Well, it’s now 2021. What a year it’s been. At the risk of sounding cliché – I will say this: it was a tough one. And things are still tough now. But there are better days ahead for some of us. And there’s always hope for all of us.

As I think back to an indescribable year of photography, I have many things to celebrate. I cherished every single moment I got to spend taking photos and doing the work I love incredibly much. 2020 threatened to be a difficult year, and it was, but despite the two business shutdowns (including this super long one now), I was immeasurably thankful for continuing to do what I love to do most: take photos for all of you!

In April, when photographers were ordered to temporarily shut down their businesses for an unknown amount of time, it was devastating and scary, to say the least. Setting down my camera and watching as an invisible enemy advanced upon us was very, very strange. 

I remember thinking in the Spring how bizarre it was to wake up every morning in the new reality of living in a pandemic. It felt so surreal. We had never walked through anything like this before. That was the shutdown. The homeschooling. The isolation. The mix of emotions. All that sourdough.

That sourdough!

And suddenly, totally unexpectedly, photographers were reopened in early May. I nearly lost it (for joy!) – having thought that I’d for sure have to wait until June or even July before being reopened again. I was ecstatic to say the least! To pick up my camera again, to photograph those weddings, those newborns, those families… it meant the world to me. And to be able to earn income for my family again, especially since my income was now the only one for our household. I can’t tell you how grateful I was. I don’t think I will ever lose that feeling of gratefulness for my business, because of that experience.

The Summer and Fall were wonderful. Although half of my weddings were postponed to next year, I was still able to do a few and it turned out to be the busiest family photography season ever. Not sure if it was because no one was traveling or everyone had a renewed sense of urgency about the importance of capturing family photos… but whatever the reason, it was amazing being able to take photos again. And the photo shoot requests kept coming in. I doubled down and worked really hard to accommodate every request. It kept me busy, even through the cold fall months, when generally outdoor family portraits slow down. But not this year! Everyone was very willing to be outside in the cold to get those photos done. And I was so happy to do it.

Photo by Dwayne Larson Photography

And then it happened again. My business was shut down, this time on November 12th. Again for an indefinite amount of time. And we’re still in it, almost 2 months later, with no certain end date. It was heartbreaking having to cancel my Winter Mini Sessions, to cancel those newborn and engagement shoots, those Christmas family photos, even several of my commercial clients had to put their projects on hold. It’s devastating, but I understand why, and I’m thinking of all those who need us to be careful, to stop the spread. We are doing it for them.

Things will be ok again. But it’s still hard. Mentally we’re in it for the long haul, even after thinking that the “long haul” meant a 2-month lock down in the spring. We told ourselves “if we can just get to the end of June 2020”. And we did, and then found out it was going to last much longer… We had to keep trucking along.

And we are still trucking along. The last 2 months have been the hardest. Our family and community has personally been touched by covid death, as well as other great sufferings (both physical and mental) and we’ve seen first-hand the incredible strain our doctors & nurses are under. There’s no easy answer, and all solutions come with incredible sacrifice.

Things are tough. And things are good. There’s death and there’s life. It’s not either-or. It’s both. It’s contrast. It’s suspended tension. It’s hope floating on dark waters. We can celebrate and we can also grieve. We can be sad even if there are others who have more reasons to be sad. We can celebrate, even if they are for small, ordinary things.

Usually at this point in my post I’d list all the things I’m looking forward to in the new year. All the projects that are swimming in my head. All the ideas I have. All the things I’d love to do.

But instead I’m going to just get through these first few months of 2021. Make a business plan for all the possibilities (while recognizing that there are many impossibilities waiting for me too), focus on my family and what they need, and finally remember that contrast is good. Without light & dark (contrast) a photograph can’t exist. And so, in 2021, I resolve to continue using contrast in all that I create. Because these are the things our world is made of. I want to honour that.