• An Old Idea with a Fresh Vision

When I first started writing this post… it felt weird… because I want to make sure I explain this in a way that is well received and understood. After almost 8 years in the photography industry, I have seen WAVES of trends and ideas that have surfaced and then faded and then resurfaced again. Some trends have been more technical and some trends have been more relational. Some trends are here to stay and some trends are probably on their way out. However, there has been one thing about our community that has recently resurfaced that I hope is here to stay….. community.

This isn’t a new concept at all but with all of the new movement that is taking place, it can sometimes feel that way. We’ve actually experienced community in a ton of different ways over the years and here’s a breakdown! :

SHOWITEERS GROUPS! : Back when I first started in this industry, I was one of the few young female photographers around. I had no direction at all and then I found out about Showit and I started using them as my website company! They eventually started Showiteer Groups across the country and we started leading one. The industry was expanding at a RAPID pace! I went from having 1 friend my age in the industry to DOZENS!!

– SHARE GROUPS! : The next big thing was PASS!  Showiteer groups transitioned into SHARE groups and that was an awesome community! (and still is!) We still have our SHARE group FB groups… along with about a million others (am I right or am I right? So. many. fb groups!)! We love this community and while it’s literally exploding with hundreds of photographers, there is still a sense of community that lingers there between those that have been around since the O’Charley’s and Mimi Cafe meet up days! :) Oh those were the days!! Anyone remember those!?

– PHOTOGRAPHERS UNITE! : We went to WPPI 6 years ago and there was a worship service called Photogs UNITE and it was incredibly powerful. It was there that I saw a glimpse of what community could look like and so we came home and started the “VA MD DC Photogs UNITE” Facebook group. It was a place to UNITE Christian photographers to have community and it was awesome!! That group is now over 1700 members strong and I highly doubt anyone knows the reason it was started in the first place! Ha!

– PURSUIT! :  What a life changing community of women! Holy cow!!! Being a part of this community has forever changed my heart, my business, my perspective and it also gives me a chance to speak to women my own age!

UNITED! : A year after the UNITE Facebook group was started, UNITED happened. This conference was the FIRST community connecter in our industry (or at least my generation of the industry). Community was the focus and some of our BEST FRIENDS in the industry came from our 1st, 2nd and 3rd years at UNITED. People came together and they enjoyed time without worrying about competition. IT WAS AWESOME!

I think it’s safe to say that our “COMMUNITY” in this industry has changed so much over the years. There have been ups and downs and seasons of leadership and seasons of stepping back. There has been drama in years past (just like in every season of life where PEOPLE are involved) and there have been such sweet periods of love for one another!

So that brings be to present day…..

CREATIVE AT HEART: One of my dear dear friends, past KJ bride and fellow industry peer decided to take a risk and launch a conference. I can still remember the first email she sent explaining her dream. She was excited and hopeful and a little bit scared…. as she should have been. I mean, launching a large scale conference with the goal of uniting CREATIVES (a group who had never been united before) was SCARY! But she did it…. And then she did it AGAIN. And she is continuing to do it over and over again and this Creative at Heart movement is going GLOBAL! So WHY is a conference like this selling out in a matter of hours? Because people LONG for community. They need it, they want it and in some cases, they are desperate for it. It’s the same reason why we have such a strong “KJ Bride” community in our business! People were made to be CONNECTED and Kat found a way to connect creatives in a new and exciting way! She formed a new Tribe that wasn’t connected and now they have a place and a purpose in the industry!!!

Lets rewind to about two weeks ago.

THE RISING TIDE: Natalie and Krista launched The Rising Tide which is all about promoting “Community over Competition.” Now all of those creatives that have been united through Creative at Heart and other areas of the industry have a place to connect and build one another up!! It’s amazing and it’s genius and it’s going to CHANGE things and make waves around the WORLD!! (pun intended) It just blows my mind the amount of insanely talented leaders are entering the scene right now in our creative world and it’s wonderful!!! However… with new growth, there is always friction…

The interesting thing is that I’ve heard some rumblings in the background that sound something like this… “Well, these girls know that they didn’t create the whole “community” movement, right?… I mean, this has been going on for YEARS.” You’re correct. Whoever is saying that is right…. this has been going on for years and years…. 5-6 years to be more exact…..thousands of years if you want to get all technical! …. The Garden of Eden anyone? Man was never meant to be alone!! :) “Community” not a NEW concept… but this is a new industry… it’s a new season… there are NEW creatives out there and it’s a new movement with the same underlying goal of loving each other rather than building up walls.

Those with slightly snarky feedback on this whole movement aren’t actually mad that more “community” is being formed… they are probably just a little put off by the fact that they weren’t the ones leading the way and maybe a tad jealous of the success and recognition that these leaders are receiving.

I get it. I honestly get it!! When you’re a leader, you want to lead EVERYTHING! It’s just engrained in who you are! You want to BE THE CHANGE and charge forth and lead the troops!!! You want to be the one that stands up in the chaos and directs everyone in the right direction! That’s a GOOD THING!!!! It’s a GIFT! …. But when that inner drive to lead gets in the way of pushing a positive, uplifting movement forward, you stop being a leader…. you become the old grump that is bitter and left pouting in the shadows because you didn’t get the glory… and I have to wonder… were you even a leader in the first place?? The greatest example of leadership in my life is Jesus and he led by SERVING. The interesting thing about community is that once there is a shift from service to money and needing praise…. community crumbles. So is community always perfect? No, not at all. We’re all human and we’re going to make mistakes but there are three things that can lessen the chance of a crumbling community. Every community needs three things: GRACE, COMMUNICATION and VISION. If you have these three things, your community is going to thrive!!

grace, communication, vision

Why do you need these three things? Well, you need GRACE to handle conflict, to have patience and to forgive those that rub you the wrong way. You need COMMUNICATION because there is nothing that is a bigger community killer than passive aggressive conversations and gossip. And lastly, you need VISON because every single community has to see the PURPOSE and the GOAL behind why they are united!

So my hope and prayer for this movement is that people will continue to jump on board…. that leaders remain PURE in their motives and that this never ever becomes a TREND. My hope is that those who have been around long enough to see waves of community come in and out of our industry will fight the urge to become bitter towards new leadership and will embrace it instead. And lastly…. my prayer is that through this movement… through these new friends… through the new LIFE that this brings to our industry… more and more people will have purpose and hope in their work and in their life. I’m not going to get all “churchy” on you but I will say this… God can do big things when people are all about OTHER PEOPLE. So I’m praying for and expecting big things and huge waves of change in our industry! If you’re hoping for the same thing, share about it… join a “Tuesday Together” group or simply adjust your attitude towards this new movement if you’re someone who is really having a hard time with this!

I know this is a massive Friday post that is heavy and intense but thank you for reading… and THANK YOU to those that are committed to keeping the community from crumbling!! At the end of the day, it’s not about who said it first, it’s not about who gets the pat on the back…. it’s about who’s joining in and making a difference. :)

** EDITED TO ADD! ** I preblog when I go on vacation.. and I’m still on vacation:) I’m adding this to make sure everyone knows that this wasn’t directed towards any specific person or group of people. This was written last Tuesday… you can ask my blog editor! :) I wrote this post after hearing from leaders in the industry that they were being attacked and scrutinized for creating community and I didn’t think that was fair. I ALSO wrote this because I needed to hear it MYSELF! I think we all struggle with being happy and supportive of things that we all wish we were smart enough to create… and the truth is, that mindset will SHUT US DOWN if we don’t reign it in. I have to remind myself….stop picking sides and just join the movement!!! :)

xoxo, Katelyn
20 Comments Personal
  1. Shaina Koren reply

    Thankful to know and call you a friend Katelyn. You possess more grace than anyone I know. Community in both this industry and in our personal lives is everything and I am looking forward to being more involved with Rising Tide, the charlottesville and the richmond area communities! LOVE you all – photographers, filmmakers, planners, florists…all of you with beautiful hearts <3

  2. Ashley Kester reply

    Thanks for sharing! Because of some of the communities you mentioned I have made life long friends! I am so grateful for that!

    We are working through Ecclesiastes right now in family bible class and this verse fits so perfect with what you wrote.

    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)
    9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

  3. Mike reply

    Well said, Katelyn! Thanks for sharing this. What we do and how we put our energy and intentions out into the world is what truly matters at the end of the day. When we’re creating, independently or collaboratively, we’re all making an impact by “re-inventing the wheel” in one way or another. I think it’s unique to see which direction those wheels are turning. Are we progressing forward, or taking steps back?

  4. Loren Jackson reply

    Thank you for this post today. It truly spoke to my heart. I’m so excited to spend a couple hours with you next month!! You have such an amazing heart!!

  5. Laura Hernandez reply

    Love this K! Last year we attended UNITED and Connect (which we’ll do this year as well) and are part of ShowIt and PASS groups and are now leaders of a Tuesdays Together in our area. WE LOVE COMMUNITY!

  6. Krista A. Jones reply

    Katelyn thank you so much for your love and your friendship! Your positive, encouraging spirit is such a blessing in this world and I’m so thankful for you and Michael!

  7. Sarah Bradshaw reply

    I love this!! So thankful to have been a part of so many of these groups. Remember that first UNITE meetup in Fredericksburg all those years ago?!

  8. Kathryn Ivy reply

    Perfectly said, Katelyn! I love this movement of community in the industry! I can’t wait to see how it grows and changes the industry and the lives and businesses of photos and creatives in the years to come!

  9. Sarah Anne Hayes reply

    I love this, Katelyn! As one of those newbies in the creative industry, it’s so wonderful to be stepping into an industry that embraces community, because it would be so easy to fight and claw our way to the top. So thankful for people like you and Michael, and Kat, and Krista and Natalie, and others who fight to keep the community of creatives strong.

  10. Katelynn Dow reply

    I am so thankful for your heart and your desire for genuine community, Katelyn! You’ve encouraged me SO much!!

  11. Megan Kelsey Marcus reply

    Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the amount of community groups I’m in and the amount that are out there to be a part of, but then I think of the alternate reality of my past where I couldn’t find ANY photographer community… and I don’t know how I did it! Sure, I felt like my talent was a lot more “my own” thing … but my rate of growth was so much slower than it is now that I’m a part of these groups. I’ve learned so much! And have a dozen people at any given time I can go to with any questions I might have. Katelyn your blog was my first “community.” It was my first glimpse into this world of photography and it was the first time I saw that being a photographer can be so much more than taking pictures. It can give your voice the power and platform to change lives and serve, love, and lead people like never before. And “with great power comes great responsibility” and not everyone starts off knowing right away how to handle that platform responsibly, but thank goodness for industry leaders who know the Lord and want to be a light for Christ and not for their own egos. I know you already KNOW that God put you in your position for a reason… and that He continues to refine your heart every day to live and lead how He intends. And you deserve just as much of that “grace” part as everyone else when your imperfections show. I love you!!! There are so many people who are so thankful that YOU are a leader in this industry. Southern, red haired, teal + Bokeh lovin YOU. Thank you for being a light, but thank you also for just being yourself. <3

  12. Ashley Sullivan reply

    Isn’t this entire post passive aggressive? I feel like it would be more effective to actually talk with the people involved.

    • Megan Kelsey Marcus reply

      I just think one of the purposes of this post is that people who Katelyn doesn’t even know will read it + consider being a positive piece of the photographer community rather than a negative one. She can’t talk to everyone personally, but her blog can… and all 10,000 people reading this today will hopefully be inspired to continue building people up and being a catalyst for community! :) I love her posts like this!

    • Kj reply

      Totally agree ash! This post has been scheduled since last week. I always preblog during trips:) ask Michael! And we have already reached out to people involved in creating the fb thread about that issue. Calls, vmails and personal fb messages. If you read my comment on the fb thread, you’d see that I’m totally in agreement with you on this!! Great minds:) So much better to handle conflict personally and not on online!:) This Isn’t aimed at anyone…. Especially since I wrote it last week. :) I do not even know the names of those that have been negative the past three weeks. I’ve just heard the rumblings. So no passive aggressive-ness here…. I feel like it’s pretty honest and straightforward:):)

  13. Jacinthe reply

    You’re so right Katelyn. Loved this entire article. Couldn’t agree more! I too long for community and although it’s just not something that seems to be important to other creatives around here, I pray and hope someday (sooner than later) it’s gonna be the same around here as it is down there. We, like everyone else, so need it.

  14. ashley reply

    Acts 2:44! :) Love you and what y’all stand for! Run for office! ;)

  15. Lised Marquez reply

    Ohhh this is so wonderfull! I wish I can share with you soon!!! and thanks for all the hard work you put in everything you share, is apreciated! a Hug!

  16. Rici reply

    Oh so good to read about this from you, Katelyn!!! I love the idea of connecting beyond business and competition. I am dreaming about organising a european What-if kinda conference ( I mean way ahead) and will read into The rising Tide – sounds so good with changes all around the world!! Thank you for writing about it!

  17. Erica Manthey reply

    So very well said! I’m so excited about the TT & RTS groups!

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