Although 2017 is long and gone, it's memories still linger as if to remind me of the lessons learned and the battles won. It's a funny feeling living everyday rushing and frantic, only to look back and realize how much you've grown in the span of a year. I've spent a lot of time reading my colleagues year end reviews these past couple days and its got me reminiscing a bit. I guess when its all said and done 2017 was much like any other year, filled with ups and downs, but there were some big changes that left me in unfamiliar territory. 

I was in a new city with a new job and was faced with a sink or swim situation.

I loved every minute of it.

There were plenty of times where I struggled creatively, financially and physically, but it all led to a big year of growth and excitement I will never forget. 

In late 2016 I left my job at DC Corporate Headshots in my hometown and moved to Louisville KY. I was offered an opportunity to work with Clay Cook Photography and I immediately jumped at it. It was rough and downright insane at times, but it left me with very valuable experience and skill sets to help me take on a very difficult industry.   

Initially I had no place to stay, so I moved into the studio and lived like a monk for the first few months. I built up a decent nest egg in DC but I spent most of it buying a car, setting things in motion, and moving to KY. To supplement income, I started working at a restaurant and driving for lyft and uber on top of working shoots. I was stretched pretty thin but nobody said it would be easy. 

I assisted on shoots that ranged from small intimate one-subject portraits, to being on rooftops with violent winds threatening to blow us all off, to shooting on sets of A&E tv shows, to assisting shoots where the whole amusement park was left open to us, to assisting a shoot at Papa John's headquarters, to shooting at the Kentucky Derby (which I had no idea how in your face nuts Derby actually is), to assisting a shoot for Forbes magazine, and even assisting on a shoot with an A list celebrity. It was a fast ride I was lucky enough to latch on when I did. In every situation there was a lesson to be learned, and there were many many situations. 

I learned about how much unrelenting work it really takes to make progress. It's like football really, where you give it your all and push forward, tooth and nail, only to gain a couple inches. Those inches eventually add up though, and pretty soon you see yourself staring down the end zone. I learned more about the technical aspects of photography. Instinct and talent only take you so far. In order to continue progressing, you have learn the ins and outs from a technical level. You will be leagues ahead of your past self if you take the time to learn them. I learned about really putting yourself into the work and being true to who you really are. Probably the hardest lesson of them all. Everyday you see other peoples work and everyday you study the work of the people you look up, but you can't let their styles or the current trends in the industry outweigh who you are. 

And I got to travel. 

I made it to Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, Cincinnati, Atlanta, The Smokey Mountains, and every random place in between. Not to mention all the places I'd been to before but was able to revisit. In every place we visited and road trip we took, there were stories to tell, people to meet, and a ridiculous amount of food to try. A lot of people ask me why I moved DC to KY. I love DC, but I would have went anywhere to experience something different. There's so much more the country has to offer that isn't advertised. Sometimes you just have to stumble on top of it. 

Finally, my girlfriend and I moved in together. We met in DC and eventually tried the long distance thing for a while. In late 2017 she moved to Kentucky and we started a new journey together, and I am a much better man because of it. 

Below is a quick mash up of everything in front of and behind the camera in 2017. It may not seem like it, but there is a story behind each picture. 

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