We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Schaper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I can honestly say that there wasn’t really a thought process in starting my own business. I have a full time job and kind of felt content in my abilities at my job. I was looking for more of a challenge and decided one day that I wanted to start photography. I always liked taking photos but really didn’t realize how much of a challenge this business would be. I started taking photos of my friends at work and from there began learning more. After a couple years of practice I turned my hobby into a business and found joy outside of my regular full time job.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I feel what sets me apart from others is really how willing I am to make my business work. I didn’t just take a mentorship and think that it would be super easy afterwards. I did so many model call sessions to really hone in my skills. This photography career isn’t for the faint of heart, it requires constant learning, trial and error and so much practice. I was willing to go full speed at 200 mph to make this business work and I think that’s what sets me apart from others.
Nothing about this job has ever been easy. I was actually rather shocked how quickly I picked up my newborn sessions after my mentorship with Kelsi. I was never straight out of the gate successful, it took many years. But I was destined to make it work after I mentored with her. Everything about this business costs so much money and I told myself if I was going to spend all this money on something, I was gonna work 200% to make it work and that’s exactly what I did.
After about a solid year of complaining about comparison I realized that wasn’t the step to success. I began studying images and really dissecting what it was about those images that I liked. Was it their usage of light, the emotion or smile/laughter, their outfits. I picked apart each photo and made a list of things I liked and put my own spin on it. I am not a deep emotional person myself so after a solid year of trying those images I realized joyful, laughing and playing images are also a term used in “emotive” and ran with that. Once I started doing what was more me and more my personality, I had a thousand times more fun.
Lessons I learned along the way. Keep your tribe small. Not every photographer will be your best friend on social media. Do what works best for you and your business. You don’t need to do what the masses are doing. You need to do what works best for you, your lifestyle and what works best for your schedule and home life.
I’m just a girl who wanted more of a challenge. I had no clue that this business would grow to what it did. My brand is based on the joyful moments. The ones you never want to forget. Each session tells a story to their family and a happy one. My clients have become and extension of this business and have turned into friends. We talk to each other, lean on each other when we need it and support one another. It’s not just a session to me, but following their families as they grow and getting to see them year after year is so special. This business saved me in my personal life and so many sessions allowed me to see the light and excitement in life again.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Interesting question. I would take them on walk through the tall forest pines where the trees are so still you can hear a pin drop while you’re there. Although the above question asks about the food and drinks that’s exactly where I’d go. I would much rather go to a place where it’s so still to really truly hear and learn about the person I’m with. The best conversations happen in the woods and seeing peoples faces among nature and the stillness of life is the best place to be. People with true life stories are the best, the most interesting and being among the woods/nature is when those things come to light.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Years ago my friend Angela Mitchell years ago told me not to quit photography after a bad mentorship. She told me to stick it out and that she believed in me. Years later I trusted the process of mentoring and mentored with Amanda Highbarger (White Pine Photography) and she really taught me how to control my presets and my editing. It took a while for me to find my own voice within this business and her mentorship allowed me to believe in myself and continue growing. I mentored with Kelsi Troilo (My Lovebug Photography) with newborn photography and that mentorship really changed my framing of my clients and her mentorship was all around life saving for me. Everything she taught me in newborns translated over to my family sessions. With her mentorship I was able to go back to my studio and add a successful business not only with family sessions but with newborn sessions.
Facebook: Kate Schaper Photography