A Photographer’s Workspace


There’s nothing more I love than a good heart. A heart that teeters on brink of bursting out of someone’s chest and smothering you with good, ‘ol fashion love. And Katelyn James? She is the owner of such a heart. Not only is Katelyn a great photographer, she’s one of the most caring, giving, and kind people…and she dedicated to making the photo industry better. You might recognize her because I was lucky enough to photograph her Virginia Wedding on 10.10.10, but has since grown her business in amazing ways.

I’m honored to have her guest blog today and offer great insight into how to create a beneficial workspace…and, now…here’s Katelyn…

I realized several years ago that PHOTOGRAPHY could not be my only outlet for creative expression since it had become my career. I needed something else. So I started decorating… A LOT. I think I’ve re-hung the frames in our living room at least 5 times and when it’s Christmas time, LOOK OUT WORLD! I get a little carried away! However, over the last several years, I’ve learned how to become ORGANIZED and decorate on a BUDGET. I’ve also realized that creative individuals who own a small business need to have an inspirational work environment! It’s a MUST!

I started my business right before my junior year of college and so my office was at the end of my bed….. NOT ideal. That 9×12 foot room never felt so SMALL! Talk about a TIGHT SQUEEZE! I actually had to pick between displaying my JEWELRY BOX or my iMAC! There wasn’t room for both! However, despite the lack of space, I was able to create a workspace that was totally functional and inspirational. After graduating college, moving home before my wedding and then eventually moving into our first home, I have realized that there are several key components to having an organized office, no matter the size of the space!! Whether you have a fancy studio office or are working out of the corner of your bedroom, here are some tips to help make that space not only ORGANIZED, but inspirational as well!

1. Keep the desk CLEAN! This will make such a difference! Seriously, if I leave a Diet Mountain Dew can, a stack of file folders, and lens caps strewn all over my desk at the end of the workday, guess how I feel when I re-enter my workspace in the morning…. OVERWHELMED! If I started every workday automatically feeling unorganized, I would never get anything accomplished! So how did I fix this?… Well, at the end of every day, even if my work isn’t done, I CLEAR the desk. I have a secret drawer that exists solely for “desk clearing”. Anything that I’m still working on or isn’t ready to be filed away, I put in that drawer at the end of the day. This allows me to come into my office in the morning and start FRESH. My motto is: Easy on the eyes = easy on the mind. Having a clean desk creates an atmosphere without distractions and stress.

** Quick Tip: If you have a SMALL SPACE, try decorating with MIRRORS around your desk! No, I don’t like to stare at myself all day…. but instead of feeling like I’m stuck in a corner, the mirrors give an optical illusion that my office is bigger than reality! I used this trick when I was in college and my computer was resting on top of my SOCK DRAWER! Just one mirror beside my chair made the room double in size! **

2. Show your Systems! I learned very early on in my business that I needed a work-flow. Things just were not getting done and I didn’t know why. I had a work-flow planned out in my head but it wasn’t until a year ago that I actually started DISPLAYING my plan of attack! I highly recommend showing your systems. Having my work-flow, client production chart, and album guide all in clear view during the workday saves me SO much time! I like to call this a “Production Wall”. It’s the wall that keeps me sane and on track. It’s positioned behind my desk so that I’m not constantly staring at all I have to accomplish, but it’s there when I need it! I’m a firm believer that in order for things to STAY organized, they have to be EASILY ACCESSIBLE. This production wall has made a HUGE difference in my business and it’s very easy to replicate! All I did was make a few charts in Photoshop that display my different work-flows, I had those files printed and then displayed them in frames from Target. I write on the glass with a dry erase marker and it’s very easy to maintain! It’s the same idea as a White Board, only classier!! 🙂

** Quick Tip: My charts are broken into three categories: Client Production (Takes me from the initial booking through album ordering), then I have “In the Works”
(which helps me through the work-flow for current shoots) and my last chart is an album guide! **

3. Brand your space! We spend so much TIME and EFFORT on the branding of our businesses. The colors, the look, the feel…. we want our brand to exude US! …. and I think our work spaces should mirror our brand as well. There are no limits when it comes to branding and decorating your office space. Now I don’t want to get all “Martha Stewart” on ya but it can be as simple as finding a cute teal mug to hold my pens or as extravagant as hanging a vintage chandelier from my ceiling! My advice would be to start checking out the clearance aisles at Target, Pier One, World Market or Anthropology for little goodies that could make your office more “YOU”! After adding a ceramic vase, vintage clock, or elegant lamp, it may make a huge difference in your work environment! Studies have shown that the lighting, temperature and atmosphere of a work environment directly affect our work habits and creativity! (I use that little nugget of information whenever I have to convince Michael to let me get a new lamp!!!)

When we first got married, I didn’t have a large budget (really ANY budget) for decorating my office. I would find amazing pieces from Restoration Hardware that I wanted to order and my husband would just raise his eyebrows as if to say “You want to spend WHAT on that chair?!!”. There was NO way that was going to happen. So I had to get creative!! I wanted to have a work area that looked like my brand had come to LIFE! So I took the layout of my Showit site and recreated it with a wall of thrift store frames. These frames cost no more that $10 and that settee is a budget friendly piece from Target! Can you believe it?!

** A quick tip! : One VERY easy way to start branding your workspace is to simply FRAME your LOGO. Just print a 5×7 of your logo and find a funky frame! Wa-la!
You’ve started to create a space that will inspire! And lastly…. I think Jasmine would agree that having a fluffy office buddy is always a good idea too!:) **

So whether your space consists of a desk on wheels (I’ve had several of those!) or an office with a view, there are several ways to make your work environment a place that INSPIRES YOU. Making a few little changes can dramatically change your attitude towards your work space and if you’re like me, we spend WAY too much time in our offices to not love what they look like!! So here’s to clean desks, a fresh start and an organized business!!!