#BeyondtheLens: A Chat with Kayla Coleman

Continuing our #BeyondThe series, we sat down with Kayla Coleman, a world-traveling photographer who describes her work (and we spectacularly agree) as "timeless, emotional photographs for the hopeless romantics." BTW, as someone who also runs a photography nonprofit, offers her clients a discount for doing an act of kindness before their wedding day, and has killer taste in lipstick, we may or may not have a girl crush. Read more of what she has to say to brides below!

Tell us about yourself. a north carolina transplant, originally from cleveland- i am obsessed with kind people, antiques, greeting cards, calligraphy prints (my living room looks like an etsy shop exploded) and blankets! if i woke up tomorrow and no longer had to worry about earning money, i would be photographing couples lifestyle sessions {in their homes} every day of the week! i am a night owl to a fault, i watch the office like it is an actual part time job and i never drink coffee. i am an extroverted introvert- which translates loosely to being a self aware homebody. my most recent life change brought me to asheville, north carolina in the mountains, where i have been exploring nature, self love and saying yes more often than ever before! 

When did you get started in photography? my first camera was given to me at age 5- from then, my sister and i spent hours and countless rolls of film setting up photoshoots with our barbies! flash forward to college, i took my first photography class and really didn't love it- we were not able to photograph anything that was "too creative". i then worked a job with a soul sucking photo studio for a few months before realizing my passion for photography is something that would be better suited to my own pace and structure- this lead me to craiglist, naturally- where i found a photographer named lisa who was in need of an assistant/second shooter for her business and i hopped on board! from that, my passion continued to grow until my photography was outweighing the hours of my 9-5 customer service job- with the support of friends and family, i made the leap to full time in 2014 and havent looked back since! 

i offer two options for a discount on their wedding package- one is to complete a random act of kindness before the wedding day, the other is to donate any amount of money to a cause near and dear to their heart

When did you know you wanted to be a photographer? i still have a hard time owning that i am a photographer! i feel unworthy of such an amazing career with so many people in my corner! i have had a passion from a young age but only really started thinking seriously about it as i learned from lisa and fell in love with photographing weddings!

If you could describe your photography style, what words come to mind? What’s your style? romantic, warm, joyful, emotional and tender. i want people to feel the love when they look at my photos and be able to put themselves in the shoes of the couple!

What’s your favorite place to shoot? 100% in client's homes- ideally with lots of natural light and simple, clean decor! when that is not an option or quite "right" for the look of a session, i gravitate toward wide, open, scenic locations- beaches and mountains are my bread and butter! 

Why do brides choose you over others? oh goodness! i ask myself this all the time! i would say that the connection we create based on emailing alone is what drives them to sign a contract with me. i want them to understand how deeply i care for them, their story and their next chapter- to do this, i try to write exactly as i speak and ask them questions about life outside of wedding planning! i am very fortunate to have had a few brides who choose their wedding date because of my schedule- these are the couples that have seen my work, progress and presence on social media and feel like they know me before they even reach out. i can only think of 2-3 times i have had a couple ask to meet before booking- the majority are sight unseen! 

What’s your favorite part of working with brides and grooms? hands down the best part is becoming real life friends! i am fortunate enough to have a few couples who have remained in my life years after our sessions/weddings- it is a very intimate experience (especially for some of them in their home) to be photographed- it builds trust, encourages inside jokes and boosts confidence as a new friend! 

What’s the most interesting wedding moment you’ve witnessed? every wedding has their most interesting moment- my favorite this season was a couple i photographed in washington state- they eloped on a beach in january- and the weather actually worked out! BUT after their elopement, we drove to the greasiest cheeseburger joint in town, all (the day of vendors and the couple) of us ate our weight in fries, shakes and burgers and then the couple proceeded to have their first dance there, with no music, in front of strangers, as i photographed through the window- it was one of my favorite moments by far! 

beyond the lens, i am learning to form habits of self love and care- from this i have learned to appreciate my willingness to grow and work toward creating the kind of happiness in life that i can only dream of!  

Any wedding advice to the brides reading this? the best advice i can give is to have a plan b, and to be OK with it before the wedding. there will always be something that doesn't pan out exactly as planned and that is ok! an awesome part of my job as a photographer is that i am on the front line of wedding day mishaps which allows me to better control the situation before anything even becomes an issue- i am SO on your team to have a stress free wedding and honestly, as long as you are focusing on the marriage more than the wedding, everything will be perfect! 

What are the traits of a good photographer?/What should brides look for? there are sites out there that will list 101 questions to ask photographers- like "what is the resolution of your camera?"... personally, i think the technical questions can take a hike. the best thing to look for is their body of work, including their style/light/composition- are the photos something you see yourself in? will this look work for your wedding? - the next, and most important thing is a personal connection- some people don't realize, but photographers are one person on your wedding day who is attentively present with you all day long- more than bridal party or even family, most of the time! we are with you for the most intimate moments and if you do not feel like you could hang out with them in real life, it is best to wait for the photographer you could imagine being friends with!

One of the things broomstick holds dear in everything we do is we try to show brides #beyondthedress, meaning, we celebrate their weddings & marriages as a PART of who they are, instead of other companies who seem to make brides think that their wedding is 100% of their lives at that moment. What do you think about that? What are some of the ways you’ve seen how a couple’s life & goals influences what their wedding looks like? i ABSOLUTELY support broomstick for identifying this issue- it is so easy to turn wedding planning into an all-consuming job when you are engaged, but that is also a cause for a "crash" after the wedding when the planning is over! i am very fortunate to work with couples who are focused on life after the wedding- many of them decide to postpone honeymooning for a few months or even a year after their wedding in order to have time to adjust and enjoy everyday life after the big day and to have something exciting to look forward to to celebrate at a later time! these are also the couples who have a lower budget for their wedding overall, but value photography as a way to tell their story as a couple instead of the story of how much money they spent on their day. these same amazing couples will often have old photos on display, driving the attention from them to other successful love stories in their family (which i absolutely love) - a few of my couples' will also connect their passions outside of their wedding by choosing to donate to a charity near and dear to them instead of providing favors to their guests! 

As you also know, we give to organizations empowering women & girls. What are some of your favorite female causes right now to get behind? i absolutely love this part of broomstick! i am an avid supporter of end the backlog, girls on the run, ENDCROWD and planned parenthood- for my couples, i offer two options for a discount on their wedding package- one is to complete a random act of kindness before the wedding day, the other is to donate any amount of money to a cause near and dear to their heart- through this i have learned about even more amazing causes that are near and dear to my brides hearts!

With that being said, what are some of your favorite parts of yourself #beyondthelens? i will be honest, this is something i struggle with! i am learning to form habits of self love and care- from this i have learned to appreciate my willingness to grow and work toward creating the kind of happiness in life that i can only dream of!  

Are there any other photographers you think would be a great fit for the broomstick blog? oh my goodness, SO many! one of my favorites (aside from Brooke Michelle, who so amazingly connected me to you all) is cassie rosch- she is so unapologetically herself in her social media- i feel like we could be killer friends, even though i am 98% sure she does not know who i am!