2020 YEAR IN REVIEW | YEARLY REFLECTION | DETROIT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Updated: Jan 9



Wow. To say that 2020 was a crazy year is an understatement, but even though it was an insane year like never before due to the pandemic, it was a spectacular year for personal and business growth, more than any year prior. While there is a lot that I can focus on from the past year, I’m choosing to reflect on all the good that took place. This year had extreme challenges, pandemic aside, with personal illness, racial injustices, and a major job transition. It was a year filled with grief, change, and uncertainty. Yet, this year had overwhelming exciting moments that I want to share. It’s so important, especially in challenging times, to focus on and celebrate those moments.


I’d be lying if I said I made it through this year with successes and celebrations alone. I had the support of my friends and family, especially my loving and undeniably supportive husband. I also had the support of others in my industry, who challenged me and encouraged my growth. But ultimately, my success comes from God and God alone. Seriously, I give God all the glory for my personal and professional growth. He is the one who has given me these strengths and passions. He is the one who gave me a burning desire to help others and provided clarity in uncertainty. He is the one who deserves the shout out, not me. He is the one who deserves the praise.


I know that some of you are reading this thing thinking, “Dang, this girl is one of those crazy Jesus believers who thinks God blesses her life and business. What about your hard work? What about the success of people who don’t believe in God?” Well, I believe every good thing comes from God, and honestly, I don’t know about the rest. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be able to comprehend everything.


What I do know is that I love Jesus; He is my source of joy and comfort. I know that God has turned the challenging circumstances of this year into abundant blessings in disguise. I know that He is in control and this year was filled with glorious surprises and glimpses of hope! So, with that, I’d love to share my 2020 yearly reflection. Yes, only the highlights! Remember, reflecting on the positive thing? It’s not to build a facade that my life is perfect, it’s far from it. But it’s to celebrate what God has done with this mess of a year.


PHOTOGRAPHY | WEDDINGS


Due to Covid, weddings rescheduled, couples planned micro weddings, minimonies, or elopements, and some couples canceled their weddings altogether. It was an extremely challenging year for couples getting married and every vendor in the wedding industry. Yet, while I “lost” over half of my weddings scheduled this year, it was a tremendous year for weddings. I absolutely loved documenting intimate ceremonies and elopements. I had the opportunity to travel in Michigan to Marquette and Mackinac Island for elopements and weddings. After having our travel plans canceled this year, getting out of the city was refreshing!



I had the unique opportunity of documenting a wedding virtually and absolutely enjoyed directing the couple through my iPad for photographs. I began a partnership with Basic Invite, to provide quality wedding invitations to my couples. I created resources for couples, like my favorite wedding planning apps guide and my tips for planning your wedding during a pandemic. I also curated two stylized elopements this year. You can see all the beautiful moments captured from my July Eastern Market stylized wedding here. I also partnered with The Borrowed and Blue Project for another stylized elopement in November, which you can view on the blog. I loved the opportunity to partner with talented Detroit vendors. This year, I also had two weddings featured in Metro Detroit Weddings Magazine, which was a huge honor!


Truly, it was surprising that so much good came out of this year. Having more time to focus on God, myself, and my business helped everything flourish!



Despite all the changes for weddings and couples, love was not canceled. I am extremely proud of my couples who persisted through all the challenges of wedding planning during a pandemic. I know that their relationship will be stronger after going through this experience. And I continue to pray for all my couples planning their weddings for 2021 and 2022 that they too will overcome each challenge and be drawn closer to their future spouse in the process. As I reflect back on this past year of weddings, it’s hard to choose my favorite photographs, but here are a few of my favorite moments captured this year. Documenting those raw emotions, little whispers, loud laughter, precious memories, and sweet interactions is more valuable than the perfectly composed photograph.



If you're looking for someone to document your love in 2021 or 2022, reach out here!


PHOTOGRAPHY | PROPOSALS & CELEBRATIONS


This year was also filled with great celebration and love! Remember, love wasn’t canceled this year. Couples still getting engaged, celebrated their love, got married. Speaking of proposals, I freaking love capturing them! It’s such an exciting and joyful experience and I’m honored to be there to document it. I had the opportunity to capture three proposals this year! Here are some of the highlights!



I had the joy of photographing a birthday party at Meadow Brook Hall before the pandemic hit the U.S as well. It was a beautiful gathering of family, likely for the last time all together before having to social distance.



I also loved capturing this commitment ceremony at Stony Creek. It was a unique way to celebrate love and honor their original wedding date as they postponed their wedding.



PHOTOGRAPHY | EDUCATION


When I truly recognized that my value and worth are not connected to anything that I do or create, but rather from God, it gave me the freedom to step out in faith and explore different avenues in my business. The biggest change in my business this year was adding on the additional service of photography education. I started offering mentorships, virtually and in person. I loved the opportunity to meet with new photographers, share my passion, and pour out all my knowledge to them. I created educational resources and shared my secret to confidence, my top 5 favorite photography programs, and my wedding day checklist for photographers! I now offer audits as well to help photographers discover the areas of strength and opportunities on their websites, portfolios, or social media. I aim to encourage photographers and provide constructive feedback to help them succeed.



If you’d like to find out more about the education that I offer, head over to my website!


PERSONAL


During our first major lockdown, quarantine, whatever you’d like to call it, my husband and I had fun documenting our life at home. I captured the joyful moments, the time that we spent together, enjoying each other's company. Yes, of course, that was not what the entire quarantine looked like, but again, I’m reflecting on the positive.



I decided in late summer to pursue photography full time and leave my job of teaching high school art and photography. It was not easy as it was my passion, but it was the best decision. You can read more about my transition into full-time photography on this blog. Before I transitioned into photography full time, I started offering photography education to other photographers in my industry. I’m still wildly passionate about education and transitioned this into helping other photographers build their businesses. I’ve absolutely loved facilitating mentorship sessions and even launched my first beta photography course! I’m looking forward to offering more educational opportunities in the future.



While the racial injustices that occurred this year are not even close to a positive highlight, but rather an extremely dark season that the country is still enduring, there was still progress that occurred. I won’t speak for the progress of others, but rather, what I’ve learned through this. As I took a deeper dive into my own white privilege and what it truly means to be anti-racist I realized that I can be a better advocate. I saw the need to amplify Black voices. I saw the opportunity to sit back and truly learn from the Black, Indigenous, and People of color (BIPOC) on my social media feed. I also realized that while I’m not an educator for racial injustices, as it’s not my area of expertise, I can educate others in my community and social circle by sharing facts and resources. I also documented my first protest and attending protests this year was more eye-opening than anything on social media or the news. It truly broke my heart but profound change happened. During one of the speeches before the protest march began, Trische’, the Director and Founder of Survivors Speak said, “Once your eyes are open to it, you are accountable with what you do with it… This is a call to action, for us to rise up the right way…to be present, and to love each other…The only thing that is going to cancel this hate is love…The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself… We have to leave our hearts open for racist individuals to be able to conform. We speak truth, we hold people accountable, and what they do with it is on them. We have to show love y’all.” Love. I was reminded that we need more love than hate to invoke change.



To wrap up the major changes in my personal life, my husband and I bought our first home in October. It was a long, but exciting journey. We just moved down the street, but it feels so different. In a good way. I love our home and I’m looking forward to making it our own over the years. We’ve already started, and almost completed projects, including painting, remodeling a shower, updating the bathrooms, installing new appliances, and various generic home projects that are not glorious, but necessary. They’ll be before and after photographs in the new year, but for now, I’ll share one of my favorites of my husband and I with our pup, Hamish, of course, “decking the halls” for Christmas in our new home.



This entire year has felt like blindfolded faith in God. I went into every situation with hesitation, but hope and trusted that it would turn out all right. And you know what? It turned out great! This year, again with all tragedies aside, was truly incredible. I thank God for our home, our health, and our careers. As I reflect back on 2020, I do see the hardships, but I see how those have shaped me and help me curate a life in which I can live fully and serve God wholeheartedly.


I hope to share more with you in the upcoming year and I cannot wait to see what plans God has in store, because if it’s anything like this year, it’s going to be wild!


All my love,



NOT JUST ANOTHER "PHOTOGRAPHER"

Nicole is a wedding and portrait photographer based out of the Metro Detroit area. Residing in Royal Oak, she photographs in Michigan and abroad. She began her career in 2012 and is now a published artist and professional photographer. Nicole started documenting weddings in 2014 and passionately pursues photography daily, teaching film and digital photography to high school students, and documenting life and love on the weekends. Specializing in Weddings, Portraiture, and Lifestyle photography, she is a diverse and creative artist. Does this sound like the photographer for you?

Heck yes, say hello!

© NICOLE LEANNE PHOTOGRAPHY 2020