2020 Year In Review: Personal Reflections & Photography Industry Insights

Photography in 2020 has given me amazing opportunities to connect with others. At a time when families were staying home, I was doing front porch sessions (once allowed) from the sidewalk with my long lens which allowed me to stay over 6 feet away. Every family I photographed during that time told me how looking forward to their session and having a chance to have a fun moment with me was the highlight of their day or week. I had the chance to speak with people in their raw moments of uncertainty about the pandemic but we also created joy and laughter too. For me, it was really nice to have a sense of purpose during that time to bring happiness and smiles to others.

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Well...let's also mention that 2020 was a doozy for all of us collectively - and that's not even taking our individual experiences into account. Here we all are on this journey that has left a lot of us drained and filled with uncertainty for the future. Many of us stand on the cusp of 2021 wondering "What will 2021 bring? What challenges may stand before us?"

Pandemic With a Slice of Photography

During the start of the pandemic, photography services were not allowed altogether for several months and the wedding / event industry is still with great limitations today. Venues, DJs, photographers, and brides alike have been challenged to reimagine weddings and special occasions. For my business, weddings and events were mostly cancelled and / or down sized. To offer some context, I was photographing weddings, events, and families every week in 2019 for most of the year. Towards the end of 2019, I received the designation of being one of the "Top 10 Best Event Photographers" which I was very humbled by and excited about what that could bring in 2020.

This year has taught us all about flexibility and being ready to pivot when needed. I've seen several brides through this process in 2020. Although their weddings were different than originally planned, they were still filled with love and excitement. There have still been births of new babies this year. When I photograph newborns, I am reminded of the hope and newness that the beginning of life and a new generation brings. It is also a good reminder to think of the new year in terms of a newness with opportunities, insights, and progress.

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I want to break down some reflections I've gathered from 2020 that can be useful for the future. Every experience we have offers us a chance to learn something from it if we are ready to receive it.

What Matters To You

Many of us had to put plans on hold as everything around us came to a stop. During this time of cancelled events, vacations, graduations, and other routines came an opportunity to slow down and re-evaluate things. Without the distraction of being busy, we could look at what we wanted to continue after things go back to normal and what really wasn't necessary in our lives after all. With the fear and uncertainty of a pandemic, we realized what are the most important things in our lives and to hold on to them a little tighter.

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It's The Little Things

Finding joy and thankfulness in everyday moments was a big thing for me during 2020. Our lives are made of moments. Each moment is an opportunity to live more intentionally and assign meaning to even everyday things. Perhaps we take mundane things for granted but we can practice finding joy in little things. One day I walked outside to take out the garbage on a cold evening. I walked back into the house I felt the warmth of having heat and a roof over my head to shelter me from the cold. I took a moment to notice that I felt grateful for things we might not always take the time to think about.

Sitting With Uncertainty

This. Is. A. Hard. One.

No one likes not knowing how something will end up. We can wish our situation to improve and tell ourselves that it will all work out in the end. Unfortunately, we can't predict the future with certainty. We have to learn to sit in the discomfort of not knowing (for the future) and the comfort in knowing (the here and now). In reality, all we have is this very moment - this very second we are living - for today. We can only know what is right now and worrying for any other moment that may or may not happen doesn't yield assurance. This has been the focus of my mindset in getting through 2020 that is applicable to many situations.

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Trying Something New

Chances are you've spent more time at home this year than ever before and are craving some novelty. This can be as simple as looking into simple self-care things you can do at home to boost your sense of wellbeing during this hard time. Trying new things could also be taking up a new hobby like painting, learning to play an instrument, or getting a new gaming system. Keep an open mind to be creative and try new things long after the pandemic is over. During the pandemic, my family and I have been going outdoors even when it is pretty cold outside. It is something I probably wouldn't have considered doing under other circumstances but it gives us a chance to get a change of scenery and fresh air.

Looking To The Future

Good things are still happening around us. Couples are getting engaged and filled with excitement for the future. Babies are being born with their whole lives to be experienced before them. Families are creatively planning graduations, bar mitzvahs, and birthdays. There is still so much to celebrate and look forward to in the future. Even though some things may be different, we still experience love and joy in our lives.

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The Best For Last....

I have a HUGE thank you for my clients - the families, the couples, the graduate, the babies, and the individuals who have continued to support my business through 2020. As always, it is truly my honor to have a glimpse into some of the most special moments of your lives. I look forward to seeing you all again soon. I am wishing you all the best in the new year.

Keep in touch on Facebook and Instagram. I'd love to follow you and see all the great things in store for you in 2021. Let's keep the 2020 theme going with my most popular 2020 Instagram photos, check out the blog post here.


Jessica M. Photography is an Arlington Heights, IL photographer who also happens to be a personal development enthusiast. She photographs weddings, seniors, families, events, and personal branding in the Northwest Suburbs including Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, Barrington, Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, Glenview, Long Grove, Vernon Hills, Park Ridge and more throughout Lake and Cook County in Illinois.

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