I hope 2014 was a good year for you. Mine was filled with many amazing experiences, as well as some difficult ones, but overall, it was a good year for me. Some of the highlights include:
1. Becoming a wedding photographer. I fell in love with the art of wedding photography several years ago and dreamt about doing it myself. In 2014, I focused on making this dream a reality. I bought some professional camera equipment, took a lot of pictures, made this website that you see now, and marketed myself as a wedding photographer. I networked a lot, my photos started getting noticed, and I met many engaged couples who hired me to capture their special day. I photographed 11 weddings in 2014. Some of the pictures are published in the "weddings & engagements" and the "blog" sections of this website. I also got hired by many individuals to record their family events such as the first birthday of a child. Earlier in 2014, I did design work and photography for surefield.com, a new real estate website that was started by the founder of Redfin. I also photographed events for the Seattle Art Museum and the Pilchuck Glass School, which was founded by the famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. In all, it has been an amazing experience to work as a professional photographer.
2. Maintaining a good friendship with Florian. We've continued to see each other for occasional meals. Our conversations usually revolve around our work, goals, and how to be better people. We still care for each other deeply. He still makes me laugh. But as the year ended, we decided that we should formalize our split. We have turned this decision in our minds over and over again for the past two and half years since we separated, but ultimately, we came to the conclusion that we like the idea of being married to each other, but not necessarily the reality. I know some of you have really enjoyed his company and I'm sorry that he will no longer be present in any family gatherings. He's still a part of my life though, and I see him or communicate with him at least once a week. Below is a picture of us from when we were a couple. We still look this young. Not.
3. I got into Bikram yoga. This form of yoga is practiced for 90 minutes in a heated 105-degree room. It was developed by an Indian yogi living in California named Bikram Choudhury. He's a controversial figure, and the aura surrounding him is a bit cultish, but I love the yoga itself and it's made my body stronger and my mind calmer. I am thinking of going through an instructor's training and getting a license to teach yoga. But this is something that I will pursue later when I'm older, perhaps in my fifties or even in my sixties after I retire from normal work.
4. I changed my name legally. I stopped using Sylvia more than 20 years ago, and it was time to drop it from my official documents. At the same time, I noticed that it was advantageous to have a Western name for my work as a photographer. Too many times, I've heard Soyon pronounced wrong. Sometimes, when people have not met me in person, they mistook me for a man. I also noticed that when I solicited potential clients with a Western name, I got more of a positive response. After thinking about various names, I chose Sasha as my new name. I like the European sound of it. Little did I know that it is a common male name in Germany and Russia, often short for Alexander. Oh well. At least people are not mispronouncing it.
5. As much as I love being a photographer, I have realized that I do not enjoy running my own business. There's a lot to do. Not only am I the photographer, but I'm also the salesperson, the webmaster, the social media manager, the accountant. There's so much time spent acquiring the customers and finessing the relationships before they say yes to the work. It's a bit exhausting, so I am going to re-enter the job market in 2015 as a web producer. I was a web producer for more than a decade before being a photographer and I still enjoy making websites and keeping up with the latest in technology. Hopefully, I'll find something good and the next time you'll hear from me, I'll have a new job. I have 6 weddings booked in 2015 and I'll be photographing those events, but most likely, I'll be doing photography on the side and not as full-time work.
6. Finally, you're probably wondering if I've been dating anyone. In 2014, I met a guy who captivated me with his smile and sincerity. His name is Kevin and he has a Ph.D. in marine biology. He is an outdoorsman, and enjoys hiking, skiing and surfing. He taught me how to surf last summer. His family is nearby - he has two younger brothers - and we've gotten together many times for dinners and special events, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do not know if Kevin and I will be together for a long time -- at this point in my life, I am not in a rush to get into another marriage -- but 2014 was a good year for me largely because of the many good moments I had with him. The first picture below was taken near his condo in downtown Seattle, where we regularly have coffee. The last picture was taken on San Juan Island, where we often go for long weekends.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year!