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happy 1 year to me! | jen mcken, photographer

By May 22, 2012 3 Comments

I’ve set out to write this blog post to myself! I use this blog as a personal “diary”- if you will, to document my every day life, the friends and family that mean so very much to me and the placed I travel to in both my personal and professional life! I wanted to make a post I can come to when I’m getting down on myself  that I didn’t do enough or that I could have done better, just to say…”LOOK” at everything you have done…everything I’ve accomplished within this last year of self employment…which is the whole reason for this post!

Happy one year anniversary to MEEEE!!! Today is exactly one year since I became FULL TIME with my photography business! It took a long time for me to muster up the guts to take the plunge (5 years in the making), but as they say, if you jump the net will appear. Looking back at all the things I did to prepare to quit my day job, I feel soo silly for not doing it sooner. I laid in bed last night reflecting on all the opportunities I had this past year-opportunities that would have NEVER been possible if I still had my “day job” and had to stick to the 9-5 schedule imposed. Heck, I would have used up my vacation time within he first two weeks! I won’t bore you with all the things I did…but I’m going to touch on a few of the bigger things that happend to me this past year….things that kind of blow my mind really.

This year has been AMAZING! I got to meet so many awesome clients along the way and have created so many new friendships all because of my camera. The little black box has opened up so many doors for me that would have never been possible and has also allowed me to form friendships with people who will be life long friends!

Below are just a few of the amazing opportunities that I was given this year! I’ve included links below each for those of you who are interested in reading more in-depth about them-but like I mentioned earlier, they are more for me! 🙂 These don’t even include the weddings out of state that I had the opportunity to shoot this year….that’s for a whole other post! 🙂


Immediately after handing over my two week notice, my mind was already at the Outer Banks, NC for 7 days. We had this trip planned since earlier in the year and it was the tipping point for me. I knew that after my two week notice was up, we would be leaving the next day to head to the beach with some of my best friends from high school and that after I got back from the beach, my REAL life would begin….the “self employed life”. I soaked up the down time, starred at the “ocean of opportunities” (pun intended) and brainstormed my goals for the year! Ironically, I’m leaving for the beach in a few weeks with many of the same people…but this year, it will be to celebrate year 2. WOOO!!!

outer banks, NC :travel

outer banks, NC : crab hunting

outer banks, NC : ocean fishing

outer banks, NC : jessica kurnocik foundation

outer banks, NC: currituck beach lighthouse

outer banks, NC: beach portraits

outer banks, NC: finding beauty

outer banks, NC: when pigs fly

I went to Ireland for 8 days– not only did I get to take my DREAM vacation…but I took it with my best friend from college! Together with our men, we trucked around Ireland exploring all the nooks and crannies, meeting the locals and soaking up all the culture! This was a dream of a life time……..we’re already planning our next dream vacation! 🙂

ireland day 1: Dublin

ireland day 2: dublin + avaco

ireland day 3: avaco + kilkenny

ireland day 4: dungarvan + cork

ireland day 5: baltimore + ring of kerry

ireland day 7: bunratty + cliffs of moher

I was chosen to be on and attend creativeLIVE in Seattle, Washington to learn from Christa Meola! Me…little old me from southwestern, pa was chosen out of hundres of applicants to fly out and attend a workshop given by one of the BEST boudoir photographers in the industry!!  I hung out with the production folks at CreativeLIVE , met some amazing new photographers from all over the country (hayyyy, sexy six pack!) and learned from one of the BEST in the industry! I learned so much about boudoir on this trip but I learned way more about myself. I traveled there alone not knowing a single person who would be attending with me, but I left with some of the best friendships. Did I mention…I had to get up and shoot LIVE as it was broadcasted ALL AROUND THE WORLD and have my website critiqued! YEP…I managed to survive!!!

creativeLIVE: is there anything in my teeth?

creativeLIVE: behind the scenes-take 1

creativeLIVE: model shoot

creativeLIVE: behind the scenes-take 2

creativeLIVE: i’m a tourist in Seattle

Not to mention that it was in Seattle, WA and got to hang out with my good friend Aric Becker and his awesome wife Angie whom I met several years prior during WPPI!

Speaking of WPPI, because I didn’t have to worry about my DAY JOB, I attended WPPI in Las Vegas, NV for 7 days again for the 3rd year in a row with Courtney one of my photography BFF’s! We stayed in style in the MGM Signature and got our learn’on from the top photographers. We went to some amazing shows, ate some delicious food and laughed…..and laughed…until our bellies hurt. All in the name of photography! We got to attend seminars, styled shoots in down town old Vegas and got to see first hand some of the industries top vendors at the world’s largest trade show!

vegas: selfless in vegas 

vegas: lensbaby

vegas: iphonography

vegas: styled shoot-old hollywood

vegas: styled shoot-fremont street

I was commissioned to shoot weddings in the state of Indiana and Maryland which allowed me to be a tourist again! Greg and I flew out to Chicago and got to see “the bean”. We spent all day in the city just exploring…… and eating at the world famous Superdawgs!!

chicago: the bean + superdawgs

I had more breakfasts with Pappy Davis! I woke up at the butt crack of dawn many mornings to go have breakfast with Pappy Davis. Why? Well, because I CAN!!! It was fantastic to know I was on my own time, I didn’t have to rush back to my day job, I could sit and relax and enjoy nice conversation without having the look at my watch.

pappy davis: valley dairy

pappy davis: stopping to smell the breakfast

We vacationed in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for 7 days! We packed our family up and headed out to the sand and the sun….why? Well because we could! My camera in hand, I enjoyed spending time with my family………even if it happened to be at an exotic location! Life is tough sometimes! 🙂

punta cana: mallory portraits

punta cana: randomness

I recently took on a personal project which included documenting a surrogacy story. It was probably one of the most rewarding projects to date! I would have NEVER been able to do this project had I had my day job as most of the appointments took place during the day. The fact that I could make my schedule fit was awesome!! I learned so much about myself during this project……but most importantly, I learned the meaning of selflessness!

surrogacy: it’s a boy

surrogacy: the birth

I can’t not even BEGIN to explain how excited I am to put this on my list: I have officially PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS! If this is the only thing that I could have accomplished this year, I would have been happy! I am now officially debt free in both my business and personal life (except my mortgage)…and it feels so FREEEEE!!!! 🙂

student loans: paid OFF!!

ohh and I went viral! This is something that was soooo not in the cards and some how along my journey of blogging I caught a few people’s attention! You can see more of the headlines here:



My goal for year two…..get myself back to being healthy! I’m putting it out there for accountability….I’ve fallen off the healthy train many years ago after the birth of my daughter, but I want to feel better at 30 then I did at 20……so there it is! Cheers to year 2 of self employment, being my own boss, making tons more friends and following my dreams……AND getting “mo-healthy”!! 🙂

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  • Rebecca says:

    I am so thrilled for you ~ Congratulations and wishes for many more years of continued success! 😀

  • Charlene Smith says:

    Congratulations, Jen! May I say, you inspire me!

  • Emily says:

    Congratulations!! It has been really enjoyable to follow your posts for the last year, amazing job! I wish you just as wonderful more years to come!

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