Kathleen Martin of LKN Images has always been drawn to cameras, and what started as a hobby naturally grew into a thriving business. Among the many reasons Kathleen loves running her volume photography business with her husband, Ed—like not having to sit still in an office all day and the amazing flexibility it offers for raising kids—what she loves most is the people, “the entire experience, and creating images that impact their lives.”
By streamlining their workflow, incorporating PhotoDay, and creating simplified systems, Kathleen and Ed have expanded their sales over the past year. When the pandemic hit, this set them up to be able to focus on bringing The Front Steps Project into their community and creatively raising over $55,000 in charitable donations.
After studying computer science for 2 years in college, Kathleen decided to pursue her passion for photography with an art degree. Years later, she met her husband—and now business partner— while working in sales at IBM. After being alphabetically seated next to each other while attending a class in Atlanta, the rest was history for the pair. Having kids meant lots of opportunities to practice photography, and soon she was getting requests to photograph their whole sports teams instead of just her favorite players. Now LKN Images is a top studio for high school seniors, family, sports, and business photography in Mooresville, NC, and the surrounding areas.
More Growth. Less Work.
Eventually, Ed left his career in the tech industry to join Kathleen in running LKN Images. Noticing how she was buried in paperwork and bogged down by tedious, repetitive tasks, he started to wonder if the team and individual events were even worth the effort. Always looking for ways to make things simpler, Ed said, “If I could automate everything, she could do what she does best—capturing images—and it would be way more fun!”
Kathleen had come across PhotoDay on Facebook prior to Ed joining the business, but she didn’t fully understand it at first. It wasn’t until they went to Boatwright Bootcamp in the winter of 2019 that they jumped onboard and fully committed to learning how to sell in an online environment.
We asked them for 3 ways PhotoDay has helped LKN Images:
“No paper! No bad checks! Direct delivery! Enhanced automated communication with the customers, too. I borrowed some of PhotoDay’s communication ideas and have implemented them into other parts of the studio. All of our customers always feel like we are constantly in touch and communicating with them. Because of PhotoDay and its technology, our business stands out from the competition.”
Each year, Kathleen photographs a local youth league with kids ranging from ages 5 to 13. In fall 2018 they were still using “old school” paper forms, but in fall 2019, it was their first big job using PhotoDay—but still before they got “Boatwright’ed” at the Bootcamp they attended shortly after.
A Pivot for Charity
In March 2020, COVID brought the volume photography industry to a standstill, and suddenly Kathleen and Ed had an empty calendar and extra time on their hands. Kathleen heard about a movement called The Front Steps Project where photographers take portraits of families on their front steps in exchange for a direct donation to a local charity. She absolutely loved the idea of documenting this historical time in a way that not only provides families with a tangible, priceless memory, but also impacts a charity for good. They chose Feed NC as the organization to receive the donations and quickly got to work photographing the families in their community.
Over the course of 10 weeks, Kathleen and Ed photographed over 700 families and raised over $55,000 for Feed NC. And their local news stations weren’t the only ones who noticed—the founders of The Front Steps Project have published a book and included Kathleen and Ed! You can order The Front Steps Project: How Communities Found Connection During the COVID-19 Crisis on Amazon.
Each of the participating families received 1 photo in exchange for a donation to Feed NC, but Kathleen was able to use PhotoDay galleries to offer more poses and more visibility to LKN Images. They donated a portion of the proceeds from the additional photos purchased (whether digital downloads or print orders). To hear all about this amazing initiative and how they brought it to life within their community, watch their webinar with our Director of Education and fellow Trailblazer, Jay Boatwright.
Words of Advice
When asked what they’d do differently if they had to start over, Kathleen said, “We didn’t really understand online sales at first. We tried it (barely dipped our toes in), but more education was needed. We would spend more time immersing ourselves into how to sell and market online—like going to Bootcamp and understanding PhotoDay. Our AdvancePay results would have improved a lot faster if we’d taken the time to understand it more fully.”
Her advice to anyone on the fence about PhotoDay: “Use COVID as an excuse to get online. Just try it. It’s not hard…take a leap and figure out AdvancePay.