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  • Writer's pictureJustin Key

The Year of...Progress?

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

Another year is coming to a close and that means everyone is reminiscing on the year that was. You likely threw your resolution out the window before April showers gave way to May flowers if the frigid February temperatures didn't squash your workout routine first. A new year is approaching and you are undoubtedly hopeful for another chance to improve. This is the year you start craving salads and you forget what the "F" in f-bomb stands for. This is the year the better you survives the first two weeks of January. I'm hoping this is the year I get my f-in stuff together too.

The year-end me is disappointed with my 2017 performance. I don't remember exactly where I wanted to be at this point a year ago but I know I left a lot on the table over the last 12 months. Each year, rather than follow the tradition of selecting a bad habit to break I set my sails in a general direction and hope I don't stray too far off course by December. I went back into my archive to see what my 2017 plan was and if I held true to that reborn dreamer's master plan.

My 2017 write up was titled "The 2017 World Tour" and mostly mentioned a variety of trips that I was hoping to take. I held true to that goal of traveling my butt off this year. January sent me to Florida where Sarah and I spent two days in Disney, February dropped us off in the desert of southern California in Death Valley. Then we went to Savannah, then Hawaii, and wrapped up in October with a trip to Aruba for our first wedding anniversary. Sprinkled in were Colorado trips to Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, Redstone, and Great Sand Dunes National Park. We also spent some vacation time to travel back to Wisconsin a handful of times.

The other goals for 2017 were to add a new batch of pictures to the website, check, and start getting my name out around town more. This is where I believe I fell short. While I did have my work displayed in two galleries during Denver's Month of Photography, once the event concluded I did little to pursue additional shows. I had a few sales which helped suppress the never-ending parade of doubts but I am far from being a household name.

That's it. That's all I wanted to do this year.

You might be thinking this is going to be a short post. He wanted to travel and he did. He wanted to add a few pictures to the website and he did. Then he dipped his toe in the art world and now he's writing this. Bing. Bang. Boom.

Well if it makes you feel any better I'm just as disappointed as you are. I did not set high goals for myself this year and that is why I am watching the 2017 flame burn out feeling underwhelmed.

I called 2016 the year of establishment. That was the year I set myself up with a website, I started to focus on landscape photography, I printed business cards, figured out how I wanted to display my work and what to charge for it. I laid the foundation for Justin Key Photography in 2016. This should have been a year of putting meat on the bones, getting the ball rolling, instead, I have labeled 2017 the year of progress? because those bones are still pretty bare.

Did I make some moves in the right direction? Possibly but I feel like I was mostly treading water. Did I find some avenues to start funding this dream full time? Yes but the bank account hasn't grown. Did I climb out of this editing hole? Definitely not. I didn't launch the Long Shutter Project, I have another backlog of pictures to add to the website, I wasn't consistent on social media, I didn't write as much as I wanted, I couldn't keep distractions out of the office, I found reasons not to work, I couldn't focus, and thus didn't put my all into this dream this year.

There is a lot to be upset about this year. But this is the time to be positive, open your eyes to the clean slate before you. It's time to forget your mistakes and learn from them. Rather than focus on the bad, it's time to remember all of the things that made 2017 great and run into a new year with a happy heart.

Sarah and I bought a house (looks like we're staying in Colorado for a while). We traveled a lot and had some incredible experiences along the way. I made a few sales. I was accepted in three of the four shows I submitted to for Month of Photography. I now have an actual office to work out of. I learned about monitor calibration and exporting images for optimized viewing online. I've seen an improvement in my photography. I will be going full format finally. We made it through the year healthy.

The biggest thing I can look back at 2017 and smile about is that I am still going. Nothing about this journey has been easy. This wasn't the year I got down to business but I also didn't quit. As I dwell on the year that was, I've gotten over my disappointment, and I've been able to pinpoint my shortcomings. While 2017 was not the best, I have grown tremendously and have a vision for the new year ahead. It's time to work, it's time to focus, it's time to be better.

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