Alden Family | Nelson-Atkins Museum

I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

So I’ll start back in Saint Louis. It was about four or five months ago. Michael was finishing up his Masters and I was working full-time at a Medical Supply Company while spending the rest of my free time booking shoots, editing, and pursuing photography. Any possible chance I got, I was on the internet studying new methods to market, grow and develop my business. (Yes, that includes while sitting in the waiting area at the doctor’s office and eating my lunch in my car at work!) I had begun following Katelyn James Photography (if you don’t…YOU SHOULD!) About this time the phrase “Community Over Competition” was starting to sweep the photography world. Basically, it was the idea that as creatives, as small business owners, we are not in this alone. We are here not to compete with one another, but to encourage, support, build one another up. The idea lit an ember in my heart. Yes! This is exactly what I wanted!  About this time, Michael was offered an amazing job in Kansas City, MO. I knew that things were about to change big time (not only from a move, new house, new friends, new church etc–but also new job title!) At the time of the move, I was going to take the plunge to move from doing photography part time to full time and pursue this passion–this beautiful dream of mine!

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do this alone. I wanted to plug in, to create a community with other photographers/creatives–people I could call my friends. I began doing some research, looking for photographers who might be all those things for me (and I for them).

So one day, about a month before we were to pack up our belongings and move to a new city, I was sitting in my car on my lunch break and I did something. I stepped outside my comfort zone. Some might say it was a little crazy (haha, and you might be right!) I emailed a newborn and maternity photographer in Northland Kansas City, Missouri who I had never met. Her work was lovely and her about me on her blog seemed sincere and kind. I told her I was a fellow photographer about to make the move to KCMO. I explained the idea of Community Over Competition and how I wanted this. I asked if she would like to grab coffee sometime after we moved. I scanned over the email, took a deep breath, and pushed send.

To be honest, I half expected her not to respond. I mean, come on, it IS a little out there! BUT SHE DID! And not only did she respond, she was thrilled about the opportunity! (She even told me if I needed any recommendations on a good doctor, hairstylist, church she was more than happy to help me out!) So we got a date on the calendar and decided to meet up at Starbucks.

And let me tell you, we stayed there WAY past Starbucks closed talking and sharing and laughing! Oh, what a dear, wonderful, beautiful soul Kayla Alden was!!! We were out on the patio till it was pitch black out. Neither one of us were in any rush to go home!

And so a friend was made.

Guys, I can’t brag enough about Kayla! During coffee not only were we both vulnerable about our businesses (SO hard to do! But oh so worth it!), but we both knew that we were going to be there for each other! The next day Kayla emailed me a list of her favorite locations to shoot. This is GOLD for photographers! Here I was, transplanted to a new city (which means having to rediscover the prime shooting spots) and she–just like that–sent me her list! I could go on, and on, and on about Kayla! If anyone reading this is in need of a PHENOMENAL newborn photographer (with the sweetest spirit!), seriously look her up!!!

I’m so incredibly grateful for her, for her adorable family! I’m grateful for her friendship, for her shared love for Jesus. I’m grateful for her heart and her taking the risk to step outside her comfort zone to connect, encourage and be there for me! Kayla, YOU are a blessing to my life in ways you don’t even know!
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