2016 had lots of laughs, lots of tears, and so much love. I met so many wonderful new people, built new friendships, reconnected with past clients for both anniversary sessions and kids portrait sessions as their families have grown. I travelled to the dark misty alleys of Venice, to the moody mountains of Scotland, and - once again this year - to my home away from home: beautiful Norway, as well as to almost all corners of little Denmark.
2016 also became the year where I finally made a decision that I needed some time to come to terms with. It is the hardest business decision I have ever made, but the easiest life decision too.
In so many ways I am currently at my most succesful, in the traditional sense of the word. I am looking at a 2017 and beyond that could bring me the money, clients, and travel opportunities that I dreamed of when I first started 8 years ago. I think most people are aware how much work it takes to build a business from scratch, find your own clients, write your own job description, create an income out of nothing but intuition, research, talent, and determination. But the stories of how much courage it takes to walk away from something, seem more rare.
A little part of me feels like I am a failure for walking away, that I am weak, or just didn't have what it takes to become big in this industry. I see so many insanely talented photographer colleagues, many of whom started out at the same time as me, or even just 2 or 3 years ago, moving ahead at the speed of light, booking amazing clients left and right in some of the most amazing and inspiring places on earth, getting published and praised consistently on the biggest wedding blogs, hosting workshops, having awesome adventures.
Instead of trying to keep up with them and with that dream (as I have been killing myself trying to do for the past 8 years), I now have to slow down and create a life that is more in sync with the current circumstances of MY life which, at it's core, is a daily life as a mother of two (alone for 6 months out of the year) in a very remote part of a very small country. I hope my kids will not end up hating me some day for spending their first years on this earth working day and night, chasing a dream. But it was a dream that brought meaning to my life - a purpose that I had never felt before, portraying people and documenting unforgettable moments for them.
Earlier this year, right in the middle of wedding season, as I sat alone in an old cabin in the middle of the Norwegian wilderness and made the decision that HOME would be my word for 2017 and the forseeable future, there was sadness, a tear or two. And for some time, a kind of desperation, like, if I just keep going for one more month or maybe one more year, THEN all this work will pay off and my business will become what I dreamed it would be. But even though the American dream (that now reaches out far beyond the border's of it's own landscape) promises us that all is possible as long as you believe and work hard, I personally firmly believe that the universe does not promise us any such thing. And after reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic this year, I only feel this stronger than ever.
But I am convinced that some day down the road looking back, these years as a wedding photographer will "make sense", will be an invaluable part of my story and growth. And already now, that 4 months have passed since I made the decision to shift focus and make changes, I have more days of joy and anticipation than of sadness and a feeling of failure. And I will persist in choosing to focus on the former.
It was as if, once I made the decision to slowly fase out the wedding part of my photography business, every wedding after that presented a moment or an experience that felt like closure or like coming full circle in the most moving, puzzling and emotional ways. At one wedding the grandparents of the bride even turned out to have also been guests at the very first full day wedding I ever photographed.
I will still be taking on a wedding here and there in 2017, primarily here on Aeroe island where I live, but my focus and inspiration for new creative projects - both photography and otherwise - will be our old farmhouse and the slow intentional life we lead here.
Too much has happened to include everyone and everything, but here are some of my favourite moments, people and places from an incredible 2016. Happy new year everyone!