I’m a journaling gal. <– like the type who has a bookshelf full of journals that have grown with her through the years and believes reading through them + remembering the colorful memories filling those pages is one of life’s greatest treasures.
Call me the nostalgia queen. I am just downright sappy for this stuff.
I think it’s what I love most about photography: the ability to freeze moments & preserve memories. Documenting them so I can look back in time and remember EXACTLY how I felt in that very moment. My friend Hope Taylor shared a blog post of her year in review and it really encouraged me to hit publish on this post. I know personally I have hesitated from sharing things in the past because of the voice that speaks:
“nobody cares, don’t waste your breath!” …and honestly? I let that quit me for a number of years.
But you know what’s funny, 2018 brought me face-to-face with the lies I was believing and I started getting more & more comfortable speaking truth over my fears and putting that voice to rest. It reshaped my perspective and before I knew it, I was no longer sharing from a place of pleasing, I was sharing for the 15 year old business owner Hannah who really could have used some uplifting truths.
Things I wished more people talked about.
Things that I know childhood Hannah would be PROUD OF.
I think I realized more than ever that YOU ARE ALOUD TO SHARE THINGS FOR YOURSELF. Really Really Really. You are! (and if you’re like me AT ALL, please just give yourself permission to let that sink in.)
I am writing this for myself more than anyone because I want to be able to scroll back through this blog post when I am having “one of those days” or heck, “one of those years!” and tangibly point to the faithfulness of my father. So that I can remember that he never leaves us. That he is provider. That he is faithfully writing my story. That HE who began a good work in me will bring it to completion (Ephesians 6:10)
Y’all, 2018 was A YEAR. if you have been around here for long you have probably caught bits & pieces of my story or have heard me chat about navigating this wild season of life.
I’ve noticed the most valuable thing we can offer one another is our story because the vulnerability from your valley could be the very thing that lifts someone out of theirs.
I used up too many precious days defining myself by what was against me rather than who was for me. Letting lab results mark my value and diminish my worth when all along lyme disease was the very thing he chose to use. I found that my dependency on God is actually my honor not my shame and he grew me far more in this valley than I have ever known on the mountaintops.
I share this because life is freaking hard. Its messy and yet somehow it can be breathtaking and joyful all at once.
I use to believe that they were mutually exclusive: joy vs pain, that you could only feel one or the other but now I’ve known them hand-in-hand.
In my own strength 2018 would have looked a wholeee lot different for me. But praise Jesus for the strength that only he gives in the most fatigued seasons of life. Only by him could I explain the last 12 months because they just don’t add up otherwise. Things I would have never imagined would come to fruition, clients that would turn into friends, photos that would be used to share a legacy of a loved ones life, or 10+ woman walking through my front door to be apart of a community that would uplift and unite creative photographers together…So I’ll just keep singing of the one who makes beauty from these ashes <3
I know this post is a long one– thanks for sticking around this far! 😉
I am excited about this post because I’ve never blogged anything like it before! I am doing a month-by-month breakdown of the moments that made up 2018. There are a TON of iphone photos that have NEVER seen my blog before and probably a few things about this last year that might even surprise you!
This is my yearbook and I am sharing it because it’s a season I know I will want to remember and maybe it will encourage someone else out there that the mountains they are facing were assigned to them by the creator of the heavens to show others that (by his strength) they can be moved. This journey you are on is a mighty & victorious one! (even through the heartache & the pain) and that in fact is something to be celebrated, dear friend!
My first visit to SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA and I finally get the hype. “SO CAL FOR THE SOUL” should it’s slogan because this beach gal felt like she was coming home. 7 days was not long enough *can I stay foreverrrrr*
Rapunzel’s castle? is that you?
juuust wanna live in ya! the cutest tiny home across from the malibu pier <3 (talk about an ideal neighborhood)
came back to our winter reality and a frozen pond
These were the ONLY two photos I found on my phone from february…for this girl, that is crazy! but its mostly because February was my month of rest. growth. healing. <– not because I carved out this time for rejuvination, but more so because I didn’t. My body was begging me for stillness.
I’m not even going to sugarcoat it, it was one of the hardest months I’ve walked through. I was off work for almost 3 weeks due to unusual lyme symptoms that flared up and basically kept me in bed because my body was too weak.
I learned a few things during those weeks in bed that will forever stick with me. I prayed a lot harder, I leaned in a little closer, and let Jesus do some serious pruning and tend to the branches of my life. Removing unnecessary things and allowing new things to bloom out of this month. I learned that this pruning wasn’t a punishment, it was preparation for greater fruitfulness. (“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2)
One of the biggest takeaways from this was the vision he put in my heart for cultivating a photography community through the photo bootcamp and he gave me the faith and strength for the days ahead to chase after it. Looking back on this month with a heart full of praise and a clear picture that reminds me: our pain is not in vain, dear friend! His power is truly made stronger in our weakness <3
March…let’s just say you gave me my caffeine intake. A road trip to Charlotte NC and making new memories in this darling city with my sister <3 (also my first oat milk latte experience so clearly that deserves an honorable mention!)
A MONTH OF “FIRSTS”: first ever Photo Bootcamp, first flower festival, first time Joanna Gaines talked to me on instagram…
Topped off the weekend with a trip to our historic downtown leesburg annual flower festival: ice cream and endless succulents.. so you know this plant lady was in heaven.
THIS IS PROBABLY ONE OF MY FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA MEMORIES OF 2018: the day Joanna Gaines commented on my instagram post…still might have to frame this 😉
THEN THIS HAPPENED: magnolias instagram re-sposted this shot! soooo fun!
Took a trip to Tampa for a dear friends bachelorette weekend!!…pretty sure the pictures sum up how full my heart was.
started the month off right with our annual family beach trip to Bethany <3 <3 <3
does anyone else looove seashell searchin’ ?!
my sister Rebekah and I joke “some people travel for the views, smith sisters travel for the food”…
…but that wouldn’t be *too* far fetched!
I got to be on the other side of things and play bridesmaid for THREE wedding weekends in a row <3 sooo fun!!
THEN WE ADDED A NEW SMITH TO THE TEAM (!!)
July… you may be my favorite month. SO MUCH HAPPENED. SO MANY HIGHLIGHTS. SAFE TO SAY YOU SET THIS HEART ON FIRE.
ps. incase you don’t know, this is one of the greatest gals I know. She’s a mom to all, everyones favorite cook and just the first one I wanna go to with anything (happy or sad) and I can’t help but think how blessed I am to be her daughter and have a Michelle Smith in my life. <3
4th of July, Antique shopping, and road trips…these are a few of my favorite things.
Brunch + visits to the local greenhouse: MEET MY DREAM SATURDAY !!
Accurate depiction of Hannah when she gets her coffee
Georgetown you are lovely.
got to take a few of my favorite littles out for popsicles & carousel rides at the farm and if these four smiles don’t just say it all!!!!
SAY HELLO TO THIS southern sisterhood. This week, This Place, These gals: such a treat.
*at this moment I was probably dreaming of how to stay here permanently and inherit all the southern charm + palm trees*
My first visit to Jeni’s ice cream *had* to be documented (obvs!) three cheers for vegan ice cream!!!!
always persuading these sisters to let me steal a quick pic & honestly feels like winning the lottery whenever we do successfully <3 (safe to say this will be my forever lockscreen)
a little BTS action! …just to set the record straight: engagement shoots at the cutest cafes, i.e. sipping iced lattes while photographing love stories may be the greatest combo ever.
Coffee & Jesus with some of my oldest friends <3
DC birthday date to the little leaf shop <3 <3 <3 can I just live in there?
Gavin Degraw Concert with my sister friends <3 (the grainy-er the selfie the better the memory, that’s a saying right?)
September was the start of my BUSIEST SEASON YET. I am still processing it all. It was the best kind of crazy, but I would be lying if I didn’t mention I was in FULL survival mode and a little sleep deprived with a packed schedule, daily shoots and preparation for this months photo bootcamp round 2!!!
These smiles brought to you in part by our first encounter with BEN RECTOR for his Magic tour in DC (really the only thing we will brace dc traffic in the rain for!)
MY FALL photo boot camp ladiezzzz
my favorite outtake from all of that day and it cracks me up because I don’t know if I was caught praising Jesus, applauding the spread of iced lattes in the house, or just overjoyed that this is real life and get to pour into a room full of creatives✨💗 ALL OF THE ABOVE honestly
The type of month that was SO good for the soul yet heavy and a lot all at once. It really just made me value & realize the importance of true rest.
-I got to meet up with a long time online industry friend in REAL TIME when we both realized we were shooting downtown on the same day for engagement shoots…CLEARLY WE WERE THRILLED.
-Photographed one of my favorite couples who just so happen to be some of the best people on the planet. Josh & ABs for the win.
-Started a new lyme treatment, shot more portraits sessions in one month than I humanly thought possible, cried some tears of joy, and some painful ones too, made some new friends, traveled to freaking Texas for a belated birthday gift from my sweet sister Sarah (like who even does that?!? so generous) and basically lived my best life at Magnolia which I have discovered is the equivalent of Disney world for me. What memorable month!!
MAGNOLIAS TABLE YALL…can you even at how cute it is???
This is usually the time of year where I am in awe @ how it’s ALREADY THANKSGIVING AND WHERE ON EARTH DID THIS YEAR GO? hahaha anyone else?!
so my first shoot ever was for this precious fam circa 2012!!! (my literal day ones) and documenting them through the years + seeing how much they’ve grown *really* is the highlight of the season 🖤 love em with my whole heart
earlier this year the girls at delight&be asked if I would write an article for their fall issue and honestly it didn’t feel real until the day this beauty showed up on my door step!!! as I flipped through these pages I was *high key* tearing up by the way I could so tangibly see his hand in all these moments that made up 2018. It was just a reminder to me of what God will accomplish when we wholly surrender ourselves to him. I want to do more of that. bc i’m finding that it’s in the surrender where he writes the most beautiful stories.
Smith Thanksgivings are no nonsense with over 30+ relatives in one house & this #Hcubed cousin shot pretty much sums up how we feel about it <3
This was my first December in a few years where I didn’t have a wedding the week leading up to christmas and I really treasured getting to take in the holiday season and spend it with family and friends.
It was also a pretty low key month due to catching a winter cold that had me out for a solid 3 weeks LOL I am more than fine if 2019 decides to go easy on my immune system🙅♀️ hahah
Christmas day with the smith sisters <3 <3 <3
reunited with these gals over the holidays!! love em a whole lot if you couldn’t tell.
One morning over christmas break I hosted a photo bootcamp brunch with a handful of my alumni girls and it was so good for the soul. honored to do life beside these woman and to get to be a part of this dream community!!!
THE END. Thank you for making it!
You may also love: