Yesterday, I celebrated my 28th birthday. Whoa. 28. Never in a million years did I think that I would be a professional photographer at 28. For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, you know how I have been crazy blessed with this gift of photography, this business and all of my phenomenal clients.

This past weekend, I photographed my best wedding ever. Seriously. Afterwards, I realized that that is how it should be. Each and every session should be my next best because in order to serve my clients well and become the best photographer that I can be, I need to perpetually evolve, improve and critique my abilities as a photographer. Recently, I finished a fabulous book called Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders (highly recommend to all wedding photographers) and it reaffirmed my business goals of improving my branding through my unique personality and the infinite benefits of giving back as much as possible. I am confident that I am on the right track and that the future of La Brisa Photography is incredibly bright! My best friend is currently doing his medical residency in surgery and each new day he aims to be better, stronger, faster (yes, from the Daft Punk song). In 2010 and beyond, I am applying that philosophy to this business because this past wedding truly reinforced my endearing love for wedding photography.
Nonetheless, on the drive to the airport this past weekend, traffic was being redirected by a police officer because there had been an accident. As I found out later,  someone had driven through a red light early on Sunday morning and caused three fatalities. While I was waiting to depart Garden City, KS to Denver, CO, I contemplated how humbling God is. Just a few hours earlier, I witnessed the covenant between two amazing individuals which in fact combined and linked numerous families and friends together forever, then only 35 miles away, a fatal accident occurs on a beautiful Sunday morning. There is so much give and take in this world and the events of this past weekend coupled with my birthday really encouraged me to stop and think about my goals for La Brisa Photography.
In a nutshell, they are as follows:

  1. Build upon my strengths and outsource my weaknesses to other professionals. Essentially, everything besides the photography and editing, I want to place in the hands of those who are as passionate about them as I am about photography (i.e. wedding albums, print orders, bookkeeping, etc) so that I can focus on what I love to do the most. Also, as a result of this, I will have more freedom to spend time with my wife, family and friends to improve my work/life balance. 
  2. Stop Gear Envy. I always want the latest and greatest photography equipment. I always read the rumors  about what is coming out next from the main companies and I drool just thinking about the possibilities of owning a $6,000 camera body (yes, the 1DsIII) or a $5,000 camera lens (yes, the 200 f/2 IS). This year, I want to focus on getting the most out of the equipment I have and being able to maximize their results. By re-reading my manuals and learning more about my equipment, I strongly believe I will become a better equipped and better prepared photographer. 
  3. Give Back. Last year, through Photography for a Cause, I was able to donate $1,000 to local charities. This year, my goal is $1,250 and will increase annually for every year that I am running this business. Thank you again to all who ordered prints last year!
  4. Give Back II. Many photographers view the flood of DSLRs to the market as a threat to their livelihood and market share. More and more people are taking up the beauty and awesomeness of photography and I am incredibly excited about it. Through my Aspiring Photographer Workshops (APW), I am trying to leverage aspiring photographers as an asset to me because I want to help them succeed. With each and every new photographer, established photographers are being challenged to be more creative, push conventional notions of composition, exposure and focus in order to continue the evolution of the industry. By giving back through workshops, mentoring, etc., I benefit by building my network, honing my skills, adding new friends and progressing the industry as a whole.
  5. In the 5-10 year range, I want to build a database/network of Christian photographers. Obviously, there is not a legitimate way to ensure that X photographer has a relationship with Christ, but I would love to see a website where potential clients/fellow photographers can find a Christian photographer in their local area for business, networking, bible studies, mentorships, etc. How amazing would that be?
  6. Also in the 5-10 year range, I want to create a non-profit organization that enables high school students to take senior portraits so that more students can afford amazing pictures of themselves. When I first started La Brisa Photography, I had no idea how expensive senior portraits were. Even in little Manhattan, Kansas, it was not unheard of to be spending $1,000-$1,500 for senior portraits and that to me is absolutely absurd. I know I will not make many friends amongst the photography community with this goal, but I think something should be done to hinder the exploitation of this rite of passage for adolescents. 

I share these goals with all of you because I have built this business on the foundation of transparency and I want you to know what I am thinking, where I hope to be heading, what I want to accomplish and I am hoping that you will help keep me accountable. Accountability is the key to any chance of accomplishing your goals and so I hope that you continue to ride shotgun with me on this journey that is La Brisa Photography.
Here are a few teasers from my most recent wedding. I love the background stories behind all of the little details of wedding days! Enjoy!
Absolutely gorgeous gown hanging at the backdoor of her parents’ house
Scotty City is a small town of about 3,000 people. Every car that drove by congratulated the bride by name!

Love these moments when the father is walking his daughter down the aisle and gives her that last knowing look…

I asked the ladies to stay as low and as still as possible,  then asked the men to jump over them without telling them first 🙂

Nothing beats a sunset in Western Kansas except if you add an amazing couple looking towards their future together

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