Today we’ve been married for four years. It doesn’t seem real! I’ve loved John for 2818 days and been his wife now for 1461. It seems like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye! At the same time, so much has happened since our wedding day…I left my full time job to run this business full time, we survived a flood, John started photographing with me, I broke my first bone, ran a marathon, and went to Las Vegas three times. With each day that passes, it gets harder and harder to remember ever not being John’s wife. It seems like that’s who I was always meant to be. Even saying my maiden name out loud seems so weird now and I think I know why.

Photo by Jodi Miller Photography

For a lot of my life I found it really hard to accept love and especially to love myself. But being with John has changed me in a lot of ways. I feel like I’m braver because of him. More outgoing. More kind. And of course, much more knowledgeable about exercise. John is the first person who met me, actually got to know me as a person and still chose to give me unconditional love in a way that I still feel like I don’t deserve. The pure, honest way in which he loves me inspires me every day. I can’t always see in myself what he sees in me, but I try very hard to live up to it and to make him proud of me.

I think I was always meant to be Katie Nesbitt. It’s been as Katie Nesbitt that I finally grew to love myself even just a little bit. It was as Katie Nesbitt that I learned to swim, started running, and jumped into doing whatever my heart led me to do. They say that your twenties are for growing and changing as a person. So much of it is like puberty, except for your mind. I believe that!

I didn’t live a lot or have a lot of life experiences before I met John at 19. But John has always given me the space to grow, to explore, and to be whatever I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do and has never asked for anything in return. That’s unconditional love to me. People asked me when I went to Italy with my friend earlier this year “Isn’t John mad you are going without him?” John could never be angry with me for experiencing something I’ve wanted my whole life. He doesn’t get upset if an incredible opportunity like that comes my way, he’s happy for me. He supports whatever crazy thing I want to do (including traveling to a foreign country with a friend I didn’t know super well, leaving my day job to pursue something where I wasn’t yet making money, keeping this fat orange cat who came to our door with dirty paws, etc) and never doubts me the way I doubt myself. It’s been in him loving me so freely and without reservations that I finally came to understand what love really is so that I could give that back to myself and in turn, to others.

When we were first married, I wasn’t sure if I would change my name or not. I’ve been a feminist since I knew what the word meant, and couldn’t decide if I really wanted to or not. I eventually decided to change it, which obviously you already knew, since you’re here on this blog. But I made my decision based on John asking me to do so. I know that REALLY doesn’t sound very feminist at all, but he said to me, “I’m the only one in my family that is a Nesbitt and I don’t want to be the only one anymore”. Being someone who relates to feeling alone, I couldn’t say no to that. Who could? How heartless would that be? I look back and I’m glad I took John’s last name. I look at it as a privilege and an honor that he chose me to have it. He is the best person I know…he’s the kindest, most generous, hard working, person I’ve ever met. He’s also frustratingly good at pretty much everything. It’s an honor to share a last name with him. Looking back, I also can’t say that I ever felt more like ME as “Katie Hill”. It wasn’t until I became Katie Nesbitt that I really started to find my true self.

So on our fourth anniversary, it’s John I want to thank. For being by my side, for sharing his name, his friendship, love, and support, and for always believing in me, even when I don’t know how to.


My favorite types of events are always the ones that are incredibly heart felt and personal. That’s not to say that everyone’s wedding day isn’t special…they always are. There’s not a feasible way for a wedding day to not be a wonderful day. But to me, the ones that always stick out the most are the ones that are thoughtful and emotional. Abby and Scott’s wedding was both of those things. They shared one of the sweetest first looks I’ve ever seen, had everyone teary eyed during their vow exchange, and embraced the crazy spring weather. There wasn’t a moment when they weren’t smiling, and they were almost always holding hands. I think my favorite moment from their wedding day was actually when Scott read his vows to Abby. He said to her that he felt like he was so lucky to have met the love of his life at such a young age and to get to share a life with her now. I loved that!

Abby and Scott, with the help of all of their friends and family, put together a wedding day that was very sweet and so full of joy! Here are some of my favorite images:

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I loved this image of John’s from the first look. This is exactly why I’m on #teamfirstlook for life. Doing a first look means the first time you see each other, sweet moments like this are a definite possibility in a way that they can’t be if you see each other for the first time at the altar.

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In the last installment of the series I’m writing for husband and wife teams (or those who want to be!) we talked a little bit about some of the things that are important to think about when considering making the decision to work together. This time I wanted to talk about something that I think is incredibly important…making sure that above all else you are serving your clients well!

View More: http://katelynjames.pass.us/john-and-katie

Photo by Katelyn James

Our business is a bit different from some husband and wife teams in that I started my business alone before we ever thought about becoming a team. So that’s had it’s own challenges in bringing someone new in who was essentially a rookie in all aspects of the business. Before I stared working with John, my second shooters were primarily other photographers who were looking to build their portfolios. These photographers knew their cameras well and were able to be a great support system for me during wedding days. I wanted John to be able to do the same, but I wanted him to be even better at it. It’s important to me that he not only be able to shoot well, but that he be able to shoot well in my style. Consistency is very important to me and having a second photographer who can create images that blend seamlessly with mine is a big priority. This can be tricky to achieve since we’re two different people who have two different ways of seeing the world, different styles, etc…but here’s what we did!

1. Setting time aside for “lessons” seems kind of natural to me since I was homeschooled for my high school years, but it might not seem like a normal thing to do for everyone. When John working with me was still just an idea we were tossing around, we started “school” on a weekly basis. I taught him what I knew about shooting in manual, focusing, etc and gave him assignments to help get him practicing.

We jumped straight into shooting manual because I shoot 100 percent manual and I think that as wedding photographers, knowing how to shoot full manual is essential. John picked it up pretty easily because he’s good at everything…okay, and because I’m a good teacher. (I kid, I kid).

Our first lessons covered basic exposure (how ISO, aperture, and shutter speed work together) and then progressed into talking about focusing, focus points, lens choices, etc. Once he’d had a year of solid shooting, we started talking about using flash manually, and Kelvin WB. I tried to keep it pretty simple and not bombard him with too much. It’s taken me years to learn what I gave him to learn in a few months!

2. Once he’d mastered the basics of shooting, we started shooting together little by little. After every wedding or shoot, I would go through his images and point out what he did really well and what could be improved on. I’d say things like “You did great on this image, but you could bump up your ISO and get a brighter version of this same photo” or “Don’t forget when you’re posing someone by a window to position them with the light facing them”. I kept my critiques simple and practical.

I think this is another part of the relationship that is helped by compensating your spouse. When you’re paying them, the employee/employer relationship is there, so that when you’re having these conversations it’s not as awkward as if you were telling your bestie/husband that his work could be improved…you’re telling your coworker. It’s a lot easier to have discussions like that with a coworker than a spouse! Keeping the relationship on business mode when having these kinds of discussions can be tricky but is so important.

3. We also talked at length about how I prefer him to shoot, where I’d like him to be when I’m shooting, etc. This goes back to the first post where I talked about expectations. I am HUGE on setting expectations, whether that’s with my clients or with my husband/second shooter. Setting expectations in any relationship is a big key to success. Maybe I’ll write a business book JUST about setting expectations…haha.

Anyway, before you start officially shooting together, lay out some ground rules. Talk about where you will be shooting, what you want your spouse to be shooting, etc. Good second shooters know not to hop in front of the main photographer for a shot or that they should be looking for things to cover that you’re not catching…but your partner ISN’T a professional already (unless they are, in which case you should still talk through a game plan for how you plan to shoot) so they aren’t aware of good second shooter etiquette the way someone who’s been second shooting for others on their own would be.

4. Like I mentioned earlier, delivering images that are consistent with my brand is super important to me. In order to get our styles on the same page, we did (and still do) a few different things. One thing that really helped was having John read my blog regularly. The more his eyes are on the work I’m sharing, the better an idea he has of what exactly I’m going for as far as compositions and light. I edit all of our work, so I handle that part, but the biggest component of style comes from how you shoot, not how you edit.

John also looks at each client’s Pixieset gallery after the wedding. This gives him a good idea of the images of his that I chose to use and it helps him see the overall story of the wedding day! Seeing all of our images together helps him be able to remember to visualize how his images will play with the full gallery as he’s shooting on the wedding day.

5. It’s a terrible, horrible truth that sometimes we treat the ones we are closest to the worst. I’m guilty of this from time to time, so I thought it was important to remind you guys that praise and encouragement is important. I’ve gotten impatient with John, or been a little too harsh and I realized that it takes time to grow as a photographer. It’s taken me five years to get from zero to here, so I needed to recognize how much he’s grown over just the past two years of photographing alongside me!

Those are some of the ways we’ve worked together to start shooting similarly over the past few years. If you have questions, feel free to ask! And, if you’d like a more in-depth version of this, be sure to sign up for a one-on-one mentoring session with us! We’re offering them to couples as well as individuals!


This week is a short week for me, so I’ve got five days of work to get done within four as we prepare for a wedding this Friday!  Our anniversary is this Thursday, so my goal is to have my to-do list wrapped up as early as possible that day so that we can do something to celebrate together. Celebrating our anniversary during the busiest part of the spring wedding season is so wonderful because every Saturday (or Friday, like this week) I feel like I’m reminded how important and special marriage really is.

Watching Abby and Scott get married this weekend at Panorama Farms was touching and sweet. My favorite part of the day was their vows, when Scott said to Abby that he felt he was so lucky to have found the love of his life at a young age. John and I met when I was 19 and were married by the time I was 23, so I felt that was especially poignant. They really couldn’t be more adorable! You’ll see though, when I share their full blog post on Wednesday :) Til then, here are a few small peeks!

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Bye for now, friends! See you on the flip side! (John says this to me every day before he heads off to work…I think it means later).



Last Saturday was the perfect day for a wedding! I personally think May is probably the best month to get married in…and okay, I might be a little biased since John and I were married in May, but you can’t beat the weather, all of the beautiful flowers in season, and the fact that Cinco de Mayo happens this month. John Paul and Nicole’s wedding at St Peter’s Catholic Church and Ft Mcnair Officer’s club was beautiful! The weather couldn’t have been nicer AND we pulled off portraits both in front of and ON the Jefferson Memorial on a busy Saturday. Can you ask for more than that?

Here are a few of my favorites from their wedding day! Don’t miss the sunset portraits with Paisley and Jade’s adorable tandem bicycle!!

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Thank you to all of the vendors who made the day amazing!

Planner: Southern Charm Wedding & Event Planning | Church: St Peter’s on Capitol Hill | Reception Venue: Ft McNair Officer’s Club | Cinematography: Gaelen Smith | Flowers: Royalty Flowers, Inc | Cake: Alexandria Pastry Shop | Music: JK Music Productions | Hair + Makeup: Creative Images Hair + Makeup Artistry