The Katelyn James Workshop Experience Update | Newborn & Family Portrait Photographer

Katelyn James

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.

Some picgtures I took during the workshop

Some picgtures I took during the workshop

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!  

Emily's winter maternity session. See more pictures using the link below!

Emily's winter maternity session. See more pictures using the link below!

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!

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Wintery Maternity Session with Emily Hudspeth

My Katelyn James Workshop Experience

Sole Proprietor vs. LLC in VA | Sarah Kane Photography

Sole Proprietorship or LLC?

So you are ready to register your business and become official, but you're wondering should you register as a sole proprietorship or LLC? First you need to know the difference between the two.

Sole Proprietorship is the individual business owner with no separate entity. Meaning there is no legal distinction between the business owner's business and personal assets and liabilities, so all of the assets of the business are subject to the owner's personal liabilities and all of the owner's personal assets are subject to the liabilities of the business. Although there is no legal distinction it is a good idea to separate your business and personal accounts.

Many people refer to a sole proprietorship as a "DBA" and use those two terms interchangeably, but it is incorrect to do so. A DBA (short for "doing business as") is simply an assumed or fictitious name that the business uses which is different than the true legal name of the business. While many sole proprietors conduct their business under an assumed name, or DBA, so do most partnerships and many corporations and LLCs. A "DBA" is not a form of business entity; it is an attribute shared by many types of entities.

What is an LLC?

limited liability company (LLC) is a form of business entity that limits the liability of its owners. Features of an LLC is the owner of the LLC has limited liability for the entity's debts. Basically an LLC separates your business from your personal assets.  So if something happens to the business your personal assets cannot be touched.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but in my personal opinion it's always best to protect your personal assets and become an LLC right from the start. Some people operate under the notion that their business insurance is all the protection they need, but what if you are sued beyond your insurance claim? What if you are sued by multiple people? What if your business goes bankrupt? Insurance can only protect you so much.

 Adapted from

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How to file as an LLC in the state of VA

Everything you ever wanted to know about Sole Proprietorship VS LLC






Becoming an LLC Business in Virginia | Sarah Kane Photography

Congratulations on making your business official!! I remember the day I registered for my business licensee. It was so exciting, but the process to getting there took a bit of work because I had no idea what I was doing! I called a lot of places and was on hold for quite some time before I finally got the answers I was looking for.  I don't want you to go through the same ordeal and the great news is, you can now do everything online in just a few easy steps!!

I'm going to walk you through the steps of registering your business as an LLC in the state of Virginia. (learn the importance of becoming LLC versus just Sole Proprietor here) It's actually pretty simple!  I've listed all of the steps below.  Good Luck!

The total cost of initial registration as an LLC is $102.35 (as of 10/14).

1.) Start by visiting the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission online.

2.) Click "Get Started" under the box titled New Business Formations.

3.) Click "Form a Virginia Limited Liability Company".

You will be required to create an account. Once you do so complete the fields that are required

4.) Pay and submit and you are done! Your receipt and certificate will be emailed to you!

That was the easy part! Now the hard part is running your business.  Best of luck to you!

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Sole Proprietor vs. LLC

Do I Need to File Sales Tax in VA if I've Made Zero Profit?

The answer to this is YES!!! Even if you have not made a single dime, but are a registered business you MUST register and file sales tax. Don't worry, you won't have to pay anything, but you still have to file. 

In the beginning of most businesses you will see your sales fluctuate. One month you may bring in some money and the next month nothing.  Do you need to file during the month that you didn't make any sales? The answer is YES!!  You MUST still file with the Va Department of Taxation each month. Again, you will not have to pay anything, but you must file. If you do not file you will be charged a minimum penalty fee of $10 as well as interest. 

It's actually pretty simple to register and file online. Click here to get started.

You can watch this informative tutorial from the VA Department of Taxation on how to register and file. Click here.

Still not sure? Here are step by step instructions: Click here


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Do Virginia Photographers Need to Collect Sales Tax on Digital Photographs?

Do Virginia Photographers Need to Collect Sales Tax on Digital Photographs?

One of the biggest controversies in the photography community of VA is whether to collect sales tax on digital images or not.  So why is this such a controversial topic? Well, if you call the VA Department of Taxation and speak to 3 different representatives it is likely that you will get 3 different answers ( I know from experience). If you contact a CPA it is likely that you will also hear 3 different answers. So what are we supposed to do?

The law clearly states that sales tax is to be collected on "tangible" products.  There is no doubt that albums, prints, canvas, CDs or flash drives are tangible and therefore taxable. Those are physical products  that you can touch, feel and hold in your hands.  In the age of digital technology, however many photographers are delivering their images through an online gallery and giving their clients the right to use whichever printing company they'd like. This method is referred to as  "Shoot & Share".  The client downloads their images right from the gallery onto their computer and have the freedom to order products from any printing company they'd like.  Often times no tangible products are ever exchanged between the photographer and the client.  The question is, should sales tax be collected in this situation? Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this question, but let's begin by looking at the Law and how it is written. 

The law is pretty clear, but again what is not clear to many is that word "photograph". Does it refer to digital photographs delivered strictly via the internet? When this law was written, because of the date, I can assume it was written before the digital age and was referring to film. Obviously the only way to deliver film was through prints or proofs, both tangible products.  I'm going to share with you information that I received from 2 different representatives from the VA Department of Taxation via online chatting (as of 2015, due to budget cuts, chatting is no longer available).  This was the only time I received the exact same information from two different agents. 

Here is a summary of what I was told:

Photographers in the state of VA DO NOT need to collect sales tax when delivering digital files via the Internet (this does not refer to CDs or flash drives). Tax is ONLY collected on tangible products.  Digital files ARE NOT considered a tangible product.

Ok this seemed to jive with what I've been told by the other  agents I spoke with and what a lot of other photographers and CPAs believe. Wait though there's more...

HOWEVER, if the client purchases a print (or any other product) from an online gallery the photographer MUST collect tax on the ENTIRE package and service, not just the print itself.  So, let's use a wedding package for example. If your wedding package includes digital files and your services for $3000 and the couple chooses to order prints from your gallery after the wedding and final payment as been made, you MUST charge them sales tax on the entire amount of $3000. So that $2 print (if you follow the true Shoot & Share way) will have a sales tax of $159. Ouch! 

Only two representatives explained that part to me.  This is a common misperception of those photographers who choose to accept that digital files are non-taxable.  I don't know about you, but that $159 looks a whole lot worse calculated into a $2 print then if it was calculated into a $3000 package! Assuming this information is accurate it makes more sense to collect tax in the beginning regardless of whether the client chooses to purchase any tangible products (prints, albums, etc) or not. 

There are several CPAs who will tell you with 100% certainty that digital files ARE considered tangible products and therefore sales tax MUST be collected (that's what my CPA has told me).

Wait, didn't we just solve this issue? I mean I have confirmed information from 2 different representatives, so why isn't this the end of my blog post?

Here's why - I attended a workshop hosted by a VERY successful and well known photographer whose wedding packages begin at $7000. This photographer is known on a national level and quickly gaining recognition on an international level. During her workshop the issue of sales tax came up (shocking I know) and she shared with us her experience of being audited and fined $10,000 in fees and back sales tax because she, like so many other photographers, did not believe sales tax needed to be collected on digital photographs. Clearly the VA Department of Taxation disagreed. I believe the majority of photographers out there want to follow the law and want what is best for their clients. Those not collecting sales tax believe they are doing what is right. Those collecting sales tax are also doing what they think is right. It's disappointing that good honest people are getting into trouble because there is a lack of consistency regarding this topic. 

Hearing first hand from the photographer herself was enough to convince me.  I collect sales tax from every single client right from the beginning.  I believe it is the ONLY safe route there is.  I didn't like it at first, but I've never had a client complain or question the tax. I've never lost a sale over sales tax. Having worked in the educational system for 12 years and never getting accurate information from the ones overseeing everything (that's a whole other blog post) I am not surprised that The Department of Taxation operates in the same manner.

I am not a tax expert. I am only sharing my own experiences and opinion. This is how I've chosen to handle the age old question of sales tax and digital photos.  I encourage you to research this topic further. A good place to start is the VA Department of Taxation, but good luck navigating through their website.  They certainly don't make it easy!

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Head Shot Swap Take One | Maymont RVA | Sarah Kane Photography

So many exciting things have happened since I left teaching and dove into the world of full-time photographer last June. One thing that has been monumental for me is finding the Richmond Shoot & Share group. This is a community of photographers who collaborate on so many levels to help each other learn and grow. I've already met so many amazing people in the short time I've been a member.

This past Wednesday Seth Mclain organized a Head Shot Swap for members of the group. We would all meet at Maymont partner up with someone and take turns photographing each other. After 15 minutes we would swap partners until we had rotated through everyone leaving each photographer with a whole lot of new headshots for their website! Genius! Not only would we have a bunch of cools pictures, but we would also get to see everyone's unique style. All day we were watching the weather hoping that the rain gods would be looking out for us and hold out until the sun disappeared. Well that was not part of the plain apparently because 15 minutes into our shoot the gods unleashed a fierce rain storm which led me running for the nearest tree.  At first I was really disappointed, but it wasn't long before I knew this rain storm was exactly what was supposed to happen. The creative block I was feeling during Seth's brief session (do to the fact that I could focus on nothing but the villainous black cloud that was encroaching on us) was suddenly lifted and I threw on my camera's rain coat (yes she has her own rain coat) and started snapping away! Melissa Desjardins was the first to volunteer. She's so cute and even cuter twirling about in the rain! Next Seth, Erika, Josh and Kelsey couldn't resist a "jumping in the rain" shot and lastly Erika & Josh embraced the rain with a romantic kiss. Turned out the rain was a gift after all and left me with some beautiful shots! Seth plans to reschedule the event and I'm looking forward to a sunnier day, but am so thankful that the storm hit right when it did!

Before the storm

picture of Seth McClain-Johnson

picture of Seth McClain-Johnson

Headshots | Maymont RVA | Sarah Kane Photography

Here are the pictures Seth took of me!

Under the tree where my creative block was lifted!

Melissa Desjardins - Isn't she adorable?

Melissa Desjardins - Isn't she adorable?

Bring on the Rain!

Rain | Sarah Kane Photography
Whoa! Twirling in the rain can make a girl dizzy!

Whoa! Twirling in the rain can make a girl dizzy!

Pictures in the rain | Sarah Kane Photography

Cuttin Lose!

There's nothing more romantic than kissing in the rain!

kissing in the rain | Sarah Kane Photography
Romantic rain images | Sarah Kane Photography

When Two Photographers Get Together | Sarah Kane Photography

What happens when two photographers get together? They rock out a photo shoot of course! I'm so thankful to Allison Shumate for reaching out and suggesting that we trade services and have a little photo shoot! I am so fortunate to be part of the Shoot & Share Richmond photography group. I've met so many amazing photographers in the short time I've been a member and have had some amazing pictures taken! Thought I'd share some of my favorites from out session. Allison and I gave each other our unedited images so we could edit in our own style. It's always scary letting someone see your "naked" pictures especially another photographer! I had so much fun and cannot wait to do it again in the fall! Huge thank you to the very talented Allison Shumate of Allison Shumate Photography! I also have to give a shout out to my very good friend Ryan Stewart for accessorizing my wardrobe. She has the most amazing sense of style and jewelry collection I've ever seen! 

The following images were taken by Allison Shumate edited by Sarah Kane.

Thought I'd share a little before and after! Obviously I removed the fence. The light was only good in that direction and the fence just killed the shot!! You always have to go where the light is! While I was in Photoshop I thought I'd add a little makeup too :) I don't normally do that because it would take FOREVER, but I thought I'd have a little fun!

Thought I'd share a little before and after! Obviously I removed the fence. The light was only good in that direction and the fence just killed the shot!! You always have to go where the light is! While I was in Photoshop I thought I'd add a little makeup too :) I don't normally do that because it would take FOREVER, but I thought I'd have a little fun!

Images of Allison Shumate by Sarah Kane

I must remember this angle for the next shoot we do together. Gorgeous!!!

I must remember this angle for the next shoot we do together. Gorgeous!!!

Katelyn James Workshop Experience | Sarah Kane Photography

November 2013 Workshop-Headshots Behind the Scenes-0005.jpg

I'm finally able to share about the Katelyn James Workshop Experience that I attended last November! We were asked to hold off on sharing any images until Katelyn's were submitted for publication and I'm happy to report that they've been published on The Wedding Chicks blog!

I learned so much during the two days I spent with Katelyn and 11 other amazing female photographers! I was a little worried because the workshop was long (9 am - 9pm). I have the attention span of a flea, but I have to say it went by in a flash. I was inthralled in every word. I didn't want to leave when it was over, I wanted more! I had a good more 5 hours in me atleast.

Picture by Katelyn James

Picture by Katelyn James

I've attended several workshops and this by far was definitely the most informative. Katelyn shared everything!  I was on information overload when I left, but I'm not complaining. I felt a bit lost about what I needed to do to grow my business and although I still have a long way to go this workshop helped me figure out the steps I needed to get started. 

I'll admit I was hesitant to take the workshop because of the price. I went back and forth for a few days then just finally took a leap of faith and registered.  I knew I walked in the door of Katelyn's home that it was going to be worth every penny and it was!  I highly recommend this experience to other wedding photographers! There were so many things I learned, but I couldn't implement them all at once, so I'm going to share with you the top 5 that I was able to do right away and were game changers for me.

First,bBeing convinced to edit in Lightroom instead of Photoshop. I am so stubborn and spent endless hours learning Photoshop ignoring all the advice others gave me about making the switch. Katelyn spent some time showing us a few tricks in Lightroom and I decided to give it a shot. Instantly I went from spending 3-4 hours editing 50 pictures to 1 hour! What's even better is I was able to do this without having to spend 35 hours learning Lightroom! The tips Katelyn gave got me there. This has drastically improved how quickly I can get clients their images and have more time to work on the business aspect of things.

Second, changing my business name to my actual name. This was difficult for me because I was emotionally invested in Dia Marie Photography, but after taking Katelyn's advice I made the switch and couldn't be happier. It was definitely the right decision for me!

Third, posing. I really struggled in this area and the workshop has improved my posing techniques dramatically!

Fourth, Blog stomp. If you blog and post images and don't have it get it! It's around $50. You won't regret it! (Update: Blog Stomp as since introduced Album Stomp. You must have it).

Lastly, I was lucky enough to win (never happens to me by the way) an album from Leathercrafstmen! The album is worth over $400!! I didn't have a sample wedding album, so this was huge!

There are so many more things I took away from this experience and have been working hard to implement into my own business, but that would be a really long blog post.

Check out a few of the pictures I took during the stylized shoot. I was more concerned with listening to what Katelyn was teaching then taking actual photos, but I did get a few!

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 A year and a half after the Katelyn James Workshop Experience. Where I am now.

Vendor List

Flowers & Styling: Anthomanic,
Calligraphy, Custom Cake Topper, Invitation Suite, Straws: The Weekend Type 
Furniture: Paisley & Jade 
Cake: Fat Girl Cakes,
MUA/Hair: Emily Hudspeth 
Gown: Tiffany Bridal
Treats: Wegmans
Stemware, Plates, Napkins: Crate & Barrell 
Faux Fur Wrap: Express
Faux Snow: Target

Workshop Sponsors:
Kelly Moore:
Leather Craftsmen :
Align Album :
Album Exposure :
Anthomanic Florist :
Emily Hudspeth :
Two Bright Lights :
The Organic Bloom :
Templates for Photographers :