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Student Spotlight | September 2020

Meet Katie, Justin & Brittani

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After the response from last month’s inaugural “Student Spotlight” post, we couldn’t wait to get another one out! I’m thrilled to introduce you all to three more students from completely different parts of the country and very different KJ Education experiences. Katie, Justin and Brittani all came into our lives at different times but have all grown in absolutely incredible ways!!! We’re so proud of them and honored that they have allowed me into a small part of their business!! They may be KJ Students but their growth and their success has happened from their own desire to fight for what they wanted out of their businesses!

So let’s start with Katie! I can vividly remember the memory Katie mentions below at my workshop in 2012. It was one of the first times I realized just how much it meant to newer photographers to hear that they are worth it and that their work is valuable. Since then, Katie has grown her beautiful business in awesome ways. Not only has she found her own style and has mastered consistency, she’s also offered education and has helped others grow! As a personal friend, I have always loved and admired Katie’s sweet demeanor and kind heart.  I love her answers that she gave to our three questions and I agree wholeheartedly with her advice!! Don’t skim over them!! She has such great wisdom to share from her many years of running a successful business!

MEET KATIE:

1. What has recently happened in your business that has made you step back and go “Oh my gosh! That just happened?!”

This year has been a crazy year for almost everyone, but I have been so excited that I was still able to still book one of my largest packages ever and two destination weddings! When I started out, I thought I would have “made it” if I was booking packages worth HALF of what my most popular package is now!

I also celebrated my NINE year business anniversary and my EIGHT year self employment anniversary! It feels like it was just yesterday that I was buying a camera on craigslist and learning how to take pictures of pets and landscapes…yet I’ve been in business now for nearly a decade!

2. What part of your KJ Education experience has impacted you the most?

I’ve learned a ton from Katelyn over the years, but I think the piece of learning from her that has impacted me the most was something that happened at one of her workshops back in 2012. At the time I was still building my business and working on slowly raising my prices in increments until I felt like I was ready to charge $$$. Katelyn looked at me at the workshop and told me that I was already worth charging so much more. I remember crying (I’m always the girl who cries…haha) and feeling really shocked and surprised that she thought so highly of my work. Having her give me the confidence to go ahead and bump up my packages by over $1000 meant SO much. It has been something that has really stuck with me and given me the courage to believe in myself as a photographer and a business owner for all the years since!

3. If you could sit down with a photographer that feels incredibly defeated and discouraged, what would you say to help them? Is there a story of overcoming and victory in your own story that you could share?

I’m a marathon runner and one thing I’ve learned from that is there most likely WILL be a time when things get really hard and all you want to do is quit. That’s the time when you put your head down, continue to put one foot in front of another, and power through. Perseverance is like that in all aspects of life! If you are going through a tough time in your business, do your best to put one foot in front of another and eventually you’ll power through and get to the finish line!

I’d also offer this advice to anyone struggling:

1. Remember your “why”. For me, a big part of why I wanted to be a photographer was because I wanted to create a life where I could have a flexible schedule, I could write my own rules, and I could do something that meant something to others. Remembering exactly WHY I worked so hard to create this career for myself makes it easier to get through tough times.

2. Business has peaks and valleys, which means even if you are in a super low peak or going through a really difficult season, it won’t last forever. You will make it to another peak one day!

 

FOLLOW KATIE: Instagram, Website

 

I’m so excited to introduce you to Justin! Justin is probably one of our biggest encouragers and fans and we just love him! We can always count on him to be excited and positive in our Facebook groups! He’s been a student of ours for years and his growth is phenomenal!!! We recently saw some of his before and after images and were just blown away at how far he has come!!! Justin, you should be so proud!!! You’ve worked so hard to be where you are and it has been an honor to be a part of your journey so far! We know you’re going to continue to do great things, serve people well and keep growing your business in new ways!!!

MEET JUSTIN:

1. What has recently happened in your business that has made you step back and go “Oh my gosh! That just happened?!”

Since starting KJ Education, I have been booking the ideal clients. I specialize in weddings, high school seniors, & portraits. Using the Bridal Guide has helped me in my business significantly and now that we have the Groom’s Guide I feel like it has helped me bring in what I want. I recommend that everyone invests in a Bridal Guide to show to their wedding clients! When I present guides to couples for the first time, they get roughly halfway through before deciding to book with me on the spot! The guide gives couples a fantastic visual of how their wedding photos will turn out! So, stepping back and not only seeing that you have this amazing Bridal Guide and a  website, they know you are confident in what you love doing. 

2. What part of your KJ Education experience has impacted you the most?

Since I’m a visual learner, Katelyn has put together such an amazing array of videos. Learning all about client experiences, posing couples, to pretty much the final export in Lightroom . Katelyn teaches so much for the best value! I know I feel confident from when I get a booking, all the way through an engagement session, and even on a wedding day. KJ All Access has quickly become one of my favorites. I feel like she shows you every situation you would be put into on a wedding day. Whether you are in a dark hotel room with no windows or it is a rainy day and you only have to shoot with what you have. Katelyn has pushed me to do so much to maximize my thinking and really utilize all of my different strategies. I always step back and say to myself “W.W.K.D, what would Katelyn do?”

3. If you could sit down with a photographer that feels incredibly defeated and discouraged, what would you say to help them? Is there a story of overcoming and victory in your own story that you could share?

So, I am a huge believer in Katelyn James. If I were to talk to another photographer that is just beginning, I would encourage starting out with the Lighting and Locations course. this course has put me in a place where I can feel very confident and comfortable when shooting. The reason why I have the “look” and “pop” to my images is because of these three words… “Light, Location, and Layout.” Those three words have stuck with me since I have started with the Lighting and Locations course and this course is my favorite. It also really teaches you about just being confident. This goes hand in hand with client experience. A story to share is, a bride who did not want an engagement session! The groom was not really into taking photos, but when we got going and we started with simple poses, by the end of the session it was like he was a different person! It’s because we talked it out right before I started shooting and then he felt so comfortable in the photos.

Another Course That I love is the Posing Course. If you struggle with posing, Katelyn explains a large variety of poses that can be extremely helpful. From an engagement session to holding a bouquet on a wedding day. It’s kind of like having a miniature Katelyn in your pocket. If you have issues with editing and creating that style and pop to your images, the last and final course I suggest would be the Consistency Course. This course allows you to see Katelyn edit in any type of situation. So, if you are a photographer and you’re feeling like you cannot get anywhere (which was me), Katelyn has pretty much helped increase my clientele and add an amazing experience like no other!

FOLLOW JUSTIN: Instagram, Website

 

MEET BRITTANI:

I’m so excited to introduce Brittani!!! Brittani is such a vibrant part of the KJ Family! She recently came out to Virginia for our KJ LIVE EVENT for our business course students and ended up with a later flight than she planned and attended our Jazz event at our church one evening! So fun! I think one of my favorite things about the education side of our business is that we not only get to help photographers grow but we get to become a part of their lives. We don’t always get to have special experiences with every single student (there are over 15,000 of them!) but we make it a goal to make sure that our education we provide is personal, authentic and genuine.  Because of that, our students truly know us and our life and our vision. This makes it so easy to connect with them when we DO get to meet them in real life! We loved getting to know Brittani this past year and we’re so proud of her hard work and dedication to growing her business!! If you have ever struggled with confidence, you need to read her responses to these questions!

1. What has recently happened in your business that has made you step back and go “Oh my gosh! That just happened?!”

I think that the biggest one recently was having the sweetest couple tell me that I was the best experience through their whole wedding planning and wedding day. Not only did the Bride say that, the Groom did too! :) They both commented on how much of myself I gave to them and how they both felt important to me and like I truly cared about them! I even did a Bride and Groom second session with them after their wedding due to the weather ruining our chances of portrait time and they couldn’t believe that I was offering that to them. Afterwards they have both said they will do whatever they can to help me to continue to grow. They will tell all of their friends about me etc! Even one of their friends during the wedding came up to me and said that if she hadn’t already hired her photographer she would have booked me in an instant (I had only met her that day!). It was an incredible feeling that her friend could see how much I truly care and love what I do. 

2. What part of your KJ Education experience has impacted you the most?

Oh my goodness what part hasn’t impacted me! I’m going to be really real right now…before I found all of the KJ Education I was just going with the motions of what I thought being a photographer was. I would take on every person who called me and I was haggling prices with people all the time. My style was all over the place! Every time I looked at another photographer’s work I would judge and second guess what I was doing constantly. I was degrading the work that I was doing because it wasn’t “as good” as someone else’s or I didn’t have followers on IG and other Social Media. I could feel my so-called business and my confidence spiraling out of control. When I found KJ Education and watched some of the Free Webinars I immediately knew I wanted to learn all I could from Katelyn. What Katelyn was saying and how she interacted with clients resonated with me not just on a business level but a personal level. I jumped right in and bought the “trifecta” Lighting and Location, Consistency, and Posing Courses, then KJ All Access and the Business Collection the First-year she opened it up. I can’t even put into words the amount of knowledge on a technical level I have gained from all of these courses and continue to learn!
But it was on the personal level that I have seen the most growth. How I interact with my clients and truly want to be more than just their “here’s your pretty photos BYE” photographer. Now I feel like my business is in a healthier state and I am confident in myself and the work and service that I provide my couples. I have found MY style now and I love it! I don’t look at others’ work and think, I’m not good enough.
So if I am being 100% completely honest what has impacted me the most, I would have to say the love that Katelyn has and shows to everyone even if she doesn’t personally know you. It is the feeling of being a part of something, a community, that you can trust and not be afraid to put yourself out there in. If I didn’t feel that connection from the very first video I ever watched I don’t think I would have continued on with the education and I probably would have given up on my photography.

3. If you could sit down with a photographer that feels incredibly defeated and discouraged, what would you say to help them? Is there a story of overcoming and victory in your own story that you could share?

I would say and I have had this conversation with a photographer recently, “I was right there where you are and know the struggle that it can be, but don’t give up on yourself and if this is your dream don’t give up on that either. Find ways to learn and grow, practice practice practice even if you’re sitting in your living room. Learn every aspect of your camera, reach out to photography groups in your area, find people like Katelyn James that you connect with, and learn from what they have to offer. This isn’t going to happen overnight but if you are willing to work at it and to truly love your business and the clients you have you will see a change”
I have met so many newly starting photographers who, like I was, were afraid to ask people in the industry for help. I tell them I am always willing to talk and to give them my story. I tell so many photographers to check out KJ All Access because even if they don’t want to do weddings or they don’t have a light and airy style, All Access is so much more then that. It gives ideas and perceptions of how to positively deal with situations, different personalities, control issues, timelines, and things starting late, weather ETC! I always tell the photographers and vendors I meet and work with that we as a whole are a community that needs to work together and build each other up. This is a VERY important concept I have taken away from everything I have learned through the KJ Education Experience.

FOLLOW BRITTANI: Instagram, Website

Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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