It's been 1 year and 3 months since I attended the Katelyn James Workshop Experience and so many huge and exciting game changing experiences have occurred since then and I want to share them with all of you!
First let me begin by saying, up until a month before the workshop, I didn't even know who Katelyn James was (I can't believe I just admitted that in writing). It's true though. It was my 2nd year in business as a photographer and my main focus was newborns and lifestyle family portraits (but as many of you can relate I took whatever job came my way). I had been married for 6 years and didn't have time to shoot many weddings, so I wasn't really following any wedding blogs or photographers (hence the reason I had not heard of Katelyn). I was a full-time mother, part-time single mother (my husband travels every other week) full time teacher, part-time photographer and completely overwhelmed! I had made the decision that 2013 would be my last year teaching. One of my 3 jobs had to go (obviously my family wasn't an option) and my heart belonged to photography. With the support of my amazing husband I started making plans for the future and was ready to take my photography business to the next level. I had shot a few weddings and loved every second of it and thought this was the path I wanted to take, but I had a lot to learn.
I believe opportunities present themselves for a reason at exactly the right time, but you have to pay attention to the signs that the universe, God (or whatever your belief) shows to you and act on them because opportunities don't hang around. In a blink they are gone. Sometimes they are so small you can miss them. Sometimes we simply ignore them because we let that wretched malevolent voice inside of us, known as self-doubt and fear, influence our decisions. I used to let that voice control me, but have learned to control it though it took many years and missed opportunities. When I was finally able to cage the beast it was as if I entered a whole new dimension. I saw things I had never seen before (sorry, it's getting a bit deep in here. That's a whole other blog post). Let me get back on track...
So, anyway I was prowling through my facebook newsfeed when I came across a post about the Katelyn James Workshop Experience. I clicked on it and immediately thought "I must go to this". It was exactly what I was looking for in a workshop, but it wasn't cheap and that little voice of fear started to whisper in my ear. I had been to other workshops that weren't that great, of course you get what you pay for right? What if this was a huge waste of money and time? It was during the week and I'd have to call off work. It was 2 very long days (9am-9:00pm). I have the attention span of a two-year-old and cannot sit still for more than 10 minutes unless I am sleeping or vegging in front of the tv, so would I be able to handle such a long day? I've spent so much money on equipment I didn't need and workshops that weren't all that helpful, I couldn't afford to throw any more money away. I went back and forth listing all of the reasons why I should not take this workshop, but I kept coming back to what if it's amazing? What if it takes my business to the next level? I called my aunt and she agreed to take my boys overnight if I decided to go. As loud as that voice of fear was I managed to hear another little voice saying "you'll never know if you don't take a chance". So, I registered for the workshop, just in time too because I got the last spot!
I'm going to fast forward to now (read how amazing the workshop experience was and the top 5 game changers I implemented immediately following). I am so thankful I took the leap of faith because Katelyn was amazing. It didn't take long to see why she was such a big deal and to understand why photographers traveled long distances to come to her workshop. Not only is Katelyn extremely talented, but she is a very smart business woman.
After the workshop I had the confidence to dive into weddings. I raised my prices and booked 14 weddings in the year 2014! I took Katelyn's advice and changed my business name from Dia Marie Photography to Sarah Kane Photography. During the workshop Katelyn said samething that stuck with me, but wouldn't realize the importance until a year later. She said, "those of you who do it all, I don't know how you do it". Meaning those of us who shoot weddings, newborns, families, pets, seniors (you get the idea). After getting through my first full wedding season I realized she was right. I was right back in the same position I was in when I was trying to juggle being a mother, teacher and photographer. Something had to give and I needed to decide on an area of focus. The problem was I loved it all, but realized how time consuming weddings were. There was no way I could photograph weddings full-time and still be there for my family. I couldn't devote the time that was needed to be really successful in the wedding industry, still make time for my kids, photograph newborns and families. It's hard to stay organized and give your clients a truly unique and individualized experience when you are doing it all.
Remember that lecture I gave earlier about paying attention to signs? Well, when I took a breath, relaxed and looked for guidance I found that the answers had been there all along and the decision was obvious. When I looked at who my organic clients were, meaning the people following me on facebook and booking me through word of mouth, it was families and newborns. I've never paid for advertising in this area. 100% of my family and newborn clients were through word of mouth. What were most of my personal posts about? My family. What blogs did I follow most? Family. Why? Because that is what I relate to and those are the clients that can relate to me. I love photographing weddings and don't plan to give them up completely. If I get a referral for a wedding I would be happy to do a few a year, but after 4 years I've finally found my niche in newborn and family photography.
In October of 2014 I built an in home studio for newborns, so I no longer have to lug my entire studio to a client's home. I feel so focused and clear now of what my path is. Although I will not be shooting many weddings, so much of what I learned from Katelyn's workshop applies to all aspects of a photography business no matter what your niche is. Her workshop was part of the Universe's plan for me and I'm so grateful that I was aware enough to see the signs.
Speaking of signs, last week I came across a post in the Shoot & Share Richmond photography group from a woman who was 36 weeks pregnant looking for anyone who wanted to do some fun wintery maternity pictures in the snow (obviously she would be the model). I didn't know her, but it did sound like fun and although I have many maternity pictures in my portfolio none in the snow. I contacted her and found out through email that we actually had met before and do you know where? That's right, Katelyn's workshop! No she wasn't an attendee she was the hair & makeup stylist for the stylized shoot. In fact, she does all of the hair & makeup for Katelyn's workshops. Her name is Emily Hudspeth and she is fabulous!! We hit it off during the shoot and together created the most beautiful images! In fact, I am so excited that her maternity session is going to be featured on Beauty & Lifestyle Mommy's Blog!! This is my first publication and I am beyond ecstatic!
If you are new to the industry my advice to you would be to invest in quality workshops. They will be the best money you've ever spent and most importantly pay attention to the signs, as small as they may be, and believe in yourself!