We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Hensley Phillips and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, what’s your definition for success?
I used to think success was defined by my status on social media, how much income I was bringing in, what people said about my work, and how it compared to the best in the industry. When you run a business with these goals at the forefront, you are destined for burnout. I have gone through multiple seasons of burnout because I have been working from a place of trying to impress others rather than doing the work that I love. My definition of “success” has greatly changed in 2021. My work is driven by dreaming, creating, moving towards the things that make me come alive, and challenging myself creatively. I have moved from a “make money” to a “make art” mindset and it has shifted everything in my business. I have learned that when you do what you love and are passionate about, people are drawn to it, and success naturally happens. My new definition of “success” has majorly decreased burnout, allowed me to produce work I am truly proud of, and has provided for me and my family financially.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am proud of my work because I can truly say that it is now mine. I have come to a place where my goal is to “make art”. I am not trying to follow the trends, do what sells, etc. I am simply running after what I am passionate about and love most. I am proud of the personal projects I have completed in 2021 so far and plan to do many more.
I have worked in the wedding industry in some capacity for 10 years. I started my photography business my junior year of college (while I was in nursing school) and quickly hopped back into the space I love…weddings. I graduated in 2019 with my BSN in Nursing and worked in the Pediatric Emergency Room for about one year. I was continuing to run Kate Hensley Photography on the side. Due to COVID and nightshift, I hit my breaking point with nursing and realized I was at a place where I thought I could make the leap into full-time photography. With the encouragement of my boyfriend at the time (now husband) and family, I went for it. It was scary and not always easy, but it has been so worth it. I have been able to create more than ever and have grown my business in ways I never could have when I was spreading myself so thin working two jobs.
As a photographer, I consider myself a storyteller…that’s how I make art. I simply capture in story-form. I photograph the real, raw, imperfect, chaotic…my goal is NEVER perfection. I think that the imperfect is beautiful and teaches us something. I think it’s important to notice and take in. My clients are very involved in the planning/storytelling process. I do not just show up and take photographs, I love to collaborate with my clients so they identify with the art we make as well. My heart is to photograph love and weddings as well as editorial work. I am also moving towards creative direction, which I am absolutely in love with.
P.S. I will travel anywhere in the world to tell a story! I am most creative when I travel and get to explore new places.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First of all, I love Atlanta. I think it is one of the best cities, period.
We would probably start by grabbing coffee at Chrome Yellow in the morning and then grab brunch at Pancake Social (my go-to order is their Yogurt Bowl). Afterwards, we would walk on the Beltline.
I grew up going to the Westside of Atlanta a lot. We would walk around and window shop during the afternoon!
For dinner, we’d go to Superica at Krog Street Market or sit on the roof at La Fonda on Ponce.
We’d finish with drinks at Tiny Lou’s or Barcelona Wine Bar!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There is NO way I would be where I am today without the love, support, inspiration, and encouragement of so many. First, my dad, Brian Hensley. I was an entrepreneurial kid and he always encouraged that passion in me. I would never have believed that I could start and run a thriving business without him. Second, Callie Murray…my good friend and #1 business inspiration always. Third, my husband Luke, who is my biggest cheerleader and encourager. And finally, so many of my photographer friends (real life and virtual) who have taught me so much, shared their knowledge, and encouraged me throughout my entire journey.