2020 was a lot of things, but I would be lying to you if I said it was all bad. I’ve learned a lot this year. This was by far one of the most challenging years, but also one of the the best years in so many ways. Writing this post has been a really special way for me to look back and see how my life looked in January 2020 vs. December 2020. Wow has so much has changed. I never pictured my life to look the way it did this year.
I debated for a minute whether I should write this blog post or not. I have had this post in the back of my mind since I started my blog, but I always see so many negative comments go around on social media at the end of each year about recaps. It reminds me of all the things I was told in the beginning of my journey. It doesn’t matter what someone else’s opinion is, as long as you are happy with it. I learned a whole lot this year and one of the most important things I have learned in 2020 is that life is fragile. Memories matter. The good memories and the bad memories. Every single one matters. I don’t need anyone’s approval to write this post and neither do you. Share your memories!
Before I dive right in, this is NOT an attempt to share how great my life is. This is a post that includes the ups and downs of my year. 2020 has been such a significant year. My life has completely changed from the beginning of 2020 to now. This a way for me to look back and reflect on the year I have experienced and have my memories from 2020 documented for when I’m old and gray. So…here we go!
Somehow I have no photos from our New Years celebration???? Anyway, I started off my year traveling to Syracuse to watch my favorite basketball team play! My Mom and I are diehard Notre Dame Women’s basketball fans so this was the perfect way to start the year! We had so much fun with our friends and I had even more fun turning my sister into an ND fan for a day!
The very next day I hopped on a plane and I was on my way to Florida! For the last couple of years, my cousin Caroline and I have been going to visit our Uncle in Florida over winter break. Caroline hopped on the plane a few days prior and I was super excited to be on my way!
We had BEAUTIFUL weather the first day! I am definitely missing not being in Florida this year 🙁
I mean look at this view…
It is always so bittersweet leaving our favorite place. We have such a good time that it’s hard to come back home…especially to cold weather and school. We are so lucky to be able to go to Florida each year during break and I can’t wait to go back as soon as this pandemic is over!
February was spent in the gym watching my brother (Seamus) and cousin (Ang) play basketball. I watched my cousin Teddy play in one game this season. Teddy had Tommy John surgery and had to sit out his senior season. Boy, did we all miss watching him play. And boy, are we all missing basketball season this year.
What an emotional night for all of us. Let’s just say there was not a dry eye in the gym that night.
Teddy’s fan club!
I started March off by visiting my cousin Caroline and celebrating St.Patrick’s Day a few weeks early. If you couldn’t tell by now, we’re more than just cousins…we’re best friends.
We are both very Irish so obviously St.Patrick’s Day is always taken very seriously here!
I received this email on March 11th. The email that changed our lives. No more going to in person classes. No more going to work. No more seeing my friends. My life was on pause. On March 13th, our world in Oneonta went on hold. On March 20th, Gov. Cuomo declared a state-wide pause. March changed the entire year.
I am so glad I snapped these photos. The grocery store shelves were empty. I could not believe that this was real. I still can’t believe that this was real.
March consisted of lots of snuggles from Chloe! She wasn’t used to us being home all day!
We made the best out of St.Patrick’s Day. This was also my sister’s way of announcing her college decision! She decided to join me up on the hill in the fall.
March was filled with a lot of outdoor time! I went on a few hikes and my family went for a walk everyday. This was something positive that came out of the pandemic for my family!
I taught the remainder of my dance classes through Zoom. This was such a learning curve for me but I was thankful that we had a way to keep dancing together, even if we were all in our own living rooms.
Chloe not only gave us snuggles, she helped us with our homework too!
We had the first of many McGraw family Zoom calls!
I spent lots of time looking through photos from my childhood (insert teary eyes).
Here is Chloe on Easter! This was the first holiday we spent together during the pandemic that looked a whole lot different than usual and little did we know, it wouldn’t be the last. We also didn’t know that the very next day our lives would take a scary turn.
The very next day, I ended up in the hospital. I was uncomfortable, scared, overwhelmed, and I truly didn’t know what was going to happen.
This photo was taken in the ER right before I went into unexpected emergency surgery. I was just told the absolute worst case scenario. This was the hardest, scariest, and craziest time in my entire life.
My Mom was by my side in the ER, but she couldn’t be with me after I got out of surgery. My surgery went better than expected and I was going to be okay. The hardest part was being alone…
But these people made it a little bit better. There’s more of you and you know who you are. So much love for these people <3
Even though I could hardly talk, I was swollen, & felt pretty awful, I was so happy to be going home and so excited to see Chloe! Of course…I had to get Chipotle as my first meal out of the hospital. Two of my favorite things, Chloe & Chipotle!
I did lots and lots of sleeping these next few weeks as I recovered. Chloe knew I needed some comfort and she stuck right by my side through my entire recovery. I just love her so much!
I have the sweetest friends! They brought me balloons and lots of candy to cheer me up 🙂
I celebrated my 20th birthday from the couch. Even though I celebrated from the couch and was feeling pretty under the weather, I truly felt overjoyed. I received so much love and support from my family & friends. I knew I wasn’t alone and I knew that I was going to be okay.
Each year, I take a photo of myself on my birthday. I couldn’t miss this year. Not many people knew I had just undergone surgery 5 days prior. I was faking it till I made it.
My days consisted of watching lots of Notre Dame Women’s basketball games on repeat with my Mom while catching up on school work!
I was feeling much better in this photo! Chloe was still right by my side helping me with my school work.
I was finally feeling like myself again so Caroline and I took a little trip and had a photoshoot!
We started celebrating my sister Megan and cousin Teddy, our 2020 grads!
I had my follow up appointments and all was well! Beyond thankful my Mom was by my side throughout the entire thing.
We started prepping my Grandma’s house to go on the market. Seamus and I hit the jackpot!! Toilet paper was flying off the shelves and we found rolls and rolls of toilet paper in my Grandma’s house. I’ll always remember this moment. Crazy to think that we were so excited to find toilet paper!
Caroline and I had a fun photoshoot in a greenhouse!
Fun fact: this is when started creating my Lightroom Mobile Presets!
More grad fun! My Mom and I participated in the “Morris Mustang Stampede” honking our horns and cheering for the MCS Class of 2020! This was one of the most heartwarming days. To see all of the staff members come and support the senior class was simply amazing.
Another fun photoshoot! This time we brought Ang along for the fun!
Caroline turned 21! Her 21st birthday looked way different than what she had planned but we made the best of it! We had beautiful weather to top it all off!
One of the best things that happened to me this year was being able to spend the summer with my sweet cousins. Not only did I get to spend my summer with them, I got to spend it at our family camp. They made my summer so much fun! Another positive thing that came from the pandemic!
I mean how beautiful is this place?! AND how cute are these two?!
June started off with a visit from two more of my cousins! A super fun week!!
I had my first official session since the shutdown! A fun cake smash!
I spent lots of evenings in the pool soaking up the sunshine!
More festivities for our grads!
Meg missed her senior prom…but I wasn’t going to let her miss out on prom photos.
The start of the festivities for our 2020 grads! My sister Megan and cousin Teddy had their senior year of high school cut short. Our AMAZING cousins surprised them with these beautiful ballon arrangements. We have the BEST family!
Had to stick this pic in here! I just love these kids!!
I wanted to do something for the Class of 2020, so I gifted them cap and gown photos. I spent two full days at Oneonta High School photographing the seniors in their cap and gown. I photographed over 50 seniors and I am SO grateful I had the opportunity to provide them with these photos to hold onto forever.
Two very long and tiring days, but it was SO worth it!
We love our grads <3
The Class of 2020 grads! Molly (Bethlehem High School), Teddy (Oneonta High School), Megan (Oneonta High School).
Started off July the right way with a senior session! I was SO excited that Maria asked me to take her senior photos…I mean how stunning is she?!
A local park started a fairy village that grew quickly! While we were walking through, the kids were in awe. Of course we joined in the fun and made our own little fairy villages!
The 4th of July was spent at our family camp. So grateful to have been able to spend this holiday with my family.
Clam bake Catella style!
Lots of hanging in the hammock, fishing…
and lots of lobster!
Later that week I received my DBA certificate which called for new headshots!
The very next day I photographed my first wedding. Caroline was my sidekick that day helping me every step of the way.
You can read all about this special day and my special connection to the bride here: https://marykathleenphotography.blog/2020/08/07/maren-thomas/
I went on a boat ride with the kiddos! A very fun morning!
I had the opportunity to photograph a few of my beautiful seniors in their prom dresses. The seniors missed their senior prom and wanted to make the best of it. This group got ready and went out to dinner after taking photos!
I love these photos of me and my buddy Jimmy. We spent the afternoons together listening to books, making potions, collecting fossils, and building all sorts of things with magnet tiles.
Me and the boys!
I took these two blueberry picking…more blueberries landed in their mouths than in the bucket!
My brother’s summer baseball team got the green light to play ball! My photography roots began with photographing sports. I hold the photos I take of my brother playing sports very close to my heart. It felt so good to be back watching baseball and I had a few proud sister moments which felt even better!
Caroline and I spent a weekend with our cousin Kayla at her camp! So beautiful and so much fun!
Then Caroline and I went to my family camp and continued the fun!
The Donnan Fam rocking my merch! Some of my biggest supporters <3
Spent an evening paddle boarding with one of my very best friends, Michelle. She is my small biz bestie AND roomie!!
I spent one last day at the lake! Soaked up all the time I could before moving into my apartment and starting school again.
We decorated cookies on one of the last days with my kiddos before they headed back home!
I said goodbye to my kiddos (insert lots of teary eyes). Best. Summer. Ever.
The very next day I moved into my apartment!
My roomies on the left and my bestie Arianna on the right! I said goodbye to Arianna that night before she left for Penn State. So proud of her!
I had my first senior session! I was SO excited to finally start shooting seniors AND even more excited that these two sisters were my first senior session for the class of 2021!
Teddy was Wake Forest bound! We took some family photos before he took off and of course we got a pic with the Oneonta cousins in Wake gear!
Caroline and I had one last photoshoot before she took off for her senior year at SUNY Cortland. A beautiful night for dinner and photos!
I started working again! I was super excited to be back in the Intramural office…little did I know I’d only be there a few short days before things got crazy.
SUNY Oneonta was put on a two week pause just days after starting classes. Less than a week later, everyone was sent home, all classes were online, and no more in-person activities. Working in-person didn’t last long at all 🙁
I started September off with a beautiful morning celebrating Seamus & Ang’s confirmation. They were supposed to be confirmed in May but it was pushed back because of COVID-19.
Then I got my wisdom teeth extracted! I was actually so excited! They had been giving me trouble for months and I could not wait to get them out! Fun fact: I only had three wisdom teeth
Chloe always knows when I need some snuggles! I luckily didn’t swell up or have any issues after my extraction!
My roommates and I made some fun fall treats for a contest! We didn’t win 🙁 but it was fun!
I had my annual birthday session with Colton!
This lighting…perfect. Colton…the cutest.
Despite not being able to work in the office, the E-Board went out to dinner safely together. My boss got Alissa & I these nice masks! Funny how we get so excited about getting a new mask!
A fun Saturday supporting local small businesses!
I took Alex’s senior photos! I have been photographing her since she was 13 years old…(more teary eyes)! A special senior session to say the least.
After we wrapped up Alex’s portraits, we took a few photos of Alex & her mom. Her mom had been recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. They wanted to spread awareness, hope, healing, & strength in October for Breast Cancer awareness month. I felt so honored to capture these special photos for them & help spread awareness.
Fall was finally upon us!
I ended September in an unexpected way. My camera shutter broke during a session and I didn’t have a backup camera. This happened less than a week before shooting a wedding. I can’t run a business without a camera. I had a full calendar of sessions and no time to wait around. Everything happens for a reason. I felt lucky that this happened when it did. It could have been so much worse. This taught me that we have to roll with the punches. It’s all about perspective.
My first session with my new camera was an event hosted by the apartment complex I live in!
The gelato was so good!
My mom second shot for me at my second wedding! This wedding was another special wedding for me that I was so honored to be a part of.
Lauren & Zac’s wedding day was perfect.
Some of my favorite Valleyview Elementary staff! Read Lauren & Zac’s Wedding Day blog here: https://marykathleenphotography.blog/2020/10/10/lauren-zacs-wedding-day/
The Corkery kids had these photos taken as a surprise Christmas gift for their parents! I had to keep this session a secret until after Christmas, but it was so worth it!!
My cousins Grace & Adam were missing out on the typical school pictures because of COVID-19, but that wasn’t going to stop them all together. I had the honor of capturing their school pictures this year!
Another very special senior session for me. Kevin has been a family friend of ours since childhood. The Kurkowski family has been so supportive of my journey and I was so happy to have taken Kevin’s senior photos!
I discovered my new favorite ice cream spot…Adaline Ice Cream! So yummy!!
My outfit for teaching on Halloween! We take holidays very serious!!
On November 1st, I launched my Lightroom Mobile Presets!
I voted in my first Presidential election!
Discovered the most delicious avocado toast!!
My friend Kenz traveled from Cazenovia for a session with me!
Zeker is so cute and such a good boy!!
I took advantage of the last warmish day and took some branding photos. Iced coffee in hand of course!
Spent many nights with Michelle watching Christmas movies in our robes while drinking hot chocolate!
My student made me a necklace (teary eyes)!
Caroline was home for the remainder of the semester which called for lots of Latte Lounge trips!
I had a killer session with my senior boys! The full blog is here: https://marykathleenphotography.blog/2020/11/28/senior-guys-group-session/
Time for Christmas sessions to start! Colton always kicks of my holiday season & this year his brother was here to kick off the season with him!
Danielle (Colton & Landon’s mom) and I were planning this session MONTHS before Landon was even born! Totally worth it!!
Thanksgiving was spent much differently this year. For the first time in a while, I was able to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade while it was being aired. It was only the five of us for the first time ever. Even though Thanksgiving was much different, I felt so grateful to be able to still spend the day with my family. And yes, we decorated the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving 🙂
We had a Catella family Zoom call! Together while we were apart <3
Chloe helped me pack all of my props for my Winter Mini Sessions!
A fun first day of Winter Minis! We had a beautiful sunny day!
I had the honor of capturing Leiland’s first birthday!
December started with shopping local!
And eating local! Another yummy avocado toast combo!
Day 2 of Winter Mini Sessions! This was a very chilly day but we still had so much fun! Read the full Winter Mini Session Blog here: https://marykathleenphotography.blog/2020/12/17/winter-mini-session-recap-2020/
We took our family photos! It was FREEZING but we got them done!
A fun night with The Donnan Family!
Michelle & I watched the snowfall while we sipped hot chocolate and decorated gingerbread houses!
This snowfall was so pretty!!
Christmas time is my favorite time of the year so obviously I had to take photos by the Christmas tree!
The McGraw girls went to dinner at Alfresco’s aka a Christmas wonderland!
Then we drove through the Oneonta Festival of Lights!
I watched The Polar Express so many times! One of my very favorite Christmas movies!
My Christmas nails!!
The Christmas decor in my room! I’m not ready to take this down yet 🙁
I received the cutest Christmas socks from my client after my last session of the year!
Merry Christmas Eve! Caroline & I have taken a selfie together for 9 years now!
My Mom gifted these lovely scarfs to my Aunt Kelly and I! I’m obsessed…
We had a very intense gingerbread decorating contest! Aunt Kelly & I on one team and Megan & Ang on the other!
The one on the right won, *cough cough* ours!
Christmas Eve didn’t feel the same this year. We are normally with the whole McGraw gang, but COVID-19 didn’t allow us to all be together. I was really missing the rest of the family, but I felt so thankful to be celebrating Christmas Eve with the Oneonta McGraw’s.
We weren’t able to see the Catella family either because of COVID-19, but we went on a socially distanced, masked walk through the park! I was so happy that the weather let up and I could see the Catella gang safely outside!
Chloe loves her coffee just like I do! I gave her these toys for Christmas and she loves them!
Right after Christmas, my Mom and I started painting my room! I am moving back home in July for my last semester of college so obviously I had to get a head start on my room makeover!
Before I knew it, it was New Years Eve!
Chloe had to hop in for a few confetti photos!
I spent my NYE painting my room with my Mom <3
Then we wrapped up the night by watching the ball drop & I started writing this recap! Thanks for scrolling!