfect woman… but A woman who tries her hardest. A woman with a story. A woman with passion. A woman who loves her business but not MORE than her people. A woman who serves everyone she meets. A woman who helps those in need. A woman who loves Jesus. A woman with a purpose. A woman who supports them. A woman who loves them. A woman who knows how to say she is sorry. A woman who knows how to laugh and have fun. A woman who keeps perspective.”



”Don’t be afraid to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done, because both are necessary to have what you’ve never had and be who you’ve never been.”



Illinois Photographer, Central Illinois Photographer, Lincoln Illinois Photographer, Bloomington Illinois Photographer, Springfield Illinois Photographer, Normal Illinois Photographer, Peoria Illinois Photographer Decatur Illinois Photographer, 2019 blogpost, 2019 New Years eve, New Years day blog post, reflection, remembering, 2019 goals, 2019 resolutions