2018 In Review Part 1
So I will admit that I started out 2018 with the New Year's Resolution of writing a blog post at least once a month and keeping up with my social media. With the exception of my Instagram @vitalityimagesphotography I pretty much failed miserably.
2018 was a year of changes both as a photographer and in my other career as an occupational therapist. Typically I like to keep my blog posts photography related only, but today I am going to write about the WHOLE picture so you can get a bit more of an understanding of who I am, where I am at, and what are my plans for Vitality Images Photography in the future.
2017 was a challenge with still recovering from a car accident the previous year and ankle surgery because of said car accident in October 2017. In 2017 I was limited in what types of jobs I took because of the physicality they required as well as because I couldn't take work while on crutches or in an AirCast.
Here is my 2018 recap - basically my attempt to make up a year's worth of not blogging.
EDITOR'S NOTE: ITS A LONG BLOG POST. I'm going to split it up into 2. Here is Part One.
2018 started off with continuing my rehabilitation. By January 1, 2018, I was finally at least able to weight bear with two feet again!
In my other career as a full time occupational therapist for the Canadian Forces, in January I finished writing my first manuscript about cognitive rehabilitation for Canadian Armed Forces members with post-concussion symptoms through a program I developed from scratch called Brain Bootcamp.
I received my 12th and 13th Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) accreditations in Wedding Story and Child and Infant Portraiture. I also found out that 2 of my images had been accepted into the PPOC National Salon. These images were History Repeating in the Fine Art Category (photograph of the bell at the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, ON) and Rough Night on the Job which scored a Merit in the Editorial category (more on that later). I also was notified that I made the criteria to receive my designation from the PPOC as a Craftsman of Photographic Arts (CPA).
A month filled with lots of boudoir, a wedding, and quite possibly my coolest shoot to date. I rented the Alberta Aviation Museum (must check it out!) and did a styled vintage shoot for family portraits as well as with models!
Photography took me across the pond to Scotland to visit and friend and provide them with a family photography shoot! It was chilly with lots of rain, but I got to see Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, and Arbroath. I lived my Outlander dream with my red-headed husband as we hiked through Culloden and learned about the Jacobites and he drank scotch...lots and lots of scotch...
I also had the honour of photographing a few canines who I absolutely love and are no longer with us. Sam (beagle) was an Animal Assisted Therapy dog with the Chimo Animal Assisted Wellness and Learning Society (CAAWLS) for over 7 years. The 14 year old beagle was such a hit with kids and adults alike and loved to volunteer with his sister, Sonic, and owner, Dave. As well, Duke, a Great Dane who was adopted from the Greater Edmonton Animal Rescue Society (GEARS) also passed away. They are both missed!
On top of all this, an opportunity presented itself to move out of my home and into a new studio. That's right, Vitality Images Photography now has a studio! I am super happy I made this move. My space is just outside the Ice District in the heart of Edmonton. I now have a nice space to display my art, meet with clients, shoot, and keep some of my equipment which I think my husband is the most excited about.
I love teaching and I love photography. I also thought, why not try my hand and instructing beginner photography and inspiring some people? This month, VIP Education was born! I ran my first class on April 23, 2018 and have been running about a class a month since. I also started my VIP Education Facebook group to assist with sharing, inspiring, and teaching others!
May was a BIG month. First, I went to Richmond, BC for Canadian Imaging and Photographic Tradeshow. I knew that along with seeing my photography buddies from across the country, learning a TON which included some of my favourite photographers like Nikki Harrison and Kaylee Greer of Dog Breath Photography, I would also be accepting my Craftsman of Photographic Arts Award. There were a few surprises that I didn't know about, however. My images, Rough Night on the Job was awarded Best in Class - Editorial and was added to the 2018 Loan Collection which is the top 40 photographs from the National competition. This was the highlight of my photographic career thus far.
I also successfully completed the Judging Clinic which means I could now judge Accreditations and Regional Salons. It was a fun time with fellow photographers, Susie O'Connor, Gerry David, Kent Wong, Linda Ryma, Kim Berlie and a few other awesome Canadian photographers that presented to us!
In Regional PPOC news, I started the position of North Branch Chair for the PPOC-AB. I have an awesome North Branch Board that are busting their buns!
I also had a concept shoot with one of my best friends, Ashley Hutchison of Castilia Design that garnished some international attention. Thank god for good friends who will brave mosquitoes and drop everything to model at a moment's notice! I also was able to photograph an awesome grad shoot which involved smoke bombs and a U-Haul full of balloons! So much fun!
June started with photographing Haute Dawg: The Sequel for the Gordon and Dianne Buchanan Family Foundation. My dog, Nickita, was put in the show last minute and ended up winning Best in Show! We are very proud. My husband, a.k.a. Ginger Beef also modelled in the show.
Towards the end of the month, I photographed a wedding in Airdrie, Alberta which was a ton of fun! Congrats Britt and Allan!
In my occupational therapy career, a couple things happened:
2. I guess I kind of like academics. I accepted a 1 year sabbatical from my job with the Department of National Defence to help with an initiative at the University of Alberta called the Heroes in Mind, Advocacy and Research Consortium, or HiMARC. This is a big career jump for me!
I had an awesome opportunity to complete a commercial shoot for CAAWLS. 2 of our 3 dogs, Bear and Nickita, have been animals assisted therapy animals for them for some time now. I love this organization and it was an honour to photograph for them! My VIP Education for this month focused on pet photography and proceeds went to this awesome organization!
I also photographed some magnificent equine models, and, of course, a creative project with Kendra which I still need to edit.
As always, we had a great family photoshoot with these kiddos last minute in the canola fields!
I had the honour of photographing our dear friends, Matt and Morgan's, wedding. My husband was the Best Man, so it just made sense :) We got some incredible shots in and around the Yellowhead Brewery and legendary MaGrath Mansion. I am working on their wedding album as I type this!
August had a few challenges. I started my new job with HiMARC at the University of Alberta which means a longer commute, a huge undertaking, and learning a whole new career. Long hours, long weeks, and my time for photography was cut into. Also, my main. computer hard drive started to fail which was unfortunate.
What was the most hard part of the month is that my favourite assistant (after my husband I suppose), Lindsay moved to Italy. She will be there for 4 years. While I am beyond excited for her and her family to embark on such an adventure, her ability to relate to people, her enthusiasm, work ethic, and assistance with everything from carrying items to working the reflector will and has been missed! I will continue to mentor her from here, and I can't wait to see the amazing photographs she posts from her adventures abroad! Here is one of her and her girls we did before they left:
So this is right about when my life got thrown for a loop and where I go on a tangent. The new job with HiMARC really got exciting. I had no idea the fall would have me traveling all over Western Canada and the United States for work. 3 days before the due date for applications and on the day classes started, I decided to start my PhD in Rehabilitation Science. Usually this is something a person thinks about for a long long time. Not me. As soon as my husband gave me his support, I felt it was meant to be. I was in the right place at the right time with a topic, a little bit of financial assistance (although school was definitely something I did not budget for and costs a lot), a supportive supervisor, an more ideas than I knew what to do with for a topic and project. I thought I would work on it part-time for the next few years... more about that later. I also started teaching occupational therapy graduate classes for the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. Something I didn't think I was going to enjoy that much; but I loved it. I also had my first PhD level class - statistics. My WORST subject by far.
In my photography life, I still was shooting a bit, which included an adult cake smash and a 50th Wedding Anniversary, and running my introductory VIP Education Classes. Gotta pay the studio rental somehow!
At the 2018 PPOC Alberta Provincial Salon, I had 3 of 4 photos accepted; 2 of these received a score of Excellence which is the highest a photograph can score. To put it in perspective, only 5% of the photographs entered received a score of Excellence. This was my first time ever receiving that score, and I was over the moon!
By this time I am working more than full time for HiMARC, travelling for work, trying to get my computer fixed which was an absolute nightmare, unable to learn statistics, teaching at the university, chairing the PPOC-AB North Branch, and trying to still run a business. Just when I was starting to wonder what the hell I was thinking, we threw a photography conference on top of that! I was assisting Chris Thombs of One Step Beyond with the running go Light Matters 2018 which is our PPOC Alberta annual conference. This year was honestly the best conference I have ever been to at a provincial level and I am not just saying that because I helped out. We partnered with the McBain Edmonton Photographic Trade Show which was awesome!
The national and international talent that presented at this conference was absolutely world class. Will Prentice from Captura Photography in Toronto, Clinton Lofthouse from the UK, and Asher Svidensky from Israel were inspiring with their amazing travel, documentary, composite, portraiture, lighting and fantasy work. Of course, one of my favourite artists is home grown - Renee Robyn. As usual, she awed all of us with her mad skills and creativity as she created one of her awesome images right in front of our eyes! Melissa Welsh is a BC photographer who is the answer to our prayers when it comes to finding your value, economics, and pricing. We are so fortunate that she came out to speak to us!
What was also super cool about all of these talented photographers is that they were so bloody down to earth. We had meals with them, a few drinks after the formal program was over, and they even attended our gala! I had the pleasure of hanging out with Asher after the conference. Since he likes dogs, Kevin and I took him out to Elk Island to see the bison and take our dogs for a walk. It was a fun opportunity to get to share one of our favourite places with Asher. Chris buddy, you did a good Conference! Light Matters - and so do YOU!
Light Matters 2018 hosted the last PPOC National Accreditation judging of the year. This was my first experience judging for the PPOC. Although it was a long day, I really enjoyed it!
My buddy, Gerry David, received a Citation of Service which is awarded only occasionally (much less than annually) to someone who has done incredible service to the PPOC or photography industry. I cannot tell you how happy this made me; this guys REALLY works his butt off because he is so passionate about photography and the PPOC. As well, I was awarded Best in Class - Portrait for my image, Aviation Amy and Best in Class - Fine Art for The CanCan. What made that last one even sweeter is that I tied with my friend Susie O'Conner of Images Studios with her image Dance with Me which I absolutely LOVE!
Light Matters 2019 will be here again in Edmonton, AB. I am going to try and step back a bit - but everything is stored in my basement. I don't think I am getting away that easily. I also flew to Saskatoon for the PPOC-SK Conference. I was hoping I would get to chill and learn instead of running around like I did at the PPOC-AB conference. That was partially true, and I was able to do so for day 1 with David Anthony Williams, who is always an inspiration, but then duty called on the second day. I had to direct my focus to grant writing for applications related to HiMARC that we just learned about for our research that were due 20 hours from the time we found them.
My computer saga continued, and it ended up with me purchasing a new one which is not what you typically want to do right at the holidays. I took a break from shooting this month to focus on catching up on making wedding albums, holiday orders, and other projects. I did find out that 3 of my images will be hanging in the Edmonton International Airport in the new year which is pretty cool.
So what happens in 2019? Check out PART TWO tomorrow!
Keywords: alberta, creativity, inspiration, photographer, photography, portrait, portrait photography, portraits, portraiture, PPOC, travel, year in review, yeg
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