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I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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Top Educational Courses for New Photographers: Katelyn James

February 14, 2020

If you know me, you know I LOVE Katelyn James. I am her self-proclaimed biggest fangirl, ha! She has had one of the largest impacts on my business, my skills, and my life –– sounds like a big deal but it is!!! I wouldn’t have been able to take my business full time and seen the growth I have over the past 3 years without her.

When I have new photographers ask me for advice or help with different aspects of their businesses, I always recommend at least one of Katelyn’s courses. I believe SO much in investing in education.

It’s the best purchase you can make for your business and yourself. The fact that we can have access to it online for such affordable prices is one of the greatest gifts we could be given as business owners! 


Coincidentally I have taken every course Katelyn has created, so I am going to walk through each one so you can decide which one fits your needs best!

KJ All Access

KJ ALL ACCESS is probably one of everyone’s favorite education resources that Katelyn has created! Partly for the price point (between $29-49/month!), but mostly for the content! I’ve always learned the most from watching other people and picking up on the little tricks they do to make things easier. Katelyn films ENTIRE wedding days, engagement sessions, and more to let you follow along behind the scenes and all of the decisions she makes. 


It’s actually better than second shooting in certain ways because she walks through her thought process for each situation, which would be impossible to do in-person in front of the couple! Katelyn is so candid and honest when she films All Access, bringing you back to the reality that even the best photographers run into the same struggles you do. It’s so refreshing and motivating!

This is how my details have improved over the years after investing in KJ education!!!

I will probably always keep my All Access subscription, regardless of the stage of business I’m in simply because it’s so nice to keep learning and see how others are doing things. I am constantly finding myself implementing her little tips that she’s picked up over the years to make wedding days and engagements easier!

Lighting And Locations Course

I am going to start with the photography skill related courses first since that is the first step to becoming a professional photographer –– understanding your camera and creating gorgeous images!

The Lighting and Locations course is one of her most recent courses but it was the one where everything really “clicked” for me! You can practice all of the posing and editing you want but if you don’t understand LIGHT, it’s not going to make a huge difference!

I love this course because it applies to every type of photography, even though it’s geared towards weddings. I have so much confidence going into sessions now knowing I can manage every type of lighting scenario –– bright, direct light to overcast to dark barns! Katelyn teaches the fundamentals and then has real life examples in every type of situation so you can see her in action. That is one of the most helpful parts!

These are bridesmaids photos of a girl who is no longer afraid of bright, daytime light…in fact, I actually seek it out!!!

There is even an off camera flash module that is SO helpful. This one module completely changed my approach to receptions. I’m no longer afraid for the sun to go down and all of my photos remain consistent from details to exit.

If you’re only able to invest in one course to start off with, this is the one I recommend!

The Posing Course

This was the first course of Katelyn’s I took and I LOVED it (clearly…because I bought all of the courses over the years after that!). I joined because I wanted a system for posing that didn’t leave me searching Pinterest in between breaks for inspiration, but what I got was a way to completely elevate my client experience. 

Of course I got the posing system too. I still use it every single engagement session and wedding day, but I learned a lot about how posing is more about building confidence and how you communicate with your clients. This is how I use a lot of the concepts with my seniors even though the course is more focused on couples. 

Katelyn breaks down her posing system in a way that’s easy to remember when you’re starting out (or panicking…it happens!) and allows you to build off of it as you learn more of your own style. That’s one of my favorite parts! It’s really a blueprint to allow you to find your own style and give your clients an experience that makes them feel like their best selves.

If you get stuck doing the same things over and over again OR if you get nervous interacting with your clients, then this is definitely the course for you.

The Consistency Course

This was Katelyn’s first course and one that I couldn’t have lived without! The focus is on the editing process, from culling to final delivery. She walks through her own preset, how to get the “pop” in your photos without making them heavy, and how to deliver a wedding blog full of 150+ images in under 48 hours.

This was the final piece for me when it came to my photography style. While I have evolved over time, I use all of her little tips and tricks to achieve the effect I’m looking for. In typical Katelyn style, it’s really about understanding your TOOLS rather than just having a quick fix. This is what makes it great for any style –– everyone needs to understand how to use Lightroom and all of the tools you’ve probably skipped over.

Just remember getting it right in camera is key to having a photo that’s easy to edit and consistent with all of your other work!

If you’re looking for that last piece to your consistency, need some help with your workflow, and want to truly understand Lightroom, add this to your course collection too.

The Business Collection

In true fangirl fashion, I joined Katelyn’s first class of business collection course students (The Business Journey) even though I had just returned from her last in-person workshop three months prior. 

Even though a lot of the content was the same, I viewed it as an opportunity to have everything reiterated and actually implemented into my business. This is actually great news for those who missed out on the workshop opportunities because you can get all of that content and MORE through this course!

The Business Collection is a year’s worth of modules focused on every aspect of Katelyn’s business –– online presence, contracts, taxes, pricing, social media, websites, the wedding experience…everything you could ask for. This was definitely my favorite course because I LOVE all things business!

This is my brand new bridal guide with 80+ pages of content for my couples to help prepare for their wedding day!!! It’s going to make my wedding experience so much better!!!

I can’t say enough about the content and how helpful it is. I also really love the layout and how it’s meant to last for an entire year. As a big proponent of continuing education and always trying to take things to the next level, having Katelyn, this course, and the other students pushing me along was a great reminder each month to work ON my business, not just IN it.

Since this is the newest addition to Katelyn James Education, the course is currently closed but the next time they are taking new students you’ll definitely want to be a part of it!

The Marketing Jumpstart Course 

This is a mini course that I believe may be included in purchasing one of the other courses (you’ll have to ask the KJ team!), but it is a perfect little project to dive into in the slow season. It’s meant to be completed in one afternoon and focused on personal marketing strategies and building community.

My favorite part is that it comes with workbooks with actionable steps and ideas that you can implement immediately and over time. Sometimes the courses can get a little overwhelming –– especially if you purchase multiple at once! This course is nice because it’s meant to be smaller and easier to digest.

This was the change in my instagram feed after focusing on CONSISTENCY and sharing PERSONALLY!

This is my Google Analytics results over the past 4 years (Jan 2016 – Jan 2020) after I was blogging consistently and adding video into my marketing strategy. WOW!!!

Katelyn James On YOUTUBE!!!

This was huge surprise this past month…Katelyn is on YOUTUBE! Which means there is even MORE free educational content available to everyone. I love that she practices what she preaches and is including a ton of personal content (mostly because we LOVE Evy and Micah and Michael too!!).

I was even more excited about this because I started my own Youtube channel this year and have really been investing in more video. I’m so excited for her to start this journey because I think it’s the perfect strategy!!!

You can subscribe here!!!

I’m so excited, I need them all!

I honestly agree! Your best option is to sign up for Katelyn’s email list to get access to all of her best deals. She’s constantly creating bundles and offering deals for the holidays, so you can plan ahead for those –– though I will say they are 100% worth the full price!

There is a SWEETHEART SALE going on right now!!! I upgraded my Bridal Guide and bought the Groom’s Guide and I’m so excited to work on them!

My biggest advice is to make sure that once you make the financial investment to make sure that you have a plan to make the TIME investment too! Thankfully I took most of the courses when they came out so I was only working with one at a time, but I know I have gotten overwhelmed with too much content and not enough time! 

I tried to watch a few modules at a time and then would implement at least one new thing at the session following (or just out by myself!). That made it feel much less intimidating and manageable!

If you are starting your photography and business education journey, I am excited for you and I will see you in the Facebook groups!! 🙂


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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