Heirloom:How did you come up with the Develop Retreat?
Katie: In 2013, I partnered with another photographer friend of mine (Kat Theis of Mustard Seed Photography) and started brainstorming ideas for a photography workshop that was both unique and new to the Texas industry. At the time, few workshops existed and those that did were geared more towards shooting and portfolio building. It was that year that we co-hosted our first Develop Retreat. What started as a 3 day retreat in the Texas countryside has grown into so much more! Over the years we have crafted our workshop to not only encourage the growth and success of fellow women photographers in the US, but to encourage a focus on the business side of being a photographer - which we believe is the part that artists struggle with the most.
We’ve come to realize that it is really easy to teach how to take a pretty picture - just as it’s easy to teach posing and have others imitate it in their work. It’s also easy to teach editing and have people incorporate the inspiration into their art, but what very few workshops teach is everything that happens when we AREN’T working behind the camera - the bookkeeping, the taxes, the pricing, the branding, the marketing and reaching your ideal client.
Heirloom: That's such a great idea. What led you to focus on the business side of photography?
Katie: Although anyone can take a pretty picture, it’s a lost cause in our businesses if no one is willing to pay a good premium for it. It’s often as artists that we become wrapped up in the “emotional” value of our work, that simply being paid AT ALL feels so good that we lose sight of actually operating a business that can survive the test of time. At the Develop Retreat, we encourage photographers to find a price point in their market which not only separates their work by encouraging a high value but that will also help them keep their doors open year after year.
We feel that once a photographer can establish a solid base in their business (good bookkeeping practices, sustainable pricing practices, targeting their ideal client, etc.) that the next natural step is to work on developing their voice and creating a niche market in our ever-developing industry. To encourage that, we offer several styled sessions for them to photograph - not filled with too much fluff, but rather simple, classic shoots that allow each photographer to incorporate their own vision.
Heirloom: Tell us a little bit more about what your workshop looks like.
Katie: The photographers get 10-15 minutes alone with each shoot, without the stress of cameras clicking over their shoulders or the pressure of others watching. This intimate time with each model allows them to expand their creative minds and produce images that are unique to their photographic voice.
Combined with the business techniques we teach during the first two days of the workshop, we feel that each photographer who attends can walk away empowered to grow their business in a way that makes sense for them - with images that are true reflections of who they are as artists.
Heirloom: Tell us about this specific shoot.
Katie: The images here are from one of the shoots that we offered. We always photograph our portion of the shoot in advance so that we have more time to give each attendee for their shoot and so that we can be more available to each of them as they need us to be for more personalized coaching. This shoot is perhaps one of my favorites from all of the workshops; not only because of the simplicity behind it which allows the images to speak for themselves but because of the incredible backdrop provided to us during our Colorado retreat.