Trent-David & Katherine | Proposal

I have known Trent-David and Katherine since I was a senior in high school. They have been the kindest and most supportive friends, and watching the two of them grow in love for each other over these last 4 years (officially on the 26th!) has been one of the sweetest things. If you don’t know them personally, they are two of the most kind and loving people you’d ever meet. They have the best time together, deeply care for one another (and so many others), and their laughter is contagious.  

You also might recognize them from this shoot, AND this shoot, AND ANOTHER SHOOT (which you won’t ever see, but jeez, I realize I have asked them to model for me SO MUCH). The first one is literally a few weeks after they first began dating and I was learning photography, and wanted to practice photographing couples. The second one is where they so graciously modeled for me as a bride and groom for a fake wedding in Atlanta. ;) NOW IT’S FOR REAL.

When Trent-David messaged me a few months ago about proposing, I dropped everything. He spent so long planning this gorgeous day, and it was such a beautiful thing to witness. I know that so many others including myself have been waiting for this day and seriously am so honored that I was able to be here and document it. It’s something that I can never take for granted about this job. 

Cheers to the future Mr. and Mrs. Comer and all that is to come, y’all are so so so deeply loved!! 

Thoughts on Graduation | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

I'll be graduating with a BBA in Marketing in December. My days as of late consist of reading business cases from Harvard, creating marketing campaigns for other companies, and trying to run my own business, which has a million different responsibilities in itself. Occasionally, you'll also find me tutoring Calculus. It's been a roller coaster, to say the least, these last 3.5 years. There have been times where you feel on top of the world and others that leave you feeling incredibly defeated. But if I've learned anything, it's been understanding more and more that this is where I'm meant to be, to take it all in with gratitude, and that each moment and situation have been carefully orchestrated with the most tender care. 

A few years ago, I wasn't sure what The Lord's purpose was for me by going to school, or how He would use it, but it's become so clear that I wouldn't be who I am today without having gone, my faith wouldn't have been stretched in the way that it needed most, and that He truly can redeem any and all situations, giving and taking away what He sees fit. He loves and only has goodness in store.

While I have had frustrating days where I've felt "held back", feeling like I have been unable to "give my business my all because of school", (in terms of application of what I’ve been taught, that is) it took a lot of re-patterning of my thoughts to realize that truly, education is an investment into my future and it is, in a sense, giving my business my all. I truly feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to receive an education from one of the best business schools in the state and to be graduating at the top 10% of my class debt-free. What a gift! 

It's frankly a little surreal to realize that this chapter of my life is coming to a close, but goodness gracious, it's been the best experience that's sharpened my mind, changed my heart, prepared me in the best way possible. I'm left me so thrilled for what is to come, and grateful to have the freedom to hit the ground & truly run towards my dreams without restraint.

I'm already booking weddings in Atlanta for next year and the year after with the kindest couples, and I truly feel so honored and humbled that they have entrusted me with the sweetest task, and that they've walked with me through this journey. For those who know me well, they know that I'll be pursuing this full-time after graduation and that I'll be doing 1:1 business coaching with an incredible mentor. I know it's going to be such a huge and transformational year, 2019. I can hardly wait.

9 Tips for Managing a Creative Business while in School | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Today marks my last first day of school ever, which is something that I am so thrilled about. I will graduate from undergrad in only a few short months! Since high school, I have had the privilege of running my own business while simultaneously pursuing an education and balancing other jobs in between. Lately, I have received a few questions regarding how I  was able to do this. While it has not been the easiest road going back and forth between lectures, homework, and then photographing weddings throughout Atlanta, over the last few years, I have learned so much about grit and the hustle while realizing that we, as humans, are much more capable than what we initially give ourselves credit for. We just need the discipline and drive to do it all.

I am so excited to share today some of the processes and things that I have learned throughout the years that have helped me in my entrepreneurial journey as I run this creative venture and chase my dream.

 

 photo provided by Patrick Le

photo provided by Patrick Le

 

1. To Do Lists

For me, one of the biggest things that I have had to learn to implement are to do lists.  I am not talking about a vague, generalized list, but rather, a well thought out, detailed, and thorough list of the things that need to get accomplished. Not only for the month, week, and day, but also divided up into different segments for the various classes and tasks within my business. It is so important to have everything laid out. Break down a monthly to do list into what needs to be accomplished within the next week, also giving priority order to specific items on the list. For me, this looks like having multiple lists on a spreadsheet, categorized by sections. I have a list for my school broken down by each of my classes and then lists for my business, sorted out into various categories.

 

2. Outsourcing

Another thing that I have started implementing is outsourcing, which has been a lifesaver and one of the best things I have done for myself (and my sanity) this year. Not only as a business owner, but also as a student, time is one of the most valuable asset that anybody has and it is also one of the things that seems to always dwindle. It is so important to focus on the things that you do well and things that cannot be replicated by another person, but the things that are tedious and often simple, can be hired out. Using a virtual assistant or outsourcing work that can be done by other individuals who you trust saves so much time. 

For me, I currently outsource blog scheduling, and implementation of various projects into different platforms. I also will outsource different forms of communication that come through e-mail and replying to comments on other platforms. I’m also in the process of further outsourcing my post-wedding work so that I can spend less time behind a screen and more time with those I love or working on other areas of business. I highly recommend looking into outsourcing the things that are not your forte. Starting off small, perhaps 10 hours over the course of 1 month will lift so much weight off of your shoulders. It will definitely take some time to sit down and write out all that you do and need done, but once you do, it will show you how much you truly do as an entrepreneur, and will allow you the freedom to truly flourish in the areas that are already your expertise.

 

3. Automated Systems, CRMs, and batch processing

Another thing that has saved me a lot of time is having automated systems (like Quickbooks, which automatically does my bookkeeping, read more about that in this blog post here) and various e-mail templates that I implement throughout my communication with clients and vendors. For things that are in my inbox, I use Boomerang, a FREE app, to schedule my e-mails if I need to send things out on future dates or at different times.

E-mail templates are helpful because I am asked the same questions or follow similar processes, and by saving my e-mail responses, I can quickly respond to my clients with a well-thought out reply through a click of a button.

I am also moving over to using a CRM called Dubsado that helps manage my client experience and decreases my response times. It automatically sends out detailed and customized messages, questionnaires, proposals, and forms for me right when I need it to (without me having to be at the computer) and is the best thing! 

 

4. Appointment Scheduling

I recently implemented an incredible program called Acuity Scheduling, another FREE app, for my consultations, discovery calls, in-person meetings, and sessions. I send all inquiries to this calendar if they need to meet or talk with me and they can schedule a time to talk instantly. This has cut out a lot of the back and forth between the other person and myself (which takes a lot of time!!) and also allows me to stick to the boundaries I have created for myself.

Through Acuity, I am able to set the days and hours that I am available throughout the week, and forget about it. My calls are scheduled at the times that are most convenient for my clients, around my availability. It has made it a lot easier to stick to my boundaries – whether that be not scheduling sessions on the weekends, doing calls past a certain time, and you can do this too!

When a meeting, call, or session is scheduled, it will automatically sync to my calendar and send confirmation e-mails to both myself and the other person.

 

5. Separate calendars

I am a visual person and like seeing my month at a glance. For me, what works well, is having a calendar that is strictly for business and then also having another calendar that contains all of my assignments, projects, and exams. Having the two separate calendars allows for me to remain organized, and not to overwhelmed by the writing.

The thing that I love most about this is that by having two separate calendars, enables me to be able to focus on specific aspects of my life without overlap: think of it as functioning in “business mode” or “school mode”. I also have the ability to sync the two digitally, if I need it – however, typically I don’t do this. Otherwise, my calendar will seem overloaded. Throughout the week, I am able to compare the two calendars and make sure that I do not run into conflicts for scheduling which allows for me to allot enough time for me to study or complete assignments.

 

6. Block Off Time

Running a business and being in school simultaneously is definitely not for the faint of heart. Things can become overwhelming and stressful during specific times of the year. For photographers, that is usually during busy season, which picks back up in August through November. For students, that’s usually during midterms and finals.

Most creative entrepreneurs that I know struggle with finding the balance between wanting to be working all the time and resting, and this is only heightened while in school. I remember finding myself feeling the need to always be working in the additional time that I was not in lectures or completing homework.

What happened was that I felt burnt out crashed very quickly into the semester. Having balance and realizing that rest is necessary was essential for my mental and physical wellbeing. If you are doing both school and a business venture, I encourage you to rest! Although your mind might believe, at first, that you "need to do more", taking a step back will allow you and your heart the time necessary to recover and to do work well and serve your clients better than ever.

What I do now is block off 3 weeks throughout each semester and do not allow myself to schedule anything outside of lectures. School gets the priority – no meetings, no sessions, no weddings. I will of course, still respond to e-mails daily and have calls with potential clients or other vendors, but locking down those weeks to focus on the bare necessities has been so good in helping me feel balanced and not over extended.

 

7. Time Tracking

To better increase efficiency, I have started tracking my time using Toggl, a FREE app. This helps tremendously when I need to understand how quickly it takes for me to complete certain items. By setting timers and tracking various activities, I am able to understand the tasks that might need to be outsourced and things that I do well. I also only allot a certain amount of time to complete various tasks. In my mind, “beating the clock” has made me more motivated and has allowed me to complete tasks quickly.

 

8.     Separate the work days from the school days

Over the last four years, I have been diligent to ensure that being on campus does not occur more than 2 days each week. The reason for this is also due to needing balance and not feeling over extended.

I go to campus typically 2 days per week for lectures, and no more than 2-3 in-person lectures per semester. On the days that I go for lecture, I focus on completing the various assignments for each class when I come home. I piece out my work for each class and do as much as I can in those two days.

On the days that I am not in class, I focus on scheduling my meetings, sessions, marketing, and wedding (pre and post) prep. While I am not able to do as much marketing as I would like to, it has been a great system so far that has helped me maintain a 3.9 GPA throughout my entire college career!

Throughout the week, I will always give preference to responding to e-mails over doing homework. It’s so important to have a quick response time to messages.

 

9. Do things you love and be surrounded by those who love you

It’s easy as a student and business owner to be lonely. You are often feeling like you are going through the motions and “doing the next thing”. It’s important to balance being dutiful and accomplishing all the other tasks by doing things you love that are completely unrelated to your business and school life. For me, I am involved at my church, play piano, and sing using this app on my phone. One of the few things that gets me through finals is also watching The Office and anything from the Bachelor Franchise!

6 Ways to Master Creative Business Finances as an Entrepreneur using QuickBooks Self-Employed | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Being an entrepreneur calls for having a lot of grit, discipline, and ultimately requires you to wear many hats. In addition to being an expert in your industry and providing excellent service for all of your clients, you must also be in charge of running your social media campaigns, project management, contract negotiation, networking...The responsibilities can seem endless! One of the things that I often hear is that many fellow creatives don’t categorize themselves as “business savvy”, meaning, that the responsibility of bookkeeping, taxes, and profit margins are not their forte, which is understandable.

Having gone to business school (and still being in it!), I’m so thankful to have been taught the mindset you need to have about money in order to thrive and be financially successful and have a business last. It’s so important to know your numbers: your revenue, profit margins, expenses, and what you should set aside for taxes so that you can be faithful with what you have and strategize different ways to make more.

 

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As an entrepreneur, one of the most valuable assets anyone has is time. And sometimes, it can seem as if the daily operational tasks can take away from the things that you do best and the things you love the most. For many, it’s bookkeeping, the numbers. If I’ve learned anything during my time being a student and a wedding photographer, is that it’s so important to invest in products and services that will allow your business to flourish and be efficient.

Quickbooks Self-Employed has been one of the best tools that I have ever used for my business as a photographer. It’s allowed me to grow my business and has saved me a lot of time in a number of ways by streamlining my finances and creating a workflow that serves me throughout the year, setting me up for success for when April that rolls around each year. In short, Quickbooks Self-Employed is my personal, virtual assist, serving as my bookkeeper, invoice system, tax preparer, and mileage tracker.

It’s been my bread and butter, my saving grace, and has allowed me to master my freelance finances with ease.

 

1. Tracks Business Expenses

When I first jumped into life as an entrepreneur, I did not keep every receipt and I used the same card to make personal and business purchases. When April rolled around and I had to fill out my 1040, trying to go back and remember everything that I had done for my business and what the costs were was a nightmare. I had to go through an audit each of my bank statements and write down what I had purchased. After nearly 3 days of racking my brain and wanting to pull out my hair, I knew that this method had to change. The next day I went to the bank and created a business account after creating an LLC for myself.

Doing this not only saved me the headache of trying to figure out which expense should be categorized (because now expenses were separated), but I then registered for Quickbooks Self-Employed. after joining, I started to realize exactly where I was putting my expenses every single month. Direct reports were available just buy a simple click of the button. I was able to set realistic expectations for what I should be doing and make sure that I was making more than what I spent.

 

 

When April rolled around the next year, I was able to fill out my 1040C quickly within an hour. Because of Quickbooks Self-Employed I was able to make sure I maximized my deductions. Quickbooks Self-Employed users find an average of $4,340 annually in tax savings!

 

2. Bookkeeping is automatic

Quickbooks Self-Employed Has drastically cut down the time that I have to spend categorizing my transactions because the system allows you to connect your bank account to their platform and automatically transfers all of your expenses and income to their platform. The system records each transaction and their source and also allows you to set up “rules” so that recurring transactions are automatically categorized for you. This is super helpful for when I go to the post office, or need to order supplies on the regular (like film!) because the program will categorize each transaction for me. Huge time saver! :)

In addition to the seamless way that QuickBooks Self-Employed categorizes everything for you, they have also just introduced a system where they will transport all of your receipts into their system for free. All you have to do is email the receipt to them and it’s put on file within minutes. if you have a physical receipt, all you have to do is take a photo of it with in the app. Quickbooks Self-Employed has made it so easy to stay on track and on top of all of your finances. It’s definitely saved me a lot of headaches when going into meet with my accountant! My accountant has always been super impressed with how organized and efficient I am able to be. Plus, having all of this already done will actually cut down on what your accountant will charge you when they prepare your taxes!

 

3. Mileage Tracking

 image courtesy of QuickBooks

image courtesy of QuickBooks

As a wedding photographer in Atlanta, I’m often in the car driving. Driving to sessions, weddings, various meetings with clients, and to the store to get supplies. It’s so important to track mileage because you are able to cut down on a lot of what you would be paying in taxes!


The Quickbooks Self-Employed app is included with all subscriptions and features automatic mileage tracking. The platform shows you how much deductible mileage you have, which will not only make your April’s seem a little less heavy, but it’s super rewarding to see the dollar amount you have left over. In 2017, I had over $5,000 in deductions just through my mileage. Goodbye driving log!

 

4. Easy Invoicing

Quickbooks Self-Employed offers and easy to use invoicing platform with rates that are far cheaper than most card processing systems. Because I use Quickbooks Self-Employed on a daily basis, it made sense to also implement invoicing with in the platform. From there I can track invoices that I’ve said, invoices that are due, and invoices that are being paid.

 

5. Quick & Simple Financial Reporting

On the homepage of every account within Quickbooks Self-Employed is a graph which shows you your net income every year. sometimes, it’s just easier to understand all the numbers when you have something visual in front of you. Quickbooks Self-Employed does just that. This is super helpful for when you are preparing your annual taxes. Within the platform you can select different types of reports to view and generate. you can do you a report of all of your different receipts, your profit and loss statements. Your tax summary with all of your deductions and each of your expenses categorized, and prepare 1099’s (with TurboTax) to send out for various contracted work. It has been a huge help to me!

 

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6. Quarterly Tax Estimates and Payment System

Within Quickbooks Self-Employed, at the very top of the client portal is information about when the next quarterly tax payment is due, and the system also provides estimates for what you should pay. it will send you reminders as well as provide a way for you to pay within the system. as someone who is a busy business owner, and who has accidentally forgotten to pay a quarterly payment, having this feature is priceless.

At first, implementing a new system for your business can seem a little bit overwhelming, and perhaps like something that is a little out of your league. For me, in the beginning, it was definitely overwhelming. However, the staff at QuickBooks Self-Employed are some of the most friendly, and helpful people that you will ever have the pleasure of working with. They are eager to help make your experience perfect, and quick to respond.

Since using Quickbooks Self-Employed, I have been able to understand the financial aspects of my business better than ever, and I have been able to set goals for what I want my business and my life to look like. Taxes are never a surprise, and I know exactly how much I spend each week simply by spending 15 minutes each week to review and analyze my growth compared to past month. I’m so thankful to have had Quickbooks Self-Employed as a part of my journey as a creative business and entrepreneur! It has been such a necessary tool as an entrepreneur and something that I believe all freelancers should have. I can truly say that because of this wonderful platform, I have been able to make sure I am confident with my finances and it’s allowed me to ensure that I can put myself through school debt-free and I’ve also been able to purchase a 2018 Toyota Corolla with cash.

Quickbooks Self-Employed has been gracious enough to extend a 50% off discount for the first year to all of those who are considering the platform.

 

 

I know that you won’t regret it, and I highly recommend you look into it. I’m more than happy to help and would love to answer any questions that you might have. it’s my greatest desire for all creative business entrepreneurs to be financially successful and for them to know exactly what their numbers are.

7 ways to work through creative burnout | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

I vividly remember the morning this year that I woke up and I said out loud “I don’t think I want to be a photographer anymore. I think I should be done and do ___.“ Saying those words out loud terrified me and confused a lot of people. But I felt defeated, heard by few, misunderstood by many. Ultimately, I was burnt out. 

It took months of being honest with myself and wrestling with my mind. Reflecting and asking the hard questions. What is my worth. Why did I start. The world is so much bigger. I have a heck of a lot to offer. Do the things that I do truly serve other people best?

I experienced a level of anxiety like I’ve never had before and my doctor, during a wellness checkup, suggested medication and therapy as answer without truly understanding my situation. I don’t think that’s the only way to truly heal or grow or overcome. Thankfully, I’m in a much better place now. But it took a lot of work. It took a lot of learning what self-love truly is, re-patterning my thought process, saying no and stepping back, trusting myself, speaking and reading truth, a lot of prayer, and a few other things that you might not expect. 💕

Below are a few ways that helped me get through my season of burnout:

 

 eve yarbrough

 

1: Take yourself out on dates alone

As an entrepreneur, you give so much of yourself to serving others, answering to others, putting yourself out there in front of others, and it’s really easy to feel like you aren’t yourself anymore. Being deliberate and taking the time to be alone at a restaurant to think and recharge was something that I did probably once a week. This is when I could get real with myself, work through the hard questions, and also treat myself to the self-care I needed.

 

2: Go out and talk to people outside of the industry that you’re in or who have changed their careers in a similar fashion

When I was in the season of life, the only way that I knew how to cope with this was by going to people and asking them about their stories and hearing their thought process. I asked about how they reached the point where they realize that they needed to take a step back and how they were able to work through it themselves. I think that approaching it this way, rather than trying to share my of the story helped me understand my own thoughts and convictions about what I should do, better. 

From there, talk to those who know you best and who've seen you in different phases of life over the years. They will be able to tell you if you are acting out of character, and truly see and understand you. They have your best interest at heart.

 

 3:  Spend your time doing something else

I needed a way to do something with my time that wasn’t related to my business, while also feeding my desire to use my hands and be creative. For me, this meant going back to the piano and playing, picking up a pencil to draw and sketch, and going as far to update my resume and apply for other jobs for the sake of it. 

The last thing might sound a little strange, but being able to devote my time and my energy to feeling like I was pursuing something else was the thing that I needed to do to realize that perhaps it’s not my time yet.

 

4:  Be thankful for the bills + realize that no time or money is ever truly wasted

For me personally, one of the hardest things I have always had to work through and one of the biggest things that I dislike is the feeling of wasting time and wasting money.

In my case, one of the biggest stressors of this season was due to me feeling like I was not producing enough. It can be scary because as an entrepreneur and as a student in business. You’re taught that a lot of businesses go out of business within the first five years due to declaring bankruptcy and other financial issues. 

I had to actively work on realizing that bills are a blessing, and that expenses are not necessarily my downfall. I had to realize that my ability to have expenses associated with my business means that I am making money, and it also means that I am fortunate enough to have the money to pay them. The investments that I’ve made over this last year, while perhaps not reimbursed by new clients, are such a small amount to pay in terms of my entire lifespan. Even if I decided to take a step back, I could say that I had a business that was successful. 

In these dark months, I thought that if I were to take a step back, that I would’ve wasted the last five years of my life pursuing something that would mean nothing. 

I had to retrain my thoughts and realize that I have a lot to offer, and a lot to give, and I am good at what I do. I had to really preach to myself that I am valuable, and that I am capable, and that if this chapter were to close that it wouldn’t mean that I’m a failure or that I would lose my identity but rather, it would mean that my path is just different from what it once was and that my direction would be to serve a greater purpose than I thought possible.

 

5: Outsource

When your heart and mind are in other places, it’s best to outsource the little tasks so that you can focus on yourself and your own wellbeing and healing. If you’re burnt out, you need less time being attached to your business! Even outsourcing little things like e-mails or editing serves you so well.

 

6: Practice Generosity + Gratitude

In a season of life where I felt like I was lacking and not myself, I made it a point to combat that and try and be as generous as possible and focus on others. With my time, with my resources, and with my love. I made it a point to focus on the little things to be grateful for, down to the tiniest of details- if the person at the restaurant got my order correct, if the birds were singing, if there was sunlight streamlining into my room…it’s the little things.

Not only was this the way to take the focus off of myself + my situation and serve others, but it was also one of the biggest ways for me to realize that life is so much bigger and they’re so much joy even when it can be super confusing and discouraging.

I went out of my way to serve my family better and help at church. I made time investing in my friendships that I had. I said no to the things that drained me and stopped doing projects and work that I wasn't excited about.

In a season where I did not feel like I was personally abundant, I had to practice abundance and realize that there is always enough, and that I have enough. I had to practice gratitude

 

7: Place your emotional and spiritual health first, above all else

I feel like there should be something that should be a no-brainer, but it was definitely something that fell to the wayside for me when the pressure came. I was not actively taking steps to preach truth to myself and pray often because I felt like I had to put my business first. 

Here’s the thing: the emails can wait until tomorrow, and you’ll still be able to serve your clients well. You’ll Still be able to meet the deadlines that are upon you. If you don’t place these in the highest priority then not only will your business suffer but so will your relationships with your friends and your loved ones.

You need to be reading and dwelling on truth (like, that you are good at what you do) - going over them in your mind and re-shaping your thought patterns. Pray more than you work and give yourself grace for this season you're in.

 

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Headshot provided by: Eve Yarbrough