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First-Year Friday | Coaching | Nikki Santerre Photography

January 11, 2013

Okay, so coaching was two months ago, but trust me, it has taken two months of contemplation and soul searching to decide exactly how to discuss this incredible experience.

In a nutshell, coaching with Katelyn James saved my business, changed my outlook on the industry, and was the necessary catalyst to light the fire in me to passionately pursue my dream. With gusto.

This time last year, I honestly had no idea who Katelyn was. I had only recently fallen in love with my camera again, and decided to start researching what it would take to start a business of my own. I was having dinner with a photog friend, discussing the ins and outs of an ever changing industry, when we began discussing faith and our business. She threw out names of two women who had changed the industry by being fearless and bold in standing up for their faith as the first priority in their business. Those two women were Katelyn James and Jasmine Star. Having never heard of them, I did what any other curious newbie would do. I stalked read their blogs. Daily Frequently.

My friend was right. Not only were these two woman incredibly talented in their art, but step by step in their journey, they never forgot to glorify the one who brought them to where they are. So for the next few months, I read as they photographed wedding after wedding, offered advice to their industry peers, and shared about their lives. I even emailed them both with questions, and to my complete shock they both responded to me.

So, in September when Katelyn announced her coaching dates for the fall, I snatched one up within the first minute they were online.

At this point in my story, I wasn’t going at this alone. I had a partner in crime, Charlotte.

Charlotte and I grew extremely close over the course of the last year. I had the opportunity to  take their engagement portraits late last spring, and we both share an affinity for our art, so we decided two photogs were better than one. We became a team and called ourselves “Belle Photography.”

Charlotte followed Katelyn’s blog as well, so we were both elated for the opportunity to be coached by such a fantastic mentor. We literally had a “Coaching Countdown,” went shopping for new outfits (since we knew we would be making an appearance on the famous blog), and discussed all the questions we had for Katelyn about our business and the industry.

On the day of coaching, I had an enormous lump in my throat. I was so nervous, and Charlotte was beside herself as well (even leaving her camera at home that morning! Her CAMERA! On coaching day!). So we made a detour to grab her gear, then headed to Katelyn’s house.

The minute we parked on the curb in front of Katelyn’s precious Cape Cod, my worries vanished. She was there, on the front step, waiting for us, holding her Bokeh boy pup, waiving enthusiastically.

You see, as excited as we were to meet her, she was just as excited to meet us. That’s the thing about her, she is so down to earth. She hugged us, welcomed us into our home, and was one of the most real women I’ve ever conversed with. During our time together, we discussed the importance of branding, investing in your business, awareness of light, you name it and we covered it. There was so much information, at one point she even looked at me and said, “Nikki, you look a little terrified right now.” And I was so overwhelmed. But in an incredible way. I hungered for my business. I wanted to immediately take action on every piece of advice she offered.

We laughed, we cried, we had lunch and did headshots (at a completely random location on the side of the road, but we worked it!). It was an incredible experience. The day continues to give, because as a result of coaching I have been connected to a network of other KJP coachees, a resource on which I will never be able to put a price tag.

Like meeting that cutie pie down there, Sarah.


Check her out up there, doing her thing in the parking deck 🙂

After coaching, Char and I had a serious heart to heart about the advice Katelyn shared with us, and we made the tough decision to go our separate ways. It is really tough to try to brand two very different women into one business, especially when our styles are similar, yet so different at the same time. But we still love each other. To itty bitty pieces! And to quote Katelyn herself, we are blessed to have come to this decision early in the relationship than to have the business arrangement fall apart on us later.

Coaching was an incredible experience. For industry beginners, I highly suggest you consider coaching with a mentor who inspires you. It will change your heart, and your business, for the better!

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  1. […] I did coaching, something Katelyn suggested when thinking about branding was to go into my closet and try to […]

  2. […] night was incredible, I had nothing to worry about. Katelyn invited all the girls she had done coaching with for the past year to have dinner as a Coaching Reunion. It was a safe place, a time to gather, […]

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