5 Ways I Bring Back Sanity After the Holidays

Relighting your lamp!


October and December are my busy season for photography. There are fall sessions and holiday sessions and parties and preparations for Christmas(I wanna sleep just writing this.) When January sneaks up and surprises me each year, it’s time for a little hibernation and re-examination.  If you are time blind like me, meaning you struggle to grasp how you are allotting your time and resources, I have some tips that might help you refocus your time for the new year.



Prioritize What Matters Most

Before I rush into the new year with excitement, I take time to review my previous year and look at the goals from then. I look at what worked and what didn’t. Then I look at my priorities and decide if there are some I need to let go of or improve. I always prioritize my relationship with God, my husband and baby, and finally my work and community. Prioritizing helps me to set boundaries so that I can enjoy these aspects of my life. Failing to examine and reset boundaries can turn healthy friends and experiences into bitter relationships built on obligation. So I make sure my new goals help me to prioritize my energy and care in the right ways. This practically looks like not scheduling work during family time and making time for day-to-day connection with my loved ones even if I have to schedule it. The book that helped me do this was Take Back Your Time by Christy Wright. If you find yourself always feeling short on time it’s worth a read.


Clocks and Calendars

I am time blind! If I don’t have a clock in front of me or write down the intentions I forget. Often this causes more stress because it feels as if I am always behind. So this year I bought more calendars! I have a daily planner, and a monthly calendar on my wall, and added a yearly calendar as well. This will help me better see everything coming! I also will be getting out my digital clocks, watch, and timers to help me stay aware of the time at all times. Additionally, I carry a notebook where I write down things I need to remember (your memory is not reliable.) Usually, I will fall off wearing my watch or using my calendar so the new year is a perfect time to reset all of this. Here is a list of the items I bought. These aren’t affiliate links I just like this stuff.

Daily Planner

Wall Calendar

Annual Calendar

Moleskin Notebooks

Simple Watch






This one is hard for me but necessary. I will be working on accountability. This might mean finding a friend to work out with. Reaching out to people who are experienced for advice or using a system like a course to stay on track with learning goals. In addition to asking real people for help, I like some of these tools as well. I have personally used all of them and have had some success in sticking to my goals due to having accountability around them.

Maple: Coordinating home tasks

Noom: Daily accountability for weight loss and healthy eating

Coursera: courses for professional development  (apply for financial aid to try it free!)

Linked In: Reach out to experienced professionals and ask to interview them for 15 minutes

Facebook Groups: Yes they may be ancient but you can find some surprisingly helpful people out there willing to share tips on everything. This is my fave as a new mom.



Finding time to play

This is a new goal of mine. I would like to find time to play. I notice I really struggle to see anything that is not productive as necessary. It’s hard to make play a priority I usually wait for a vacation or break but that’s not a good long-term plan. Life is full and I am going to have to learn to stop and breathe right in the middle of it! Otherwise, my body will force me to stop by exhaustion or lose hours of my day to YouTube. I notice when I recognize this is a real need I work hard during productivity time and can bring more creativity to my problem-solving. If you have any ideas of what I can do for fun let me know!! 


Resetting is just part of life. It’s a part of the rhythm. I am learning how to be a bit less all-or-nothing and a bit more flexible by understanding this process can’t just happen in January. I need it every day! How do you get back to the norm after the craziness of the holiday season? What have you found helpful? DM me on social media or email bethany@bethanyjphotography.

Subscribe to my newsletter to join my community!





Finding Joy

Welcome to my blog. Here I am myself. I am an artist who shares her photography, her family, and more! I called this blog choosing joy because 1. That’s my middle name and 2. Finding joy when life is tough has been a journey for me. More often I am choosing to look for the bright side even when I don’t see it. If you are an artist, a parent, a small business or all three then you will like being around here!

Share your Joy Journey with me by emailing bethany@bethanyjphotography.com. You might be featured in my newsletter!

Your Joy Journey can be something funny or moving your story of overcoming or what brings you joy.



The Story of Bethany J. Photography

Finding the Joy

Hello and welcome! Who am I? Many things I would say. A creative artist, a lover of photography, an entrepreneur, a wife, a new mom, a person trying to figure out this thing called life. This however isn’t therapy so I’m going to share with you how in all of the growing and changing of life I have built and continue to build this absolute treasure of a business called Bethany J. Photography. Born out of a passion for the art of the portrait and love for the joy photography brings when I show a client just how unique, beautiful, and amazing they look; BJP started as a hobby and has become my lifelong passion.

   There is an arms-length list of people who I should thank for kindling my love and skill for photography. First is my mom, who is one of the most creative people I know, as well as my dad who never said there was anything I couldn’t do. I can’t forget my amazing art teachers and friends who instilled invaluable knowledge year after year. At 14 years old I took my first official photo class at school encouraged by those mentioned above. First of all, I was shocked that a.) the class was in black and white only and b.) it was on old school film that we had to work with. A skeptic at first, I was lit up with excitement the moment I developed my first print in the darkroom. If you are an artist you know the joy that comes from looking at your finished work. It is a mixture of ideas, skills, and let’s be honest-hope. You stand back and say “wow I made this and it looks good!” It’s the level of pure joy that I imagine God had when he created beautiful sunsets, forests, and of course us! With my newfound passion, I dove headfirst in and before I knew it I had my very first real family session for Christmas. With no proper lighting, no location, and bad weather, at 15 I could hardly contain my excitement And nervousness directing a family on how to pose. Unsure of what I was doing I relied on my visual instinct and solved each shot like a puzzle. It was then that I thought “Hey! I can do this for a living!” 


Street photography from my 2014 portfolio



Me in high school with the photo club! My bestie is in the stripes we both still take pics today! Check out my old Tumblr account! http://bethanyjphotography.tumblr.com/


An image from my first photoshoot.

Bethany J. Photography is based on my name, the “J” stands for Joy my actual middle name and a symbol of why I make portraits. From that first session on, I spent all of my energy on photography and art education. I built my little business with the money I had from babysitting and the people who volunteered as models so I could build a portfolio. I count myself blessed to have a one-track mind at such a young age because whether anyone else took me seriously, I believed in my heart that I had found the one thing that I would never stop doing and wholeheartedly committed to making it a true business. As I graduated high school and went to art school I found new challenges that scared me far out of my comfort zone. I was overwhelmed by tough assignments, crazy talented peers, new skills, and equipment I had yet to master. What had been a fun exploratory passion in high school became a narrow and serious path that drove a new understanding of “work ethic” in me. Can anyone relate to having doubt? I began to doubt my skills and passion because I allowed comparison to be the thief of my joy. It was my clients who continued to book with me that kept me encouraged.


There were many firsts like first repeat clients, first print

delivery, first wedding, and each milestone kept me going when I was ready to throw in the towel.

Right, when I was ready to give up I decided I had come too far to quit and finished my B.F.A in Photography (‘19.) Just as I finished graduation I made some other big decisions! 1.) Getting married 2.) Starting my first full-time “job” and 3.) Finally moved out of my parent’s home. Writing a business plan and learning about what an LLC was, took a lot of coordination in those days! I felt I had a solid business plan to move forward with and then 2020 hit! Talk about doubting if you are making the right choice. Everything shut down and I had to shift into focusing on school photography. Surprisingly I had one of the biggest jobs ever in the middle of a pandemic! Once again when I was on the edge of giving up again I pressed on anyway and found my biggest victory. Here I am now in 2021 and because I love a challenge I will be starting my journey into motherhood this August. And guess what? I’m still not stopping. I will still be out there with you photographing weddings, birthdays, Christmas, and “just because you love your family” pictures. I will still be sharing in your joys and wins because after years of growing I am starting to understand how tough life can be and how unrelenting change is. What I do know is that in the middle of it all we must have joy! The story of Bethany J. Photography is like a small seed growing against the winds of change and I pray you to stick around to see it fully blossom!

-Bethany Joy Steele

Image from building my portfolio!


Me a very happy 2019 College Grad from the Maryland Institute College of Art