On the last day of 2016, I piled in the car with my dad and one of my sisters to go to breakfast. We were spending the weekend on a lakeside retreat, holed up in the wilderness away from the world. The day before, we were showered with snow and went walking in it until our hands were numb. I remember feeling a very deep sense of peace amidst the flurries.
I had no idea this little vacation would be such a changing force in my life. On that breakfast car ride, my dad and I started to talk, theoretically, about what it would look like to start running my own business. It's something I'd thought about on and off since I took up photography in 2010. I always blanched for various reasons: I was too young, I already had a job with a potential career path, I have no idea how to run a business. That conversation with my father inexplicably changed things for me, like a veil was lifted. It suddenly seemed so obvious, so possible to make a living on my own terms. Why I hadn't been chasing this for years?
And so, on December 31st, 2016, I decided this was the year I would run my own business.
I know that makes it sound easy. It hasn't always been simple - there was a time when I was balancing an 8-5 job, shooting on the weekends, and editing during the evenings. I've fought many battles with exhaustion, and far more with self-doubt. I've struggled to find a balance between work being a good friend, daughter, and wife. The things I've grappled with are just as important as my little victories; they've helped shape me into more a formidable human.
2017 is winding down, and despite any lows, this year has been remarkable. In January, I wrote that I wanted to spend the year feeling connected, self-reliant, magical, thriving, and wonderstruck. Running Kelsey Prater Photography has brought more of that than I ever could have imagined. I'm deeply grateful to everyone who has trusted me to preserve their moments. I just want to shout about it sometimes: I'M. SO. LUCKY. And so thankful.
It may surprise you to know a big portion of my job is actually driving. I spend many hours alone in the car, watching the world come and go out the window. Maybe it sounds boring, but it's actually beautiful. An integral part of who I am - the part that experiences beauty like a tangible feeling - is cultivated there, in steady, meditative attentiveness. I've spent this year observing the world, little moments unfurling, people in all their varied gorgeousness. I've spent the year falling more deeply in love with this life.
Here's to another year of the same.