Best of 2016 / Year in Review / by Jordan Hefler

Okay 2016 was a really terrible year for most of the world.

There's no denying that. Before I get all sappy and excited and selfish about all of the great things that happened to me this year, I didn't want to act like I "forgot" about how crazy 2016 has been for most people. "Year in Review" posts like this are basically humble-brags about all the cool things that happened throughout the year, which can be awkward for me to write, but unfortunately Jordan Hefler Photography as a business is basically just Jordan Hefler (me) as myself. While I'm very proud of myself and what I've accomplished both personally and in my business, I don't want to start this without acknowledging that 2016 was filled with pure evil.

A lot of horrible things happened (shootings on shootings on shootings on campuses, in night clubs, shootings by cops, shootings by students, shootings in cities I love, crazy people doing crazy things everywhere, assassinations and bombings in the world, trucks being driven into crowds of people, protests in Baton Rouge, half of Louisiana having detrimental flooding, a presidential election that was completely ridiculous, my arm having nerve damage for half of the year... the list could go on and on.)

Downtown Baton Rouge this morning #AltonSterling

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There's just been too much to feel sad about lately. #AltonSterling

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BUT- this blog post is not going to talk about all of that.

We are going to talk about the positives that have happened in both my life and my business! Because if you focus on the POSITIVE, it will help you not be a sad emo boy/girl and will hopefully be a small vacation of the mind from all the craziness that is in our world today.

2015 was a great year personally for me. In fact, I figured it would be hard to top. I had a year in review post about it last year, which is why I wanted to do it again this year. I think blogs and social media and the internet in general can be a fantastic way to journal milestones in your life, and track goals that you did and didn't make. I'm a very public person that puts a lot out there, and I pride myself on being pretty transparent with the people who follow me and support my business. For that reason, I have been able to keep most people updated on the personal and business happenings in my life. It's really cool to be able to go back each year and be like WOW look how much I've grown or WOW look what I said I wanted to do and then actually did!

This year I am going to talk a little bit more instead of just showing my favorite photos, and also show the images via social media posts. My business has grown to be more than just photography, and social media is a big component of my business. I figured this post would be more of a roundup of important social media posts throughout the year. Also, I'm currently writing this in Phoenix, Arizona so I don't have all of my hard drives/photos with me anyways. But greetings from sunny AZ, everyone!

Spending Christmas at my Granny's and missing Arizona more and more everywhere I look ๐ŸŒต

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Here are some milestones of 2016:

I became a recognized business under the state of Louisiana!

I guess this is something I probably should have done like years and years ago when I really started my business, but I wasn't officially official until the beginning of this year! The moment I took the plunge and became an LLC, I instantly felt more legit. It wasn't that big of a deal to do, so I encourage anybody else who might be in the same boat to go ahead and just file with the state!

I photographed my first (official) arena shows!

I was finally able to properly get credentials to photograph my first arena show for Lil Wayne and Rae Sremmurd in the Cajundome in Lafayette. I quickly learned that a 50mm lens would NOT cut it for an arena show when you potentially have to shoot from the soundboard. After that, I came prepared with equipment to shoot at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans for none other than PVRIS, AWOLNATION, and Fall Out Boy! Some of my favorite photos ever came from this show. I went on to shoot a few more arena shows including G-Eazy, 5 Seconds of Summer, and also Lil Wayne (again) but at Champions Square in New Orleans with 2 Chainz, Migos, and Yo Gotti.

Pete Wentz feat. fake snow @falloutboy photographed for @stitchedsound tonight! #JordanHeflerPhotography #FallOutBoy #wintouriscoming

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G-EAZY / Baton Rouge, LA Shot last night for @tune_fix #JordanHeflerPhotography

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Lil Wayne / Lafayette, LA Iconic white cup in hand Full gallery going up on @stitchedsound soon #JordanHeflerPhotography #LilWayne

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I got re-posted by Instagram's official @Music page!

I feel like I talk about this a lot, but it was really cool to come out of mass on Easter Sunday and see that I gained like 100 new followers in an hour because of one post. I am a social media nerd and being featured like this was such a cool thing for me to monitor via my analytics.

I started contributing freelance photography to 225 Magazine!

I don't think I ever officially blogged about this, but I began to contribute freelance content to Baton Rouge's premier print publication, 225 Magazine, in May of this year. I've been doing concert photos, street style, and some event photography for them here and there throughout the year. It's been really cool to see my stuff in print and have it circulating everywhere in town!

I started investing more into my equipment and bought more lenses + a new backup camera!

On Black Friday of 2015, I bit the bullet and upgraded in a full frame sensor camera (my current Nikon D750 that I use for my main body) and never looked back. New camera who dis? After that I got kind of addicted to playing with and purchasing new lenses. I'm still not satisfied with my current collection, but in 2016 I did purchase a new Sigma 24mm 1.4 prime, a Sigma 24mm-70mm 2.8 zoom lens, an additional 50mm 1.4 lens, and a backup full frame Nikon D700 backup body. Which brings me to my next fun thing that happened in early 2016 below...

Yo yo yo we talkin bout my new lens #ontheblog ๐Ÿ’ƒ Link in bio.

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I did a commercial shoot and had my camera run over by a truck!

This was really dramatic at the time but now I kind of look back at it now and consider it sort of laughable. I was doing a commercial shoot for a company and while photographing the company truck in the middle of nowhere, somehow it ended up running over my camera bag. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, so I still have no idea how it even happened. I was so sick to my stomach at the time because my backup camera body at the time along with some other lenses and things in my bag were completely destroyed. It was a terrible experience but the company graciously replaced my equipment and it was all just a huge accident on their part. They ended up being pleased with the photos afterwards, so it all ended up working out. It still haunts me to this day how it even happened. But with owning your own business and working for yourself comes tough conversations and tough situations. I've learned a lot this year, and having to have that awkward conversation of "hey, you need to replace my camera" was something that taught me a lot. What's even more ironic was that either the day of the shoot or the day before the shoot I posted this blog post about what gear I used (most of what was in this blog post was destroyed shortly after.) ISN'T LIFE SO IRONIC?

I photographed my first BUKU Fest, Vans Warped Tour, VOODOO Fest, Jazzfest, and 2nd Baton Rouge Blues Festival!

I got to shoot a lot of cool festivals this year! I got to shoot BUKU in New Orleans, Baton Rouge Blues Fest (again) in Baton Rouge, 1 day of Jazzfest in New Orleans, Vans Warped Tour in New Orleans, and most recently (blog post coming soon) Voodoo Fest in New Orleans. It was super fun but also super painful considering these are really long days carrying a lot of equipment while I had a slipped disc in my neck most of the year. I wouldn't trade it for the world though. I got some of my favorite images at all of these festivals.

Cornbread and collard greens @bigfreediaqueendiva

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when u photograph stuff alone u have 2 get strangers 2 photograph u

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outchea feelin swampy #BRbluesfest #JordanHeflerPhotography

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Day 2 of #BRbluesfest = trying to even out yesterday's tube sock tan lines ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ“ธ

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G Eazy's Halloween participation is ๐Ÿ’ฏ Photographed just now at #VoodooFest for @tunecollective #JordanHeflerPhotography

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I had 2 covers for the digital issues of Stitched Sound Magazine!

I've been shooting for Stitched Sound for over a year now and I recently accepted a co-photo editor role with the site/magazine! We work really hard and have some really amazing content on our site and in our digital issues, so it was an honor to work with both Cane Hill and Bad Seed Rising for covers of 2 issues. I also got to interview one of my FAVORITE artists, Nick of The Spill Canvas! I photographed the show and wrote the interview up into an article in our most recent issue here.

I left my full time job to pursue my own business full time!

I graduated from LSU in Photography in 2014. I had contemplated working for myself before, but never thought I would have consistent enough work to be able to survive (or that I'd have to stoop to doing work I didn't want to do *cough cough* weddings)

As much as I LOVED working full time doing graphic design at Manship Theatre, I simply met a point in my life where I was able to leave and work for myself full time. I took the plunge and told my boss in August. The next day Baton Rouge had detrimental flooding. I also lost my really great healthcare with them and ended up needing surgery at the end of the year. It was probably the worst timing, but I was able to start working for myself on September 1st, my 24th birthday was September 2nd, and I've been rockin and rollin ever since! I do still go to Manship Theatre 1 day a week to help do some graphic design stuff (I loved them so much, I couldn't leave them 100% just yet!)

Retro themed Christmas cards I designed for @manshiptheatre โœจโค๏ธ๐ŸŽ„

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Working from New Orleans today โšœ

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I started doing Instagram posts daily for 225 magazine and InRegister Magazine!

Around the same time that I decided to leave my full time job, I was approached by 225 Magazine and inRegister Magazine in Baton Rouge about doing some social media work for them remotely. Since September, I have been doing 1 Instagram post a day on both of their accounts (almost) every day. Unfortunately that gig is about to wrap up with the end of this year, but it has opened up some more doors about doing the same for other businesses (if you are interested, drop me a line!) Creating content and facilitating posts for them every day has challenged me to look at Baton Rouge with a different set of eyes and has groomed me into being more strict with my time management and brand consistency (for both them and myself!) Hopefully we will be able to work together some more in the future!

Behind the scenes on our cover shoot with @kayleehartung and @jfrphotography! ๐Ÿˆ

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100% of the proceeds from @raisingcanes goes to Louisiana Flood Relief today!

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Fresh foods and finds ๐Ÿ#shoplocal

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I photographed my first LSU Football game!

It has been on my bucket list FOREVER to photograph an LSU football game! Thanks to my gig doing social media for 225 Magazine, I was able to get credentials to shoot the first game of this season! I talk a little bit more about it in this blog post linked here.

I started a new side-project blog, Groove Slang!

In the midst of me starting to work full time for myself, I naively thought I would have more time to do stuff that I wanted to do. Although that is somewhat true, I have not had THAT much time to really put the effort into Groove Slang that I would have liked to. That's a goal of mine for 2017. But the fact that it's up and it's out there and that there's somewhat of a following, I am content just getting some creative inspiration out of my system with it as an outlet.

A travel diary post from my recent visit to Austin, TX is #ontheblog! Link in bio. ๐Ÿ’˜

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I started doing freelance graphic design for Vans Warped Tour!

I can't say a whole lot about this gig yet, but you can see my status below to get an idea. I'm pumped. They reached out to me the day after I told my boss I wanted to quit. Talk about manifesting what you want in life.

I ATTENDED 2 creative conferences: CROP.LA for graphic design and Venture Pop for creative entrepreneurs!

I was a social butterfly and Student Council nerd in high school, and super involved in my sorority in college. Needless to say, I LOVE me some networking! Conferences and motivational speakers and ice breakers and all that jazz IS MY FAVE. I attended 2 creative conferences this year (CROP in the spring, and Venture Pop in the fall) and am so grateful of all the people and opportunities I've gained since. I have a big trip to one planned for 2017, but more details on that later ;)

Living that creative conference lyfe #VenturePop2016

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I photographed over 70 commissioned sessions, including portraits, engagements, commercial gigs, events, and even a guinea pig (I know, right?)

My hard drives are all crazy right now because I'm in the process of re-organizing them. I'm also writing this blog post from a Starbucks in Phoenix, AZ so I don't have all my files readily with me to count. BUT from what I do have archived, I can tell you I photographed over 70 commissioned sessions and EASILY at least 50 bands. I am so grateful for everyone who spent their hard earned money on my work and trusted me to give them something creative and memorable.

I just had a portrait session with a Guinea pig. Idk what else to even say about this ๐Ÿ“ท: @jennockenphoto

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ELTON JOHN ๐ŸŠ Photographed just now for @225batonrouge #JordanHeflerPhotography

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CAGE THE ELEPHANT Photographed at #VoodooFest for @tunecollective #JordanHeflerPhotography

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PIERCE THE VEIL Live review & gallery coverage is up on @stitchedsound! #JordanHeflerPhotography

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Meghan, Summa '16 ๐ŸŒธ #JordanHeflerPhotography

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Lil Wayne, just now at LilWeezyAna Fest in his home town of New Orleans Photographed for @stitchedsound #HYFR #JordanHeflerPhotography

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Well this has probably been the most photogenic event of all time #JordanHeflerPhotography #CBLDG

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am I cool enough for this hat LMK ๐Ÿ“ธ: @geauxgarcia

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You've got a friend in me ๐ŸŽถ #RandyNewman #StrangeFaceShadows #ManshipGala2016

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It's been a big year. I'm very #blesst (and this is prob why my neck got a slipped disc thanks to my camera for always being around my neck.) Which brings me to my next point....

I had herniated disc replacement surgery!

For those of you who don't know, I have a really screwed up back. I'm basically a little old lady. I used to be a cheerleader and play tennis and run track and be in marching band and dance and all of that fun stuff when I was younger, but somehow one day later in high school I needed to start visiting the chiropractor. I gained a lot of weight in college then lost a little bit after graduation and just have always had severe back pain. I went to the doctor 2 years ago and they informed me I had an extra lumbar vertebrae and essentially no core muscle strength. WOO! I went to physical therapy a bit 2 years ago and then just started getting really into yoga. Flash forward to about a year ago when I stopped going to yoga as much and started becoming a workaholic at a desk job with a side-hustle that required me to carry a heavy camera around my neck in all of my free time. Enter arm numbness and no feeling in my right hand for the past 6 months. A couple MRI's later and they found a herniated disc in my neck that was pushing on my spinal cord, causing some nerve damage. We went through all the necessary remedies and after failure after failure finally ended up with the last resort of surgery. That was a really long summary, but basically we don't know how it got slipped or why. Every doctor has been shocked at how young I am, but ya know my life wouldn't be interesting if I didn't have some crazy stuff like this going on at all times. Anyways I had surgery about a month ago and I am recovering VERY fast and VERY well!

when you drink beer during yoga you don't even feel your herniated disc YOGA & BEER 5EVER ๐Ÿป

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jacked up on meds and popsicles and everything went well holla peace n luv goin night night bye

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I started dipping my toes into the custom graphic design services world!

I did work in graphic design full time for a year, but that's not really my specialty as far as what I want to do with my own creative business.

I go back and forth all of the time about how I want to integrate that into what I do. That's still something I'm working on. But for the meantime, you can order a custom pet portrait haha!

Custom Colorful Pet Portrait Design
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I started a mailing list!

I had been wanting to start a mailing list for like, 5ever. I made a Mailchimp account a few years ago and never followed through with it, because legally when people subscribe you have to publicly list a mailing address. I was always like heck no I'm not putting where I live out there, because that's creepy (kidnappers, duh.) It's flattering when those of you ask me about my "studio" but PLOT TWIST I'm working out of my bedroom bra-less in sweatpants and zit cream half of the time. I had also been wanting a P.O. Box forever because I have had issues with receiving my mail at every apartment I've ever lived at. So I figured that I should get a P.O. box before I make a mailing list, that way it's just a mailing address listed (not my personal home address.) But of course I decided to do this during my 2 week surgery recovery period where I couldn't drive because I was on muscle relaxers (there was nothing relaxed about this period BTW- I get restless fast. I'm a workaholic, remember?) So I had my boyfriend drive me to the UPS store with my big ole neck bandage and they said I had to have 2 forms of government identification (AKA my passport and ID) in order to open one. Of course my parents had my passport at their house, which is 2 hours away and I couldn't drive, remember? So I made arrangements for my boyfriend to drive me an hour away and for them to meet us one Saturday after my surgery so we could meet halfway and get my passport. I DON'T BACK DOWN, I'M TELLIN YA.

Anyways, we got it all figured out and now I have a mailing list. Yay! You can subscribe here!

I published Volume 1 of my Instagram series, #OccupiedVacant

I specifically talked about #OccupiedVacant in last year's blog post about 2015, and said "who knows, maybe it'll be a book someday?" WELL GUESS WHAT IT IS. And it costs a lot of money and I really am sorry about that. Like I said in the blog post about it, I'm only making like $2.41 off every book sold. So I'm definitely going to gauge what I can do differently for Volume 2 once I see my analytics.

Your bathroom definitely needs a bathroom book. Buy #OccupiedVacant Volume 1 on Amazon or ๐Ÿ›

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I'm still in awe that people supported this project enough to want to purchase a book. It's been very fun. My next goal for this project is to create an Instagram page that's solely for #OccupiedVacant photos that I post and also re-post from others who submit photos with the hashtag. I want everyone in the world to be posting bathroom pics. It's gonna happen.

I also did my first giveaway on social media ever! I asked people to post their own photo and tag it with #OccupiedVacant and I'd pick a winner for a hard copy of the book. I only got a few entries, but it was really cool to see those of you who were actually engaged in this project!

So what are my goals for 2017?

I always talk about how I don't have goals. Seriously, I really don't. I live too much in the moment (wow how cliche) to have goals. But that's honestly because I surprise myself with what I can achieve half of the time. I have low expectations sometimes, ha. I just kind of do stuff and later I look back and am like woah that's pretty cool, good job Jordan. I guess one of my goals can be to make more goals. #Inception

If you're even still reading this blog post by now, I guess you can hold me accountable next year to see if the following things actually happen:

-Lose 20 pounds (and buy a Louis Vuitton purse as a reward. You heard it here folks. I am just another basic girl who wants an expensive designer purse as a prize for losing weight.)


-Make an E-Course for social media and have it available to purchase for download by anyone! I don't have a million followers or anything but people are always asking me questions about iphone photography, how I edit my photos on my phone, what hashtags to use, etc. I feel like after watching multiple webinars I pretty much know all the stuff I need to know, I just am too impatient to implement it all. But I could make an E-Course for those of you who are the ones asking me all of these questions and maybe it'll help you out!

-Work more with brands on social media

-Go on a tour of some sort/travel more in general

-LIVE ALONE. Move out of this apartment I'm in with my brother now! Get a separate office space in my house to run my business!

-MAYBE hire some help (an intern perhaps? Someone to help me with secretarial stuff! Someone to answer emails for me and do all the business talk. I hate business talk. Whenever I decide that I can afford it, hired help is probably the first investment I'll make.)

-Solidify whatever it is I am doing in this crazy creative life

-Write shorter blog posts because I'm sure everyone has left this page by now

Anyways, have a happy New Year. I hope 2016 was bearable and somewhat successful for you too! Can't wait to share with you what I have planned for 2017 :)

XOXO Jordan