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Conversations with Katelyn Westerbur

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katelyn Westerbur. 

Hi Katelyn, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I remember always being fond of photography since I was little. One of my aunts would have all the girl cousins come over for a slumber party and we would all get dressed up and she would take portraits of us. While I really didn’t excel in the modeling part, more than anything I wanted a camera of my own. When I turned 16, I got my first DSLR camera, and I went crazy! I brought it everywhere with me, and of course–I took photos of everything. When I got that camera, I relived my childhood dream not as a model but as a photographer. So of course, any moment I got, I would invite my friends over, give them a makeover and take photos of them. 

I went to Northpoint Bible College to pursue being a pastor, I knew that there was a possibility that I wouldn’t be making a lot of money choosing that path, but more than anything did I want to help people and grow a community where we would seek to love everyone the way Christ intended. I ended up getting an internship at the church I got saved in and worked as a young adult pastor there. The only downside was everyone there was bi-vocational. So, I knew I needed to find a job that I was also passionate about and that’s when I decided to become a full-time photographer. While there were tons of ups and downs, I am so glad I pulled through. I am blessed and grateful to be doing what I love to do. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Absolutely not. Who knew starting a business required responsibility. Haha. While knowing how to operate a camera and having a good eye was important, there was so much more I wasn’t prepared for. I had to learn about marketing strategies, communication, website design, graphic design, and taxes! This is where I had many setbacks on my journey. I always felt like when there was one thing, I learned there was always something else I didn’t know about, which most of the time led to discouragement. On top of it all, being a creator, you doubt yourself all the time. With social media being a great tool to gain exposure, it also acted as wood to fuel comparison. 

This was my biggest struggle before I saw my business go anywhere. I had to learn to trust myself, my ideas, and my creative process. But most of all, be grateful for those who were succeeding. Instead of envying others, I became a student instead. When I started to understand that success was something that you worked for rather than something that’s just given to you, not only did I see improvement mentally and emotionally within myself, I started to see it within my business. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a wedding and lifestyle photographer, but lately, I’ve grown to really love doing editorial-style portraits. 

What I am most proud of is finding my own voice and style in a profession that almost forces us to be like everyone else. For years, I aimed to mimic what was trendy and what was going to give me the most popularity. In my head popularity meant exposure, and exposure meant money, and money meant true success. But feeding that mentality was so wrong and exhausting! I ended up taking a year from photography to really seek out why I started in the first place. I wanted to figure out why it once brought me joy. In that space, I realized that I always loved watching movies. While it was a fun thing to do to pass time as I was figuring my life out, what inspired me the most was the stories they held. Photography was an outlet for me to participate in sharing stories in my own way. 

I realized if I continued this path for the purpose of proving my gilded success to others, I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I didn’t want to do this for the popularity or all the followers. If I could make a handful of people happy when they received my work, that was enough for me. Since I’ve been living out this new mentality, I have found myself more inspired and happy when it comes to photography. 

And as for what sets me apart, I would say it would be my mentality when it comes to photography. Taking good photos is essential but being a good communicator and companion is even more important. Gaining the trust of my clients and making sure they know that I am genuinely interested in the story they want to tell is the vision for my business. If I am to create something that will bring happiness and nostalgia to my clients, my responsibility is that I try my best to understand who they are. 

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I was a very ansty child, I could never sit still. I loved to talk and I loved to entertain. The only things that would keep me quiet or still was when I drawing or watching cartoons. I wasn’t very good at school until I got held back in the 4th grade. I knew I needed to get my crap together. But even then, I loved art and I loved being weird. As a child, I thought I was going to be an actor or singer, so I was also a big dreamer. haha 

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Image Credits

Katelyn Cheng Photography LLC

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