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Meet Katie Botel of Katie B. Photography in Beverly Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Botel.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been a storyteller which stemmed from my love of reading as a child. Couple that with my love of 80s television when it was all about family, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone when I moved to Los Angeles straight out of college to become a Television Writer. I worked my way up the writer’s office ranks and was loving the So Cal life, but having grown up on the idealistic Main Line, outside of Philadelphia, my roots never left me. Friends were having babies and I’d go back to visit and bring my camera. It was just a hobby, inspired by my mother, who was constantly using her Nikon on my brother and me. The images she took lined the hallway of our house and were placed in albums that I “read” like they were books throughout childhood (and sometimes even now when I go home for a visit.) I have always been drawn to the beauty of a still photograph and how it tells a story.

But… wait… How does a Philly girl that’s become a TV Writer/Co-Producer … that’s essentially “living the dream” leave that world? Enter the Writers Guild Strike of 2007-2008. Something had to give and I knew I needed to do something that was a little more in my hands. It didn’t take long to go back to my roots, figure out what brought joy not only to myself but eventually to those on the other side of the camera.

From there, Katie B. Photography was born. Side note and props to the Executive Producer of the show “Boomtown” who named me Katie B.. It went from bring stamped the back of the director’s chairs I sat on during production of the episodes I wrote to the name of my business and I love nothing more than hearing it called out by all my little subjects in greeting… So… A business was born. It took some schooling, a lot of shooting… some business classes, a lot of mishaps… and here I am celebrating my 10th Holiday Card Season, where I proudly serve the Greater Children and Families of the Greater Los Angeles area (and Philadelphia, New York City, and Palm Beach when I take the show on the road)…

My business has been built mainly by word of mouth and I am proud to have clients that return to me year after year. In my “Year in Review” slideshows (http://www.katiebphoto.com/yearinreviews) I always pay tribute to those families who have fueled my little business that could. I fondly refer to them as my Katie B. Family… You can see them at www.katiebphoto.com.

Has it been a smooth road?
I went from writing freelance (because even when you are on staff, you never know how long it’s going to last), to becoming a small business owner. There has been nothing smooth here! But I say that with a smile because I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just like each show I wrote on was a unique experience, each Session is as unique as the family I am photographing, even if it’s one of my yearly or even bi-yearly families. I tell families of one and two years old “it will get easier!” and then there we are seven, eight years later, and each and every year they bring something different. Who they are in that space and time…

Speaking of “that space and time”, I think the biggest obstacle I face is in educating families that the time is now and to prioritize preserving these memories vs waiting… and waiting… That Photography is possibly the only investment you can make whose value is guaranteed to increase over the years and there is no better time to give yourself this present.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Katie B. Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would specialize in Children and Family when I decided to make this transition. I thrive on the energy of children (particularly the preschool age set) and have built Katie B. Photography around them. I have clients from Malibu to Manhattan Beach, from Santa Monica to Silverlake and from downtown to the West Valley.

I added Preschool Portraits to my calendar about five years ago and love wow-ing parents who can not believe their kids could perform so well! I am grateful to go back to the same preschools each year and really get to know the kids. There’s nothing like seeing these children skip to me (dressed to the nine’s) with huge smiles on their faces, ready to do it once again… And opening my business up to preschoolers has me back on studio lots where I have been photographing the children at the Universal Studios and Sony Childcare Centers. Talk about a “full circle” experience. All those years driving onto lots, and now back again, telling stories in a completely different way…

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The saddest thing I saw two years ago was when one of my (Los Angeles local!) album vendors went out of business because people weren’t printing albums like they used to. I have remained firm in my resolve that photos are not meant to sit on hard drives – they are meant to be framed and hung on the walls, bound in albums and displayed for you and your loved ones to enjoy. So while a lot of photographers have gone the shoot-and-burn direction, I have continued to offer a boutique experience for my clients. It makes my heart sing when I walk into a client’s house and see their Katie B. images proudly hanging on their walls, or their yearly albums displayed on their coffee table (I even hear from Grandparents thanking me for their Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts!!) And as a bonus, I get to participate in the photography food chain, using mostly California vendors which I find super rewarding. I guess I don’t pay too much attention to trends. I know what I like and go after it with the intention of only offering the best to my clients and images and products that they’ll be able to look back on proudly.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos copyright Katie B. Photography, 2019

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