September 2023 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

September tends to be my favorite month, and this year was no different. We enjoyed a sunny, warm and dreamy September—with plenty of extended summer days right into a balmy autumn—and I was here for it. Literally. We didn’t leave the state for the month of September!

Tennessee Governor's Conference photographers

Our September highlights included nine days on the road, a half dozen events that we photographed for clients, about 30 portrait shoots and a whole lot of speaking engagements.

My sister and her husband also went on vacation for a week out West, so the kiddos were with Mom (mostly) and me (some) for eight days straight.

The Highs

We hosted a Labor Day friend weekend. After spending the last few days of August in South Carolina, we headed straight home for lake fun in Tennessee. Earlier in the summer, we had attempted a Namibia trip reunion in Memphis, but were unsuccessful, so righted that wrong over Labor Day when six of the seven of us—plus my sister’s family and my cousins Margaret and Mason—were able to make it. We did puzzles, drank a lot of whiskey and seltzers, and went out on the lake for one last time this year.

Labor Day lake day

I fused my love of reading and home design in a piece for the Washington Post. You know I love to read, and I’ve also always obsessed over the idea for a secret reading nook. Researching and interviewing for this article about hidden rooms did nothing to curb that desire!

Washington Post story about hidden rooms

We photographed the Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism. And we learned a lot about event photography and the importance of being prepared (we were!) when one of our cameras failed during the opening session. Luckily, we always travel with three camera bodies and a series of lens and lighting, so we were able to adapt on the fly.

Tennessee Governor's Conference photographers

I also spoke at the Governor’s Conference. I presented a breakout session titled Small Budget, Big Impact about how rural destinations and smaller attractions often feel limited by smaller or nonexistent marketing budget but shouldn’t. I loved getting to dive into case studies from small towns like Sweetwater and Bell Buckle who kill it in the tourism game, and I hope I get to present this session again soon.

Tennessee Governor's Conference photographers

And I spoke at Belmont. My long-time entrepreneur friend Dr. David Harkins is a professor at Belmont’s business school, and he invited me to guest lecture for three of his entrepreneurship classes. I don’t know how you teachers do it: Speaking for that long is exhausting! Mad respect.

Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University in Nashville

And I spoke at Rotary! I grew up hating public speaking and hating the spotlight, but years of presenting to noon Rotary in my hometown helped cure that with practice, so it was fun being back where it all began.

Rotary speaker

We photographed the inaugural Bell Buckle Songwriters Festival. One of the main services we offer clients is asset and event photography, and we’ve been lucky enough to work with some repeat clients like the Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce on many projects annually for the past handful of years. I know I’ve said plenty of times before, but the town of Bell Buckle sure knows how to throw an event. It’s even more impressive given that just 400 residents live there!

Bell Buckle Songwriters Festival

I also photographed the Montessori School students for a fourth year. Class picture days are my favorite day of the year, and it’s even more fun that my nephew Mac is now at the school!

Montessori school photos

My mom and I took a quick trip to Memphis. Mom’s great-niece/my cousin Margaret played in the soccer championships for her division, so obviously we had to be there to cheer her on. In addition to seeing my cousin Coco and her family, we got to catch up with my pal Christina, who brought handmade capes for the occasion!

Play Like a Girl capes

The Challenges

It’s rare that I get sick, but bronchitis (or something of the sort) grabbed hold of me and robbed me of my voice right before GovCon. I was miserable for a solid week, but my doctor got me in for a steroid shot that was my saving grace for surviving a conference with a respiratory infection.

Molly the rescue kitten

I also got my flu shot and my COVID booster (going on four years of no virus, so clearly it’s been working), which I file under challenges in that many healthcare companies are not covering it or are giving patients issues. Even with insurance I got denied by CVS, but luckily Walgreens was my hero and got me in for my shots without issue, filing it under the Bridge Access Program. If you’re also having trouble with your insurer or pharmacy, here’s a helpful guide to reference.

My Favorites of the Month

Favorite book: The Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Favorite audiobook: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Favorite TV show: For All Mankind (Apple)

What were your top September highlights? All past month recaps are linked here.

#September #Highlights #Highs #Lows

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