Growth in the New Year

What a whirlwind 2016 was.  Part of me doesn't know how we got here.  As I sit from my new office space in the loft of a tax & accounting office (hallelujah, I have people in my corner helping me with these things now) and reflect back on the past year, so much has changed.  I resigned from a job that I loved to pursue photography full time.  I wanted more time with my family and I wanted the opportunity to create the ideal career I had envisioned in my head.  Through all the trials of the past year, the self doubt, the hard drive malfunctions, the sleepless nights (I have a 14 month old who still doesn't understand the value of a full night of sleep), I was able to sit back and reflect on where I came from and where I'm going, and it is all good.  Today I made a list of goals for 2017.  There are more personal goals than there are business goals, which was a pretty amazing thing for me to see. hello2017

Sure I have business goals....  But they are doable.  Two of them are already checked off my list and it's only January... and I'm actively working toward checking of a few more within the next few months.  Which is pretty awesome.  I exceeded my booking goal this year.  I get to head to Seattle in August for a wedding that will surely be nothing short of amazing.  I honestly couldn't be more excited about.... anything.  I have wanted to see the Pacific Northwest for as long as I can remember and this is basically a dream come true for me.  I get emotional just thinking about it!

  • book 25 weddings in 2018
  • book one wedding per year out of state
  • create a part time >> full time position for Megan
  • become more efficient with editing
  • build instagram
  • completely overhaul my file management system/storage/backup
  • be 100% to my clients; meet/exceed deadlines

My personal goals are what struck me...

  • be more present with my children
  • spend more time outside (all seasons)
  • eat healthy (without being afraid to eat my clients wedding cake when time allows - haha!)
  • exercise // get in shape
  • travel more - see the US
  • do a daily devotional
  • less of 'me' and more for others
  • limit social media/technology (non work related)
  • show myself & others Grace
  • be diligent about saving and budgeting
  • clear out the clutter // simplify

These sound so simple right?  But they are seriously the goals that are most important to me.  More important than being a social media guru.  More important than booking dream weddings across the US.  Far more important than making 6 figures (this isn't a goal of mine at all, actually haha).  I just want to enjoy the simple life.  The funny part is, these goals are pretty similar to my personal goals from last year.  Meaning, I didn't do so great at achieving these.  Fortunately, I have the opportunity literally at my finger tips to do that, at the start of a new year.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't consider what I'm able to do a blessing from God, and I am so, so grateful.  It has brought me to my knees several times this year and it's bringing me to my knees now.   I can use my gifts/talents to their fullest, not watered down by someone else's idea of how I should use them.  So, thank you.  If you're a past client, present client or future client, Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  It's because of you and your belief in me that I get to not only provide for my family but have the opportunity to craft the life I want for them.  And while I definitely don't have it all figured out, I learned a lot this past year.  And I'm pretty excited for 2017!

Some inspiration for my personal goals.... my favorite files from my personal archives from 2016. 685A7670685A1215NDP_0098685A7638

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Nicole DuMond is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the rolling hills of Stillwater, Pennsylvania and serving the surrounding areas of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including the Poconos, Lehigh Valley, and Philadelphia areas.  Nicole is also available for limited travel along the East Coast & Worldwide.

View more weddings by Nicole DuMond: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/category/weddings/

Follow Nicole DuMond Photography on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/nicolemichelledumond

 

That Home | Mothers Day

Last week I sat in a cafeteria with tears streaming down my face, listening to the sweet melodies of a class of first graders offer praise to the women who are raising them.  There were mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, all listening intently as 60 or so children who often drive us crazy, sang to us and showered us with handmade gifts, and sat with us over tea. I felt so undeserving, so full of joy, and so full of heartache, all at the same time. I didn't want to be the mom losing it in front of teachers and friends and acquaintances, but there I sat, tears gently rolling off my cheeks landing softly on my dress, leaving their mark for only a few minutes before fading into a memory. MothersDay2016-3474

This week marks the first week of my journey as a work at home mom.  Up until this point in my life, I have almost always worked more than one job.  I have always been driven and had strong entrepreneurial aspirations from a young age, and owned a boutique for a time during my mid 20s.  Although it didn't work out in the end, I always felt I was walking away from some form of the life I wanted when I went back to an office setting in 2012.  I was still doing something I loved and was extremely thankful to have a job in our area as a designer, but I missed out on so much.  It's a hard calling to be a working mom and do it with grace.

I have always been fortunate to have a wonderful role model who is the definition of a strong mom.  From dragging me to soccer in 3rd grade because she knew it would be good for me, to making me walk up to a sales associate to return something I stole from a store during a time I was acting like a spoiled brat, to driving me to more sporting and social events than is even considered sane, she had my back.  When I called her in 8th grade to pick me up at a party where I wasn't comfortable, she was there.  She took me to get my first job and helped instill a killer work ethic in me, gave me a zero interest loan when I made poor financial decisions in college, and even today, comes to help with my laundry and dishes; she's handles my messes like no one else can.

I feel like I owe it to you all to say that I am not perfect in any way, I have made more mistakes than I can count, some of which have been harmful to myself and probably others.  But I know that redemption is possible, change is good, and grace is a powerful thing.  For the past week or so, something has been weighing heavy on my heart, and I need to let it out.  This is for all of the Moms out there, who are struggling to find purpose in their lives and struggling to get through the day to day that sometimes seem overwhelming and frustrating.  Maybe you're raising little ones and you feel beat down, exhausted, and stressed.  Maybe you're working two jobs and feeling guilty, but know you need to press on.  Maybe you have made some mistakes in your past and others are helping you raise your babies while you get your life together.  Maybe you're that Aunt or Grandmother that is raising those babies for a loved one while they figure stuff out... or don't.  I even know there are some fathers' out there that are trying to provide a sense of motherhood to sons and daughters that are left without someone to call Mom.  Maybe you're a grieving Momma or you desperately wish to be a Momma, and can't wait to have the opportunity to experience your first Mother's Day.

We as mothers or motherly figures have a calling that isn't easy, but we owe it to ourselves and the children who we're raising in one way or another to be strong and be the type of women that will make a difference in the lives of our youth.  I had the absolute pleasure of listening to one of my dear friends Renee, perform a song accompanied by my very own Mother (and my Dad!) both last night at a Mother's Day Dinner, as well as this morning at church.  And the lyrics couldn't have been any more appropriate, bringing my thoughts over the past week full circle.

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Here are some of the lyrics from the song, 'That Home' by the Newsboys:

There was a home in town Where broken kids, the lost & found Would come from miles around Just to see, what love was all about 'Cause Momma had a way of makin' things okay

She'd cook us our favorite meal Sit and listen to how we feel Oh, how the pain was real How many families what the devil steal? Momma had a way of makin' things okay

In that home We knew we were safe To be young enough to dream Find the faith to believe And in that home Love, it had no end It's where we learned to forgive In that home

Momma always had the music on Sometimes loud, sometimes soft When I asked her 'bout her favorite song She opened the bible to the book of Psalms She always found a way to talk about grace

In that home We knew we were safe To be young enough to dream Find the faith to believe And in that home Love, it had no end That's where we learned to forgive In that home

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The words of this song hit me deeply.  I don't know about you, but it's my prayer that I somehow manage to be everything in this song for my children.  For my nieces and nephews and my children's friends, I want to be this.  It's not easy; it will take a conscious effort, but it will be so worth it.  I want to be the center of this home.  Yes, there will be times when I lose my cool and I get annoyed, or angry, or impatient.  But I hope those times are far outweighed and outnumbered by all of the times when I (and my home) can be a place of comfort and refuge.  I hope that of my fellow Mommas will take this into consideration and choose the road of grace and joy, even when you feel alone or beaten down or just tired.  We owe it to ourselves and our children, and all of the other little ones we have the opportunity to help raise.  Happy Mother's Day to all of the Mama's and Mama figures out there.  I hope you all know how important and loved you are today and every day.

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View past Mothers Day posts: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/mothers-day/ Nicole DuMond is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the rolling hills of Stillwater, Pennsylvania and serving the surrounding areas of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including Bloomsburg, Benton, Berwick, Red Rock, Stillwater, Danville, Lewisburg, Hunlock Creek, Sweet Valley, and surrounding areas.  Nicole is also available for limited travel along the East Coast & Worldwide.

View weddings by Nicole DuMond: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/category/weddings/

Follow Nicole DuMond Photography on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/nicolemichelledumond

A Leap of Faith | Our road to self employment

They say the best things in life are free and good things come to those who wait; that patience is a virtue and nothing worth having comes easy.  On Wednesday, March 23, I decided I was going to take a leap of faith and resign from my job.  Yes, this means that as of May, my husband and I will both be solely responsible for our incomes.  This is our road to self employment. photo courtesy of Amy Brink

For those of you who don't know much about our situation, my husband has his bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a Master's of Education in BCIT and was employed as a high school teacher up until last year.  A very respectable career with a predictable future, good hours, and a comfortable salary (summers off, yes please!).  I knew that he didn't love his job and that he felt suffocated every time he walked through the doors of the school, but I'm going to be honest, I didn't care.  I was selfish and thought he should suck it up, like lots of people do.  One day two years ago, despite my resistance, Rich took one of his horses, Jack (a horse that he likely saved from being slaughtered), to Cornell University to have a procedure to try to cut out an infection and save a horse that in my naive opinion, just wasn't really worth saving.  I think it was during that trip that he fell in love with the idea of what life could be.  I wasn't really willing to hear it at the time, but the young boy who dreamt of being a veterinarian who was now a man living a life of complacency had a spark re-ignited and saw a future of potential.

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A few months went by and Rich couldn't shake the idea of attending Cornell's farrier program (no, not a veterinarian but I think he's quite pleased with his decision overall). A program that has stood the test of time and proven to be one of the most elite farrier schools in the country that only accepts three to four students per 16 week course. Despite my hesitation (again due to selfishness), a few tears and probably some unsavory words (I was pregnant at the time), Rich told me that after being notified of his acceptance in person (during the same follow-up trip to Cornell at which Jack was officially pronounced infection free; a rare accomplishment for an owner/horse diagnosed with canker), he was going to enter Cornell's program with or without my support.  It takes a strong and confident man to say that to a spouse of only three years, and it was probably what I needed to hear to realize that most people wouldn't have the courage or conviction to do what he was about to do, and that determination (fed by his Faith) was precisely what was going to make him successful at whatever he decided to pursue.   After extensive hard work and learning, Rich graduated from the program at the end of the summer and has been fortunate enough to have a steady flow of work that's been seemingly increasing and I have no doubt that he is and will be a success story.  I'm pleased to report that against all odds, Jack is also a success story.

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I took a little bit of a bumpier path to adulthood and never really succeeded in a college environment.  You see, I was a rebellious spirit who didn't like to 'waste my time' in a classroom that I knew wasn't going to yield me a return, at least anytime soon.  I have always loved to learn about topics that I'm interested in, but unfortunately that was limited to a handful of mostly very unrelated things (math, history, art, and sports were my 'things' that I enjoyed and enjoyed learning.  Yes, I realize that I'm weird.) and I always found working and hands on experience more fulfilling than most of what I learned in a classroom.  I wish I would've known all of this prior to wasting all of that money on a few years of college that I'll ultimately never use.  You live and you learn, right?

When Rich and I started dating, I owned a boutique and absolutely loved everything about being a business owner.  Shortly thereafter, a job opportunity opened up that I simply couldn't pass up, and I started working as a Designer for a company that I loved dearly.  I thought I had found my 'forever job' and have worked there happily for the past 4 years.  I had a great job that was fulfilling, loved the people I worked with, and had a great benefits policy.  People kill for that type of situation, this I know.

I started my photography business in the Spring of 2014.  That's right, Nicole DuMond Photography is only a fresh little two year old business.  For the first year (and much of the second), I spent every dime I made (and then some) from sessions and events and put it back into my business.  I took numerous online classes, in person workshops, purchased books, and educated myself as much as I could.  It's something I still continue to enjoy doing and I'm already in the process of taking my second class this year.  I also purchased all of the equipment I wanted to the extent that I have a dream kit (in my opinion) with enough backups that I am totally covered in the event of equipment malfunction.  I take someone's wedding day pretty seriously.

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I started praying for clarity and wisdom on my business shortly after I started it.  I had a four year old boy who craved my attention and I was working.  I was working a lot.  Was it selfish to be focusing so much of my attention on my career?  I didn't know where I was going or if I would end up regretting all of my hours logged in my work, but I kept at it.  Businesses are time consuming and often financially draining to start.  It takes a special person to be steadfast and determined to make it work.  It is often extremely difficult for creative types, because it takes a lot more business savvy than creativity to be successful at it.  I have heard that people estimate that a photographer spends about 80% of their time doing business related things and 20% of their time actually photographing.  I would say this is pretty accurate.  They also estimate nearly 80% of these businesses will fail.  As I say, it takes a special type of person to be determined to make it work; and many creative people simply do not have a desire to be a business person.  I do.  I think that is why my selfishness got the best of me when Rich so eagerly and quickly decided to switch things up.  It was hard for me to swallow that he was being such a risk taker (usually my thing).  I felt like it wasn't fair that I had been working at and building a business and learning a trade for a few years all while still working a full time job, and he was going off to to whatever he wanted and leaving a pregnant wife behind (yes, I know this isn't quite reality, but it's what my clouded mind was processing at the time).  It wasn't fair.  What an ugly saying.  I had the option of being miserable all summer or sucking it up and going with the flow.  I am happy I chose the latter.

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Last year, my little business really started to flourish (I even made a small profit.. yay!) and I knew some things would have to change.  I had a sweet little baby girl in October, and I knew my schedule wasn't conducive to raising my kids the way that I envisioned.  I decided that I would only shoot weddings in 2016, as I returned to work part time at the beginning of the year and started easing back into life as a working mom.  After working part time for the past three months, I knew I didn't want to return to full time office work.  It's not that I don't love my job; I do.  But I love freedom of creating my own future through owning and running my own business more.  I love the time I am able to spend with my children and family more.  Whatever sacrifices we might have to make financially will be well worth the rewards of time.  I need more time to see firsts, whether it be first smiles, first giggles, the first step, the first tooth lost.  I need more time.

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I crunched a lot of numbers while preparing my 2015 taxes and realized that it was actually a possibility to leave my job, if I wanted to, and pursue photography full time.  Some math surrounding the cost of daycare and various other expenses made it simple to see that I actually had the potential to live a life I wanted without the burden of an 8am - 5pm office job.  It was last week that I finally made my decision, after being told I was expected to return to work full time starting in April.  It wasn't wasn't the life I wanted for myself or my family to work 80 hours per week and it finally became crystal clear that this is the push I needed to take a leap of faith.  My prayers over the past two years have been answered, and I feel a sense of peace that is impossible to describe.  Yes, we have to figure out what health insurance we are going to purchase.  Yes, we might have to eat out less.  Yes, there are some lifestyle changes that we might have to work through in order to make this work during the 'slow months'.  But I am about 200% certain it will be worth it.

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Nicole DuMond is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the rolling hills of Stillwater, Pennsylvania and serving the surrounding areas of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including Bloomsburg, Benton, Berwick, Red Rock, Stillwater, Danville, Lewisburg, Hunlock Creek, Sweet Valley, and surrounding areas.  Nicole is also available for limited travel along the East Coast & Worldwide.

View weddings by Nicole DuMond: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/category/weddings/

Follow Nicole DuMond Photography on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/nicolemichelledumond

The Personal Archives | A year in review

It's funny for me to look back on this now... an entire year squeezed into sixty photos or so.  I think this is a pretty nice representation of our life, some key memories, the changing seasons, and the year as a whole.  As I write this I'm glancing over at a sweet baby girl who came into our lives in October.  My how a year can change things.  I had hoped and prayed for a baby for awhile, then kind of pushed the notion aside for awhile to focus on building my photography business, thinking that it would happen eventually but now probably wasn't the best time.  I had a business that was less than a year old, 17 weddings booked for the year, and lots of lofty goals that I had no idea if I could actually accomplish.  I like to dream big. {you can check out this post from New Year's Day last year if you want a little more background: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/uncategorized/moving-forward-north-east-pa-photographers/}

Well, a few months into the new year, I unexpectedly found out I was expecting!  I am going to be honest, I was thrilled but also terrified.  I had just set all of these goals, written them down, booked a lot of amazing weddings, and had PLANS.  God laughed at my plans and threw me a giant curveball.  I like to think I'm pretty fluid... I have always been someone who goes with the flow (or against it) and try not to get too uptight about things I can't control.  That's life.  And I had been praying for this for a long time... even if the timing wasn't what I had originally hoped for.  I decided to keep all but two weddings (with the blessing of my couples) which were scheduled within 2-3 weeks of my due date, and press forward.  I found an amazing second shooter (and friend), Brittani, who ended up being my shoulder to lean on (literally) for much of wedding season this year.  I am not ashamed to say that I think that I grew a lot as a photographer having her by my side.  I shot a wedding on October 3, and went into labor on October 15!  I then went on to shoot two weddings in December for a total of 15 weddings this year.  That's a big step up from the first three that I shot just last year!  Talk about a whirlwind romance.

In addition to a jam packed wedding and portrait schedule, I also worked full time as a designer.  I feel that I am in a rare position where I truly enjoy what I do and I know that doesn't come easily for most adults.  I really like what I do.  I love shooting weddings.  Both are a huge blessing.  With working so hard, there are definitely drawbacks.  My schedule is limited.  I like to have fun.  Fun happens, and cleaning doesn't.  My house is a disaster 99% of the time.  It is what it is...

As I had the last 11 weeks off to be a full time Mommy to our newest addition, I had a lot of time to think and reflect.  What do I want to do?  Where do I see myself in a year?  What's important to me?  I think about all of this knowing that I return to work next week and it will be different.  It will be hard.  I might offend some here, but I'm going to be honest... being home these last weeks was easy.  And amazing.  Now, before you think, "How can she possibly say that?!", my situation is a little different.  My son was in school most days and my main responsibility was loving on a baby who is the sweetest thing.  I know I got lucky... she is a pretty content baby and when her needs are met she is a complete joy.  Yes she has her days when she is fussy, and no she still doesn't sleep through the night.  But she is perfect and healthy and amazing.  It has been absolutely wonderful... and I have been able to enjoy just her.  This ain't my first rodeo, but let me tell you at 30 years old caring for a newborn has seem to come much more naturally than at 24.  I guess I have done some growing up in the past six years.  I know next week will bring early mornings and rushing out the door, daycare and a lot more pressure.  I also know I can do this.  I'm really lucky to work for a wonderful company and I will only be going back part time for now.  I have a feeling I will end up loving it so much that I hope it never ends!

Thinking about returning to work, I know I need to make some changes in 2016.  Changes in my personal life, mostly.  I need to live more.  I tend to make work my life because I love what I do.  I need to take more time to live life.  Don't get me wrong, when I'm not working I think I know how to have fun, but I want more of that.  I really want to travel the United States more, even if it means sleeping on couches or in a tent, heck, even a questionable motel room would do.  I'd even be happy just spending more time out in my garden.  A lot more time. My backyard is pretty awesome, and our children would benefit tremendously from more adventure and less television.  I think we do a pretty good job at this now, but hey there's always room for improvement.  I should probably pay more attention to my husband and less attention to my computer screen, even if it's work related.  I think balance is a good thing to usher in this year, and a good place to end this post.  Here's the personal archives review, in order from January - December:

Personal 2015 1Personal 2015 2Personal 2015 3Personal 2015 4Personal 2015 5Personal 2015 6Personal 2015 7Personal 2015 8Personal 2015 9Personal 2015 10Personal 2015 11Personal 2015 12Personal 2015 13Personal 2015 14Personal 2015 15Personal 2015 16Personal 2015 17Personal 2015 18Personal 2015 19Personal 2015 20Personal 2015 21Personal 2015 22Personal 2015 23Personal 2015 24Personal 2015 25Personal 2015 26Personal 2015 27Personal 2015 28Personal 2015 29Personal 2015 30Personal 2015 31Personal 2015 32Personal 2015 33Personal 2015 34Personal 2015 35Personal 2015 36Personal 2015 37Personal 2015 38Personal 2015 39Personal 2015 40Personal 2015 41Personal 2015 42Personal 2015 43Personal 2015 44Personal 2015 45Personal 2015 46Personal 2015 47Personal 2015 48Personal 2015 49Personal 2015 50Personal 2015 51Personal 2015 52Personal 2015 53Personal 2015 54Personal 2015 55Personal 2015 56

Nicole DuMond is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the rolling hills of Stillwater, Pennsylvania and serving the surrounding areas of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including Bloomsburg, Benton, Berwick, Red Rock, Stillwater, Danville, Lewisburg, Hunlock Creek, Sweet Valley, and surrounding areas.  Nicole is also available for limited travel along the East Coast & Worldwide.

View more weddings by Nicole DuMond: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/category/weddings/

Follow Nicole DuMond Photography on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/nicolemichelledumond

Sweet Savannah | The First Two Weeks

Hello Baby!  We welcomed sweet Savannah into our lives on October 15 at 9:55AM.  There's absolutely no way for me to accurately describe the emotions and joy that occurred on that day, but we are so overwhelmed with love right now for this little girl. The first two weeks have been... slow.  A lot slower than what I'm used to and what I typically find comfortable, but they have also been amazing.  Yes, I've taken a bit longer to respond to emails and to process orders but what I have been busy doing is soaking up the sounds and sweet scent of a precious baby girl that I know won't last nearly long enough.  I want to freeze time right now, and while I can't do that- what I can do is take lots of photos in an attempt to remember how special this time really is...

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A proud big bro!

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Gigi (my mom):

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Great Grandparents (Rich's Grandmother, My Pop Good, My Grandma Moyer):

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First Bath!

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View more newborn & family sessions: http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/category/family-2/

Bloomsburg PA photographers Nicole DuMond Photography is a family portrait and wedding photographer located in Stillwater, PA, serving Benton, Bloomsburg, Berwick, Danville, and surrounding Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.  For more information, please visit http://www.nicoledumondphotography.com/ or check Nicole out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NicoleMichelleDuMond