Monday, January 27, 2020

visions and goal setting for 2020

Listen, I love Christmas as much as the next girl. But January just holds such a magical quality in my life, what with the return of The Bachelor, Vanderpump Rules, and that spark of new year motivation that makes me want to double up on the coffee and re-organize every aspect of my entire life. 

2019 was a pivotal year for me. (By the way, I plan on being able to say that for every year from now until I'm 85.) I've been working on creating some new boundaries, goals, and visions for the new year, and I thought I'd share them with you here. 

I have a DEEP love for self-improvement. 

And I've realized that only by reflecting on the changes and growth from 2019, can I hope to extend some of those intentions into 2020. So walk with me down memory lane for a few updates on all the good stuff from photography, to the podcast, coaching, family, friendships, money, and self.

First up, photography! Ever since I started sharing more of my journey in creating a second career (basically everything under the umbrella of the podcast, coaching, workshops, speaking engagements, etc.), I've been asked if I'm STILL taking on photography clients! 

The answer is a resounding YES. I'm nowhere near ready to transition away from this career that I am so passionate about. That said, I'm being very strategic with the work and the clients that I take on. In 2020, I'll be shooting 16 weddings, a similar number of engagement sessions, working with approximately 10 small businesses for branding photography, and continuing to share inspiration on the blog and on instagram

As for my goals, I'm working hard during this "off-season" to automate a few things to make the back-end easier for my clients (like, say, an easy digital booking system for your engagement session? HECK YES.) 

Plus, my pricing isn't scheduled to change for another year or two, so I'm sitting pretty with my photography business running like a well-oiled machine! 

My podcast is like my little creative baby right now. I started it in November of 2018 as a way to explore a ton of cool topics, chat with inspiring people, and document my journey towards my second career. 

With over 74 episodes to date, You Might Not Like It is going strong. I'm celebrating my biggest month to date in terms of downloads and feeling SO great about having this place to be creative and share info on a ton of topics.

Somewhere in the middle of 2019, I discovered the freedom of one-take recordings. I used to spend hours recording and editing an episode, making everything PERFECT. Now, I do a bit more prep, hit record, and send that puppy down the internet tubes right into your headphones.

I am so happy to have left that perfection behind in 2019 so that I can really focus my time where I can have the most impact. Specifically, creating content that entertains, educates, inspires, and speaks to my listeners

Here are a few episodes you might like:

In other news, I turned 30 at the end of last year.

When I first started my business I knew it was really unique to share with clients that I was 21, which is why my age appears on the left hand side of this blog. For old time sake (literally), I'll diligently update it every year. 

Since turning 30 I feel like I've really come into my favourite phase of adulthood. A few life changes like having both kids in full time school, a few new friendships, a new mentality for my health and wellness -- it's all part of the story. I wouldn't change a bit.

My friendship goals are really focused around making plans in the calendar and prioritizing them. My friends love to get together for organized group activities -- musicals! sledding days! board game nights! tequila tastings! (this sounds fun, mental note to add this to the list...)

But since we all have unique schedules, we know we need to set up these fun dates in advance!

And then of course, girls trip 2020 is bound to be one for the books. Stay tuned on where we end up going this year! (We actually have yet to decide. Suggestions are welcome!)

This is me on my 30th birthday, drinking Vanderpump rosé with my BFF @britd, 2018 bride and forever covergirl, just 2 months before we would actually be in the Vanderpump Garden in Vegas drinking $18 cocktails.

I mentioned I'll be sporting a new mentality for my health and wellness, and this is one I feel REALLY good about. 

If you heard my recent podcast episode, you'll know this total asshole named Paul Jensen told me I looked more like a tuba player than a flute player (we were picking musical instruments that week, it was in context, but he was still an asshole.) 

Also in that episode, I'm sharing about my goals for the year after losing 60 pounds. It's too long to summarize, so check it out next time you're out for a walk, washing dishes, or taking a long drive. Just search "You Might Not Like It" anywhere podcasts are found, you'll find me! Or, you can always listen on

One of my BIG goals last year was about finding an opportunity every season to speak or share about something I felt passionate about. I was generously invited to speak at LocalTalks Ottawa on the topic of being a "solo-preneur," at two monthly Rising Tide meet-ups where I spoke about email marketing and brand messaging, at my friend Ashley's event on self-care, and at Gem Conference on the topic of pricing and negotiating for your worth! 

The year started off strong with the second Gem Conference event, which was called the Vision Sessions, where I lead a live brand messaging workshop. 

It was a dream come true to have those opportunities to meet other business owners and connect in person. I loved the combination of having these live events and then bringing the content back to the podcast to share it with an even larger group. 

I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store for me, because I'm SO open to receive it. And by the way, Gem Conference 2.0 is already in the works and we've got something BIG planned!

I took a big leap last year when I decided to start doing one-on-one coaching with other small business owners. For a few months I worked with clients for one-time consulting sessions, until I realized that I was fully ready to start working with them for a longer period of time. 

The 3 month coaching program was created and I took on 10 clients for a beta testing round. The results were incredible (some of those beta clients are still wrapping up their 3 month programs, but many are finished.) 

To learn more about my offerings as a coach and consultant, visit the website here!

I have a feeling that I'll always be in the process of tweaking my offering, in the same way that my photography business has evolved and grown over the years. I went through all of the different phases, from having "full day coverage," multiple packages based on an hourly rate, one big package to serve them all, and everything in between. 

It feels good to continue exploring ways that I can use my talents and gifts to have the most impact. I'm making it my mission to share more of this side of my life with you on Instagram! By the way, if you're only following my weddings account, here's where you can find my personal account as well!

As for the family, 2019 was certainly a killer year. Both of my kiddos are in full time school! Cooper is turning 6 soon and he's in senior kindergarten, while Jillian is 4 and a half and loving her life in junior kindergarten. Their school is so small that they're actually in the same class! How adorable is that! 

I'm really settling in with what life looks like under this new routine, and I'm a badass b at making a 6 hour workday feel like 9. 

In 2020, I'd really love to make the most of our time together as a family, which right now consists of board games at the dining room table, movie nights in bed, kayaking on the canal, and playing a game they made up called "lava monster." Ry is better at it than me. 

I am so thankful I get to do all of this with my best friend at my side. You can get more Ryan Kelly in your life by enjoying the podcast episodes that we record together :) He's such a great dad, an incredible partner, and the most supportive guy who encourages me to go out there and hustle after all the big things I'm dreaming about.  

We're both at a busy and pivotal point in our careers. It's not always easy balancing our very different jobs and schedules, but we've had lots of years to practise. This year for us = more date nights, more uber eats, more trips to Costco, a real family vacation, and lots more podcast eps. 

PS. I'm announcing the new pod-series we're doing together very soon!

My visions and goals for 2020 wouldn't be complete if I didn't talk about the big M: moneyyyyy. 

2020 will be the first year where we're not paying for regular child care. Yes, we pay for babysitters as much as we possibly can, yes, we pay for PD day camps, and yes, they're in full time camp for the Summer. But let me tell ya, it feels SO good to not have any monthly day care charges! Our bank account is loving that exciting stage of parenthood, and we're at a point where we can really strategically save for our retirement. 

This is also the first year where ALL of my money for taxes has been squared away ahead of time. I used to just pile all my money into my chequing account and then scoop out a huge (HUGE) chunk at tax time. This year, we're organized AF. And it feels SO good.

Other goals for 2020 include removing some of my classic go-to distractions that slow down my productivity. I love to check my emails 50 times a day, but that's not as efficient as it could be. Working on work/life balance stuff with my coaching clients has really inspired me to take a look at some of my own habits. It's a work in progress! 

I'd also like to put up more art in our home. Sounds random maybe, but I've always just been the type to put up a framed photo instead of actually paying for art. Turns out, buying art is an art and I'm working on it. 

I can tell you, it feels REALLY good to not have the classic things (lose 30 pounds, workout 4 times a week, double my income, blah blah blah) on my list of goals for the new year.

I'd much rather book a night out with my husband, put a girls night on the calendar, automate a big piece of my business, buy some good art ("your art the prettiest art of all the art" -- name the show and receive a bonus point), and continue pouring my heart into my speaking work, my new coaching business, and my podcast. 

Thanks for joining me on this walk down memory lane while looking to the future! I would encourage you to do the same for yourself if you haven't already. 

Lastly, I've just completed a massive blogging project where I collected the BEST photos from all of 2019 and organized them into categories for your viewing pleasure! Each one is jam-packed with inspiration, ideas, and links to the incredible team of vendors I worked with this year. 

The real question is... which one are you going to start with?!

ONE: Florals
THREE: Lifestyle

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

best wedding photography in ottawa from all of 2019

PART ONE: Florals / PART TWO: Dresses and Veils
PART THREE: Lifestyle / PART FOUR: Unique Details
PART SEVEN: Bloopers / PART EIGHT: Engagement Photos

I'm beyond excited to dive into the GORGEOUSNESS of 2019 with you today! 

There were so many emotional moments, so many beautiful details, and a truly incredible number of happy celebrations that made the year one of my best yet.

With the publishing of this post, the year in review series comes to a close. It's bitter and sweet and I'm ready. My first wedding of 2020 is just around the corner, but I wouldn't be ready to open up my heart to a new year without the proper recognition of the couples who began the next chapter of their love story in 2019. 

This is a big post, friends. It deserves coffee, focus, and a slow but steady scroll. Let's dig in!!

Seriously though, the only reason I could sleep at night was knowing that there were 8 other posts to spread out the incredible shots, like the one where I shared all of the unique details!

Daina and Corey's wedding at Stonefields -- a true fave!!

Not a chance this post would be complete without the leg shot of the girls with their mini champy bottles...

And don't even get me started on Julie and Brian's wedding at Strathmere!! This is one of my most liked and commented photos that I've EVER shared on insta -- I blame the gorgeous faces and the dreamy colour of these bridesmaids dresses....

Something about the guys in black and white, it just looks so timeless.

Who could forget this gorgeous tented reception by Kennedy Events for Katelin and Sean?

Or the church exit for Katt and Matt?! MY HEART in this moment! Those clapping hands! The lack of cell phones... (I may or may not have kindly hollered to the guests to put their phones away for this part, so worth it!)

A recent but forever favourite from my time in Old Vegas with Grace and Justin:

Lin and Dashan had one of the most unique celebrations of the whole season, starting with some photos downtown and ending up at Le Belvedere after a totally mind-blowing transformation by the team at The Design Co

Obsessed with Sarah's winter bridal stye here!

And this classic 50's glamour look for the stunning Grace, who is just as gorgeous on the inside:

Am I allowed to give out an award for the most sparkle in a single frame?

Awww! Shannon and Nick! This one is too good, you need to revisit it to admire how gorgeous this Le Belvedere wedding was...!

Oh and speaking of transformations -- look at the Horticulture Building all done up for Veronica and Michael by The Design Co.!

I just finished the design for Brittany and Michael's wedding album, and I am SO happy they chose to include this stunning wedding party shot. Need a refresher on their incredible wedding celebration at The NAC by Gloss Events?

My beautiful Cassie and her husband (finally!) Jason -- I'm obsessed with this shot and this day and every single detail that brought it together.

Our city is absolutely stunning...

And so are Christine and Jay:

Still not over the subtle magic of the dress in the window in this shot of Julia and her girls...

One of the last shots of this evening with Lauren & Seumas, on the golf course at sunset:

A head table by the fireplace for Rachel and David...

And sparklers before the first dance for Nicole & Enea! This summer wedding at Le Belvedere is an absolute masterpiece.

Could cry on command with this photo.

The smokey black glassware was featured in an earlier year in review post, but I just love this shot from the tables at Veronica and Michael's wedding:

First dance kiss featuring cheers from the head table!

The pop of black shoe, Jason carrying the train, the lights at the top... I loved this shot from the moment I saw it.

If there was one overarching wedding trend I saw this year, it was the addition of dark, rich tones like plum, navy, or black as seen here:

Stonefields in Carleton Place -- a photographer's paradise. 

Loving these wintery bouquets! I would have included them in the gorgeous collection of florals from 2019, but this New Years Eve wedding hadn't happened by then!

Look at Lauren and Mike, the absolute sweetest pair who closed out my year on the highest possible note.

Can we get more confetti in 2020, please? Not asking for a friend. It's for me. Because I'm in love.

This photo could never grow old...

I still think about Kate and Cam's wedding and remember it as one of my favourites from ALL my years as a wedding photographer. The candidness of their joy, the meaningful details and the air of romance. I wish you could have been there to see it and experience it. 

To think this blog post only captures HALF of the magic of the day...

I love that 2019 brought me to so many unique places. From this Sperry Tent on a private residence:

To a new view of our beautiful and architectural city:

To the water (with bubbly!)...

To the countryside...

Or to the edge of a cliff.

I loved every second!

And treasure every moment we captured together.

But if it sounds like I'm wrapping up this post, you'd be wrong.

Because we're only halfway, baby.

Something about this photo is as perfect to me as Keira Knightly is to that one actor from Love Actually that no one actually knows.

Right after the first look, I will never forget how happy Jason was here!

Okay, so while we continue to swoon over every killer photo from last year, let's also talk about what makes a great wedding photographer. 

I have your attention, so let's make the most of it.

To me, a great wedding photographer can consistently create photos that convey feeling.

Still, the moment will ALWAYS be better than the photo, but that's the beauty of it. When you see it, you're taken right back to that second that otherwise could have been fleeting.

When you see it, you know it's right.

A great photographer isn't trying to mask the experience with a pretty photo. Quite the opposite. They start with creating a moment that BEGS being remembered...

And each single photo comes together in a collection that tells a story.

A great photographer can capture details in a way that fit in with the rest of the experience...

They can fill in the gaps for someone who couldn't be there to see it unfold... 

A great photographer never needs a re-do. They anticipated the moment because they helped to create it...

I can't even put into words how it feels to be trusted by people like Julie and Brian.

Kate and Cam.

Nicole and Enea.

Cassie & Jason.

Shannon and Nick.

Julia and Matt.

And all of the other couples who entered my life in 2019.

I loved it all.

And I treasure this collection!

Thank you ALL for joining me on this final post in the 2019 year in review series! For all the surprises along the way:

All the smiles that warmed up my screen:

All the sweetness that made this year the absolute best:

The first glances...

The families that were met along the way...

The moments that made us tear up...

The quiet moments that came before...

And the people who brought all of these photos to LIFE. I love you all!! Thank you for another incredible wedding season, and for enabling me to do what I love and have SO. MUCH. FREAKING. FUN while I do it. 

To all the couples who were married in 2019 -- congratulations! From the bottom of my heart. 

If you want to join the family of Laura Kelly brides and grooms,
here's how to do so. I can't wait to meet you and be the
person YOU trust with documenting your
celebration, big or small!