Here we are once again at the end of another eventful year.  I will continue to count the blessings that I have been able to continue another year as a freelance photographer full time.  It’s been an interesting year overall, I can’t complain too much (or at least I shouldn’t complain too much).  Here are some of the things that I did or saw this year:

(Nikon Z7, 1250ISO, Sigma 24-70F2.8Art@58mm.  1/100th@F7.1)

Last year started like any number of years for me, and that’s with teaching!  I still regularly teach lighting at the local community college.  Teaching is a fantastic way to help give back to Photography as a whole which has been so good to me over the years.  It’s also been a great way for me to realize some of the things that I take for granted in thinking that I know.  There is always a question each semester that I should easily know the answer to that trips me up.  It’s a great learning experience for everyone around.  I changed some things up in 2019 and between Ivy Tech and Roberts Camera there were some really great classes in my opinion.  I even tailored one after my pal Dave Black as you can see below.  It’s a lot of fun teaching and I greatly look forward to the workshops and classes that I’ve got scheduled already.

(Nikon D850, 400ISO, Sigma 24-70F2.8Art@29mm.  10 seconds @F8.  Two Profoto D1,1000 head set to 6. One on each side of Adam with a reflector and a flag to make sure they didn’t spill onto the background.  lights triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus 3, fired by hand and NOT in the camera hot shoe). 

I did a bit of traveling to shoot basketball last year and the beginning of 2020 will be no different it seems.  Nothing wrong with that as I do enjoy a good bit of time in the car, as well as shooting basketball so this is a good deal for me.  Generally, if I’m traveling for Basketball it’s for the University of Michigan or the University of Maryland; two clients whom I thoroughly enjoy working with. I do shoot basketball for more than just those two, but they are the ones that put me on the road usually, and I look forward to each season.  This upcoming season it looks like I’ll be shooting some Water Polo and Diving again too which has me very excited.

(Nikon D500, 1250ISO, Nikon 200F2VR, 1/1000th@F2.2)

I’m going to digress here a bit because in 2019 I had a bucket list assignment.  That assignment was to go to the Photography at the Summit workshops in Denver Colorado and help teach lighting for Elinchrom.  What a cool week that was, and I’ll never forget it.  I can only hope I have more opportunities to get involved with the Summit Series of workshops in the future, but who knows what is going to happen there. Supposedly the Summit is coming to Indianapolis in May.  We’ll see what happens….

(Matt Hernandez, in red, and Mark Kettenhofen looking over the Elinchrom lighting setup while a student shoots.)

I had a few new clients in 2019.  One of which is Junior Achievement of Indiana.  I met the President of Junior Achievement on another assignment, and it happened that they were looking for someone for an event.  I’ve shot mulitple events for them now and I love working with the team at JA.  They are fantastic with details, with scheduling and most importantly, differentiating VIPs at events with things like Flowers, Lanyard Colors, nametags, or etc.  This is something that a lot of organizations could use to do, but JA does it perfectly.

(Nikon D4s, 2000ISO, Sigma 24-70F2.8Art@24mm.  1/250th@F2.8)

Someone else I’ve started doing work for is Sigma Corporation of America.  Some of you might say, “Hey you’ve always done work for them!” but that’s not quite right.  Regularly Sigma will send me equipment for review, but that is all unpaid.  I even pay to send it back on my own dime.  They take the feedback, and I write a blog to talk about my experience with the new gear.  So no, that is not paid, and no, I am not a Sigma Ambassador or Sigma Pro.  Just a full-time freelance guy that likes their gear.  In 2019 though I started teaching for Sigma more regularly.  We did an astrophotography workshop, and I also went to Cass West Virginia to help teach a photo charter on how to photograph steam trains.  It was pretty crazy, and I loved it! I can only hope that 2020 sends me on more adventures with Sigma.

(Nikon Z7, 3200ISO, Sigma 24-70F2.8Art@24mm.  1/640th@F22.  Notice the photo charter in the bottom right corner). 

2019 was an eventful year. From events to magazine to product there was a lot that got accomplished this year and I wish I could talk about every single thing.  One thing I will say though is that one of my larger clients, in fact, closed the doors of their Indiana operation which was a bit of a surprise to everyone who worked there.  Those things tend to happen as businesses change focus and go different directions.  It definitely will make for an interesting 2020 for a lot of folks whom I’ve come to know over the last few years, but without a doubt, change can be a really good thing.  I wish them all the best of luck. There is nothing wrong with pushing to redefine yourself, and your work and this is just one of those times for all the folks that worked there.  I said this was one of my larger clients, and that’s not a lie. The income this client provided will be a sad loss; however, this was by far not the majority of my work and is always a risk in the freelance world (and not the first time something like this has happened) so I was prepared.  Taking the curveballs is just one part of being a freelance photographer.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make 2019 a success,  especially my incredible wife Shannon whom I could not do this without.  She is my cornerstone and my everything and she helps me to be better year after year.  I’d also like to thank all of my clients for without you I would likely be a janitor someplace.  Also, those photographic companies that have believed in me this year including Roberts Camera, Sigma Photo and the Mac Group.  I appreciate you and I look forward to working with you more in 2020.  As always please follow me on Instagram, as I am much more active on there than I am in the blogosphere.  Happy New Year everyone!