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My 2016: Successes, Failures & Lessons Learned.

Looking back at both the wins and challenges throughout 2016 and take a peek into 2017.

1. Launching my Website.

Launching a website was the best step I have taken in my photography. It's my little creative space, my virtual home. I did everything myself from web hosting and domain registration to the website development. I learned so many new things from Meta Data to how to write strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) content. It was definitely a big challenge as I am not a technical person but my website is here and it's doing great!

2. Gold and Silver Medals in Creative Photography 2016.

This was the biggest surprise of 2016. I entered the Creative Photography Competition and I certainly didn't have any expectations. The Competition was held in the Park Hotel, Dungarvan very close to my home. So I decided to pop in for a minute to see the results. To my biggest surprise I was awarded Gold and Silver medals in the Southern Association of Camera Clubs (SACC) Creative Photography Competition 2016 (intermediate). Here are my two photos and if you would like to read more about this competition, check this blog.

3. Finalist Littlewoods Blog Awards 2016.

Well this was very exciting! My brand new blog had made the Finalist shortlist in the Photography category. The public vote accounted for 20% and the remaining 80% was down to the independent judges, so I was really pleased that they enjoyed my content. So this year I decided to add a new series to my Blog "Ask the Photographer": Dedicated blog posts for amateur photographers and especially bloggers who want to improve their photography skills, stand out in the blogging-world and grab the audience's attention. If you have any photography related questions please do not hesitate to ask.

4. Runner-Up as Photographer of the Year at Deise Camera Club.

Deise Camera Club is a Dungarvan based club of enthusiastic photographers who share their interest in photography with other similar minded people in the area. Every year we have a club competition aimed at challenging ourselves in photography. There are themed, monthly, and quarterly competitions. At the end of the year the top contenders are awarded prizes at our annual Christmas party. Read the full article here. This year, I was runner-up in the Photographer of the Year 2016 Competition.

5. National Finalist of 2016/2017 SACC Regional Qualification Round of the Irish Photographer Federation "Photographer of the Year".

After my successful debut in the Creative Photography Competition, I decided to push myself further and I submitted my work to the Irish Photographer Federation for "Photographer of the Year" Competition. Just before Christmas I got the email with my scorecard and confirmation that I had passed to the National Final. National Finals will take place on February 18th 2017. Fingers crossed! Here is one of my entry photographs.

6. Nominated for the Friendliest Business Award 2016.

Happy Memories Photography, like any small business, depends on the loyalty and goodwill of its customers. I am lucky to have the best customers a small business could wish for! I just want to thank everyone again who nominated me, and supported my nomination. It is a big endorsement for a small start-up business and very much appreciated.

7. Wedding Bliss.

I am very excited to now offer Wedding Photography packages. After so many years in photography, Wedding Photography is a very natural next step for me. I had several wedding and love stories this year. Oh God, it's amazing to be part of such an important day, capturing memories that will last forever. I am happy to accommodate any requirements from a few hours to a full day at the most affordable rates. Check my wedding gallery here. Keep an eye on the Wedding page on my website for the new luxury product range coming soon.

8. Workshops.

The photographic process does not end once the shutter button on the camera has been clicked. I am always on the hunt for new ideas, workshops, techniques, locations and props! I can't emphasise enough how important it is to meet with other photographers, to learn, share and practice together! I attended several photography workshops in 2016 that I definitely have to say, have contributed to all of my recent success.

I met fantastic Sujata Setia from But Natural Photography. Sujata is multi-award winning children and family photographer from UK. Her work is widely published online and in many respectable print publications, such as Forbes magazine. Sujata is very knowledgeable and patient, and works extremely hard to insure that every attendee gets an opportunity to create wonderful images. She is not only an awesome photographer, but she knows how to lead. It was a great pleasure to learn from her and other fantastic photographers!

I also traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic. I was lucky enough to be asked to photograph an amazing wedding there. I decided to make the most of the trip, so while I was in Prague, I also attended a fantastic Fine Art Wedding workshop with Top Russian Photographer, Svetlana Strizhakova. I just can't express how much I learned on the day! Everything was professional from the chosen locations to the incredible designers dresses, beautiful models, makeup artists and amazing catering. Svetlana provided superb photography guidance and the images I have included in my portfolio are priceless. The friendships made during the workshop will be treasured. Thank you Svetlana for creating such an amazing workshop.

I also did a dozen online courses and workshops with several famous American photographers, such as Jake Olson Studios. I invest my time and resources so I can bring the best possible quality to you. As they say: the road to success is always under construction.

9. Hosting a Six Week Photoshop for Beginners Course.

November and December were very busy months. Along with my Christmas photo sessions, I also ran a six week Photoshop for Beginners Course for the Deise Camera Club members. We explored some of the important things to be aware of before beginning to use Photoshop. I demonstrated how to manipulate colour, tone, contrast, and other aspects of images. I showed how to write "actions" to improve the editing process so photographers can work more efficiently and consistently. I hope everyone enjoyed the course!

2016 was a very productive year, but there were also moments of panic when I wanted to run away from the whole thing. There were times I wanted to tell clients how much goes into a photo session. It is not just a few clicks of my camera and transferring the images onto a CD. There are phone calls, emails, inspiration boards with ideas, setting up my photography equipment and lighting, servicing cameras and lenses, travelling to and from locations, helping to pose and style the shoot, culling for final best images, editing them (oh, God that takes time), packaging, invoicing, insurance, taxes, marketing, designing, placing orders, restocking, training, competitions ... and behind it all ... it's just me!

But looking back on 2016, I know there were far more good days than bad days. I truly have the best clients. These are just the trials and tribulations of being self-employed. At the end of the day, I love what I do, and I hope you do too.

So bring on 2017 with all of the good and the bad, I am ready!

Irina x

#competition #award

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