Every year I look back and reflect on my career and my life (that post will be forthcoming) and then try to come up with words to accurately describe the last 365. And going through my best Maui wedding photos of 2018 is always such a daunting task! But I think if I had to choose one word to describe my year in photography it would be:
I entered 2018 feeling stagnant and bored. I was shooting at the same places and feeling uninspired. My work looked like everyone else’s work. I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I had almost given up to the point where I was thinking “maybe if I shoot like photographer X then I’ll get more bookings.” And thoughts like “Maybe this is all there is to Maui wedding photos – a beautiful backdrop with a couple.” And to me – it was just like…meh. I was disillusioned with the industry and uninspired.
And then I signed up for the Two Mann Studios workshop. I was super lucky to get a spot as they typically sell out within an hour! To me, they are the best photographers in the world. Truly. Emotion, color, landscape, lighting – they’re masters of their craft. And if anyone could light a fire under my ass, it was them. This workshop was my hail mary.
I took the workshop in April and it didn’t disappoint. On the very first day, I offered up one of my weddings for critique. I half-hid behind an oversized pillow as they scrolled through my images. About a quarter of the way through, Erika looked me straight in the eye and said “You’re being lazy. You can do better.” It was firm and direct, but it came from an authentic place of wanting to help. Over the next three days, they taught me about the power of the crop, how to take my editing to the next level, and looking for the light. They challenged me.
I wanted to be better. I wanted to be different.
Never before have I been more resolved to create new, unique, emotion-filled images for my clients. I changed my approach, my expectations, my attitude. The workshop awakened a part of me that I had laid to rest years ago. It re-invigorated me to stay the course, to stick to my guns, and to stand out in an overly-saturated market. To be me. I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I would say that I’m happier than I ever have been with my work. And my clients? Gosh, they’re just the absolute best. Genuine, unique, candid; I can honestly say that most of them I can call my friends. They’ve said things to me like “Angie, we trust you.” And that has meant the world to me.
Lessons learned: Trudging through the noise
So I pushed on. Every wedding I tried something different. Sometimes I failed, but most often I succeeded and learned from the process. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a no BS kind of girl. I try to tell it like it is and live through authenticity and transparency.
So here it is: Things like being named the best photographer in Hawaii by Hawaii magazine is bogus because determined by a popularity contest. It’s literally a marketing strategy to get people to go to their website and vote. It’s like being voted Prom Queen. The Best of The Knot and WeddingWire? Yeah – all you have to do is get 10 couples to review you and you’re deemed “best of.” There’s a lot of noise in this industry and fake awards.
So what matters to me? What does success look like?
It’s a question I’ve struggled with this year. But two really cool things happened to me in December that helped me see a bit more clearly and to cut through the BS.
First, I was asked to be an ambassador for my favorite lighting system, MagnetMod. They’re light modifiers for flashes. They’ve changed how I’ve controlled the light and with them, I’ve produced some of my favorite images ever. It was something I was really vocal about before becoming an ambassador. I run my mouth to anyone who will listen about the magic of MagMod gear – so for them to take notice of me and add me to their incredibly impressive list of other ambassadors was a huge honor. Not gonna lie – I cried when I got that email.
And then I found out that one of my photos got an honorable mention in Fearless Photographers Collection 46. Getting a Fearless award is on my bucket list. The curators for those contests are well known and highly respected photographers from around the world. No popularity contests there considering all entries are anonymous.
So would I consider 2018 a successful year? It was a year of growth and progress – with some success sprinkled in there 🙂
A year in review
Last year I did an itemized list of how many weddings and portraits I did. I’m not doing that this year. I’m trying really hard to not measure my successes by numbers and glorifying busy-ness. So instead, I’m going to let the work speak for itself.
Full disclosure – I have more best-of in the slide show linked on the bottom (and some of my favs are from Big Island, Kaua’i, and Michigan). All of my favorites just didn’t fit into a 3:58 video 🙂 But you should take a look anyway because watching photos to music is unmatched!
BEST MAUI WEDDING PHOTOS OF 2018
Someone recently just asked me “what’s your favorite photo you’ve ever made?” Truthfully, I can’t choose. I love each and every wedding for different reasons. Sometime’s it’s nature’s wizardry like rainbows or epic sunsets that make the photo. Sometimes it’s the light that nature provided. Sometimes it’s the light I created. Sometimes it’s the emotion of the moment. Sometimes I have an idea in my head and I’m able to execute it perfectly (and sometimes not at all). There’s absolutely no way for me to pick my favorite image.
Cheers to all of my clients in 2018. You guys were gems. We laughed, we cried, we froze our asses off on Haleakala, we prayed that the rain stayed away, we fought the wind during Hurricane Lane and Tropical Storm Hector, we climbed cliffs and traversed jungles, we dodged traffic on a cliff on Big Island at 11:30 PM on a new moon to hopefully get a shot with the stars – and together we made it work. Years from now, I hope that these images remind you all of one of the best days of your life.
Alright, enough with this sappy shit (as much as I really do love it). I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos as much as I did making them. Thanks for taking a walk with me down my 2018 memory lane. It was a wild ride and I can only expect that 2019 will bring even more joy and challenges.