At the end of 2019 my husband renovated the studio and 2020 started off with so much excitement about a “fresh start” and my 10th year in business.

Then, Covid happened.

My plans for my 10th year in business and a grand celebration disappeared as quickly as the peace and quiet in my home.

I’m not going to lie or sugar coat it: the last 9 months as a small business owner have been the hardest I’ve ever experienced. The stress, the uncertainty, and the non-stop planning and re-planning have been overwhelming and exhausting. I have lost entire nights of sleep. I have worried, wondered, and ‘what-if’ed’ my way through 2020.

My business was born 10 years ago when a friend whispered “yes, you are” after someone asked if I was a photographer. I was an accidental entrepreneur and even after 10 years I cannot believe what has transpired in the last 3650 days.

What I’ve realized this year is that all the planning and preparations in the world could not get me through a pandemic. If you know me, you know how much I plan (and prepare and then plan again). Turns out, there are some things impervious to planning and a pandemic is one of them!

What got me and my business through this roller coaster of a 10th year was all of you.

I cannot express the gratitude I have for all of you. But I’m going to try.

Thank you for your messages, emails, and DM’s sharing your good news with me. From pregnancy announcements, to new jobs, and homes. Your emails and messages give me goosebumps and happy tears; please keep sending them.

Thank you for responding to my social media posts and newsletter updates with encouragement and kindness.

Thank you for sharing my name with your family and friends. Google can’t compete with all of you; you are the very best search engine a business owner could ask for.

Thank you for booking sessions this year in spite of the complete and utter chaos. For ‘going with the flow’ and embracing Covid clothes and hairstyles. For playing with your kids and having fun in front of my camera and accepting that nothing about 2020 is really Pinterest-worthy or perfect.

Thank you for buying gift certificates and pre-booking sessions in the dark days of Spring when the business closures seemed never ending.

Thank you for having such an incredible amount of grace when the weather was horrifically unpredictable. For understanding that without the ability to rely on the forecast for the first time in 10 years, we were really and truly doing our best to make magic and miracles happen with the weather.

Thank you for taking the time to tell me how much you love your photos and how important they are to you. For reminding me that no matter what happens, these memories are important and I will go to the ends of the Earth to capture them for you.

Thank you for following the new session guidelines and Covid restrictions with a wonderful balance of “following the rules” and “we can still have fun with this”. For reminding your family members with humour and embracing the distance high fives and hugs.

Thank you for being as excited about new sets, props, and sessions as I am. My family has to clean, paint, and live with props scattered around our house; they are never as thrilled as all of you are.

Thank you for coming back for sessions the second time, the 10th time, the 50th time; for trusting me again and again to photograph the most important people in your life. Thank you for letting me get to know your family and your children; for letting me play a very small role in telling your story through photos.

2021 is going to be an amazing year for Sara McConnell Photography. I am planning the year in 4 to 6 week increments and focusing my efforts on one thing that can go ahead no matter what happens in the next 365 days: giving back to the community who have supported and sustained my business for 10 years.

This Fall a friend dropped off a card and $500. She asked to remain anonymous and wanted me to use the money to gift a session to a family. Her incredible act of kindness is what gave me the idea for how I want to celebrate my 10th anniversary.

For my 10th business anniversary, I am committing to raising $10,000 for Roger Neilson House

In 2015 I wrapped up my 5th anniversary celebrations with a 3 year fundraising campaign that donated $10,000 to Roger Neilson House. Roger Neilson House, located on the grounds of CHEO, offers incredibly important services and support to children and their families including respite care, end of life care, pain & symptom management, grief & bereavement support and perinatal hospice care.

Thank you to all of you who help to make this a wonderful community to live, to run a small business, and to a raise a family in; there is no place I rather be than here.