2017 | A Year In Review

2017 has been a year full of amazing adventures, some great friendships, and some not so amazing learning experiences. I have watched my business grow and prosper, I have had the chances to travel across the United States, and I feel like I have learned so much more this year than any of the other before it.


The year started with a complete style change in my editing and approach to photography. I have always tried to work with what people wanted and that usually went against what my instincts were telling me. I promised myself that 2017 would be the year that I shoot for myself, which is what I did. I found myself beginning to love photography again and the reasons why I picked up a camera in the first place. When I began shooting for myself and going with my creative instincts, I found myself and my work growing more than I have ever before.

My editing style hasn’t been for everyone, but I am so thankful for those that transitioned with me through my switch and have continued to love and support my work. It is full of emotion and deepness, and not just because of the dark and moody colors in the images. I feel like I finally found my niche and something that works well for me. It only took me 7 years though haha! 

It was a big choice for me to stop offering posed studio sessions this year, especially since newborns were such a popular for me to photograph in the previous years. I just didn’t feel like they were the answer to what I was looking for when it came to photographing people and their intimate moments. I have spent the previous 6 years in a studio, whether it was managing one or running my own, but it wasn’t something that I was "in love" doing. It was a hard decision though to make, but I am really happy with the outcome of it. I really wanted to focus on why I loved photography though, those intimate moments that you don’t notice because no one takes them in between the smiles. 


Earlier this year, I announced a completely new brand and name for my photography business. It was a big and exciting step for me to take and I am so excited for the journey that is beginning due to it. I couldn’t fully drop my Amarie name though, it has been apart of me since I was a teenager. 

Along with changing my business name, I started publishing my own magazine, which has been something I have wanted to do for years. I blame all of this on the numerous movies I seen growing up about working in a magazine company lol. Starting Unconditional Soul has been a rollercoaster full of emotions, but when I released the first issue I became so overwhelmed with joy that I knew it was something important. 


2017 has been full of adventure and traveling for me, which has led me to meeting some amazing people. I have had photoshoots or events in six different states this year besides Michigan, taking me all over the United States. Friendships have grown with other photographers, both local and worldwide and I cherish those more than anything. 

And like other years, with friendship comes loss and learning experiences. I have had to juggle both my family life with my work life and my business life, which means I normally neglect aspects to cover the others. This year was my family, and though they are very understanding, it was a tough struggle realizing that I need to say no and to take the time to just relax and settle down every now and then. I’m just lucky I have a great support system behind me pushing me to be my better self.



Even though I was super busy this year, I had some wonderful moments that I wanted to highlight real fast:


-The beautiful births of Colin, Princeton, Norah, and Charlee

Because, who doesn’t love when you get to witness life enter the world. Plus little babies are the cutest things on Earth!

-The amazing weddings of the Justice’s, Bero’s, Robinson’s, Rodriguez’s, and Norris’ and many more..

I am a huge sucker for love, and I adore all of my amazing couples that honored me with capturing their big day!

-The proposal that Chris did for Mary.. Who of course, said yes!

I have photographed every step for Chris and Mary so far, their proposal, their engagement photos, and next year is their wedding!

-Trips to North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Washington, and Oregon

I love traveling and this year I met so many amazing people in every state I went to. I cherish those friendships like no other!

-Hosting multiple shootouts and learning opportunities for photographers

I will always be a huge believer in community over competition, always 

-Releasing Unconditional Soul Magazine’s first issue

Dream big and it will pay!




But with everything that has happened, I am so excited for 2018 to come...



Whats Next?


2018 is going to being some huge changes to my schedule, my prices, and my focus. It will be a year where we set our final plans in motion for what is next in our lives for my family and that could mean some huge changes. Mainly, we probably will not be in the state of Michigan for 2019 for our projected career paths and plans for raising our family.



N I N A   +   M A E   B O U T I Q U E

But, first things first.. As I am excited to work with growing a boutique I will be launching come the first of the year. Nina + Mae, will be an online custom boutique that offers everything from wall decor and headwear, to custom t-shirts and funny photography and coffee mugs. I wanted to combine my love for design, photography, and coffee into something that I can take with me regardless of where we decide to uplift our family to in the upcoming year. 

I have already been doing some sneak peeks of things on my personal Facebook over the past couple of weeks, but the whole store will be open come the beginning of January. I will be doing an official release here next week most likely.


B U S I N E S S   C H A N G E S

I have announced some big changes already on my Facebook page for what is going on next year, which I am super excited about. These are mainly to refine my style and the brand that I have made when I changed my business name. I went from Amarie Photography to Amarie Vela | Fine Art + Lifestyle Portraiture because I want to change my focus to a more documentary approach. This means that I won’t be offering the same types of sessions or pricing like I did this year. 

If you have been following my page, you know that I have been announcing the price differences from 2017 to 2018 tomato sure people are not caught off guard when the change happens on Monday. I used to do packages based on the type of session it was, but now they are all a standard price based on the moments you want photographed; The Every Day, The Big Day (Weddings), or The First Day (Births and Fresh 48). The Every Day moments are those things that you want documented that happen, well every day. Like bath time, or making cookies together, family hikes or drinking coffee together in the morning. Those intimate moments that showcase who you really are.

I decided that I won’t be offering too much for traditional posed sessions this year, though I will include a few slightly posed shots in everyone’s session for grandma to have. I also won’t be holding any sort of mini sessions this year like I have done before for a discounted rate. It just came down to time and I had to make cutbacks for other avenues in my career, though if I can find it I might put together a stylized marathon one random day.


U N C O N D I T I O N A L   S O U L   M A G A Z I N E

I plan to put a lot of focus on my boutique and growing this magazine next year, as these are huge dreams of mine that I want to succeed with. I am aiming to release an issue of USM at least once a quarter, if not more would be amazing. I don’t want to overwhelm myself like I usually do, so I am trying to take it with baby steps...


F O C U S   O N   T H E   I M P O R T A N T   T H I N G S

This is more of a personal goal than a business one, but since my personal and business are so intertwined, I thought I would share as well. In the photo above, it says “Say NO! more often,” which some people might think is weird for a resolution. But I mentioned before how I have the tendency to put other things above spending time with my loved ones, this next year I don’t plan to do that. I don’t want to be constantly asked when I am going to visit my great-grandparents or if I am free for a family night. Since I know we don’t plan to stay in the state our families are in after this year, I don’t want to leave with regrets of not making the most of our time here, which is what I have done this past couple of years.


Thank you to everyone that has supported me, guided me, and pushed me to be the photographer and businesswoman I am today. I am so happy to have such amazing clients, colleagues, friend and family to lean on when the days aren’t as bright as I want them to be. You all have made me who I am today!