I debated whether or not I would do the annual behind the scenes blog post this year, because to say that 2020 has been a whirlwind would be more than an understatement. And, I knew that most of the BTS photos from the year would include little to no makeup!
However, when I think about the last year, I can honestly say that 2020 brought a lot of blessings. And, because focusing more on the positives than the negatives is never a bad idea, I’m excited to share some highlights and what things looked like behind the scenes in 2020 for Victoria Rayburn Photography!
Like most people, I was excited for the new decade and was determined to make 2020 my year. After all, I had a lot to look forward to. My friend Jasmine and I were hosting the second annual In Focus Marketing Summit (a marketing workshop for photographers); I adored all of my 2020 VRP brides and grooms, my wedding schedule was perfectly spaced out; numbers were being met; and Zach and I had booked a trip to Europe (Dublin, Paris, and England) to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary.
How could 2020 not be the best year ever?!
Thankfully, we were able to enjoy the Summit safely in February. (You can see a recap of this workshop here!) But, by the end of the month, information about COVID was circulating. And, just a couple weeks later, Indiana shut down, our trip to Europe was cancelled, and I was working around the clock to reschedule weddings, give couples the information they needed, offer brides comfort, and keep up with frequently changing coronavirus restrictions all while be terrified for my loved ones’ health and for my business and livelihood.
But, despite my fears and doubts, God provided in big, unexpected ways, and there are actually quite a few highlights from the year!
These ladies both reached out to me in the winter of 2019 about potentially interning for me in the summer, and while I didn’t have an intern program at the time, their drive inspired me to bring them on and figure something out.
These girls spent 10 weeks shadowing and assisting during weddings and sessions; helping with all the things that happen behind the scenes; learning my shooting system; and going over branding, social media, websites, and everything that goes into running a photography business.
Now, they’re both taking their own weddings and sessions, upgrading their gear, and doing big things. And, Olivia is even second shooting for me!
If you’re interested in internship opportunities, please send your resume, at least two references, and a statement explaining why you’d like to intern with Victoria Rayburn Photography to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With so many weddings and sessions being moved from the spring to the fall—which is already a very busy season for photographers—thanks to COVID, I knew I was going to need some help if I didn’t want customer service to suffer.
So, I started advertising on social media to find an assistant, and thankfully, I found TWO perfect women for this role: Emma and Mariah.
Having just finished school and still job searching, Mariah Kerber was looking for a temporary position until she found something full time. Mariah and I have known one another for a while through City of God Church, and I knew she was a hard worker.
So, for a few months, Mariah came into the office (my house) on Mondays to run errands, schedule blog posts, and do whatever was needed. Most notably though, Mariah finished a project for me that I’d been hoping to complete for a while—welcome boxes for brides and grooms.
Mariah, I can’t thank you enough for your time. I’m glad you’re killing it at Wright Flower Shop now, but I miss you!
Now, when I shared that I was looking for an assistant, I was nervous. I thought, “There’s no way I’m going to find someone who can do all the things I need them to do.”
However, when Emma reached out, I discovered that I was wrong!
Emma Skees is a photo editor and virtual assistant specifically for photographers and happens to be based in Lafayette, Indiana.
Emma joined the VRP team in August and hit the ground running designing albums, submitting weddings for publication, creating reveal slideshows, scheduling blog posts, and all around making my life easier and the VRP experience better.
While Mariah’s position was just temporary, I’m hoping Emma will stay with me for the long haul! Emma, thank you for all you do!
Like I said, in March, I was terrified for Victoria Rayburn Photography. But, because VRP brides and grooms handled this year with so much grace, 2020 somehow ended up being the best year of business I’ve had yet!
I mean, all VRP brides and grooms graciously rescheduled their celebrations around my availability. I didn’t lose a single wedding! And, lost and delayed income was more than made up for through print and album sales.
By God’s grace, this scary year ended up being the most profitable year I’ve had yet—even with bringing on staff. For that, I can’t begin to explain how thankful I am.
With all of these blessings in mind, I have countless people to thank.
First of all, 2020 VRP brides and grooms, thank you for being gracious, flexible, understanding, and thoughtful toward me, your other vendors, and your loved ones when we all know that this year was incredibly stressful for you too. Because of you, I can continue to do what I love, and I’m forever grateful.VRP clients (current and past brides, grooms, families, etc.), thank you for trusting me to be your photographer. Thank you for your continued business, support, and referrals.
Emma and Mariah, thank you for joining the team this year and going above and beyond in every task.
Megan and Olivia (my primary second shooters) and Heather and Cat (talented photographers who second shot for me when Megan and Olivia weren’t available), thank you so much for your assistance on wedding days this year. Thank you for sharing your talent with my couples and for doing whatever crazy thing I requested of you (toss veils, hold umbrellas, etc.).
Jen, my graphic designer, thank you for all of the beautiful things you created this year. From downloads and website updates to a beautiful bridal guide, you did a TON of work. Thank you for taking on my projects and always exceeding my expectations. You’re a gem!
Andrea, my accountant, thank you for protecting me from the IRS, making sure my taxes are in order, and explaining things when my math-challenged brain doesn’t understand. So grateful for you, friend!
Jessie of Roseberry and Co., thank you for agreeing to work with me and for creating such beautiful pieces of art for my couples this year.
Wedding vendor friends, it’s been a crazy year for all of us. Thank you for being a sounding board and for sending clients my way. I hope you feel half as blessed by me as I do by you. You can see VRP recommended wedding vendors here!
Family and friends, thank you for being understanding and supportive during this crazy year.
Zach, my husband, my biggest thank you goes to you. Thank you for your support this year. Having so many weddings crammed into a short amount of time made my work schedule hectic. Thank you for going with the flow, cooking dinner, not complaining when I stayed up late to work, the extra hugs you gave when I was so scared in March, and letting me pursue my dream.
Well, this blog post ended up being way longer than I thought it would be. I just have a lot to be thankful for after this crazy year!
But, without further ado, here’s a look at what things looked like behind the scenes in 2020 for the Victoria Rayburn Photography team! (Oh, a lot of these are cell phone photos, and it’s time for me to upgrade my iPhone 7. 😬 Don’t judge photo quality on some of these too harshly!)
We spent months preparing (Hattie helped). Then, we got to spend 2.5 days with other photographers talking all things marketing.
Then, the world shut down. The germaphobe in me was terrified for my loved ones’ health. Then, when stay-at-home orders went into place, I was scared for my business. But, God provides, and we had a great year! During this season, we took Hattie on very long walks, I rarely wore makeup, and I started working on our front porch as much as possible to enjoy the fresh air.
Friends and family kept asking me, “What are you working on if you can’t shoot?” To be honest, things never really slowed down. Between communicating with couples about their reschedule options, redoing timelines, keeping up with changing COVID restrictions, researching government assistance options for businesses (which we decided not to use), and meeting with 2021 couples online, there was certainly work to be done.
So, although I couldn’t shoot, I was still very busy!
Every morning, Hattie and I start the day by reading two Bible chapters, journaling, and praying. During quarantine, I especially needed this.
I was so thankful when outdoor work was able to resume in Indiana. This allowed us (Olivia, one of my interns, is picture on the left.) to get back to shooting family and engagement sessions, which felt amazing!
In June, the world started to open back up and weddings could resume. I can’t tell you how excited I was to pack my gear! Hattie, on the other hand, was very confused. I mean, we hadn’t been apart in months!
After being at home for months, we were able to get back to fluffing dresses and veils, pinning boutonnières, and all the things we love!
For the record, I wear shorts under my dress on wedding days. Just in case!
Zach jokes that photography is a good outlet for my perfectionist tendencies. 😂
Usually, at least once per wedding, you’ll catch me hiding in a bush to add some foreground to photos.
Once the bride tells the groom he can turn around, we stay quiet and let the couple enjoy their moment. After all, this is likely the only time they’ll be alone on their wedding day. Then, when the couple says, “Okay, we’re ready for portraits,” I start giving instruction, and we move on to couple portraits.
While I take the main angles, my second (Megan here) gets side angles to give galleries more variety and help better tell the story of a couple’s wedding day.
After the first look, it’s time for bridal party photos!
There are lots of beautiful moments on a wedding day, but the ceremony is by far the most important part. It’s a huge honor to capture a couple promise forever to one another, and I don’t take this privilege lightly. In 2020, though, this felt like even more of an honor. I never imagined we’d live in a world where it was so hard for a couple to become husband and wife surrounded by the people they love. I hope 2020 was a reminder to all couples that weddings are great, but marriage is far more beautiful.
In case you’re wondering, I always smile behind the camera. I love what I do! And, when I was a kid, to make me stop crying, my mom would get out the camera and make me say cheese. According to her, this made the tears stop. So, yeah, by the end of a wedding day, my face hurts from smiling behind the camera!
When we catch break throughout the day, I look back through the photos we’ve taken and can’t wait to share them with the couple!
I’ve had second shooters tell me that I run around way more than the average wedding photographer. I just don’t want a moment or detail to be missed for a couple! But, occasionally, we do get to sit for a minute or two.
I owe my second shooters huge thank yous for all they do, especially for the effort they put into veil shots!
They have to toss the veil and then run. Thanks, ladies!
Occasionally, we recruit a member of the bridal party to hold a reflector or give us some shade so that both I and my second shooter can shoot.
From the beginning of a wedding day to the exit at the end, I’m so thankful that I get to do what I love.
I never thought a mask would be part of my wedding uniform, but here we are! While the cloth ones are cute, I have to say that the disposable masks are much more comfortable. And, when you’re wearing a mask fo 10+ hours while running around, giving instructions, and carrying heavy gear, comfort is key!
Please know that any unmasked photos were taken before mask mandates and while the world was being encouraged not to wear masks so that masks were available for medical professionals. We’ve done our absolute best to keep our couples, their loved ones, and ourselves safe this year.
I love that so many of my couples chose to also work with videographers this year. Throughout the day, we stay in constant communication with videographers to make sure that we’re all able to get the shots we need to serve couples well.
Occasionally, I just can’t help showing a couple the back of the camera!
If you want to see Megan dance at your wedding, play “The Wobble” or anything from Grease!
I’m 5′ 1″, so the step stool comes with me to every wedding and session. But, when the step stool still doesn’t give me enough height, I recruit help from my second shooter to hang dresses!
My step stool, big earrings, and Rothy’s (the most comfortable flats and loafers that have ever existed) are required for every session and wedding!
When the step stool isn’t enough for portraits, I make Megan nervous by climbing on whatever is nearby—like golf carts and heaters. But, it’s okay. We usually have wine and a treat when we get home while photos upload. So thankful to have this sweet friend as one of my primary second shooters!
While a lot happens on wedding days, even more happens behind the scenes. I’ve been working from home for years, so this wasn’t really anything new, but this year, coffee dates moved to Google Meetings. Oh, and if I don’t have a session or meeting, there a 99% chance I don’t put makeup on that day and may or may not work in my PJs. This is one good thing to come out of 2020!
While I work, Hattie naps on the office in my couch.
But, we take a walk break almost every day.
Like I said, I was so thankful that Emma and Mariah agreed to join the team this year. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them!
This year, I had several opportunities to work with Jessie Roseberry of Roseberry and Co. This amazing watercolor artist agreed to partner with me to create custom paintings of brides’ bouquets. These were so much fun to mail out with couple’s flash drives, and I can’t recommend Jessie and her amazing work enough! With so many spring weddings and sessions getting moved back, fall was more than a little crazy. Zach hated my schedule, but he was supportive and understanding when I had to work late. In fact, I was so busy this fall that he even volunteered to come along for a shoot—which he NEVER does—so we could spend some time together.
In 2020, community was key. I’m forever thankful to my friends in the wedding industry who were up for socially distanced coffee dates, brainstorming phone calls, and being there for one another during this insane year. Sarah, Jasmine (pictured right), Felicia (pictured left), Nate, and Cat, love you all!
42% of 2019 VRP brides and grooms either had babies or announced they were expecting in 2020! I had the pleasure of having several of these growing families in front of the camera this year and even capturing Isaac and Adrienne tell their families that they’re having a baby! You can see photos from this super sweet session here!
So excited for this sweet couples and all of the other VRP brides and grooms who are adding to their families!
This year, we had 20 weddings on the calendar. Three were forced to reschedule for 2021 due to COVID, but we had the honor of capturing 17 couples get married. Again, 2020 VRP brides and grooms, thank you for being gracious, flexible, and understanding and for trusting me to be your wedding photographer!
Sarah (the lovely bridesmaid on the right) is a 2017 VRP bride! I love getting to photograph former brides as bridesmaids and when bridesmaids become VRP brides!