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I'm Ali Rae and I love building brands.
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2018 was a monumental year—in business and in life. How #blessed am I to be able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby girl, move from one beautiful home to another, travel the world, book my first wedding and countless portrait sessions, and be able to dive into a project that was so dear to my heart? And those are just the highlights!
While I am looking forward to 2019, I want to take a look at the path that got me to where I am today, so I will be looking at ARHP’s Top 10 Moments of 2018. These are in chronological order, so let’s start in January.
1. In January I signed up for my first paid photography course—Katelyn James’s Lighting and Location course. I had mastered shooting in Manual mode, but some lighting scenarios made me really nervous, and I didn’t feel like I could call myself a professional until I could walk into nearly any lighting scenario and go straight to work. She helped me grasp some concepts that have taken my photography (in my humble opinion) to the next level. Overall, her knowledge mixed with her kindness inspired me to keep picking that camera back up even after I got discouraged, which was more often than I would ever let on. Quite honestly, no matter where you are in your photography journey, this class is worth it!
2. January was an exciting month because I also booked my first wedding! I knew wedding photography was always where I wanted to steer my business, but it is a hard industry to break into. Thankfully, Chris and McKenzie Markham took a chance on me and booked me for their wedding on October 13th…not two weeks after their contract was signed I found out we were expecting sweet baby Huxley on October 2nd. McKenzie’s grace and understanding was so helpful to me throughout this stressful time! Although I didn’t get to shoot their wedding myself, I was still able to edit and deliver their wedding gallery with the help of an associate photographer, Whitney Cole!
3. During my time in North Carolina, I worked part-time as a server at a local restaurant, Outriggers 21 (if you’re ever in Sneads Ferry, go get some delicious, fresh seafood and enjoy some live music!!). During one of my shifts, one of the owners mentioned that they didn’t have a website…this piqued my interest. I mentioned I had designed my own photography website and again…someone took a chance on me. They asked me to photograph some of their dishes and design their website. I loved every second of it! Of course, I wasn’t complaining about getting to taste test after photographing surf and turf dishes after photographing them. Feel free to check out the website at www.outriggers21.com.
When it came time to re-design their menus, they asked me if I would be comfortable attempting that as well. Again, I did, and loved it! Throughout the year, they hosted some social events where they asked me to design fliers and other advertisements as well. They afforded me so many opportunities to expand my creative reach.
4. Which leads me to the next great moment of 2019—renaming my business Ali Rae Haney Productions, so that I could do more than just photography. Web and graphic design were never on my radar, but thanks to the owners of Outriggers 21, Matt and Theresa Mitchell, as well as their son, Mark Mitchell, I was able to discover talents I didn’t know I had!
5. This next one may sound mundane, but it was so helpful to the workflow of my business as a whole. I adopted an online client management system where I could automate quotes, contracts, invoices, and project details. Umm…talk about a time saver! Not to mention, it has made my business more professional and allowed me to be more confident in myself and my business.
6. May is Military Appreciation Month and, as many of you know, I am a Marine Corps spouse. I know the struggles it takes to be a military spouse (or milspo for short) because I live and see others live it everyday. While this idea was born in 2017, it was executed in 2018. The name of the project was Despite the Distance. Throughout the month of May, I showcased the experiences, struggles, and strengths of 29 different military spouses, including myself. Each of the participants were interviewed individually and photographed either in their homes or in a location of their choosing. It was my goal to shed some light on those that sometimes get overlooked, and I hope that I did just that. If you would like to check out the series, visit my blog at https://www.aliraehaneyphotography.com/stories/.
7. In 2017, I decided it would be a good idea to renovate our bonus room and make it the official office of ARHP. I did not predict it would also become the boudoir studio! Quite a few ladies have seen the bonus room studio, but on one special day in July we hosted a boudoir marathon session! A group of ladies came to the studio to enjoy a wine drinking, cracker and cheese eating, lingerie photographing event…and it was so. much. fun! Unlike any event I have been part of and I was so honored that these ladies trusted me to photograph them at their most vulnerable and in their most naturally beautiful state!
8. August rolled around and while we were preparing to move, ARHP also celebrated its one-year businessaversary (yes, I just made up that word). I rewarded the business by buying its first L-series lens…for those non-photographers out there, that is a big deal! L stands for luxury and ohhhh my goodness, was it worth the cost…and it made me feel like a big girl!
9. Despite not being able to photograph Chris and McKenzie’s wedding on October 13th, I was able to photograph Matt and Emily’s wedding on November 3rd. This was less than one month postpartum for me, and all wedding photographers know how demanding a wedding day is. Not only was this a wedding, but it was my first wedding. Thankfully I had Caleb there second shooting for me, as well as setting up flashes and making sure I drank enough water and pumped in a timely manner (#reallife). We made and preserved some beautiful memories for a special family. Shout out to them for having us!
10. Lastly, ARHP was transplanted from North Carolina to Virginia just after celebrating one year in business. The transition was admittedly discouraging because I felt like business was just taking off in North Carolina, but I am so excited for the opportunities that this duty station will afford ARHP. We are so close to DC, Charlottesville, and Richmond, all of which are gorgeous places to be wed. So if you or anyone you know has a left hand that is feeling a little heavier after this holiday season, tell them to contact Ali Rae Haney Productions for their engagement and wedding photography needs!
Amidst all the victories (and struggles), travels (and nights at home), and major (and minor) life changes, I failed to blog as much as I would have liked to. So many families trusted me with their precious life milestones and memories this year, and unfortunately, I didn’t blog many of them. Despite that, I am so thankful for each and every one of you. I would also like to highlight ten images from 2018 that stole my heart and I hope will steal yours!
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