Oh you guys! Last month I had a dream come true, and how it came about was so fun!
I’ve been dreaming of going to one of the KJ workshops for years now. When the Workshop dates were announced last fall I missed the announcement. They sold out so fast to the waiting list that the email I figured I’d see announcing them didn’t even go out. So I had no clue they were even on the books until one day in March when I was scrolling Facebook and I saw the words Katelyn James Workshop scroll past on my screen. That got my immediate attention!
There was a KJ Workshop scheduled! The first KJ Workshop in their new house! And it’d been scheduled and FULL for a while. And I had two Academy Friends going, come to find out! But the part that I got excited about…there was an open seat! One of the ladies that had signed up originally needed to sell her seat. I nearly peed my pants. No joke.
I checked my business account, looked at quick flights out, and then called Cameron. Right in the middle of school. I knew I had to jump on this fast because KJ seats don’t stay open for long! He of course said to go for it, so I did. Within 24hours I went from wondering what the next step in my business needed to be to being signed up for Katelyn’s workshop. And I couldn’t quit giggling. Darrow kept asking me what was so funny and didn’t understand when I explained that I was just excited. “Excited and funny?” Me? Going to a KJ Workshop? The idea was unreal!
I decided to keep it a secret and leak it out over Instagram posts and stories slowly and it nearly killed me to not tell everyone! I was so insanely excited! When I called my sister to see if she could watch Darrow and Ione while I flew out of town, she asked, “Where are you going?” “Oh, Virginia.” Still trying to be sneaky and keep the secret. But this is how much I love KJ: just from saying I was flying out to Virginia, Carolyn got excited and new exactly what was going on, “You’re going out to see Katelyn James aren’t you?!?! Oh my gosh!!!”
Not only did a seat open up for me to purchase, but one other seat opened up and I was able to get word to my friend Anh about the seat and she bought it! What’s better than a KJ Workshop? A KJ Workshop with friends!! There were 4 AZ girls flying out to VA for the workshop. That’s how good we all knew this workshop would be!
The weekend leading up to flying out was packed and awesome. I drove the kids to Southern New Mexico (a 6-7 hour trip with kids) to my sister and Mom’s house, spent an hour there, and then drove over to Tucson for a mountain top engagement session (which was AWESOME). The following day was a beautiful backyard wedding in Casa Grande. The wedding was so fun and I had a blast. I got in the car to drive back to Tucson to Anh’s house and realized just how filthy I’d gotten from running around the ranch/backyard all day. I could smell dirt and horse manure dust sticking to me. There was no way I could go to sleep like that, or fly out like that.
By the time I got back to Anh’s house, showered and cleaned up, and repacked my bags for the trip it was 1:30. I had to get up at 2:30 to get ready so we could leave for the airport by 3 to catch out flight. “That’s okay, I’ll just sleep on the plane.” Bahaha, right.
So 3 am rolls around and we jump in my car to head out and get a block down the road when I realize I didn’t double check the location of my wallet. So we stop and I do a quick check in the normal spots. It’s not there. We run back to the house and started going through the car more. No wallet. We checked the house, the car, everywhere. I was nearly in tears. I was just about to miss the KJ workshop because there’s no way they’d let me on a plane without ID. Finally, after a couple prayers, I decided to do one last check under all the seats. As I stuck my hand under the passenger seat my arm brushed something up in the springs of the seat. Somehow my wallet had gotten lodged up in the springs!! We couldn’t see it when we looked under, and we hadn’t felt it. My arm just happened to brush the edge that final time. Hallelujah!
Thankfully the Tucson airport isn’t crazy, especially at 4 in the morning and we got through security and to the gate just minutes before boarding began! Whew! Our layover was in Dallas where we met up with another Workshop lady flying out! That was a fun coincidence!
It was surreal flying into Virginia. It still didn’t feel real! I was actually doing this! Ah! We met up with a fourth attendee in Richmond and we all piled into the rental car together off to the AWESOME Air BnB 11 of us were splitting. Guys…coolest house ever! I volunteered to be the one to test out the bidet. Totally did it. And I see now what the hype is.
That first evening was a Meet and Greet at Gelati Celesti. Most of the Air BnB girls decided to all go out for burgers before getting ice cream so we got us a long table at Red Robin and had a blast! It was so fun to get to meet girls from all over and to visit and just have fun. By the time we all got to the Ice Cream shop with the other girls from the workshop, we were all giggling and visiting and having a grand time. Katelyn told us all that when she and Michael pulled up she was worried because the ice cream parlor looked full and she was worried there wouldn’t be room for our workshop group. And then they looked closer. “I think that’s our group in there!” It was such a fun party! This is also where I rediscovered that I apparently went overboard making sure that I ate my Wheaties as a kid.
By the time it was time to go back to the Air BnB, I was bushed. The hour and a half of sleep I’d racked up had worn off and the adrenaline was petering out. I claimed a top bunk and konked out. 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was magical!
The next morning we all convened at Michael and Katelyn’s house. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew we were going to their home, but didn’t have any idea what to expect. I knew it’d feely homey, but I didn’t realize just how at home I would feel the moment I walked in. It wasn’t like going to a conference in a sterile environment. We were welcome guests, and the love and feeling in the house was so incredibly sweet and wonderful! We each had a name tag and gift box waiting for us. I still have mine and I love it, crinkle paper and all! Well…not all. I saved the cookie and gave it to Darrow when I got home.
And Bokeh is just as soft and sweet as he seems on Instagram. Such a sweet boy!
Day one was all about shooting. We went over lighting, styling, and posing, all in prep for the big styled shoot that afternoon. So many “Ah Ha!” moments! So many nuggets of wisdom! One thing Katelyn said early on that if we go home after the Workshop and nothing changes, that we invested in entertainment, not education. That really stuck out to me, and I’ve been determined to come home and implement everything I could. I’ve already made positive changes, but there is still work to be done. Each week brings something new to integrate! This was the best thing I could have done!! I can see a difference already.
I totally claimed the floor as my spot. That’s where I’m most comfortable. These long legs need to be able to stretch out!
Katelyn and Michael’s family all worked so hard to help make this magical and amazing! They tended babies, Emily and Brenda prepared food, and everything was amazing! We were so well fed and cared for by everyone there!
Being able to watch Katelyn and Michael interact in person was one of my favorite things about the Workshop. Okay, everything was my favorite! But I did LOVE getting to see the two of them together there in their home. They are so sweet to each other, and I love the care and admiration they show each other!
The afternoon was full of the most amazing styled shoot! In KJ’s kitchen!! Seriously, her house is amazing! It was neat to be able to catch peeks of the behind the scenes process of everything coming together!
That weekend it rained. And rained! And RAINED! For a desert girl, it was pretty spectacular! Katelyn and Michael watched the radar and when they saw a small break in the rain heading they decided to change up the schedule so we could work outside with the models for a few minutes. It was blustery and cold, but totally fun and totally worth it!
The models were amazing! So happy, willing to brave the weather, and so easy to work with! She kept saying, “It’s because you all are so nice and encouraging!” While I know that helped, they really also were just fabulous! So cute and fun!
I’d read blog posts and the mini guide about Katelyn’s posing methods and ideology, but being able to see it in person was such a big eye opener! I was so intent on watching KJ and how she directed them and what she did that I forgot to take pictures sometimes! More than pretty pictures of the shoot, I wanted to go home with a better understanding of how to make my shoots better so that I could give better photos and a better experience to each of my clients!
It was only about 8-10 minutes before the rain came in again and we all had to retreat to the porch of the house.
After working with the models, Katelyn taught us her approach to shooting both bridal and reception details. And then we were turned loose to practice what she’d just taught us. Oh guys, I can’t wait to share the styled shoot photos with you all!
Day two started with headshots. We were all super excited and nervous about these! I spent hours and hours shopping for the perfect headshot outfit only to realize I had the perfect on brand skirt in my closet. Go figure!
The Day Two material was all about the business and marketing side of things. Again…so many amazing nuggets of wisdom! I loved it all so much. Katelyn talked about learning the new balance between being a Mom and a business owner and it was so incredibly refreshing and exactly what I needed to hear. She talked about how before they got pregnant, and even during, she worried that she’d never love anything like her business, that she wouldn’t feel maternal because babies just aren’t her thing, and that things wouldn’t work. And I knew exactly how she felt because I’ve felt the same things. I didn’t have a thriving business when I became a mother for the first time with Darrow, but the fears were the same. And I still battle with those fears and insecurities. Getting to see her navigate these waters of motherhood while running a business is amazing, and I am so grateful she lets us get a peek at that part of her life.
I’ve looked up to this woman for years now, and have had great admiration for her from the day I discovered her blog (back before she and Michael were a husband and wife team, back when Bokeh was just a little pup). That love and admiration has grown through the years, but grew exponentially at the workshop. We weren’t just there as sources of income to them. We were invited into their homes and lives as friends. They were so loving and kind to every one of us, and I know we all left feeling like we were their new friends. To be able to make people feel that way says so much about Katelyn and Michael, who they are, and about their mission in life. I’m so grateful for those two days in their home. And now I wish I could figure out how to get Cameron out there to experience this all with me!
While looking through the attendee list before the Workshop I realized that there were going to be six of us that are students at the International Academy of Wedding Photographers! We had to grab a shot of all of us there! And I love that all four of us AZ girls are all in the Academy as well! Everyone I met there was so sweet and fun. We had an absolute blast together and it kills me inside that we’re all so spread out across the nation. I can’t wait until United to get to see my Workshop friends again!
Katelyn and Michael, thank you so much for this amazing experience. The new friends, the golden nuggets of information, the love, the emotion, and the fun is invaluable. I left feeling like you cared about each of us individually. I left excited, knowing that I now had doable action items to implement in my business that would make a difference. I left with boosted confidence that I could have a family and a business at the same time. I left with an incredibly full heart. This was a complete dream come true, and worth every single penny, every lost minute of sleep, every hour of turbulence, and every mile driven.
And a HUGE thank you to all the sponsors who made this even more wonderful for all of us!
Davey & Krista
Two Bright Lights
Kelly Moore Bags
Tonic Site Shop
Ashlee Virginia Events
Party Rental LDT
Hello Darling Beauty