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Meet Kelsey Butcher of Kelsey Butcher Photography in Marietta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelsey Butcher.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My senior year of high school, we were all required to do a “senior project”. The sky was the limit on what we could choose as our topic! Because, I’ve always been a very right-brained person drawn to creative expression in all its forms, I knew that I’d choose something related to the fine arts. To be honest, I was more concerned with finding something interesting, yet a subject that would get me an A so I could graduate! I chose photography and bought my first DSLR, a little Canon Rebel Xsi, completely unaware at the time that, I would fall in love with that medium of art fully by the end of my senior year. I continued to practice and nonchalantly build my portfolio for the next two and a half years, in which I was attending college and I got married. Spring of my sophomore year, I chose to officially switch my major to art with a concentration in photography with a minor in music. During that time, in 2012, I got my first minuscule taste of wedding photography without even trying to book a wedding. It went great, but I definitely learned a great deal, including the realization that I needed a contract in place so there was no question about how things were going to go from then on. It was an experience that I needed and am still thankful for to this day!

Fast forward to February of 2014, I was feeling the intense burnout of being at school full-time and something in my gut just told me that I needed to take a break and withdraw before the next semester arrived. Funny enough, a few things happened, which I can only describe as God bringing the desires of my heart front and center. Firstly, “Snowpocalypse 2014” came, and it just acted as the catalyst for my leaving school because shortly after, I withdrew. Secondly, at the end of the previous year, my husband and I had come to the same conclusion that it was the time to start a family. We had been hoping to conceive for almost 4 months by then, and it just hadn’t happened yet. And lastly, because I refused to sit on my hands and wait to get pregnant, I decided to start working full-time. Well, all of these events intersected and just changed everything! After getting that call, I had gotten the position I’d applied for. I also found out that same week that I was expecting! (Timing much, right?!) After a couple of months working, the morning sickness hit and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced! I made the very important decision to leave (what I thought at the time was) my dream job and to become a stay at home mom. It wasn’t an easy choice but it just felt right. By 2014, business had picked up marginally. It wasn’t consistent but in retrospect, that was okay and probably for the best for those seasons of my life. I had upgraded my camera and lenses at that point and I ended up shooting my last wedding 7 months pregnant! Honestly, I had no idea what the plan was (both business-wise and as a new parent) but thankfully, the Lord did and some of my most favorite memories with my husband were made in that period as we prepared to welcome our baby girl!

The most significant turning point of my business didn’t happen until Fall of 2016. I decided to offer “fall minis”, discounted, short portrait sessions for families, couples, etc. to save up for a new camera. I had NO earthly idea that those sessions would end up being such a success! I offered 5 different dates of sessions, all in different locations around the Metro Atlanta area, with about 10 time slots on each one. I’d advertised one time on some local yard sale sites and on my social media, and I kid you not, EVERY SINGLE ONE filled up! I was in complete shock and was just blown away. Many of those clients that booked with me became regulars and word spread like wildfire. In 2017, I was booked for at least 2 sessions every week and I booked almost 10 weddings that year. Basically, it was a total departure from what business was like prior to then! All of 2017, I began to get serious about everything, so I started to network, to shoot nonstop and to learn more about my craft. With that, though, I had to learn a lesson in work/life balance, even more in time management, in valuing myself as a creative, and how to say, “no” so, I didn’t get ahead of myself and burnt out!

Today, I’m where I am, thanks to God, my sweet and incredibly supportive husband and just a lot of hard work (and lots of sweat and tears along the way)! Everyday, I’m discovering more about myself and photography, about being a creative business owner and about what I want to make others feel with my photos! I’m still working on the life and work balance but I wouldn’t change any of the moments that led up to where I am now!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not! It’s been a such a plethora of things that’s made this road to where I am now pretty turbulent. Scary, fun, exhilarating, eye-opening, risky, frustrating and more: all adjectives to describe this journey!
Like I mentioned before, the huge struggle has been finding the time to work consistently while having a child and husband who deserve more of my time than anything else. I find myself procrastinating or just feeling tired of editing nonstop when I want to be relaxing with my family. It’s the constant teeter-tottering and general pressure of finding time for a full home life and an efficient workflow.

In terms of the actual photography part of this, I would say that I definitely struggle with feeling inadequate and un-inspired at times. I think those feelings have personally become more prevalent with the uptick of social media marketing. There’s the conflicted feeling of wanting to share something, perhaps a unfiltered photo from that day, but then facing the pressure of trying to market yourself to potential clients so you essentially go from a sharer to more of a content-pusher. I’ve always said what’s on my mind for the most part, so I have definitely struggled with the beast that is social media in the past year or so, but at the end of the day, I have to have enough perspective to remind myself to focus on creating and documenting rather than obsessing over numbers and what everyone else is doing!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’m a portrait and wedding photographer based in Atlanta but I travel all over! In terms of weddings, while I will do the occasional full day wedding (6-8+ hours) these days, I’ve had the luxury of being able to really explore and move my specialization to elopements and intimate weddings! Also, last year, I decided to narrow down the types of sessions that I love to shoot and offer, so I no longer offer children’s, newborn, family, and birth photography. Anything else like couples, maternity, pets, engagement, seniors, and events, I still offer in the way of portraiture!

I’d like to think I’m known for getting along with 99.9% of my clients that I shoot for, as well as offering a simpler, yet efficient client experience! In terms of the actual photo side of things, I am known for clean, bright, and colorful images that I always try my best to fill to the brim with authentic emotions! I always describe my editing style as clean and usually on the lighter side, but with a little punch!

As a company, I’d have to say that I’m most proud of how far I’ve come in such a short time, and also of being able to say that I’ve been published and featured by some really incredible sources! Most of all, though, I’m proud of being given the opportunity to try and help others see themselves more fully and more beautifully than before our time together!

The photography market is a saturated one, and it’s honestly hard to pick out what exactly makes me stand out among the sea of incredibly talented artists out there! I suppose I’d have to say that my desire to really invest my time and heart into each client I book with, to get to know them: what makes them laugh uncontrollably, what makes brings them joy, what they’re passionate about, how they’re really doing, is what sets me apart from others. I don’t ever see my clients as “just another session” and I don’t ever want them to feel like I’m forcing myself to be nice to them just because they’re paying me! My initial thought when I meet someone new, client or not, is to find what helps them relax and how I can comfort them by just being relatable and attuned to what they need from me as their photographer. It’s finding that common thread that dispels any nerves or preconceived notions about what they expected their session with me to be like almost immediately so we can have fun!

Personally, even with styled shoots, I always prefer to work with a real couple instead of models who’ve never met one another before! I think I’m pretty practiced in pulling people out of their shells but with couples specifically. I thrive creatively off their chemistry and history in order to convey their unique story even within more controlled parameters that styled shoots set, and to help them trust me with their emotions!

What were you like growing up?
I was an only child, essentially and I was always very strong-willed and observant! Not always easy for my parents when I was younger, unfortunately! I’ve always felt my emotions so very deeply, so I like to think that and being pretty observant has helped me pick up on others’ emotions when shooting a session or wedding!

From the time I could walk and talk, creative expression, first through music, then drawing and literature, was what I was always drawn to. That fact was pretty evident to my parents. So, they always fostered creativity in me and from an early age, I was always involved in something related to art, music or reading! I was constantly finding ways to keep myself busy and my mom says that as soon as I discovered books, art and music. I didn’t “play” too much from then on. I was pretty head over heels in love with it all and that really hasn’t changed!

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Image Credit:

Kelsey Butcher Photography

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