Crafting Connections With Katy Carl

By Kyle Wilson

With a blend of intricacy and genuine emotion, Katy Carl crafts bespoke photographic experiences that evaluate life's most cherished moments into works of art. Her approach is rooted in building authentic connections with her clients, ensuring that every moment captured reflects that. With over 250 weddings documented, she brings seasoned expertise and a hands-on approach. On our podcast, “The Photographer’s Problem,” she talks about entering the world of fashion photography, the freedom of outsourcing, and finding inspiration in others’ ambition.

What’s happening in Katy Carl’s photography world?

I'm working with a couple of different companies. I always want to expand my knowledge and work on things that don’t necessarily have an anchor with my name. I’m excited about centering that around things I really enjoy. For a long time as a business owner, I wasn’t sure what my brand was going to be, what it was going to look like. Coming back to the heart of who I am, I rediscovered who I was as a child in a way. What was I most inspired by when I was ten years old? It’s fashion.

Fashion photography is where I’m entering into. Obviously weddings are going to be part of it for a while. 

Have you been shooting for fashion brands or planning your own shoots without brands attached to see what it looks like?

I just got back from New York Fashion Week. It was the bridal fashion week and I was able to go shoot that and make connections with bridal companies. In January, I went to Paris during Paris Fashion Week. Being there, seeing the street style, shooting the street style, and putting myself where things are happening is helping me show that's part of who I am.

​​You brought some new people onto your team. So what's your team looking like now?

I've outsourced SEO and I’m working with an editor. There is this nuance though, with handing things off to other people where it starts to feel like, is this still my voice? Do I still have full control over this project? I feel so much more free to create. Handing off tasks to people that do it well empowers them to become the best versions of themselves too. 

It’s elevating your baseline of good. Do you foresee yourself wanting a larger team? 

I’m taking things one step at a time. Ultimately, I love where I’m at right now. Maintaining relationships with my clients is something that I love about my business. I love the connection. My clients know the emails are coming from me, the phone calls are me. The relationship with my clients is something I really value. 

What’s been one of your business decisions that has gotten you to where you’re at now?

Moving to the city was one of my best decisions. Surrounding myself with people who have great businesses and asking questions. When I moved here, I was pursuing a communications degree. I made connections with people who owned a creative space in the city with a bunch of entrepreneurs who all had their own photography businesses. Doors just started opening. I got invited to be an associate for a wedding photographer and that's really what kind of channeled my wedding photography career into what it is now.

The Photographer's Problem: A Narrative Podcast streaming now

Not everyone wanting to do their next step in a creative field needs to move to a city, but they need to realize they want to do something, and to do something you have to make moves even if you don’t know what it is specifically. Being focused on fashion, you had to move and make that first step. That’s a great example of your best business decision because here you are now. That being said, what’s the worst one?

When I first started, I just took on so much, and I didn't let myself play. I was trying to find my own brand persona, my own voice in the midst of all of that. Sometimes, you have to take on a whole bunch so you can learn a whole bunch. When you love what you do, you do it all the time. It became my identity. Wedding photography was what I ate, breathed, slept. I took on 63 weddings my first year, and burnout was real.

I’ve learned to set boundaries. It doesn't mean I’m taking on less work, but I’m excited about the type of work I’m doing. Now that I have a little bit of a team built around me, I can play more. So my worst decision is that the first couple of years I did way too much and didn’t let myself enjoy the journey.

That’s something a lot of creatives go through. We get into it because we love it but when it’s all you do and all you think about it can suck the fun out of it. When I met you, I could tell, but it has to be a lived experience.

So many people were telling me I was doing too much. I didn’t know what automations were at all. You’re the automation king and you helped me out.

So you’re working on playing more now, and that’s taking form in fashion work. What else are you working on in your business?

Onboarding new people and learning how those systems work. How I can be a good leader and employer and how we manage systems in the best way possible. I allow space to determine what’s next, because I feel like my best ideas come to me, usually when I’m traveling. I have quite a few travel weddings this year. 

Despite not knowing what’s next, what’s your problem?

When you're an entrepreneur, especially in this field as a business owner, there is so much rooted in being radically connected with creatives while simultaneously being radically lonely. Fueling that creative ambition alongside other people who are running in the same direction as you - I’m always more excited about my work when there’s other people doing cool stuff. I’m inspired by other people chasing what they’re doing.

I love my job. We live in a world where most people aren’t super excited about their jobs. It’s isolating because we work ourselves so creatively dry to the point where it's really hard to find new inspiration for things, or you're just working a lot and you're doing it alone. You don't necessarily have coworkers that can tell you how to do things. You have to create that community for yourself. The more you do it alone, the harder it is to maintain it in a way that’s inspiring.

We don’t have a job we go to and socialize. This job is highly individual, and your individual taste shapes your business. Have you done anything in a community coworking space?

I used to meet up with people for coffee and work with them. I feel like I'm most productive at home. When you're the only one in your business, you're constantly reminded of how much more there is to do. I could keep working on things from sunup to sundown and never run out of things to do. It's hard to clock out. When you get to a point where you know what you're doing, it's time to outsource and it's time to live outside of your job.

There are so many people in the industry that I know and love to meet up with. It's doing things alongside other people who also have big goals and big dreams and seeing what they're doing and supporting it. Instagram is really great for that. 

Something I’ve found beneficial is that early in my career, all the people I hung out with were wedding photographers. I was lucky to find people who shared common interests outside of the work part. My friendship group shouldn't just be creatives, otherwise I feel like that's all I live and breathe. It can feel lonely too that we're just all circling the same drain. 

I definitely agree with that. And I think that's why editorials have been so fun for me. You work with hair and makeup and see what they’re doing and maybe you can collaborate on a project that will get published somewhere. Having these shared experiences with people is part of what we do that I find really exciting. Having people in your network that are doing things other than photography.

Robin Williams said ‘I thought the worst feeling in the world was to be lonely. The worst feeling in the world is to be surrounded by people that make you feel lonely.’ In the creative field, you can be surrounded by tons of people and feel those pangs of envy and jealousy. How do you make sure you have healthy social habits in your week?

My wedding season is about to get crazy, so I’m trying to see friends that I may not see until November. The biggest thing for me is going for runs and shutting out the world. I’m going to be socializing and pouring a lot of my energy into making sure people are taken care of on their wedding days. Taking time for myself looks like going for a 30-minute run, or waking up a bit later, or getting outside in the morning. Sometimes it’s booking a hair appointment, the smallest things are self care and that ensures the balance is there. Maybe it’s getting off my phone and not texting anyone back today.

Having a full cup is one of the most important things. There's no way that you're going to be able to keep pouring out until you make sure that there's a routine with how you pour back into yourself. You're giving value to your clients and you have to give value to yourself too. You can't neglect yourself in the process because you are your business, and if your business starts to suffer, so will you. 

You are your boss. Have a mental health day. I know photographers who carve out two days a month that are off limits.

Take days as they come. Self care is important.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today.

Hopefully it was beneficial and added value to your space here. I really appreciate you asking me.

Check out Katy’s destination wedding photography at and follow her on Instagram (@katyycarl).

This interview has been edited and condensed. Check out “The Photographer’s Problem: A Narrative Podcast” streaming now on YouTube or Spotify for the full, unedited interview and more inspiring stories about the evolving world of photography.