Snacking and hanging at the beach

Amelia and mom on the beach

cheese-mo

Have a clarify of vision but a flexibility in process

—Jon Stewart

This seems simple but I feel like I’ll take my whole life mastering this. I currently understand this to mean: focus on the end goal and don’t get tied up with the minutia of micro-managing your colleagues on any particular project. I think the prerequisite to following this advice is that your colleagues be highly skilled and great at their craft.

 

Macro flower photo

I used 50mm lens attached to extension tubes and used manual focus and natural light.

I like to work when the world is sleeping and share while the world is at work

—Austin Kleon, from his book Show Your Work

This is me as well. I feel most productive when I’m cranking away at a blog post, photography project or design project late on a Friday or Saturday night. ‘Share while the world is at work’ was a bit of lesson for me – as I haven’t always thought about the time of day I’m sharing via twitter, facebook, or instagram.

Family photo

It’s that time of year again: to see where I’ve been and where I’m going. This has become an annual tradition: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. And now for 2015…

Personal

  • Paid off 3 debts leaving just one debt plus the house left to pay off!
    • Paid off last student loan. We now have no credit card debt or student loan debt.
  • Sold our house for lots of profit and bought a beautiful, new home.
  • Continued following the principles from Getting Things Done – including:
    • Weekly review of projects and tasks to ensure I know the next task on every project and that my head is empty (see next point)
    • Constantly keep my head empty of things to remember – by putting them on lists in Wunderlist (with due dates & reminders)
  • Wrote 2 Design Myth articles: Put it above the fold & Show me some mockups, then I’ll sign the contract
    • I launched this website in 2014 after years of frustration surrounding outsider perception of the design industry.

Photo shoots from 2015

Creative Improv

  • Worked with 15 clients (Including many mini-projects for past clients – retaining clients has been great.)
  • 37% decrease in sales from 2014 (which matches my 2012 sales). Reason: new baby – but no regrets about this.
  • Tripled the number of photoshoots I completed for clients from 2014. I did 6 photoshoots this year! See some of the photos here.
  • Photoshoots and stock photography royalties made up 11% of my total sales.
  • Completed fun & fulfilling projects like the many photoshoots as well as the website and portraits I completed for First Baptist Church in Kirksville
    • aka: Fewer projects that I was just ‘meh’ about.

ITS website

Full-time Job

  • Redesigned the ITS department website. This wasn’t just any redesign. It was a 6-8 month, extensive process. I utilized a content inventory, analytics, and other data to build a case for a redesign as well as define real problems with the current website (based on data). I also made the case for WordPress over other website building tools. From there, I began designing in the open and getting client input on every piece of the design. See the redesigned website!
  • Attend An Event Apart – a web design conference in Washington DC – my second in 3 years!

What I shipped in 2015

Seth Godin talks a lot about shipping (or launching & putting things into the public). He is a big proponent of, ‘ship early and ship often.’ Meaning – if you have a project that you’re waiting until it is just right to launch – push through and launch it now. In 2010, Seth Godin challenged his readers to think about what they shipped the previous year. I think this is a great way to hold my own feet to the fire and assess what I launched/shipped in the last 12 months. Here is what I shipped in 2015:

ice

f4.5 – 1/60 – ISO 400 – 50mm lens with 2 lens extension tubes (for a closer, more macro-type image)

Macro flower

It’s that time of year again: to see where I’ve been and where I’m going. This has become an annual tradition: 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. And now for 2014…

Photography

  • Completed a 365 day photo project – I set out to learn more about flash and lighting in photography. To do so, I challenged myself to make one photograph a day that utilized lighting.
  • Related to the first point, I grew my photography gear by purchasing a second speedlight, my first studio light (AlienBees B800) and many light modifiers (color gels, grids, mini-softbox, etc)
  • I learned a bit about pet photography. Wrangling a beagle and a cat, as well as lighting to get a good photo is an interesting challenge
  • Among the many things I learned to photograph this year is glass – Things like vases and glass bottles.
  • Discovered ‘free-lensing‘ – where you reverse your lens to capture macro photos. It’s amazing what daily curiosity and experimenting will produce!
  • Photographed smoke on colored backgrounds, in camera – when previously, I could only produce the same image with lots of Photoshop fakery.
  • Honed the ‘white background’ look. It helps when you have more than one light.
  • Did my first real photo shoot – a newborn/family shoot with friends. All my lighting experience definitely helped make me feel comfortable with using 1 and 2 lights.

Personal

  • Paid 2 large debts off while continuing to follow the Dave Ramsey, ‘Debt Snowball’ plan. Since January 2011, we’ve paid off approximately $80,000!
  • I read and applied the principles from the book, Getting Things Done  by David Allen. He puts forth a simple plan for day to day productivity – mostly centered around to-do lists and calendar usage – and a structure for regular review of your projects/lists/calendars. This is the first ‘productivity’ book I’ve read that has actually changed the way I get things done day to day.
  • Decided with my wife to have a baby (New Year’s Eve). She got pregnant 20 days later. Then we met Amelia Rose October 15th, 2014!
  • Continued projects on the house: New fencing, Baby room, installed hard wood stairs, renovated half of basement.
  • Launched a side project – DesignMyth.com – a project 2 years in the making. The website is the result of years of frustration surrounding the design industry and outsider perception of it.

Web Design

  • Continued to build websites using WordPress and features like custom fields/custom post types. This allows for very custom websites that are very easy to edit for the end client.
  • Continued my education of web technologies/software through Lynda.com

  • Completed projects in these areas: Websites, HTML emails, training, logos, photo licensing, photoshoots
  • Expanded my photography services – including a newborn photo shoot and licensing my Kirksville photos locally.
  • Made my business processes more efficient by utilizing lists, how-to’s and canned messages.
  • 28% increase in sales from 2013
  • Worked with 15 clients: 9 existing clients and 6 new clients
  • Completed my most extensive website project to-date: Also the one I’m most proud of since I started building websites in 2005 – That was the new website for Kirksville Tourism.

What I ‘shipped’ in 2014

Seth Godin talks a lot about ‘shipping’ (or launching/putting out into the public). He is a big proponent of, ‘ship early and ship often.’ Meaning – if you have a project that you’re waiting until it is ‘just right’ to launch – push through and launch (or ship) it now. In 2010, Seth Godin challenged his readers to think about what they ‘shipped’ the previous year. I think this is a great way to hold my own feet to the fire and assess what I launched/shipped in the last 12 months. Here is what I shipped in 2014:

  • Crushed 2 debts
  • Created 365 photos that utilized studio lighting/flash units.
  • Contributed 113 photos to iStockPhoto
  • Crafted and Launched 19 websites (12 with Creative Improv & 7 with my full-time job)
  • Launched a side project – DesignMyth.com
  • Crafted 2 HTML emails
  • Designed 1 logo