Can you believe we’re 2 years into the pandemic and we’re still dealing with this crap?
What’s even more unbelievable is that I’m able to look back at 2021.
That’s because from March of 2020 to the middle of 2021 I created almost NO portraits and had decided it was time to shut down Photillustrator. I believed this so much that I actually started a new business building cabinets and furniture, which was going pretty well until…
My new cabinet and furniture business was growing and becoming profitable until I started getting calls for my creative family portraits again.
Out of the blue, and thanks to a couple of really great clients, I started getting calls for my creative portraits, which inspired me to flip the script and jump back into the world of photography.
So, I shut down my furniture business and went all in once again on photography, and this is what happened.
My First Composite
Just to give you a better idea of where I started and have come from, here’s the very first composited portrait I ever created back in December of 2014.
Composite photography opened up a world of creativity that I had envisioned but could never accomplish with film photography.
January 2021 Photography
The beginning of 2021 found me working a retail job at a woodworking place called Rockler and starting to build (pun intended) my furniture business.
This is a small nightstand I built for my son Luka, which has a hidden drawer for all his stash.
With so many building projects going on and working at Rockler, I not only had no time for photography but really didn’t want to even want to take photos.
However, I did find this old Ford truck I photographed for my Instagram.
Honestly, there’s something about old trucks and cars I just love.
February 2021 Photography
Before COVID hit back in March of 2020, I had taken on a few new clients that were put on hold due to the pandemic.
Little by little, I would photograph the different elements of their family portrait, and slowly but surely I would piece them together when I had time.
Out of that came this fun portrait of Jeff Brooks and his awesome family.
February was largely dedicated to building furniture.
March 2021 Photography
March, much like February, was mostly dedicated to building my furniture business.
Among other cabinets and furniture, I built this month, this walnut-slatted bench is one of my favorites.
Another project I took on was to finish up a composite I started way back at the beginning of the pandemic when we were demoing our deck to be rebuilt.
I thought it would be fun to capture the craziness that goes into a dad and his two teenage sons tearing apart a large structure.
April 2021 Photography
The family wanted a senior portrait that was different and included their son with his friends.
In collaboration with the kids, this is the story they wanted to tell about their senior year in high school.
April was also a business month constructing a built-in for a customer’s glass art and a desk for another photographer.
Sadly, through the first quarter of the year, my photography was pretty much just photographing the furniture I was building.
May 2021 Photography
The entire month of May was focused on constructing some patio cabinets and a super large library.
Would you believe the very first construction job I took on was a floor to ceiling library?
This library took several months to complete due to not being able to find materials, which was a good thing for me.
June 2021 Photography
Now, 6 months into the year and having done virtually NO photography, I started feeling that creative itch, so I purchased a tutorial by Chris Knight on Rembrandt lighting and portraits.
BTW… If you’re a photographer and want a great tutorial, check out Chris Knight’s Rembrandt lighting.
Inspired, I scheduled one of my wife’s friend’s daughter for a senior portrait.
For only my second photoshoot in this style, I was quite happy with the results.
Also, this month, I continued to work on that damn library.
Piece of advice… Don’t take on a project if you don’t know what you’re doing. LOL
July 2021 Photography
Inspired by the previous month’s portrait photography, I photographed my boys, Niko and Luka.
Having amazing photographs of your kids is so priceless, isn’t it?
While my wife, Taren, hates being photographed, I talked her into doing what would become one of my favorite portraits of her.
I also photographed a good friend of mine who has such an interesting look, Rodney.
Rodney is also who plays my Santa every year in my photography.
Clearly, I couldn’t get enough, so I also photographed my wife’s granddaughter who is about the cutest thing ever.
All-n-all, it was a successful month of photography and motivated me to move more towards this editorial style of photography.
While I was super busy with these new portraits, I was also building a deck for a local Rockwall customer.
Thankfully, she was super happy with how her deck turned out.
August 2021 Photography
Just as the summer was heating up, so was I when it came to my editorial-style portraits.
Having not had a headshot done for quite some time, I decided to turn the camera on me for one of my own portraits.
Wanting more practice, I also asked a good photographer friend of mine if she’d mind sitting for me along with her husband.
This is where I rediscovered the beauty of natural light.
As I begin to wind down my construction business to focus more on my photography business again, I completed a fun little built-in shelving unit for a nice Rockwall family.
And a really cool coffee table, which I donated to a private school silent auction.
I really do enjoy making tables for people.
September 2021 Photography
Every once in a while a customer comes along that reminds me why the portraits I create as so important.
Howard, called me, at his wife’s request, to create a photograph of their awesome family because it would be the last family portrait they’d ever get to have.
So, in record-breaking time, I photographed all the elements and completed the artwork just in time for Howard’s wife to see it before she passed.
While incredibly sad, I’m so happy her family portrait was able to bring her some joy in the last days of her amazing life.
Teaching is one of those things I love to do, which led me to Florida for the Florida Professional Photographers school where I had the opportunity to turn teaching into a composited portrait.
As I continue to work on my editorial-style portraits, I asked a good friend who refurbishes mid-century modern furniture if he and his wife would sit for a portrait.
Also, in September, I dusted off my car camera so I could do more photography of old trucks and cars.
Back to building furniture, one table project I’m super happy with and would love to do more of is this live edge walnut slab table.
I’m so freaking happy with how this table turned out and would love to do more of these types of projects.
October 2021 Photography
Getting busy now juggling both portrait making and furniture building, I started off October with a BIG Reveal for the Peck family.
As cool as it is to make these crazy family portraits, it’s way cooler to see them on the customer’s wall.
While I was in Florida teaching last month, I met one of the nicest and most fun people I’ve ever met, Tennessee, who let me photograph him for the class.
Knowing I needed to continue growing in my new style of portraits, I reached out to an old client of mine and asked if I could photograph her and her family.
Not only did she say YES, she also suggested I donate this new style of portraits to a charity she was chairing, which of course I agreed to.
Since it’s October, I needed to create a Halloween-inspired portrait, which gave me the opportunity to finally use an idea I’ve had for a couple of years.
The boys were the perfect age and I had my wife’s little granddaughter to be the cutest trick-or-treater ever.
Not wanting to pass up an opportunity, I also photographed Turdner and her sister, Tymber, in their halloween costumes.
Finally, if all that photography isn’t enough, I also finished up the crazy library I was working on.
While not perfect, I’m very happy with the end product and it gave me customer a place to put all his books.
November 2021 Photography
November finds me doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work on my photography business and my new style of portraits.
It also finds me in another BIG Reveal for the Graham family and their new family portrait.
Just days before Thanksgiving, when all their family could be there, we revealed their portrait where they all had so much fun.
It was truly a great way to start off the Holiday season.
Construction-wise, I just did a couple of small projects plus built and installed this walnut fireplace mantel.
I’m learning these building projects are a great way to balance the creativity of my photography business.
December 2021 Photography
As I wrap up the crazy ride of 2021, I reflect back at my journey and find myself grateful for 2 things.
Before I get into those 2 things, however, let me share my final three images of 2021.
After skipping sending out my crazy Christmas card last year, I really wanted to create something fun and happy for this year.
While I was photographing Santa for my crazy portrait, I went ahead and did an editorial-style portrait of him.
Lastly, I was commissioned by a client of my to create something fun for their Holiday card.
I’m feeling inspired to offer this as a holiday card option for next year’s customers.
That’s a Wrap of 2021
2021 was for sure a ride and as I said in December, I’m super grateful for 2 things.
That my portrait photography business picked back up and I’m able to create once again.
I’ve learned a new skill and trade that I will continue to work and grow in.
In years past I’ve tried to focus on a theme for the next year but in the famous words of the reality show Big Brother, I’m learning to “Expect the Unexpected.”
Here’s to 2022 full of twists and turns and where we’ll end up, nobody knows.