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Photographer in San Diego | End of 2021 Recap

Hi, I'm Vanessa!
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Photographer in San Diego | Well, here we are!! The end of 2021!!!!

It’s insane to think of the last two years and what we all have been through.

Last year, and the end of 2020, I was hopeful of what the new year was going to bring! Little did I know, 2021 would be of the hardest years of my life.

2021 turned my personal life upside down, and it affected every aspect of my life.

It was already a hard year seeing as the wedding industry was faced with doing two years’ worth of work in one year, one season if you will.

Back in July, as I started to break down (I didn’t truly know it at the time), I shared this post on Instagram. I did not expect the response I got.

What I hadn’t expected was how any creative entrepreneurs were in the exact same place as I was. The industry was struggling and still reeling from the pandemic.

Over 3500 shares, 4000 likes, and over 1000 saves show you just how hard our industry was working this year.

And while I am so thankful to have had the luxury to get back to work, it was hard. And then something happened in my personal life that broke every fiber of my being. Because it has to do with one of my children, I won’t share that full story because it’s her story to share, but I shared a small part of what was going on in life here when I lost (and then finally got back) my Instagram account!! Yeah, that was a thing too! I share about that here too!! Luckily, I got my IG account back so @vanessahicksphotography is still a go!

Photographer in San Diego | Vanessa Hicks Photography

Yes, 2021 was hard, but this blog post isn’t just about the hard because even in the darkest of days, the light shined. And you guys, it shined BRIGHTLY! The hardest season of my life was also one of the most INCREDIBLE business year ever!! And TBH, that’s what yall came for, so let’s recap 2021!!!!


  • I was interviewd by LA Times about Peloton!! I had shared a post about my 100th ride and how Peloton helpef me through my recovery of Covid, and an editor saw it and interviewed me and others about Peloton!!! Pretty cool!
  • Got to take my daughters to Orlando and have fun at Disneyworld and Universal for both Spring Break this year and Thanksgiving break!!! My husband was out to sea doing excercises and wasn’t home, so we made the best of it.
  • Prepping for deployment. My husband officially deploys the first week of January, but before you deploy, the ships has excercises and drills and inspections to pass before it can, called workups. So, before he deploys for 8+ months, he would have been out to sea 2.5 months prior. NOT FUN.
  • It was also the year of making memories with my best friends! I got to go to Disneyland for my bday, Disneyworld, and Universal with my friend Jennifer, and it was her first time going to all of them! We also got to go to The Friends Experience in Chicago! My oldest best friends and I went glamping in Arizona at the Grand Canyon! It was one of the best experieces ever!
  • Celebrated 8 years of marriage with our first date out since the pandemic! California was still pretty shut down the beginning of the year, and the military had strict orders on not letting active duty military be at restaurants, gyms, even if they were open.
  • Koa turned one year old! Literally the best dog ever!
  • Taty turned 13, making it that all my girls are teenagers. Please send wine!
  • Got to see my inlaws for the first time since moving here #thankyouvaccines


  • 2021…the year I traveled!!!! When you have 2 years of work in one year as a destination photographer, that means, you will be on a plane!! In fact, I coundted 72….yes 72 BOARDING PASSES in my Apple Wallet! According to the data from Google, I traveled 5 times around the Earth in 2021!!!! Where did I go in 2021? Hawaii, California, Washington State, Washington DC, Virginia, NYC, Florida, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Chicago!
  • Expanded my education brand!! Blogging with Strategy course was released 3 times this year, enrolling over 150 students to grown their SEO and Blogging!!! Also released a mini course that has over 200 students in it!!! Inquired the domain Vanessa Hicks Education, and cant wait to see it grow!
  • Surpassed my financial goals by $65K. Big big year!
  • Spoke at several conferences to include Creative at Heart, Hybrid Co,The Creative Entrepreneur Conference, The Photo Cookout, Females on Fire Summit, ! It was so good to be back to conferences IN PERSON!
  • Gave a KEYNOTE PRESENTATION at the final Showit United! This was such a big moment for me! Especially because my daughters were in the audience too!
  • Started another year with my business coach Candice, and you might have heard me on her Podcast too!
  • Hit 7 years in business! Especially after the last 2 years and 4 moves in 6 years, so happy to be still standing and thriving!
  • Officially an INTERNATIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER! Photograhed a wedding in Cancun and Puesto Penasco, and it was incredible to dust off that passport! 2022 brings weddings in Tulum, Cancun and Tuscany!!!!!!
  • Nominated by Rangefinder as one to the Top 30 Wedding Photographers in the World. While I didn’t ‘win’ the top 30, this is a huge honor to be nominated!
  • Photographed the cover of a book! I’ve known Justine now for 18ish years!!! And her book is coming out in April of 2022 and I was honored when she asked me to photograph the cover and inserts! I am so proud of her!!!
  • Photographed the beautiful current Miss Hawaii USA Allison Chu in the floral tub in Hawaii and the current Miss Earth USA Marissa Butler in the San Diego tub! Just bring all the beauty queens to the tub!!
  • Chosen for The Knot Best of Weddings 2021 and the Couples Choice Awards for WeddingWire 2021!


Even now, looking back on this year, I have tears in my eyes.

Crying because even through the hard, so much good happened.

I am truly blessed.

I keep coming back to this quote:

I wish I could tell you when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2022, everything will change.

I wish I could.

But, January 1st is just an arbitrary date. It literally means nothing (except for taxes).

But, I do know that no matter what, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Photographer in San Diego | Vanessa Hicks Photography

I hope 2022 is the best year for you! I hope you remember just how strong you are. I hope you remember that you have overcome 100% of the obstacles in your life so far.

I want to thank every single person I worked with this year. Thank you for choosing me, if it was to be your photographer or educator.

Thank you for trusting me.

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for your grace this year.

Cheers to 2022!!!!

Don’t forget to check out the other recap blogs:

Best of 2021: Weddings

Best of 2021: Couples

Best of 2021: Portraits



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