...and she was so free | Austin TX Photographer

“I brought a playlist”…. she said proudly, as if I were her teacher and she’d been the only one in the class who knew the answer. This 51 year old goddess is quite the student, you see. Not only did she attend one of my workshops and watch another live broadcasted workshop of mine, she also had a full day one-on-one mentorship with me the day after her shoot, and happens to have 3 degrees from Stanford. No big deal, right?

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When this professional answer-seeker, photographer, and mother of four told me of her love for empowering herself through movement and dance, I had her hit “play” on her playlist. I picked up my camera and what started as poses quickly turned to movement. I encouraged her to flow, and did she ever. It was so incredibly beautiful and also fairly difficult to stop myself from peeking at every single image as I captured it….but I didn’t want to miss a single movement.

Over the course of a single song, I captured over 300 frames of this powerhouse….

…and she was so free.

It was exquisite.

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Video song credit: Gerson Lopes

The Responsibility of Photographers

PHOTOGRAPHERS::: We hold a lot of power in our camera-wielding hands and as such, we need to constantly remind ourselves of how that power can affect the humans in front of our lenses.

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I know that while I’m capable of transforming women’s opinions of themselves into one of confidence and worthiness, it’s so important to also recognize that by delivering a subpar experience or by the simple act of NOT LISTENING to our clients, we can cause damage that is hard to undo. 


Oftentimes, women come to see me very hesitantly after having a negatively impressionable experience with a past photo shoot. Because of that, it becomes much harder to earn their trust, much harder to get them feeling comfortable, and they are much more resistant to being showered with the support and encouragement they deserve. The negative impact of that one shoot, that one off-putting comment from a photographer, that one wildly unflattering photo that she was shown just because the photographer was more concerned about the good lighting of the image than the client’s feelings. 


As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” and that not only rings true, but needs to be a recurring self reminder as we are given the opportunity to show people how incredible they are through our craft. We should always be evolving both our technical capabilities AND our emotional intelligence...because this is important work that can change lives. 🖤

Being a business owner with an autoimmune disease...

I didn’t want to write this post. I’ve been conflicted with it for months. I built my business with a heavy helping of “getting personal with Kara Marie” and over the years, I’ve pulled back. I think it’s only natural that I’ve grown more private as business has grown and my privacy became harder and harder to come by…but I don’t want to lose sight entirely of the fact that this IS a very personal business, and that I myself AM the sole presence behind it. So here goes.

Running a successful business is grueling work that requires immense sacrifices of personal life, sleep, ideal schedules, and usually sanity. It’s a rat race that I LIVE for. And, consequently, a rat race that I will inevitably die for….at least, way earlier than if I’d ever been able to keep my cortisol levels at bay.

Last year, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with an autoimmune disease after the scariest, most debilitating flare up I will ever experience, I hope. Since the diagnosis, I’ve been struggling to find the treatment approach that is best for me, but am extremely hopeful and feel as though I’m on the right path.


My first day back to work after being released from the hospital. I was emaciated, malnourished, lonely, sad, hopeless, and told how great I looked.

My first day back to work after being released from the hospital. I was emaciated, malnourished, lonely, sad, hopeless, and told how great I looked.

4 months later, crying happy tears because while there is no cure, my desperate search for treatment options allowed me to finally experience relief from the mental illness that has plagued me my whole adult life.

4 months later, crying happy tears because while there is no cure, my desperate search for treatment options allowed me to finally experience relief from the mental illness that has plagued me my whole adult life.


I am not a pity party kind of woman, nor am I one for excuses. At all. I’m an action taker and I make things work. It’s what I do. So while I am (reluctantly) sharing this with you, I beg of you not to dole out pity, apologies, prayers, or essential oil remedies….because, listen, EVERYBODY HAS SOMETHING. I’m nothing special for suffering from an autoimmune disease and mental illness….in fact I could likely step out into the parking lot of my building and yell “WHO HAS A CHRONIC ILLNESS?!” and get a smattering of raised hands attached to people with pain in their eyes.

I don’t speak of this publicly often at all, to avoid all of those things I just asked you not to dole out…but also because I don’t want to admit defeat. I don’t want to say that it makes running a successful business all the more difficult. I don’t want to admit that it’s put a strain on personal relationships. I don’t want to accept that I’m not invincible. I don’t want to be a complainer. It could be worse. It can always be worse.


WHAT HAVING AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE MEANS FOR MY BUSINESS….

*It means using every.single.ounce.of my energy for the time that is forward-facing with my clients, and manifesting artificial energy when I run out of real energy…which happens very quickly.

*It means having to document absolutely EVERYTHING because my memory is no longer reliable.

*It means I have a much deeper level of empathy for all of my clients who are suffering from any disease/illness/ailment….because as empathic as I am, I truly had NO idea what it was like with a chronic illness until I had one.

*It means I cannot take on as much new business as I used to.

*It means I cannot book clients as far in advance as I used to.

*It means I have to take the high road when people are aggressive with me about not being able to fit them in.

*It means wishing I didn’t have to take the high road all.the.time.

*It means having to answer the “where have you been!?” questions on social media far too often.

*It means having to rely on employees more than in the past.

*It means I’ve been naturally forced to get my priorities straight, therefore finding deeper meaning in the service that I provide to women.

*It means always wondering how much further along I could be in my career if I didn’t have this disease.

*It means focusing more on the education side of things and slowing down on the physical aspect.

*It means being way more in-tune with my own personal style and artistic aspect of my work, which I am so so very grateful for.

*It means shooting more intentionally and appreciating every shot I take all-the-more. It’s forced me to level up!

*It means having an EVEN harder time listening to women hate on their bodies instead of loving and appreciating the vessel that carries them around and does miraculous things.

*It means a much deeper level of appreciation for my work and creating visual documentation of legendary women.



WHAT IT MEANS FOR MY PERSONAL LIFE…

*It means I’ve been forced to get my priorities straight, which has actually been a HUGE blessing and massive relief.

*It means having to hear “you’re no fun” when I politely decline cake at a birthday party.

*It means hurt feelings every time someone says “But look how thin you are!! You look great!” in result to the weight loss from having an insanely restricted diet.

*It means having to completely altar my schedule and work habits so that I am able to reserve a little bit of a good mood for my husband and children.

*It means declining practically all social invitations just to avoid the frustration of others trying to accommodate my diet, which even I don’t fully understand.

*It means taking 27 pills a day.

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*It means the occasional mental breakdown….usually about food.

*It means distancing myself from people and situations that cause stress and negativity….and I can’t believe it took THIS to finally do that, because damn….life gets so much easier when you cut.them.out.

*It means I’m actually taking better care of myself than I EVER have.

*It means that I’m more emotionally intelligent and intentional than ever.

*It means having to wonder if I come across as whiny or complaining if I mention my disease.

*It means I have no time or desire for small talk. Give me depth or don’t strike up conversation.

*It means getting a plethora of unqualified and uninvited advice on potential treatment options.

*It means fighting the urge to scream “THIS DOESN’T GO AWAYYYYYY” to everyone that says “I hope you feel better soon!”, as well-intentioned as they are.

*It means accepting the suspicious judgement passed because I don’t “look sick”.

*It means unexpected medical bills and a whole slew of new self care expenses.

*It means taking it extra hard when people don’t realize that sometimes the strong friend needs support, too.

*It means trying extra hard not to get offended when people are friendly with me only when they have a favor to ask (i.e. working for free).

*It means being faced with the decision of which approach to take at social gatherings::: Do I try to explain to them that I can’t drink because I’m sick, or do I just carry around a fake cocktail all night to avoid the same conversation over and over?

*It means I cherish my close personal relationships so much more.

*It means I have a better excuse for going to bed at 8:30pm.

*It means I get a little less judgement for being a cannabis advocate ;)

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In summary, it means CHANGE. Everything is different, my life has flipped upside down….and while the easy thing to do would be to complain and compile a list of all the ways I’m now inconvenienced (eh hem), I can GENUINELY SAY that the things that have improved are MONUMENTAL and I may NEVER have achieved such pivotal milestones of growth without being affected by chronic illness and being forced to get very serious about REAL self care. I’m not talking bubble baths and meditation, here. For the first time, I am taking proper care of myself. I am understanding my own needs, making radical changes in my life, eliminating my life of toxicity, building deeper relationships with those I love, and prioritizing the RIGHT THINGS.

Having a chronic illness can be extremely isolating…OR….it can be the fuel that you need to get your shit straightened out. For me, it has been both. I don’t know what my future with this super annoying “invisible” disease looks like, but I can tell you that it will most definitely be lived with purpose and a much brighter outlook than I had even before I was diagnosed. Ohhh the irony.

Thank you all for your continued support. I’m not going away anytime soon, but what I can assure you is that what you will see of me will be on purpose.


Xx,

Kara Marie

The deeper meaning behind a photo shoot | Client Experience


My own narrative has evolved quite a bit since starting this line of work over a decade ago. The further I got down into the rabbit hole that is women’s empowerment photography, the more I recognized the importance of celebrating yourself, as a woman, through a proper photo shoot experience. It has changed the way I run my business, it has changed the way I talk about my work, it has changed the way I talk to my clients.  NOW, I can’t even fathom doing this for any other purpose than to celebrate yourself and to love yourself and to feel liberated and strong and powerful.

In this client’s case, what originally was meant to be a wedding present became not only a gift for herself, but documented herself at a pivotal point in her life as she received a medical diagnoses days after her photo reveal that flipped her world upside down.  Read her experience below. 

“I have followed Kara on Instagram for years, and always thought "I'm going to do that one day," but every time her sign-up opened, I chickened out. I wasn't in the shape I wanted to be in, felt too uncomfortable in front of the camera, didn't have the right reason for a boudoir shoot, felt like I could use the money on something else. There was always a reason to tell myself no.

“And then one day, I finally said yes. And it was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time.” 

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“I initially told myself that my session with Kara would be a great wedding gift for my fiancee – something he would never expect to receive from his overly body conscious girlfriend. But as I got closer to shoot day, I realized that it was as much for me as it was for my fiancee.

I've never quite been comfortable with my body – and even with a year to prepare, I still wasn't in what I considered to be "boudoir-ready shape" by the time of my shoot – but after years looking at the beautiful images Kara created, I figured that even just one good image would make the shoot worthwhile. My experience with Kara was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Kara was a total joy to work with. She completely changed the way I felt about my body, and brought out a confidence that I always lacked. I thought that taking pictures in lingerie (and less!) with a relative stranger would make me freeze up, but Kara's friendly demeanor put me at ease from the moment I walked in, and I felt like we were old friends despite only meeting her that morning.”


“Even just taking the photos before I even saw them...I left feeling powerful. I finally saw myself as the sexy, confident woman that my fiancee always saw. Seeing the final images just amplified those feelings. I honestly felt like I could conquer anything, which couldn't have come at a better time for me personally.”

“ The week after my photo reveal, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My entire world flipped upside down. I went from being embarrassed by my body to gaining an unknown confidence in it to wishing that I spent a little more timing loving it. ”

“ Kara did something for me that I wasn't able to do for myself, and now, as I'm about to embark on a very difficult life experience, I'm so grateful that I have these beautiful images to look back on – and to serve as a reminder of the hidden self she helped bring out in me: a confident, self-loving bad-ass boss babe. Working with Kara is a definite investment, but one that I would make a million times over, and I look forward to booking many more experiences with her in the future.”

 

She. Is. Incredible. I honestly couldn’t even begin to count the number of clients I’ve worked with that were affected by breast cancer, and how inspiring they each are to me....and how grateful I am on their behalf, to have documented this exact place in life they’re in.  In the way that my self portrait project serves as my own personal visual diary of my current stage of life, these images will forever be there to serve the woman in them and remind them of that stage in their life. 

THANK YOU, G, so much, for sharing with me and with the KMS family. I have every faith that you will kick this cancer’s ass in all the ways, and I will be seeing you again for your celebratory “I KICKED CANCER’S ASS!!!” Photo shoot that I’ve done for so, so, so many other insanely courageous women. YOU ARE AMAZING. 

xx

The Photo Reveal

Our photo shoot experiences are amazing and fun as we create and break down barriers, and I watch as women work on their confidence right in front of me. But the photo reveals....the reveals are where it’s at. That’s where alllll of my job satisfaction lies and I will always selfishly want to be present when women see their images for the first time and experience their jaws hitting the floor and their eyes tearing up as they gawk in disbelief that they could look so fierce and powerful and confident and Goddess-y.

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Some women are completely silent, even after their slideshow plays...they just sit there, stunned, with their hand over their mouth. Some women are SCREAMING “OHHHH. MYYYY. GODDDDDD” as each image flashes on the screen. Some women are sobbing messes. Some women spill their guts about why they needed this so badly at this stage in their lives.  Some women play it cool and casual as they order their full collection but then send me a lengthy e-mail as soon as they get home about what it all meant to them.  Regardless of how differently they may process it, they all move me tremendously and marry me to my work.

  

When they ultimately say “Obviously I can’t choose. I want them all.”, I know that I’ve done my job. Women are notoriously hard on themselves, especially when it comes to their appearance....which is why I maintain that, while obviously all of my experiences will have them looking their best, my primary goal isn’t to make them look smoother or slimmer or more voluptuous than in real life....it’s to make them look strong and capable and cool and CONFIDENT. Because what’s inside matters more, and THAT is the vibe that I want my work to have. Not one of being for someone else’s enjoyment, not one of being overly retouched to the point where it could literally be ANYONE in those photos....but CONFIDENCE.

I am on a mission, one woman at a time, to build CONFIDENCE in all of the women that I come in contact with, because I know the power of confidence as well as I know how crippling insecurity is. And the world NEEDS MORE CONFIDENT WOMEN. Your appearance is the least interesting thing about you, I promise. Let’s work on the inside. Together.

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Makeover not required | Bare Faced Beauty

Here at Kara Marie Studios, we’ve got a talented team of hair and makeup magicians on hand for the clients who choose to use them....

….but also, let me be clear, you don’t NEED a makeover. 

An interesting discovery, in a world that is constantly telling us to look younger and smoother and slimmer.....is our clients starting their pre-shoot makeup talk with “I don’t usually wear much makeup.” Many feel like they should probably go a little more glamorous for their photo shoot...because it’s a photo shoot and that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? 

Not necessarily. Even the lightest of full faces of makeup can be intimidating to someone who doesn’t wear much on a regular basis...and I want you to look like YOU for your session. Not what you think you should look like for this experience.
 

Carola photographed on rehearsal day for my live broadcast segment of Sue Bryce Education. We were just doing a light test, she didn’t have hair or makeup done, and I am madly in love with these images of her completely natural.

Carola photographed on rehearsal day for my live broadcast segment of Sue Bryce Education. We were just doing a light test, she didn’t have hair or makeup done, and I am madly in love with these images of her completely natural.


Jaden photographed with natural light, no makeup, no prep. Exquisite.

Jaden photographed with natural light, no makeup, no prep. Exquisite.

Suzanne photographed with concealer, lashes, and lipgloss. One of my all time favorite captures of a radiant woman.

Suzanne photographed with concealer, lashes, and lipgloss. One of my all time favorite captures of a radiant woman.

For some women, that may mean a full-blown glamour transformation, and that’s cool too.  But if you’re the type to not wear a whole lot more than concealer and mascara, I encourage you to ROCK that bare face for your session. Yes, we’ll still take out any blemishes and do a very very gentle “zzshush” in retouching, but your natural face is YOU, and that’s who I love to photograph and that’s what I want you to love and appreciate.

Because I love it so much, I’ve been photographing women sans makeover for the last year…and did a call for 4 past clients to come in to the studio on Valentine’s Day and be photographed authentically. I went fresh-faced, too, in solidarity. I am absolutely over-the-moon obsessed with the results.

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Can you have one? Sure…but you don’t NEED a makeover. I will capture your personality and your beauty regardless of what you choose to put on your face or your bod (or not put on). 

Shelly photographed with no makeup and fresh natural hair. GLOWING.

Shelly photographed with no makeup and fresh natural hair. GLOWING.

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And just in case anyone was feeling a little squeamish about it, I rocked a no makeup face that day as well.

So if you have an upcoming session with me and are thinking you might want to go au natural, YOU SHOULD. With the right lighting and the right photographer (eh hem), a natural face can photograph even more beautifully than a fully made-up face.

The point is, you can absolutely wear a full face of makeup if that’s your jam….just know that you don’t need to in order to look beautiful.

P.S. I also love stretch marks. And tan lines. And freckles. And birthmarks. And scars. No need to hide them on my account ;)

xx

 

When Photographers Book Photographers | Teri’s Shoot Experience

It’s an honor everytime anyone entrusts me with their photo shoot experience, but when that someone happens to be a photographer as well, it’s an extra honor. Not only are we, as photographers, inundated with examples of beautiful photography on a daily basis (so we often have much higher standards than the typical non-photographer consumer), but we also know a plethora of other camera-wielders and tend to settles for a couple of nice “play shots” from friends here and there.

What is more rare, though, is the photographer who takes care of themselves, understands the value of a powerful photography experience and the accompanying photos, and then actually financially commits to an actual session...not a play or trade session...with a photographer whose work they identify with.

THIS badass Canadian ‘tog is one of the rare ones (in more ways than one). When Teri booked a shoot with me, I won’t lie, I was: #1: Bursting at the seams to finally meet her as we’ve been “social media” friends for a minute but our paths hadn’t crossed in “real life” yet...and #2: Bursting at the seams with butterflies as she’s talented AF, and you know....pressure and shit ;)

She is better with words than I am, so I’m going to let her take it from here:::

 

“ As a boudoir photographer and educator, I definitely know the impact that doing a photo session can have on one's self esteem and confidence. So, when I thought about who I would contact for my annual session, I reached out to Kara to see if she'd be able to squeeze me in during my travels to Texas! AND SHE DID! So, then there was no backing out because fate was on my side!

Interestingly enough, as someone who enjoys luxuries to herself, I'm not gonna lie, the thought of spending over $3000 on photos made me hesitate and then I thought "HOLY SHIT. THIS IS WHAT MY CLIENTS GO THROUGH" which made me take the plunge even more. I became curious over that hesitation and I realized it wasn't the COST I was concerned with (because Kara's value is 20X that)....it was the VALUE that I saw in myself, and did I think *I*was WORTH spending that much money to have photos taken. WHAT AN EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE AS SOMEONE THAT DOES THIS FOR A LIVING!!”

“I knew I couldn't just go to anyone for a boudoir session for a few reasons. Personally, I have had the "traditional" boudoir experience and it just wasn't me...I mean, it was FUN and the photos were gorgeous, but not really reflective of the ME I know. As an avid follower of Kara's I was drawn to her editorial style and ability to take women in their "undone-done" look and capture their essence (that sounds so Hallmark, but you know what I mean).

As a woman who tends to defy most societal standards when it comes to body image (no makeup, never "DO" my hair, forget to get eyebrows and other bits waxed, and hate wearing a bra...and pants.), I knew this was the type of session I needed to show myself that the ME I know is just as worthy of having photos taken. I didn't want glam makeup, I didn't want to wear traditional lingerie, and mostly, I didn't want to appear overly sensual and sexual and really just exist in my power.

My favorite images are the ones where I have a derpy face, you can see my crooked teeth, I'm laughing, and of course, my mass of unruly curls. “

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 “These photos are 100% representative of me.”

 

Note from Kara: The below screenshot was Teri’s response to seeing her images and I will save it in her file forever.  

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”As for the EXPERIENCE itself, Kara is the tits. But if you are on her site, you already know this. She's super chill, laid-back, professional, and on top of all the details. Her overall goal is to make sure you feel fucking amazing and leave with that feeling. Every time I look at my images, I feel amazing and I SEE me.”

 

Ahhhh. Doesn’t she just sound like the kind of woman you want to know? Because she is.  And I’m lucky to know her and honored to have been the photographer to capture her as I saw her...and as SHE sees herself. That is so important to me—to make sure that women feel like themselves WITHOUT a complete glamour makeover and elaborate wardrobe that they are uncomfortable in. 

 

Thank you, Teri, for your trust and your incredible testimony! What a great reminder that even photographers struggle with investing in ourselves through photography! So glad you did with me. 

If you’re located in our friendly neighboring country, Canada—or even if you aren’t, you should most definitely check out Teri’s website HERE.  

 

Xx

2018 Year in Review | Kara Marie Studios

HOLY MOLY. What an absolutely incredible year. I am so incredibly grateful for all 327 women who graced my camera in 2018. Putting together this video gave me such joy…reminiscing about the new faces I met and the ones who came back for more. You all inspire me every day and are an essential part to this being the actual best job ever. Thank you SO much.

Music by Gerson Lopes.

Best Self

It’s that time of year again….the time when your social media feeds are full of resolutions, motivational quotes, and targeted ads for your local fitness center.

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I’m proud to say that regardless of the date, I am constantly a work in progress, a forever student, a self-improvement junkie.

Creative brains, in particular, tend to struggle a bit with productivity, motivation to do non-creative things (and sometimes even creative things), and the ability to complete projects. I spend a good amount of time every year mentoring other creative professionals and helping them to create a schedule that works for them and for their bank account. My inbox is generally full of inquiries from other entrepreneurs in search of direction, as they’ve taken notice to my high-performing ways (probably because I won’t shut up about nerdy productivity and day planning things…but whatever, I preach my passion, yo!).

As 2018 has come to an end, there’s been a surge of questions about my day planning techniques and how to be more productive, so I decided to do two things!

FIRST::: The release of my next educational guide: Kara Marie’s Guide to Productivity for Creative Professionals 

This 28 page guide gives you actionable, bullet-point, easy-to-follow instructions for creating a productive day for yourself, allowing you to achieve the most in the least amount of time and stress, therefore maximizing effectiveness and profit while minimizing anxiousness and frustration. Complete with links to free and additional productivity resources, workbook pages, and chock full of information with no fluff, this is the perfect productivity manual for entrepreneurs and creative professionals. I intended for it to be a quick 5 page list of tips, but it turned out to be a full-fledged manual in true Kara Marie fashion. Download your copy for $25 to start your year off right!


SECOND: A detailed breakdown of my favorite planning tool, the BestSELF journal. Now, full disclosure here, I am a brand ambassador for the Best Self company…which means, if you take my advice and buy any of the products on their website using my code KARAMARIE, I’ll earn free Best Self products. Which is cool for me because I USE THE HELL OUT OF MY BEST SELF JOURNALS. I would never publicly attach my name to something I didn’t already use and adore. And it’s cool for you, too, because you’ll get 15% off with my code KARAMARIE and for every order, they donate 10 meals to families in need. Win win win.

Pictured: BestSELF journal with Self Shield in Natural Leather

Pictured: BestSELF journal with Self Shield in Natural Leather

Now, back to this sexy beast of a day planner slash note taker slash gratitude journal slash goal slayer.

This is a planner meant to be used every day for 13 weeks. It is broken down into sections for GOALS, a Weekly outlook/planner, and a daily planner. Also included are sections for notes and a monthly calendar. Since I’ve been broadcasting my love for this planner on my social media platforms, so many of you have reached out to ask how I use mine, so I thought I’d break it down!

13 WEEK GOAL ROADMAP

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One of the most poignant parts of this planner is the 13-week goal road map. This section guides you to write down your big goals—ones that take a little more time, ones that have many steps to completion, ones that…if you’re a creative brain, you may have a hard time wrapping up. You write down your big goals and then write out 3 main progress goals for the big goal, and then further break that down into 3 tasks you need to complete in order to achieve each progress goal. Breaking these big goals down into bite-sized chunks, and then working towards them every single day is HUGE.

In my photo example, I show the page from my own journal, detailing my goal of getting my first book published. Being able to reference this page every single day forces me to actively work towards this goal and complete it by the time I reach the end of this 13 week journal.

WEEKLY OUTLOOK + PLANNING

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The weekly outlook is a spectacular tool to give you a bird’s eye view of your week’s appointments, your top weekly milestones, and to list and track your daily habits that you aspire to complete every day. In this section,

I start with listing my appointments on the left— remember, there’s a more detailed section for daily tasks, so this just needs to be an overview.

On the right-hand page in the habits section, I list out all of the habits that I WANT/NEED to achieve every day. I’m always working on my daily routine, and use this section to work on things that I have a hard time making habitual —which is generally on the personal end of the spectrum. Things like “exercise” and “no phones past 7pm” are on this list. Then, each evening when I’m doing my daily reflection, I check off the habits if I did them, and total them at the end of the week.

The weekly overview also guides you to think about your 3 big wins for the week, what you can improve upon next week, and what your biggest lesson was.

DAY PLANNING AND REFLECTION

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Ahhhh the juicy bits. The daily planning is what really changed my habits and routines. Every single morning when I arrive to my studio, I pour myself a cup of hot somethin’ somethin’, light a stick of my favorite incense, and crack open the day’s breakdown in this section. There are certain things that are constant, such as the time I wake up, commute time, and bed time. The rest of the spaces are for me to fill in with how my day is going to go down, hour by hour. I give lots of tips in my Productivity Guide on how to structure your day the most effectively based on energy levels and types of tasks, so I won’t get into that too much here, but the point is— I have a roadmap every single day of what I have going on.

In the notes portion, I tend to scribble things, doodle, write notes, and smaller to-do tasks that need completed. I keep this page open to the left of my keyboard (I’m a leftie. Put it to the right if you’re right-handed), so that if I’m working on a task and my squirrel brain thinks of something else I have to do, I can jot it down quickly, and continue on with the task at hand without switching gears.

On the right page, the planner guides you to write down your big goals for the day, and gives you a daily quote that always seems to be exactly what you need to hear. The lower portion of the right page comes later on, during reflection time.

At the end of every day during my nightly routine, I pull out my BestSELF journal again, record my wins for the day, what I’m grateful for, and my biggest lesson learned for the day. If my brain is swirling with lists of things I have to do tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and flip ahead to the next day and write those out. I call this BRAIN DUMP. Getting all those “what I have to do tomorrow” tasks out of my head and onto paper frees me from them until tomorrow, so I can turn my brain off, and go the hell to sleep.

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I’m currently on my 7th…SEV-UNTH BestSELF journal. They’re beat up, scribbled on, tattered, torn, stained with coffee, and considered my prized possessions. I finally wised-up and ordered the leather cover and started getting the set of 4 journals, because despite my inability to ever commit to a journal or a planner in the past, THIS planner has STUCK.

I’m obsessed and I’ve gotten so many of my friends, colleagues, mentorship students, and family members obsessed with them, too. It’s not a magic pill, you obviously still have to do the work, it just makes it a whole lot easier to see what you have to do, to break it down so you aren’t overwhelmed, and to encourage you along the way.

MORE PRODUCTIVITY RESOURCES:

Four Sigmatic Reishi Hot Cacao- https://us.foursigmatic.com/products/fsf-xoco-blue Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like mushrooms. I ADORE Four Sigmatic products, no affiliation, just adoration. The Reishi Hot Cacao is an easy instant mix that you blend into just 3oz of hot water. Drink this rich elixir at bedtime and find yourself instantly calm and zen like. It’s magical, really.  Another product of note is Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee with Lion’s Mane and Chaga for your work day.  I know it sounds hippie-dippy and ridiculous, but it’s quite tasty (doesn’t taste like mushrooms, either), and the lion’s mane and chaga promote focus and lift brain fog. 

Iconosquare - App for Instagram scheduling! This tool allows you to map out your social media posts in advance to save you time and frustration.


JenGetsShitDone.com - Outsource like a boss. Jen Swedhin of Jen Gets Shit Done is the master of taking on allllll the tasks. Her team specializes in workflows, websites, retouching, and more. 


Tim Ferriss’ TOOLS OF TITANS and TRIBE OF MENTORS- Probably the thickest books you will own, but absolutely incredible information from the top performers across all industries, their routines, their advice, and thousands of motivational nuggets of wisdom to help you along your journey to being a top performer. http://www.tim.blog

TextExpander-  www.textexpander.com This is that nifty program I was telling you about that allow you to assign keyboard shortcuts to anything you want. Email templates, your most commonly typed out information like phone number/email address, social media responses, hashtags, the sky is the limit! TextExpander has rocked my world.

unroll.me- To clean up your inbox and unsubscribe from all the junk you subscribed to.

Now go forth and be productive!!! Wishing you all the best in your achievements for 2019!

xo

Kara Marie

Liana in Milan | Destination Editorial Boudoir

SHOOTING IN MILAN WITH A LATVIAN BOMBSHELL.

Ohhhh it sounds so glamorous, doesn’t it!? I’m not going to pretend like it wasn’t.

While in Milan, I was booked for a shoot with a fantastic photographer, Liana from Latvia, who had followed my work for years and had to take advantage of me being way closer to her than a Latvia > United States trip would be. She booked a little getaway to Milan for herself and her husband, and we had an absolutely incredible shoot.

Listening to Liana tell me why she selected me to photograph her, gave me a reaffirming grasp for what my work says about the women featured in it. She told me that she didn’t want some distorted view of herself, or an overly glamorous one. She loved my black and white work, and that the women weren’t overly retouched. She loved the editorial/fashion style of my work and was so enthusiastic about the entire process. So we rocked out ALL those different facets and created magic together.

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We laughed a TON, flowed like crazy, took what felt like 3 million images, ran way over on time, and shot until the sun would no longer let us. Then we hit the hotel bar for a little libation and a chat between now-friends as I was in NO hurry whatsoever to navigate my navigationally-challenged self back to my house .

"I knew it would be an amazing experience, but it actually far exceeded that. The easiness of feeling completely free in your bare skin- it is life changing! And then, when the images do come in and you get to see all your badassness - well, not many things in life can make you feel like that."

"The good old term “self love” has gotten materialized. Subtle and not so subtle changes in all levels of self awareness, which was not the goal, however turned out to be a major bonus. The best money ever spent (way above shoes and bags and other feminine treats 😁)!"

"It all came together in a best possible way." -Liana

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I ADORE my studio, I do. I love it love it love it. I know every nook and cranny, I can photograph a woman there in 3 zillion ways, and because I know all of those ways so well, I can do it in record time. But there’s something to be said about a shoot in a new place. New inspiration, new light, new shapes, new lines, new shadows. It’s all the reason why I will ALWAYS opt to schedule “work” any place I travel to, because I ALWAYS adore the outcome so much.

Thank you so very much, Liana, for choosing me, for traveling for me, for trusting me, for laughing with me and not at me when I made a fool of myself (how many times did I fall???), and for allowing me to share your images and your experience with the world.

Until next time!