Time for Questions!

Happy Friday, friends! I’ve been getting questions from people offline for a while now about photography and small business. I try my best to answer in the best way I know how. And, I thought, why not see if any of you out there have questions that I might be able to answer!

You can email me (kathryn@atlasandelia.com), comment below, or ask via Twitter or FB and I will begin to answer them (even if I don’t have the answer..I will try to find one for you)! You can ask me anything! What’s my favorite lens and why? How did I get started in wedding photography? How do we figure out the wedding-day timeline? What would I do if I won the lottery? Anything! As I said, I will try my best to answer it for you.

Happy asking!



The happiness list…

Today, I laid on the floor (something that makes me happy) and I wrote and wrote and wrote. The heading at the top of the page: “What Makes Me Happy”.

Nothing on this list is extravagant. Everything on this list is within reach, on a regular basis. These are things, or people or actions I choose to include or exclude from my life. These little things truly are what make up life and contribute to my happiness…

What’s on your happiness list?




Goals for 2013

Well, Goal Party 2013 is a wrap! My friends and I got together Saturday night (after watching what I must say was a shocking and devastating loss to Butler) to commit to our goals for 2013 and to review how we all did in 2012.

The tradition is to drink port wine and eat a very special cheese, called Stilton, which goes especially well with port (but is also especially stinky). As we (Karen, Dan, Jabez, James and I) went around the table reading our goals from last year and explaining if we reached the goal or not (and sometimes why), I couldn’t help but feeling incredibly proud of these people who I call my closest friends. Whether we failed or not at some things last year, the fact that we even sought to create a ritual like this and commit ourselves each year to be better, is really a wonderful thing…I LOVE that I have friends like this!


While last year, I really only had 1 goal, this year,  the pendulum swung the other way completely for me, and I filled an entire page pretty easily. As I described last week, my hope is to create goals that are timely, so my goals were written out quarterly. This will hopefully keep me on track and really striving to propel myself forward throughout the year, without dwelling on setbacks…always moving forward, forward.

I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a pretty exciting year (pay special attention to the 4th quarter of the year 😉

What did I tell you?! This year is going to be kind of epic in the Stevens’ house! (And no, this is not an official announcement of anything…just the hope for the future!) James made a short and sweet list of goals that he will totally make happen! Karen, as usual is working on goals that make her a better mother and educator and I have no doubt she will rock her goals out this year! Dan, whom I admire for so many reasons, has almost as long of a list of goals as I do, but he is crazy motivated this year! And Jabez is making things happen this year like nobodies business! This year is going to be GOOD…I can just feel it!

Thank you to everyone who shared their goals with me! I know each and every one of you can accomplish them! Let’s commit to commitment, shall we?! The winner of the giveaway is…

Megan Kathleen!!


Cheers to 2013, friends!!!



I don’t want to work today, so let’s have a Dance Party!

Yesterday was filled with a bunch of tasks that I just didn’t want to do! So many times, I’ll set out to accomplish SO much in one day, only to find myself doing everything BUT those tasks! This wasn’t really an option though…I HAD to get things done. So, I needed to kick start my productivity…somehow…someway…and that’s when inspiration struck…

Time for a dance party!

And it totally worked!! I danced like a crazy person (seriously, if you haven’t watched the video, you are in for a treat…think Elaine on Seinfeld)! My dogs even got into the mix (Parker acted just like every other guy I’ve ever seen up in the club…bad dog…bad!) And Abbey showed off her mad skills! I got my heart rate up, just enough to be PUMPED to DO. THE. WORK!

What are your tricks for just getting shhhtuff done?




So it’s mid-January and I am JUST now beginning to reflect on what worked and what DID NOT work in 2012! First off, with almost 2 months left in 2012, I made a list of goals I was going to accomplish before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s 2013.

On that list were:

Ten: Create and order new sample albums (I ordered one version, I will be ordering the other in the next month)

Nine: Book flights for an international vacation (I didn’t quite make this one, but as of today, I did!)

Eight: Read 3 books, 2 non-fiction, 1 fiction (ohmygoodness, this was a major #fail!)

Seven: Take one frame per day, on film (ummmm…not even close)

Six: Re-work my blog (This is first up on the list this year)

Five: Book 1 (or more) destination weddings (Oh yes I did!)

Four: Submit to be published on a national wedding blog (Check…AND it was accepted!)

Three: No social media on the weekends! Except Instagram…;) (This one started off strong, but got difficult when I was working on the weekends…)
Two: Avoid ALL refined sugar for the rest of the year…whoa…yeah…this is happening. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. (I absolutely did this..though my end of the year was Christmas eve…that last week of the year was all down hill!)
One: Run that half marathon I’ve been talking about! (Done and done!)
All in all, I feel really good about this. I am pretty surprised with myself that I was able to do so much in such a short period of time. But, I believe this is why it worked for me.
SO, going forward this year, I plan to make SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals, just like the goals above were, and really focus on the “A” (Attainable) and  “T” (Timely).
The goals will be set for 2 months out, and then again two months out, and so on until the end of the year. And, if the goals need to be revised based on circumstances I hadn’t foreseen, or it just makes more sense to change to another time of year, or get rid of all together, I will definitely feel free to do so.
Overall, last year was an A-mazing year! I mean, honestly I couldn’t have asked for better clients for 2012! On top of that, I feel like last year was a huge learning curve for me when it came to my business, as well as my personal life. I think I grew a lot and I feel like I know who I am just a bit better going into this new year.
In general, here is my “What Worked and What Didn’t list”
What Worked:
1. Setting office hours (I worked from 7am to 6pm, Monday -Friday with lots of breaks for coffee, dog walking, and hanging out with friends) This has made me feel a little more in control of work.
2. James and I shooting weddings together! James just rocks and keeps me focused and prepared for the next thing…Go Team!
3. Moving out of an office into a home office. Working from an office was unnecessary and distracting, it turns out! I did enjoy having a place for clients to meet me, so I might work on something like this in the coming year, but in general, working from home has been more than fantastic for me!
4. In-person client meetings. I LOVE setting up for client meetings. I love choosing what we’ll eat, what images to display, whether we’ll have wine or bubbly 🙂 or coffee, what candle to burn, what music to play, etcetera! I also love just getting to know my couples well from the very first meeting. It is ultra-important to me that we really connect the first time we meet!
5. Wedding-Day Timelines (I am kind of staunch with my couples about the timelines! And, so far, people love it! I do too..having a playbook for the day is essential to keeping it stress-free and fun!
What Didn’t:
1. Sticking to my daily schedule (written on a mirror in my office, I have a schedule of what I should be working on throughout the day…I don’t think I’ve followed it once, which is definitely a problem…I’m going to fix this by changing the way I work all together!)
2. Trying to do everything myself! (This includes editing, office management, taxes, cleaning, branding, blogging, client care, vendor care…and the list goes on. So, this year, I have a few goals that relate to this!)
3. Skype/FaceTime meetings (These actually have worked WHEN I’ve had them. Trying to convince clients to meet with me this way for the first time, seems to be like pulling teeth. I am not sure if I’ll continue to make that offer. I might decide to offer to meet them in person OR on Skype, whichever they prefer.)
4. Creating systems that map out my workflow on all aspects of my business. I keep saying to myself, “I totally need to create a system for that” and then I continue to put it on the back-burner! If I had a system for everything, I practically wouldn’t have to think about it! Instead I would just DO IT! One of my major priorities for the year is to make my business work for me. This is probably the number one thing that will get me there. (Hold me to this, internets!)
5. My branding. My website, my blog, my logo, are all done by me, and it shows! Ick! Technically, I’ve only been in business for 1 year and a half, so I think it’s okay that I started out this way, but it’s time to put some effort, energy and MONEY into this really important aspect of my business!
As I said in this follow up post last November, the key to attaining the goals I set out, has been to work on them a little, daily, rather than procrastinating, and allowing myself to think I’ll change ALLATONCE, overnight, I’ll just BE the kind of person who “Doesn’t eat carbs” or the person who “Follows Through” or “Is on top of everything”…No, these are ways of being that take constant and consistant practice. These are choices, that turn into habits that turn you into the person you want to be.
I am SUPER excited for this weekend because we’re having our annual “Goal Party” with our good friends, where we will dedicate a night to writing out our big goals for the year. Last year, I had but one goal on the list. It was to shoot 15 weddings last year. Well, I failed. I only shot 11. But, at the beginning of last year, 15 was a HUGE goal…one I never thought I would even come close to. The point, of course, is to achieve the goal, but maybe more, it is to think BIGGER and reach HIGHER than you ever had thought of doing before. So this year, I plan to go BIG…real BIG!
And, I want to invite everyone, as I did last year, to come join the party! Okay, not in person. Afterall, it’s not even at my house! But, to virtually join the party! Tell me what your goals are for 2013!! Or, maybe even just the first 2 months of 2013.
Write in the comments below what you plan to accomplish this year! I will randomly pick one winner from the commenters who will win my very favorite (Voluspa Santiago Huckleberry) candle from Anthropologie (because amazing candles make goal setting just that much easier)! I will announce the winner next Tuesday when I will also share my goals for the year!!!

The day after | reSTARt with Jasmine Star | CreativeLive

It’s later in the morning than I would have liked to get this out…honestly, I barely slept last night I had so many thoughts going through my head! (Oh, and I’m staying with my good friends here in Seattle whose baby wasn’t feeling well last night, so that may have been part of it too!)

The thoughts were swimming, swirling….just out of reach, as they sometimes do in the middle of the night. After spending the day at Creative Live in Seattle for their new series with Jasmine Star called “ReSTARt”, I was in a bit of shell-shock, I think.

Why though? What was it that made yesterday such an experience? I’m asking this and well, it was more than the thrill of watching the entire production that is Creative Live. It was more than seeing Jasmine do her thing, in person. It was more than the information she was teaching… more than any of that…there was a pervasive energy in the room. The three attendees who put themselves out there, in front of everyone had it. Each and every one of the 30 audience members had it. The Creative Live crew even had it! What was it? Why did everyone feel this same way? Well, for one, Jasmine is a presence. As I said, yesterday, she is a fire that lights other fires! You just want to be better, a better person, a better photographer, a better dresser (she has style beyond style)!

But beyond that, I think we all realize that we are in the midst of something different. Because of online education sites, like Creative Live, we now have the ability to disseminate information quickly and widely to a myriad of people around the world! It’s more than that though. We’ve realized that, yes, online education is the future. Teachers, like Jasmine, can speak to us and teach us, and propel us to be better, but more than that, through avenues like Facebook, we can now continue the teaching, the conversations, the ENERGY beyond the workshop.

I believe this is where we take it to the next level. We take the communities that we build around something like reSTARt and help each other to really make the change happen. I know I come away from workshops like this feeling like I can TACKLE the world!!! I’m ready to do the work, to make the changes, to be BETTER, but soon after, most of the fire has died out. This is just human nature. So now, with our ability to reach out so easily through FB groups, and Skype, and on and on, we can push each other, daily, if we want, to make the small changes in our life that eventually create the BIG changes that lead us where we want to go.

I think we all are looking for communities that will push us to be the person we strive to be. For me, reSTARt, is a community now. It is a group of people that, if we make it, can be a HUGE accountability group that pushes us to greater heights.

Whether it’s reSTARt, or another online workshop, or another type of community, I believe we can leverage the ways we are learning and meeting each other to really help others. I don’t want to take this amazing technology and time in history for granted. It truly is amazing! If you are looking for community, or even just one person to keep you accountable to the changes you’re looking to make in your life, please know, I am here. Send me an email (kathryn@atlasandelia.com), or let’s set up a time to Skype!

Here’s a look at yesterday’s fun:

 The Set

(Lovely faces of lovely ladies I met yesterday, from left: Stephanie, Amber and Jennifer!)

(Mugging for the in-studio audience cam)

(JD on set as the day wrapped)

(Jasmine telling scary ghost stories 😉 )

(CreativeLive make-it-happener, Nikko, and producer extraordinaire, Celeste!)

(Kenna giving Jasmine a round of applause)

(Celeste keeping us in check)

(Long-time internet friend, now real friend, Hannah and I!)

(Jasmine and Stephanie keeping it real!)





Tuesday | ToDoDay

Supposedly this is the “slow season” for wedding photographers. Well, I have news for y’all … ’tis not. As I write this, my shoulders are tense with stress, I’m all hopped up on coffee and I have a “to do” list that’s a mile long!

I’m definitely NOT complaining, but my oh my…this is not what I imagined for this quiet time of year! Some exciting things are happening in my corner of the world right now (see below), so I couldn’t be happier for all the excitement. What I am yearning for though, is a little order!

So, today for “Tuesday|ToDoDay” I am looking to figure out how to “keep calm and carry on” as they say!

Here’s my game plan:

1) Exercise! This isn’t news, but this is generally the first thing to go for me when I’m busy and stressed out.

2) Drink! …Water that is. I tend to wake in the morning, get my iced coffee and nurse that throughout the morning. While, I probably won’t give up coffee this week, I plan to drink water alongside the caffeine. My trusty water bottle by my side, staying hydrated is HUGE in staying focused.

3) Eat! Sometimes, I forget to eat. Like…until dinnertime. Yikes! This is quite possibly the worst habit I have. My brain gets all fuzzy, I can’t figure out why I’m so tired…I get crankY (with a capital “Y”!)

4) Downtime. Yesterday, and well, basically since Christmas, I’ve been really working on NOT working. We shot two weddings at the end of the year, so to a certain extent, that wasn’t possible! But, I made the decision to not blog daily these past two weeks and that time to just sleep in and not stress about work, has been much needed and super refreshing!

5) Time with Friends and Loved Ones! James and I have been more social than usual these past few weeks and it’s a reminder to me how much I crave real interactions with the people that matter most to me. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but James and I both realize that getting together with people we really want to see, brings us so much joy and is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity!

Notice that, none of these things will particularly create “order” but what they will do is help to melt the stress away. And when we do this, our brain allows us to begin to make connections again, which creates a sense of order. It’s amazing really. As the stress fades, I can almost feel my brain being able to think BIGGER, effectively, and much more clearly!

And, in case you’re wondering what’s on my plate that’s causing all this (possibly undue) stress…

First: Tomorrow I will be in the studio audience at CreativeLive with Jasmine Star for her 3 month ReSTARt workshop!!! I was invited to participate in the day and all the activities going on surrounding this workshop. Figuring out what to wear causes serious stress in and of itself! (If you have any advice for me, I’m still taking suggestions!) Go HERE to watch it LIVE tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 9) from 9-4 (PST)!

Second: The Bella Sera Platinum Bridal Show is this Saturday at the PAC (Wenatchee’s Performing Arts Center) and I will be one of the vendors in it! I’ve been working like a little bee to prepare and create an amazing experience for this exclusive bridal show! Check back Friday to find out more about it! But, if you’re in Wenatchee on Saturday January 12, please come! It’s free! It will be from 10-4 at the PAC. I will be downstairs, outside of the theatre where the fashion show will be held at 11 and 1!!! (Don’t worry, I won’t be IN the show!) Go HERE to find out more about the bridal show!



Wedding Books | The Design Process | Part I

When I first started designing wedding books (albums) I was daunted by the task (it still makes me kind of overwhelmed at the start). So what I had to do was break it down into parts and just start at the start, as they say.

For me, step 1 is to edit the wedding down to my very best images. Luckily, I’ve already attempted to do this when I blog the images from the wedding. And often, I create diptychs for my blog too, so I’ve already found images that pair well together, which is possibly my favorite way to display images together on a page.

So what is it that I’m looking for when I’m pairing images? There are a few things:

1. Color vs. Black & White Are both images color or are they both black and white. I do not pair b&w and color images together on the same page (and usually within the same layout, that is, two pages, side by side). Since I create my images in color and then convert to b&w, I could, of course, go back and find the original and see if it fits, but I usually look for another image that works rather than doing that. This is because, if I’ve seen that image as a b&w from the beginning, it often just won’t work for me in color any longer.

2. Subject Obviously, the wedding book is a medium to tell the story of my couple’s wedding day. So, for the most part, I tell the story chronologically. Each image on one page go together in time and in style and then flow into the next page using the same parameters. What do I mean by “style”? My style is consistant throughout the wedding, but the lens choice might be different, or the angle that I’m shooting from might vary, and of course, the emotions can be wildly different. So, I look to create cohesive spreads that show all aspects of the day, through tighter shots, then wider shots, joyful emotions, and more somber tones…

3. Logistics This is the part that makes me kind of want to avoid album design all together. I’m nervous I won’t be able to put the images together on the page in a aesthetically pleasing way and tell the story at the same time. Meaning, because I am not a professional designer, I don’t yet feel completely confident in my skills! And, I prefer clean, simple, lots of white space…and well, sometimes I think less is more…but clients tend to think, more is more!!

I am far from a designer, but once I begin working on a wedding book, I really get excited about the creative process and all of the little choices that go into making a keepsake that will be held and seen for generations…



p.s. We will talk about the rest of my book-making process in Part II, next Wednesday!

p.p.s. Happy 12.12.12 !! What are you doing at 12:12:12 on 12.12.12 ? (I’ll probably be by myself, eating a grilled cheese sandwich in my jammies, with my dogs begging next to me…)

Tuesday | To Do Day

I’ve tried lots (read: dozens) of ways to make a “to do” list. I’ve bought several (read: dozens) of notebooks and cute journals to write down all of my “to dos”. I’ve bought red pens, and sparkly gold pens…I’ve converted to making lists on my iPhone and syncing to my computer.

All of these things work for a time, but then I lose the note book, or I don’t have my special pen, so I just don’t make the list that day and I get flustered because I don’t know what’s next. I remember that I can use my phone, but then it seems to be more hassle than it’s worth!

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve found several different methods that go beyond the traditional list. I haven’t completely stuck to any one of them, but I’ve found a hybrid that’s been working for me…

First, at the beginning of 2012 I began writing down everything that’s on my mind at the end of the day. These are things I want to accomplish in the next day, the next month, the next year. This is a concept from Lara Casey over at Making Things Happen  called “downloading”. I’ve used pen and paper, my phone and my computer. I ended up keeping a Google Doc of this running list. Now, that might seem unwieldy with all of those thoughts just upchucked onto a page, but what happens is, once I put it somewhere (not in my head), I all of a sudden experience clarity.

It doesn’t stop there though…

Once everything is out of your head, you can then get to work on what needs to be done. Choose three things on the list that either have to be done the next day, or you really want to work on first. I usually go to the low-hanging fruit first, but that’s not necessary because the things you’ve chosen to tackle don’t need to be fully completed…you just need to start them. (And we’ve established I’m really good at starting things (but not so much finishing them), so this part feels really easy. Essentially, take the first thing on your list, for me it might be: “Go run 4 miles today”. Then, break it down into steps …and not ALL of the steps, but the first 3 steps that you would need to do to start.

1. Find running shoes

2. put on running clothes

3. put on running shoes

Once I’ve done that I’m practically out the door.

Another (slightly more complex) example: Re-design website (yeah, told you…where do you even start with something like this?).

1. Think of colors I like

2. Write down colors I like

3. Look for combinations of these colors on Pinterest

That’s it! Now, that is far, far away from my site redesign being completed, but it is a start. Let me say that again, “it is a start”. And, as we know, just thinking about beginning a project is often enough to stop us from doing it at all. Ever. So why not trick your brain into it?

So what do you do from there? You keep making action steps until the task is complete. And then, you cross it off your list…the one on your desk and more importantly the one in your head. Then, your brain can move on!

As I said, this one was working smashingly well, but for some reason I stopped doing it. Maybe it just hadn’t quite become a habit yet? During that time I reverted to making list after jumbled list and often found myself just staring at it and then become annoyed when I didn’t finish everything on it in one day. That’s when I found another gem of a post on Justin & Mary’s site from guest blogger: Katelyn JamesWhat she does is create a master list of everything that needs to be done in her notebook. Then, she picks out the things she needs to do that day and writes them on a sticky note and places that sticky note on top of the master list. Once she finishes things, she crosses them off. By the end of the day everything is crossed off of the sticky and she can throw it away. She can then cross it off of the master list and move on.

I’ve begun to combine these two methods into one. And guess what? IT WORKS! I’ve gone back to writing the list out in a notebook. I look to this master list for the things I want to tackle the next day and write them on a sticky. Under each item, I make a list of the first 3 steps I need to do to begin to accomplish the task. If there are more steps that need to be done to complete the entire task, I re-write the list with the next steps. At the end of the day, I throw away the sticky and cross those things off of my master list. Finally, before I go to bed, I re-write the master list, so that I get that relief from getting everything off of my mind and onto that page!

Do you have any tricks for how you make a to-do list that gets you to actually DO the things on it? I’d love to hear them (because, as usual, this is a work in a progress)!



Studying The Masters

When I was in college I studied abroad for a year in Florence, Italy. That year of my life was absolutely crazy! With classes Monday-Thursday and traveling everywhere you can imagine in Europe (and beyond) Friday through Sunday! I saw SO much that year, it blows my mind when I stop to think about it. It was actually on a bridge in Amsterdam when I realized I’d forgot to bring my dad’s old 35mm camera with me on that trip and I had to buy a disposable camera (remember those?) to document my trip, and I was profoundly struck by the idea that maybe photography was more than just a hobby to me. I realized that through images I could tell stories. It was then that my path led me to photojournalism and then on to wedding photography!

That year, I had the most amazing teachers, including Professora Carrara. She was passionate…no, beyond passionate about sharing her knowledge of art and art history. It was a testament to her great teaching that no matter how late we stayed out and no matter how much wine we drank in the piazza the night before her class, we did NOT miss the walking tours she put on every Wednesday morning. We walked the streets of Firenze and visited museums aplenty. I can distinctly still hear her saying in her thick Italian accent, “It’s the Pan-theon, NOT the Par-thonon!”

For years, I have been telling myself and others that I am not an artist and not artistic. But, lately I’ve found myself going back to study some of the artists she turned us on to, as well as others for inspiration in my work. And slowly, but surely, I’ve come around the the idea that I am artistic. I do have an artistic eye and I am influenced by all of the things that artists look for in creating their art: good composition, good light, and a subject that strikes them in such a way that they are compelled to make it come to life through their eyes.

I am inspired by SO many different great painters, anywhere from Botticelli to Vermeer to Renoir….

I look forward to the day when I can re-visit Florence, and maybe visit with Professora Carrara to tell her just how much she has shaped and influenced my life by allowing me to know more about how a true artist sees the world.