On this final day of 2015, I'm so grateful for the amazing memories from this year! 2015 was certainly one of the most memorable years I've ever had and topped the charts in so many categories. In seeing endless "best 9" Instagram posts, I've decided to put together my own "best 9" - not of the most liked photos, but of the memories/things I cherished most from this year! My word for 2015 was "intentional," so while this post may be long, I want to be super intentional in highlighting some of the best parts of 2015, because these moments are worth remembering. In no particular order, I give you the 2015 "Best 9" of Lauren Carnes Photography! Enjoy!
1. Becoming a full-time photographer: After launching my business in May of 2014, I was thrilled to finally make the leap this April into full-time photography. I had all of the typical fears and doubts about leaving a job I truly loved and had been in for 4.5 years, but knew in my heart of hearts that the Lord was calling me to step out in faith and trust His provision. I naturally miss my work family, but He has been so faithful in creating a new "work family" full of the most wonderful creatives I could imagine!
2. Leading Augusta's TuesdaysTogether for the Rising Tide Society: Earlier this year, after much hoping and praying for a great creative community, I saw the fabulous Natalie Franke post about starting something in our local communities where we would meet monthly at a coffee shop, share in successes and tough times, and form friendships with those around us. I was sold and figured "What do I have to lose? If no one else gets on board, at least I get some good coffee." Augusta was one of the first of 12 cities to join when the Rising Tide Society launched 6 months ago. Now, there are over 200 cities and counting. Collectively across the nation we donated over $20,000 to charity this November and locally our group served Augusta Locally Grown & G.R.O.W. Harrisburg this November. We've met in people's homes, studios and coffee shops - and more than anything, we've done it all in the name of "Community Over Competition." The landscape of the creative industry is changing for the better, and I'm beyond honored to lead locally and so very grateful for the wonderful people who are a part alongside me!
3. Inspiration Shoots: Speaking of the wonderful creatives I get a chance to work with every day, some of my favorite memories this year include 5 different inspiration shoots I had the chance to collaborate with alongside some of the most amazing talent. The freedom to dream up something beautiful with a team of dear friends and help make a vision come to life is one of my favorite things about photography. I love being able to encourage and celebrate other vendors and help share their work through publications and more. More than anything, I cherish the relationships that are built on days like these! If you want to see the amazing shoots I had the chance to capture, you can find them here:
4. The most wonderful couples a photographer could ask for: This year I had the chance to capture 24 of the most amazing, genuine, joyful couples I could imagine on their wedding days. If you missed it, yesterday a shared a little note to those sweet friends. My heart can be found there, but truly, I'll just suffice it to say that those people have changed me for the better and continue to inspire me daily! In fact, just yesterday I discovered that one of my sweet brides has taken up a bit of photography, and it makes me so happy to see how they are flourishing in their marriages and new lives! I can't wait to be a part of so many more amazing wedding days in 2016!
5. Travel: From shooting Jordan & Ethan's Austin, TX engagement session to weddings and workshops all over Georgia & South Carolina, to trips with Chip to Charlottesville & Richmond, VA, Hilton Head Island, SC, Savannah, GA, and Austin, TX, this year included many hours in the car, lots of audiobooks & podcasts, and lots of new travel memories. Amazing food, neat cultures and more - travel ignites my soul & fuels my fire, while it also reminds me that "there's no place like home." I'm so grateful for how photography allows me to travel to amazing places and opens doors to new worlds I never knew! I'm already dreaming of the amazing trips to come in 2016 and can't wait to see where photography takes me next year!
6. Food Photography: What originally began last year as a hobby has now turned into a part of my business I couldn't love more. For such a foodie, capturing the process, flavors and textures of food is something I adore. From local restaurants to simply shooting the meals I make in my studio at home, capturing food opens up an entirely new realm of possibility. Attending Helene Dujardin's Food Photography workshop in Charleston this fall was beyond amazing and helped spur on my desire to pursue more food photography in the new year! Plus, this passion has turned into some of the most fun projects doing product & branding photography for local businesses!
7. Gather Workshop & CDNYC2015: Not only did I have the privilege to attend Helene's food photography workshop, but I was fortunate enough to capture Gather Workshop in February and the Chapel Designers 5th Annual New York City workshop in April. Seeing both of these teams work their magic in educating and encouraging fellow creatives is such an inspiration. Not to mention, I gained such knowledge & wisdom from being a part of both of those opportunities. Plus, CDNYC2015 absolutely fueled my love of lush, organic florals.
8. Thursday Dates: As part of my 2015 word for the year - "intentional" - I recently began inviting new friends and fellow creatives to my home on Thursdays for coffee, lunch, or my favorite... brunch. It's been so wonderful to get to know people's hearts and hear their stories on a more one-on-one basis. Plus, after realizing that Chip & my schedule doesn't allow for much dinner hosting, I was so excited to put that desire to good use and share the space we're grateful to have. I can't wait to see how this transforms and grows in the coming year, but for now, I am truly grateful to have met some wonderful ladies through my Thursdays at home and learned that we all truly share a common desire for community, no matter what our season of life, and doing "community" over good food & drink is always a great choice.
9. Dreaming for 2016: As I close out 2015, I can't help but think about all of the intentional planning that has gone into this year in order to launch well into the new year. 2016 holds some amazing things, many of which I am already eagerly anticipating, and many of which I don't even know are on the horizon. More than anything, I'm so grateful to live this life and tackle these dreams alongside Chip & Sophie. You may not see Chip's face quite as much (hello residency life!), but he is a key player in Lauren Carnes Photography. He helps make every major decision, encourages me in the tough moments, celebrates with me in the successes, and is always up for cocktail crafting on our days off together. I'm dreaming of what 2016 holds professionally, as well as personally, and I know there are great, great things in store! More than anything, I'm so thankful for the way the Lord has chosen me in this life to create and guides my every step! Here's to the most amazing 2015, and an even better 2016!