What. A. Year.
As I think back on the last twelve months, I feel mostly surprised and grateful. Surprised because one year ago, I was working a full-time job supervising teachers and writing online math courses. It was a great job for our transient military lifestyle and ETP was a fun thing I did on the side. Truth be told, I had dreamt about what life would look like if I went full-time with my business, but I didn’t actually see that happening any time soon. My job paid well and had good benefits. I was part of a wonderful team and supervised some incredible educators. But one Thursday in January, everything changed. My position (as well as all my peers’) was eliminated in a post-Covid restructure. I found myself sitting in a meeting with the head of HR in complete shock. What was I going to do?
The weeks that followed were filled with a bit of sulking, a whole lot of thinking, and hours upon hours of conversations with my husband. By the end, we decided that this was my opportunity. We did some math (because obviously 😉), set some goals, and decided to go for it. With my family’s total support, I jumped in… right into cherry blossom season!
Between some incredible cherry blossom sessions, 20+ helicopter mini sessions with our squadron, and another 20+ mini sessions with our kids’ school families, the spring was a whirlwind. My focus was building relationships with new clients and creating a wonderful experience for anyone who trusted me with their family’s memories. By that standard, it was a resounding success. I also had the chance to photograph some important military events during the day, opportunities I would have had to decline had I still been working my previous job. There was a lot of hustling, but I truly enjoyed all of it.
As spring turned to summer, I found myself wanting to offer photography education in addition to photo sessions and military event coverage. As a professionally trained educator, I know I have something to offer in the education space. I worked with a lawyer to draft a contract for future coaching clients and on the day she sent me the final draft, I saw an Instagram story asking for business coach recommendations. After some back and forth learning about her pain points and goals, Emily Person Photography graciously hired me knowing that I was just jumping into photography education.
I couldn’t be more grateful for my time with Emily. Our live meetings were so fun. I loved creating resources for her, celebrating her successes, and cheering her along as she put in so much hard work. Pretty much everything I love about teaching came through in these calls. As our time together formally came to an end, I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to create educational resources for photographers.
In the weeks that followed, I officially launched Erin Thompson Photography Education. New free content has become available on my blog every week, as well as my first paid guide, Mastering Manual Mode. I am serving other early business owners through coaching and love helping them on their business journeys. I have a lot planned for 2024 as far as photography education goes and cannot wait to have you along for the ride.
In addition to pouring lots of time and energy into education, I had a wonderful fall filled with family sessions. My circle continues to expand and I am more and more grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met through my business. From capturing 20+ families at an event hosted by Caesars Entertainment to flying across the country to serve some clients back in Albuquerque (and all the NOVA/DC sessions in between!), it was busy but wonderful. So many memories were made and I am grateful to be the one who captured them.
Speaking of the people I’ve met through my business… among the highlights of the year are the fellow photographers I’ve had the opportunity to connect with. In addition to more virtual friends than I could ever name, I had the pleasure of connecting with Lauren Wert, Heidi Fam, Michelle Jones, Sarah Schmidt, Lauren Vanni and Kim Wentzel in person. Having friends in the industry is such a gift and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to get to know these talented ladies!
As the year comes to a close, my wish for 2024 is to feel even more grateful and ideally a little less surprised! It’s going to be a big year for our family and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for ETP. Here’s to an epic cherry blossom season, more meaningful military moments, and whole lot of fun along the way!