Workcation 2017

Oh I'm so sad to see Workcation 2017 behind me. Do you ever spend so long counting down to something exciting, and then it feels like it's here and gone before you know it? And then you have that "crap, what do I look forward to now" feeling? Yeah? Ok good, then I'm not alone.

We did this last year and I felt like all the stars aligned to make it happen, but I had my doubts that we'd be able to make it happen again. If you think about it, it's nearly impossible to coordinate the schedules of 11 people. Especially when you take into account the fact that we're all small business owners, more than half of us are mothers, and a handful of us also work full-time jobs. Well, by some miracle, we worked it out...and it was incredible.

We rented the same adorable beach house in Oceanview as last year and once again brought far too much food and wine to get us through two nights and three days. We took full advantage of the natural light in the house and styled some fun flat lays and headshots for each other before parading down to the beach for more in the sunshine. We lucked out with some seriously gorgeous weather and all wished we could have stayed longer to keep enjoying it.

We even got reallllly fancy this year and booked a private chef to come cook us dinner our last night in the house. It was SUCH A TREAT and definitely something I think we'll all agree to do every year moving forward. It was awesome to not have to interrupt our workflow to cook {or do the dishes}, but not have to depend on pizza for dinner either! Brian KILLED it in the kitchen!

We played some really fun games this year that had us all in total giggle fits. Heads Up, Code Names, and LCR may be my new favorite games to play. Did I mention I WON the first game of LCR?! 

There were two big moments that really hammered it home how much I love these ladies and how thankful I am to have each of them in my life. While we were taking headshots on the beach, we each ended up jumping into a few quick snaps with "our people". This group of wonderful women consists of quite a few smaller groups that just love each other to the core. It was because of all these small groups that we all came together to be friends in the first place. So it was super special to see us each take a minute to honor those friendships as well. I think it was Erin who kept saying that watching each of us love on our people made her want to cry. And she was so right.

 Another moment was during our round table discussion. Every time someone presented something to the group, they had the eyes, ears, and hearts of 10 other people focused solely on them and what they had to say. We had the best time talking through our struggles together, offering sound advice, wiping each other's tears, and laughing wholeheartedly at each other. You just don't get that kind of commitment from people every day. It was heartwarming and powerful to watch my people be so invested in each other.

The whole weekend was just so genuine. I think that's probably the best word I can think of to describe these friendships I've been blessed with. I really don't know what I did to deserve having them in my life. But every day I thank my lucky stars for their friendships, their wisdom, and the constant belly laughs they give me.

Until next year ladies! xo

Thanks to all the photogs of the group for the awesome/entertaining pictures. Feel free to check out all my ladies and give them all some love!

Elizabeth Henson Photos //  Christina Barnum Photography  //  Alison McPherson, Real Estate Professional  //  Ro & Co Designs  //  Waters Edge Design  //  Heidi Calma Photography  //  Erin Ammons Photography  //  Crystal Belcher Photography  //  Angie McPherson Photography  //  elovephotos

My Wolfpack

Hey ya'll!  Happy Thanksgiving week!!  And yes, I do tend to celebrate the entire week.  I'm wrapping this week up into two days and then heading out of town.  I'll be mountain-bound with Wes & Wyatt so that we can spend a few days with family, eating too much, hiking a little bit, fishing a whole lot, and playing football with the kids.  This is my favorite week of the entire year and I'm just so glad it's finally here!

But before I go off the grid, I wanted to share some of my most cherished pictures ever.  A couple weeks ago, the Wolfpack and I headed out to Smithfield to have pictures taken by Sharon Elizabeth Photography.  We were all so excited....for a few reasons.  Liz had told the rest of us a hundred times how fun Sharon is and we couldn't wait to crack up with her.  We were really looking forward to some updated headshots for each of us.  I'm so beyond happy with my new headshots from Sharon!  She had me cracking up the entire time and it was such a blast!

Most of all though, we were super pumped to get pictures of the four of us together!  All Wolfpack pictures up to this point were taken on our phones, usually at horrible angles, and not exactly something to write home about.  So we couldn't wait for Sharon to really capture our goofy friendship!

If you follow me at all, you know how much I adore my Wolfpack.  Angie, Heidi, & Liz are a constant source of support, belly laughs, and brilliant ideas.  We're constantly bouncing our crazy goals off one another and then pushing each other to accomplish them.  We're what one might call business besties but I promise we're also real life friends.  We love each others families, talk daily about normal every day stuff, and get together for wine & snacks as often as life allows.  We're always each others plus ones to vendor events and take plenty of embarrassing pictures and videos whenever we hang out.  We're each so crazy different from one another, but we completely "get" each other and our businesses.  Our friendship is one for the books and something I'm thankful for every single day.

Left to Right: Angie McPherson Photography  //  Heidi Calma Photography  //  Elizabeth Henson Photos  //  Just Dandy Events

Liz and I met while working a wedding together back in 2014.  We bonded over our vendor meals while talking about our blossoming businesses and I remember leaving the wedding thinking, "I have GOT to work with Liz again soon."  Her enthusiasm for business and helping others was just so contagious!  We planned our first styled shoot together that October and have been #vendorsoulmates ever since!

Heidi & I met when she attended Liz's workshop that was our first styled shoot.  Liz had talked about her tons before that and I was so excited to finally meet her.  She showed up, all smiles, and I knew I needed to be friends with her.  Since then, Heidi and I have worked on quite a few projects together and had the best time doing so.  Every time we get together it's constant laughing.  She's definitely the more introverted one of our group and I absolutely love how she balances us out.

Angie and I became friends while we worked together on a wedding in 2015 and since then I've tried to book as many weddings with her as possible.  Not only does she take incredible care of my couples....she also makes the wedding days so much fun!!!  I can always count on her for a quick lesson in social media or advertising and to catch up on the latest episode of How To Get Away With Murder.

I can't imagine where JDE would be today without the unwavering support of these ladies.  Gosh I can't imagine where I would be!  They remind me every day to value myself and my craft, and to constantly push myself to be better and go bigger.  They're the first ones to dish out some #realtalk, telling me to stop making excuses and to "make it happen" and I love them so much for that.

Thank you so much to Sharon for these awesome pictures that totally capture our friendship.  We had the very best time being wild and inappropriate with you!!!  And to Dhalia Edwards for making us feel oh so're the bomb girlfriend!! 

My Wolfpack

I have this group of friends that I don’t know how I ever lived without.  And I don’t know how I ran my business without them either.  Not because I can’t make decisions without them or anything like that.  But because they just know how to be there for a girl.  We all build each other up, help each other out, and have each other’s backs at all times.  Even though we’re in the same industry with similar clientele, there’s no competition among us.  That whole “community over competition” thing is just second nature to us.  We didn’t need a movement to put that into practice, it’s just the way we’re wired.  The way our mommas raised us.  Be kind and treat others the way you want to be treated...isn’t that how the saying goes?

Every day, we remind each other that we’re enough.  That all of the hard work, the blood and sweat and tears are all worth it.  When one of us has an idea, we voice it.  We sort of brain dump our thoughts onto the rest of the group and then, something magical happens.  We brainstorm, we offer constructive criticism, and we do what needs to be done to make this idea into a reality.  We help each other.  Any project that one of us tackles, we all sort of tackle together.  Even though our name won’t go in the credits when all is said and done...the success of that project is so incredibly important to each of us.

Of the four of us, three are photographers {that’s right….I’m the oddball} and they’re all located in Hampton Roads.  In most groups, they would see each other as competition.  If one of them books a bride, isn’t that a client that the other two missed out on?  Nope.  Not even close.  Instead they offer to second shoot for each other and give advice on the different venues they’ll be shooting at.  They give tips on culling and opinions on edits.  It’s never, ever about competition.

Being the only non-photog in the group, the others look out for me in such awesome ways.  When I need some updated headshots and pictures for my blog, they jump to make it happen.  When they book a wedding and they find that the couple is in search of a planner, they give them my business card and totally vouch for my services.  It’s like having my own cheerleading squad.

These ladies are also three of the best friends I’ve ever had.  Not even counting the business aspect, they really do make my life so much richer.  I know that I can go to them with everyday things, and they’re always there for me.  Even though they each have their own family and friends, they make time for our friendship.  And that means a lot more than some might think.

Angie, Heidi, & Liz: Thank you for being you.  For always being there for me and helping make me a better person.  Thank you for being my people, my wolfpack.  I love you all to pieces!