The 2023 Calendar & Life Updates
First, I wanted to start by saying thank you to everyone who has loyally purchased calendars from me for the last few years. Now, I won't be making them this year BUT I will be giving everyone the photos to make them themselves as a "Thank You," for years of loyalty. I recommend Shutterfly or Vista Print, both are very easy.
[January option - January 2022 cover of Our State Magazine]
Secondly, I would like to explain why I didn't make them.
Normally, I start making them in late October (this year I was in Germany, and violently ill while there to shoot a wedding) and start selling them the first week or two of November (when I was hospitalized this year and diagnosed with IIH - a buildup of spinal fluid around my brain that they think has been happening since my small stroke in February post-Covid). Turns out, most of the big scary medical things this year (like the vertigo attacks that sent me to the hospital twice and being so sick after flying to Germany with headaches and nausea, can be explained by that spinal fluid buildup. The doctor said I essentially had a concussion all year and was "walking around like a drunk person."
He asked if I had debilitating headaches, as that's normally what brings people to the ER and NOT severe vertigo attacks. I told him I have headaches all of the time, but I have twins, run a business, I'm in charge of their PTO, and I honestly just thought this is what it feels like to be in your mid-30s. Apparently, I'm lucky I didn't have a massive stroke in Germany. & I'm lucky I didn't go permanently blind from the pressure on my optic nerve (a serious complication of IIH). After almost a week in the hospital they sent me home on medicine (after the first medicine made me acidotic and started some kidney failure symptoms). It was another week or so of adjusting to the medicine, which makes me very groggy (it's getting better) and very sick feeling when I eat (also getting better). While this was all going on I obviously got a little behind on editing - because when the vertigo attacks were happening, I couldn't even open my eyes without vomiting (truly - it was so scary). Blurry vision after was a thing - and I can't edit if I can't see.
The medicine helped, but even more so when they (squeamish readers skip this next line) drained a bunch of spinal fluid doing a spinal tap and relieved a ton of pressure THAT helped tremendously. Did I shoot a wedding four days later? Yes. Did that couple and their entire family baby me? Also, yes.
I have had several anxiety attacks this fall because of late galleries - even though every single client (every, single, one) has assured me they understand, and they are not even a little worried. Recently I was talking to my therapist about this (because after the first vertigo attack, I started seeing one just in case it was stress related and haven't stopped) and I remembered why I have such a fear of disappointing clients even with a medical emergency and why I don't expect anyone to understand.
The day after Christmas exactly 9 years ago today I was riding alone in an ambulance hoping the three of us didn’t die, the night before the ultrasound showed nothing good. For them, for me.
I emailed an early January bride to let her know I was most likely being sent to Cincinnati after being transferred to Tennessee from North Carolina (the ride I was on) BUT had already made arrangements for a back up photographer. That the twins were dying. I was in bad shape as well.
She told me it was unacceptable to miss her wedding, because she’d only have one. & I needed to ask to leave the hospital for her wedding.
That same day another mother emailed me that a Shutterfly coupon was expiring & even though her daughter’s wedding was only two weeks earlier she needed those pictures in the next two days. I explained I didn’t have my laptop at the new hospital yet & that I was waiting to find out about surgery to save the twins. They weren’t sympathetic. & threatened a bad review, over a coupon I had nothing to do with.
I spent most of that day alone in silence and shock.
& Ever since then I've truly felt like if my babies dying wasn't a good enough reason to not give 100% to my business, even if it killed me (which my pregnancy was doing) than nothing else would ever be a good enough reason. It turns out, though, there are people in my world and who are part of my clientele now who do truly understand that while I am a business owner, I am not a business; I am a person. A person who had several very serious medical emergencies as a direct result of COVID early this year (that I got while shooting a wedding and had bad enough to have a small stroke after).
& I'm just so thankful. Because I promise - even when I'm being transported to a hospital to try to save babies in my womb I am thinking about my clients and making plans for their weddings I know I'll miss before I call and worry them. Even when I was being loaded onto the stretcher last month and couldn't speak without puking and was trying not to pass out from the drugs, they gave me to stabilize me I was trying to instruct Nick on which clients to message that day to reschedule. The next day I was editing from a weird position after the lumbar puncture in the hospital bed because I wasn't allowed to sit up. I promise, even when I shouldn't, I am thinking about my clients and trying to get things done.
Because this job saved me from a horrible marriage and let us safely start over as a family of three. It helped me afford an attorney that kept the girls safe from their abuser and with me. It has taken them to Hawaii and to Disney World. It lets me take the rest of this week off, because Brooklynn has a serious surgery Wednesday and will need her mom home afterward. This job, and my clients, have kept our rent paid during debilitating pregnancies and NICU stays, a global pandemic, RSV that almost killed Brooklynn, family emergencies, medical emergencies, and regular Thursdays, too. It has paid for Mexican food so much that Nick probably hates me a tiny bit on the inside (because turns out, he doesn't love Mexican food as much as I do weird). I appreciate it, and you, more than I could ever explain. Because a 9-5 job wouldn't let me be here for my kids the way they need me. It wouldn't have let me do four therapies a week at one point when they were younger.
So, to thank you, for all you do and have done for over a decade to keep this business moving forward even when my world feels like it's crumbling - please download 12 of your favorite images from the following gallery and print them from whatever company you'd like to make your 2023 calendar from. Normally I sell them for $35-45 dollars depending on the size, but I just don't have the time this year to make them and keep up with shipping/selling them between my stuff, editing for patient clients, and Brooklynn's surgery that's happening days before their birthday.
Keep in mind, my 2024 calendar might have some of these in them next year (ha).
If you would like to (and you don't have to) you're welcome to leave a tip for the photos on venmo at @victoriagracephotographyNC or to PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also always appreciate a review on Google, The Knot, Wedding Wire, or Facebook <3
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season and while I might be absent from social media for the rest of 2022 while Brooklyn recovers from surgery (it happens the 28th) just know I'm editing when I can (and truly, even when technically I can't - for instance my laptop will be with me as a distraction while she's in surgery for a couple of hours Wednesday and every time she's asleep after).
You can find the gallery here - 2023 Calendar - and I would love if you shared this blog post with your friends so they could make one, too. Plus, they might realize they need a wedding photographer or family photographer while they are visiting this page. One who is way less likely to pass out in 2023 than she was in 2022 now that doctors figured out what was wrong (ha).
This is mostly for B & K, PS - who buy them every year and send me photos every month when they change them. <3