Boss: Katelyn James

Business Owners Spill Secrets – or BOSS – is a series of interviews with small business owners about the things they wish they had known when they started their business.

“If I knew then what I knew now … “

It’s a frequent refrain when you learn something through trial and error. Experience may be the best teacher, but what if you could learn from someone else’s experience – learn from their mistakes before you make them yourself?

BOSS will help you do just that.

Business Owners Spill Secrets – or BOSS – is a series of interviews with small business owners about the things they wish they had known when they started their business. You’ll learn what they did, what worked and what didn’t. You’ll hear how they avoided disaster or how they recovered from it. Best of all, you’ll learn from someone else’s experience – which can save you time, stress and money.

Katelyn James claims she “had no idea what to do” on her first job as a wedding photographer.

The bride was a friend who asked Katelyn, then a college student, to shoot her wedding. Despite her inexperience, Katelyn said yes and discovered her calling. Soon after she went pro, starting Katelyn James Photography while still in college.

Katelyn has pursued her love of wedding photography into a career. She and her husband, fellow photographer Michael, shoot weddings in their native Virginia and along the East Coast.

In addition, the pair also help educate photographers both about their profession and running a business through workshops, coaching sessions, videos and online resources.

Katelyn is equally enthusiastic about photography, her business and teaching others.

Where are you from originally? How did you first get into photography?

I am originally from Sparta, a little town in rural Virginia, about 40 minutes north of Richmond. I first got into photography during college when I went on a few trips overseas with my first “real” camera. I fell in love with taking pictures of landscapes and artsy doorways.

How did you and Michael meet?

Michael and I grew up together! We met when he was 4 years old and I was 2!  Our families went to the same church and our parents were good friends from the start.

How did you go pro as a photographer?

When I was in college, a family friend asked me if I would take pictures at her wedding (even though I had no idea what to do) and I absolutely LOVED it!  From there I did a few weddings for other close friends and realized that I truly loved getting to capture moments for people on the happiest day of their lives. Out of that, I started building my business solely from word of mouth by friends and family.

Boss: Katelyn James

Katelyn James in her office space.

Your website is very attractive and has lots of information. How active were you in the design? How frequently do you update content?

I was very active in the design process. I created the brand and up until recently I had designed all of my own stuff. Within the last few years though, I’ve worked alongside Jen Olmstead to really exemplify my brand and style. She is truly amazing!

I rarely make drastic changes to my style and my brand, I have always had teal as my color and I have always aspired to have light and airy visual components to my content.

How important is social media to your business?

Social media and my blog are the things that have truly built my business. I rely on them SO much! Using social media and the blog to establish personal connections with my clients, other photographers, and followers is definitely a top priority.

You’ve written an e-Book about your most profitable business decisions. Have all of your business decisions been successful?

There have been many crazy ideas I’ve come up with over the years that haven’t proved to be successful. I’ve always been the dreamer; Michael is more of the realist, and he helps to keep me grounded. He reigns in my ideas when they are too crazy!

However, I had the idea to launch an online store and it was one of the best decisions we have ever made!

You and Michael do a lot of outreach to other small businesses and to those wanting to start a small business. How did this come about and what have been the benefits of it?

I love this side of our business! Getting to encourage, inspire and coach others through the process of starting their own small business is so rewarding for me. Providing education for new entrepreneurs and getting to teach through our online resources and speaking engagements has really just been something that’s developed over the last few years.

Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently when starting your business?

If I had the chance to go back and start my business all over again, knowing what I know now, I would have learned off camera flash sooner!! That transformed my reception shots!

For more information about Katelyn and her business, be sure to check out her blog: www.katelynjamesblog.com.

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