I arrived in Richmond, Virginia Sunday afternoon after 6+ hours of travel. It wasn’t my first time in Richmond. We previously vacationed there back in October of 2016, but this time I would be here for an entirely different reason. Three weeks prior, the biggest opportunity fell into my lap. Call it pure luck or call it fate, but I think the man above had something special in mind for me.
The beginning of this year was particularly rough for me. We had a super busy fall and winter season which meant I often had to choose work over spending time with our kids (enter mom guilt here). I was also dealing with some unexpected medical issues and add to that the fact that 2016 was also our first full blown year of being real business owners. To be honest, I was starting to feel like I was struggling with it all, which led me to start asking questions like “Is this path we’re on the right path for us?”, “Are we fit to be business owners?”, and “Are we serving our clients well?”
Then on April 2nd, my friend Marquette messaged me. It read this:
“I don’t know if you’d be interested, but two girls have had to sell their tickets to the Katelyn James Workshop at the end of April (23-25). I just bought one and there’s still another up for grabs.”
My mind raced and I had a million thoughts. I have followed and looked up to Katelyn James for years and here was this chance opportunity to learn from not only a photographer I admire so much but also from one of the best leading wedding photographers in the industry. It would be silly of me to turn this opportunity down! But could we afford it? I hesitated and over the next two days, Bryan and I talked about our finances. We ran the numbers and after lots of discussion, Bryan encouraged me to go for it.
After arriving in Richmond on Sunday, Marquette and I met with the other girls from the workshop and we all got together for dinner and then a casual hangout for ice cream with Katelyn and her husband, Michael. It wasn’t my first time seeing Katelyn. I previously met her in person at one of her ‘Come Together’ events and later at Showit United 2016. And every time I see her, she greets me with a huge hug and a genuine smile. It’s one of the things I love most about her.
Over the course of the next two days, Katelyn and Michael welcomed us into their home and made sure we felt loved and cared for. Upon arrival, they even surprised us with our own personal goody boxes! Mama James and Emy, KJ’s sister, put together home cooked meals for us while KJ and Michael shared a wealth of knowledge with the attendees based on their many years of experience in the wedding photography industry. We covered topics like lighting, posing, outsourcing, OCF, workflow, marketing, and client experience. There was also a beautiful pink and coral themed styled shoot in which we were able to watch KJ in action and shoot along side her (more pictures from that to come soon!). Both days were packed full of fun and at the end of the second day, she also critiqued our website and brand. And we each got our own personal headshots with KJ!
Words can’t describe how incredibly full my heart feels after this experience. At a time when I was feeling so utterly lost, at a time when I began to question if we were going in the right direction, I feel as though KJ breathed fresh life into what we do and lent me a new perspective. Along with reassurance that we were on the right path, she also gave me the confidence to make some difficult business decisions. I’m walking away from this with big changes in mind for our business and can’t wait to start rolling those out in the next couple of weeks and months! I know these last couple of days were exactly what my heart needed and that these changes will allow us to better serve our community and our brides and grooms.
I later found out from my good friend Tina of Pure in Art Photography, who was also able to attend the workshop, that there were only 17 seats to the workshop available and that tickets to this particular workshop in their new house sold out before it was ever announced to the public. In fact, it sold out within the first hour of emails being sent to her private two year wait list! How lucky was I to be able to sign up?
When I was feeling the most vulnerable and was beginning to question our purpose, it’s as if fate stepped in at just the right time and in just the right way. Katelyn and Michael are such a positive and inspirational force and every minute spent at this workshop and all 2,262 miles traveled was worth it. I am feeling so grateful (and emotional!!) and can’t thank Katelyn and Michael enough for having such huge hearts and for pouring back into our community. Not only did we spend 12 hours each day feeling welcomed and being treated like family, but they created such a great environment for us to learn, connect with each other, and grow together. Plus I got to snuggle on Bokeh Boy! If anyone has questions about the workshop experience or my own personal journey, feel free to email me. I’d love to answer any questions you have! Here’s a fun recap of some of the behind the scenes from The Workshop Experience, courtesy of Tyler and Ashley Herrinton as, well as photo highlights. Enjoy!!