2016 Year in Review

Words can't even begin to describe how blessed I have been this year to work with so many wonderful people. I have received so much love and support from family, friends and complete strangers. I have seen myself and my work grow more than I ever thought possible in just a span of a single year.

But as someone who has always strived to be a perfectionist, this year has brought a lot of discouragement. I've constantly found myself looking at other people's work and bashing my own for not beings as crisp, clean, perfect or praised. I've spent hours upon hours editing and re-editing my photos trying to get my images to look as spectacular as so many photographers seem to do. Even when I produced some of my highest quality work, it has never been good enough to me. I noticed small imperfections; camera settings I should have used better, awkward posing I could have changed and still not achieving the style of photography I yearn to have. I couldn't (and still kind of don't) understand why I wasn't as good as them and what I was doing wrong. I wanted my work to be appreciated and not just noticed for a bit and then forgotten about.

Although I still struggle with those thoughts and continue to be my worst critic, each day I am learning to love what I can do and finding new ways to become the photographer I want to be.

Looking back, 2016 has been one of my greatest years when it comes to my work. For the first year ever, I produced images every single month that I am proud of. Not all of them are perfect, but each one holds a special place in my heart. I took my first trip out of the country to Brazil with a group of journalism students from Ball State to cover all the amazing culture that the country holds. This opportunity opened my eyes to the fact that I maybe wasn't cut out to be a journalist, but it sure taught me how to work from the ground up and gave me amazing images for my portfolio (I could possibly be leaving the country again next summer, but I won't give too much away since it's still in the works). I was in the trial run for a new analytics course for the journalism department, creating content and marketing strategies for Visit Indy, an Indianapolis tourism company, which left me with a big portfolio piece and lots of new tools that I'm starting to integrate into my business. I can sort of code and sort of love it. I'm almost done with my major and have decided to pursue a minor in Digital Media and possibly add on a marketing one as well. I've had more clients this year than ever before, and have booked not one but TWO weddings for next spring/summer. And to top it all off, I have had an amazing time collaborating with my friend, Samantha Brammer (Samantha Rose Photography), creating themed shoots and working with models. Some of my best work has come out of these shoots and I'm excited for you all to see what we have planned for the next few months!

Even though it hasn't been easy, I wouldn't trade this year for anything. I'm not where I want to be with my work yet, but to be honest I don't know what I want to do with it anyway. I'm slowly figuring out what works and doesn't work for me, and trying to be as kind to myself as I can. I keep having to remind myself that greatness doesn't happen overnight and that I am only in my second year of college, with so much more to discover and so much more to learn.

Thank you to everyone who has been along for this amazing journey of a year. I could not have done it without all my wonderful clients, professors, family and fellow photographers who continuously push me to be better every single day. I thank God for the opportunities He has given me, all the people He has placed in my life and for all the things that are yet to come. 

I still have a couple sessions to end this year, but I wanted to share this post with everyone before the craziness of the holidays kicked in. Below are some of my favorite images I had the pleasure to capture. I know there are a lot (I have trouble with narrowing down my images, my editors can tell you all about it), but I would include every photo I took if I could. So take a moment and walk down memory lane with me and I hope you're as excited as I am for all the super awesome things that are in store for 2017!

Side Note: This is only a highlight of my portrait work. I'm working on creating a portfolio of my photojournalism stuff for scholarships and will share that when it's finished! I also did organized my photos before uploading to make sure they were all in order of when I took them. Squarespace didn't think keeping it that way was a good idea and I didn't feel like trying to move them all around to make it right, so sorry for all the random mixed up photos.

Have a Merry Christmas & wonderful New Year!

xx

This year is through so what will I do? Something exciting, fantastic and new? Something tremendous. Something stupendous. Something that makes all my wishes come true? Or maybe the same as the year that's just passed. Or the same as the one year that came before last. And on for forever, I'll just go on repeating. The years in succession as long as I'm breathing. It's all up to me, that much I can see. To make this new year the most new it can be. It's all up to us, wherever we are, to try and keep trying to go farther than far. To reach higher than high. To make new and make better. To make this year the best, the most magic year ever! || Dallas Clayton