As I get ready for another Christmas Pageant this year with my eldest I have sound bytes from Christmas songs dancing in my head. Instead of trying to block them out I found it easier to just go with it for this week's blog post.
With the "Twelve Days of Christmas" in mind and the end of 2014 looming I looked back on the top twelve takeaways from getting my start as a photographer here in Germany:
12 Months of Festivals: If there's a reason to celebrate there's a festival that makes it happen. This time of year the Weinachtmarkts or Christmas Markets can be found in many cities and villages through the beginning of January. Day or night there are local vendors, food, music and decorations that easily fill my camera's frame. There's no shortage of subject material, just a shortage of time to get to it all.
11 Digits For My Phone Number: And this doesn't include the country code. And it isn't necessarily the same for anyone else's phone number here. I did a little dance when I finally memorized my own phone number. I completely depend on my contact list for everyone else's number.
10 Wineries Within a Short Driving Distance: These are just the ones that I've discovered so far. I've captured stunning landscapes that have changed with the season with a short detour up a local or country road.
9 Months of Overcast Skies: There are some days that I wish this were an exaggeration. Despite the temperate climate in south Germany the rain that makes the forests and fields so green can cast a sense of gloom all around. I'm grateful for all of the windows and overhead lighting in my house--keeps my energy up throughout the day. And I've learned from the landscape photographers here the importance of filters when you can't wait for the skies to clear on a shoot.
8 Hours a Night to Recharge: I have many days that I push late into the night and get up before dawn just to get caught up with work. But eventually the exhaustion sets in and my productivity and creativity slow down. I now try to get off of all electronic devices just after my grade-schooler goes to bed and I don't check them again until an hour before my first kid wakes up in the morning.
7 Hours of Winter Daylight to Work With: This is balanced out in the summer with an almost sixteen hour window of light daily. It's forced me to rework my shooting schedule and work more on my lighting techniques.
6 Months to Settle In: This is the amount of time it took for me to feel like most of the pieces in this new stage of my life have finally come together. It's the first time that I feel like I have a firm footing as to what I'm doing and where I'm going in 2015.
5 Hours of Internet a Day: One of the only drawbacks in living in a quaint German village in the southern countryside is a slow internet connection for most of the day. I get about five reliable hours a day--with a longer window on the weekends. My office hours tend to revolve around these window.
4 Types of Batteries: This is what I carry around on average in my camera bag--especially on a shoot. Just glad that most of my equipment was dual voltage before moving here. Everything else I've moved to being powered on rechargeable batteries (dual voltage chargers) which has made it easier to bring my equipment wherever I want to shoot.
3 Different Currencies: What you'll find in my wallet at any given time with the amount of travel I've done and the upcoming travel that I've planned for this year. Being here it's just a short drive, plane or train ride to another country.
2 Continents to Work From: I've continued to see the clients that have supported me all through this move on my trips back to the U.S. And I've slowly started building my client base here in Europe with both Americans living abroad and locals.
1 Experience of a Lifetime: The challenges here are trivial in comparison to the opportunities of being in a new place and out of my "comfort zone". I wouldn't wish for my life to be any other way--I just take each day as it comes and put the rewards ahead of the disappointments.
This is a good time to take a look back on what you've done but don't take too long to dwell on them. Just find the lessons you need to take with you and chart your path for the coming year. Read my next blog post for what I have in store for 2015:)