2017 Recap - Explore / by Denise McMahon

Explore (\ik-ˈsplȯr\) - to travel over (new territory) for adventure or discovery

As many are notorious for doing, I rarely follow through on resolutions I set. So earlier this year, as opposed to a resolution, I chose to dedicate 2017 to just one word: explore. Instead of hesitating or saying no, I said yes to a few important things (okay you got me, there was probably some hesitation and thoughtful consideration behind each yes) that has since, guided me to where I am almost a year later. This is a reflection of taking this year to explore and holding myself accountable for it. For once! :)

  1. Yoga - I said yes to yoga teacher training through my home CorePower Yoga studio in Clarendon VA and embarked on an intense 8-week training journey, 3 times each week, with a solid group of incredible souls. And it was exactly what I'd needed and wanted to explore. I wanted to deepen my own practice and to try something different that required a form of time commitment that had an end goal. Since I graduated college, I think I lost my way within the daily work grind and struggled a lot mentally being at work. I was afraid to commit but it came at the right time as I found my word for 2017 so I signed up. Fast forward to June and I had a 200-HR TT certification in my hands. I could have taken this certificate and registered immediately with Yoga Alliance to become a RYT and start teaching yoga but in this regard, I hesitated and put that on hold. Why?
  2. Starting a Photography Business - I felt my photography calling to me and wanted to pursue this side of myself more. I know myself as someone who won't commit fully if I don't dive in head-first so (sort of on a whim but also as a long time coming), I registered Denise Van Photography, LLC and chose to pursue this as a legit business. I've always been uncomfortable at the idea of charging folks without having an actual business behind my name, potentially getting in trouble with the law for not paying the right taxes (unfortunately, this is the goody-goody in me that I can't shake off) so I hadn't said yes often. In fact, to be quite honest, it gave me the greatest excuse to turn down session requests and say no when I was more comfortable being in my little bubble. So I summoned my courage and said yes to starting a business. I don't have a "hopping" business (yet) but I feel so lucky to have some of the best people I could've asked for to be my first clients. These folks mean the world to me, for trusting me to capture these little snippets of their lives. You know who you are! And so, to sum up the last 6 months "in business":

    I have loved every bit of exploration, creativity, and hard work that has come out of starting Denise Van Photography, LLC. I am learning new sides of myself that I didn't think were there and my style of photography, and ME as a photographer, emerges more with each session I do. I'm so in love with photography.

  3. Assisting at weddings - I'll continue this honest post by saying that while I don't see myself as a future wedding photographer, I have discovered that I love being part of the behind the scenes of weddings still. I've only found this out because I said yes to the opportunity of assisting Traci of Lock and Company (and my "twin" friend!) with a few of her weddings this year. Weddings truly are no joke for all vendors alike. They are, at the very least 6 hours, and upwards of 10+ hours depending on the gig. And that's just the day of. A lot of work goes into the before and after as well that you might not see. I have much appreciation for wedding photographers and I really look forward to assisting Lock and Company more next year!!
  4. The Crafter's Box (and crafting in general) - I've learned that I delight in trying new crafts out and the Crafter's Box has been the PERFECT avenue to explore this fun side of mine. I enjoy dabbling in hobbies/crafts but never seem to keep up with any of them for long periods of time (aka I still have a baby blanket I started crocheting over 7-ish years ago that's still incomplete). I've really enjoyed the boxes I've gotten each month since July! At first, I couldn't justify the subscription cost of $65/month but I signed up thanks to finding out a watercolor artist I adore was the artist for July so I bit the bullet and haven't looked back since. I think it's worth it to be able to explore different mediums and create in other ways other than photography. I find that these mediums influence and inspire more creativity in me as my photographer as well. That, and I just plain love working with my hands :)
  5. Side note on personal projects - I still practice yoga as regularly as I can while juggling a full-time job and a part-time business. I have a yoga photography idea that was born out of going through my yoga journey and I'm looking forward to doing more with it next year! :)

This is probably the longest post I've written this year. If you were curious enough about me to read through it all, man do I appreciate you! :D As a treat, I've compiled the top 3 favorites from each session I've had in 2017. Hope you have enjoyed seeing me grow as a photographer this year. A 2018 Word will be presented for accountability once I ruminate a bit more on it. Come back next year for more!