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2023 Recap

Phew, friends it is 12:24am on New Year's Day - 2024. How perfect that I literally ended 2023 doing something I love - finalizing my second to last 2023 gallery. As I'm waiting for my gallery to upload and process, I decided to reflect back on my goals I set for KI back in January. Let me tell you, friends, I'm a little choked up - both by your support and by the graciousness of God. Without both I would not be so humbled by the growth KI has seen in the last year, that I have seen as an individual. This business is really a gift for me, in so many ways and 2023 has made this so apparent. KI for me the last four years has been a creative outlet, a way to serve and love others, a way to build community and have real adult conversations, lol. Since my rebranding in 2020/2021 this business has brought me such joy and thankfulness - it helped me to assimilate in a city that was so daunting and unfamiliar. Okay, I digress.


Creekside Family Session - We had a 90 degree day in the end of October and our fall family session spontaneously turned into the whole family creek stomping, jumping, and diving all the way in. This location is super special to this family, and this is something they often do together. I was so honored to capture real authentic, meaningful memories for them. My face hurt from laughing and smiling.


2023 Goals

So back in January I created a vision for where I wanted KI to grow towards, and steps for how to bridge the gap from where I was to achieving my long-term vision. These 'hows' were my 2023 goals, and they included reaching and serving x amount of NEW never before clients, one session per month, set limits on how many sessions I took monthly, and one creative session per quarter.


The reason I set a number for how many new clients I wanted to serve was because I needed to understand my reach. If I missed that number I'd know that a) what I was doing to market myself was not working to make KI visible, b) my existing clients had some issues with their experiences and weren't referring me, and/or c) I wasn't motivated anymore. I needed to start collecting some metrics, both for the 2023 calendar year, and for future comparisons. God showed up, and so did the clients. We were blessed to be two clients shy of doubling our goal number. The number one way these new clients found me? Word of mouth recommendations.

In-home Newborn Session - This was one of my new Clients, who were passed onto me by the recommendation of one of my past clients, and their very dear friends. I loved the tranquility of their home and calming energy their home had, even in the early days of their parenthood journey.


We were also blessed to have hit the goal of at least one session per month, and we tripled that. I set this goal for a few reasons, for one I didn't want to become stagnant for any season, I always wanted to have a session to work on to keep me sharp and growing. I also set a limit for how many sessions I'd take per month, because fall of 2022 burned me out bad and I never wanted to put myself in that situation again. I also don't want KI to ever dominate my time. I never started this to be a full time career, and it isn't the highest priority in my life; I stay home with our two kiddos and I desire a life where I am present with my family.


Lastly, I wanted to host one creative session a quarter. These sessions are something I came up with as an intentional way of pushing myself to try new things. My clients who signed up for these (with the exception of the creekside family session) signed up knowing we were doing things that made me a little uncomfortable. I never want to get so much in a groove that it turns into a rut. I always want to be growing and expanding the KI experience and challenge myself creatively. This turned out to be such a wild and FUN adventure and I plan to keep this going indefinitely.

Indianapolis Zoo - Another creative session that I hosted with the Choudhry's at the Indianapolis Zoo. We were treated like private guests (because we were spontaneously) and we had the zoo to ourselves to create and explore where these two had their first date. The Choudhry's are some of the gentlest, kindest people I have ever met. It's a gift that they are in industry's that serve others, they are making the world a better place. It was an honor to serve them.


2023 Happenings

I had some big goals for 2023, and a lot of fun new endeavors! I jumped back into wedding photography, but decided I was only going to take weddings that very specifically aligned with me and my visions for KI. 2023 reignited a love for weddings in a way that I'm craving more and more - protectively. KI and Tuggles Gifts and Goods in Fountain Square came together to host our Mother's Day Pop-in photoshoots. We had no idea what to expect but I served 29 different sessions, and the Tuggle's saw sales that matched their record busiest days. We had a blast, and it was SUCH a cool way to meet so many new people from the Indianapolis community.


Mommy & Me Pop-in Sessions 2023 at Tuggle's Gifts & Goods


Mommy & Me Pop-in Sessions 2023 at Tuggle's Gifts & Goods


Mommy & Me Pop-in Sessions 2023 at Tuggle's Gifts & Goods


Mommy & Me Pop-in Sessions 2023 at Tuggle's Gifts & Goods


Mommy & Me Pop-in Sessions 2023 at Tuggle's Gifts & Goods


Then there were the unexpected happenings too, the last four months of 2023 have held me a little closer to home and more removed from things like blogging - that's life y'all! Towards the end of summer I experienced the loss of our third baby when I miscarried. As it was happening we were traveling to the U.P. in secret for my husband's interview with his new employer. I dealt with side effects from the miscarriage for six weeks, which is the exact amount of time it took us to go from that interview to being fully moved back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I hadn't had much time to rest or really allow myself to emotionally process our loss, until our final days before moving. Then the grief hit me, I felt less like a failure and more devastated for letting everyone down who would've loved our child. I hadn't really encountered grief like that before, it was close to home and I couldn't escape it, but I also had to keep going given the season we were in. All of this projected onto myself by me.


Johnston Wedding, Oshkosh, WI - When I sat down with Sophie and Samuel to discuss their hopes for their wedding day - they said they wanted photos that felt like "art." I was tickled and so inspired from the start, I had no idea how that would present itself on their wedding day, however, I took it as an invitation to be inspired by my surroundings - and I was.


So then we moved 600+ miles north, with no place to call our own and into the basement of my in-laws (where we're still living). We offered on a house towards the end of October, and just closed on it December 11th - it's our fixer upper home. Truly, this home is a God ordained gift. 2023 rocked our world as a family... I started the year in a bad place with postpartum depression, then we hit some more road bumps that crept up again and again, my autoimmune disease came out of remission, then our miscarriage. I've wept in prayer more than ever before, I experienced anger at God for the first time since being saved and yet he ministered to my heart this year about gentleness and about feeling barren. God taught me more than I ever could've dreamt, and he ever so carefully touched all my wounds with a burning passion to know him and to know his word. He gave us visions and revelations that have catapulted our future with eyes fixed towards eternity. The verse I've prayed over our family this year has been a source of strength. It is Matthew 7:25 and Jesus says, "The rain fell, the flood rose and the winds came and beat upon that house; but it fell NOT for it had been founded upon THE ROCK."


The coolest thing about the house we purchased is that the entire house is built upon this beautiful rock that pops out of the lawn in the back of our house. We didn't realize this connection until weeks and weeks after our accepted offer on the house, but it was a HUGE confirmation from the lord that he is with us and that he has really called us to where we are now. It's been a really hard year, one of the hardest I've had, and yet it's been the most promising and joy-filled seasons at the same time - all because of the HOPE that my Savior Jesus has brought into my life. What a friend we have in Jesus. This year ate us (me) alive it felt like at times. Many days I had nothing left and I just pleaded the name of Jesus - the bible says, "call upon the name of the lord and he will rescue you." He rescued me, again and again and the "Joy of the Lord" was our only strength at times.


I'm so thankful I did not have to shoulder the weight of 2023, and that Jesus carried my burdens and weary soul every step of the way. This is good news, friends, he didn't do this because I'm exceptional or more righteous than the guy next to me, he did these things for me because I'm exceptional to him - because he loves me. HE LOVES YOU TOO, you are EXCEPTIONAL in his eyes. He WILL do the same for you, just call upon the name of the lord - Jesus.


2023 Summary

This year was one of immense growth, like I said, both for KI and for myself. It was a year full of challenges - foreseen and unseen. It was a year that changed everything, for the better, and through the growing pains I know good things are to come. I rejoice over another New Year, its a day many people are intentional about reflecting on what they've walked this last year. My prayer for you, this New Year day, is that your pause, your reflection, will also be one of praise and worship.


God is good my friends, if you yourself haven't experienced this - I promise you your life will be so much better with him welcomed into your court. I refused God for a long time as I identified as an atheist, but that only brought me through a life that felt empty and sick, dark and pointless. With God, life isn't just worth living, it's enjoyable, it's full and it's filled with so much light. If you've never accepted Jesus into your heart (as we say in christian-ese), 2024 can be your year. This just means that you say something like, "hey Jesus, I know I've made some mistakes, like xyz, and I'm so sorry. God come into my life, be my Lord, save me, make me brand new." It doesn't have to be perfect, or spoken to anyone but God, this is just for you. All you have to do is mean it, welcome God into who you are and into your story.


I promise this will be the greatest decision you could ever make in your life. If you choose to make Jesus your Savior - I'd encourage you to take some steps to push yourself, even if it's just one step. Find a church, buy a bible, reach out to a local pastor, pray - do something that creates an opportunity for you to grow. The thing is, following Jesus isn't really about religion, not if you really study what following Jesus means in the bible. No, following Jesus is all about building a relationship with him, getting to know him and surrendering your heart and mind to him in prayer, even if it's one piece at a time. I've been a follower for seven years now, and this is the first year I've ever had a desire to read my bible. As soon as I started reading it and asking questions about what things meant - I began to learn more about God, and just how kind and loving he is. I began seeing big, positive changes in my life. The same can be true for you.


If you ever want to talk more about Jesus or about having him in your life, or you just have questions - I am always more than happy to chat!


Happy New Year Friends, stay safe!

Rylie

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