KT Merry — The Most Influential People of 2022: What I've Learned from Her (and YOU CAN TOO) - courtneykibby.com

KT Merry — The Most Influential People of 2022: What I’ve Learned from Her (and YOU CAN TOO)

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September 22, 2022

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i'M COURTNEY KIBBY

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While I don’t think we *need* another Taylor Swift mention this week…

I’m going to do it anyway.

T. Swift announced “Midnights” drops Oct. 21. 

Also can I pretty please have whatever coffee she’s drinking bc it’s her 5th release in 2 years.

Which brings me to this — if it’s her FIFTH (count ’em 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5) release in TWO YEARS …

This girl freaking believes in her art.

Sidenote: I had this dress and I wish I still did. One of my favorite Anthro finds EVER.

“If the artist doesn’t believe, then no one else will.”

MADELINE L’ENGLE

So WHY do we get so weird about our art and our creativity? Probably because in our mind it’s been *business-ified* and that ~unfortunately~ changes everything.

BUT WHAT WOULD BELIEVING ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE?!

Prioritizing what matters.

Courage to say no.

Running a business from my values.

Doing this whole creative entrepreneurship experiment in a way that feels authentic and natural, not sleezy and gross.

Having connections, collaborations, a safe community.

A mentor who supports and encourages you, and still holds you accountable.

And let me say this — the creative entrepreneur world can be a lonely place to navigate, even without all the massive changes we’ve experienced recently, I wholeheartedly recommend finding a guide and community to help you on your journey.

And in fact, it made me think of one person in particular, my mentor KT Merry.

A top photographer in the world, KT Merry has shot weddings and editorials all over, and serves her clients with artful excellence and a heart for giving back and saving the environment.

After 15 years in the industry, KT Merry is an expert when it comes to walking the line between mastering your artistry & mastering your business. 

She has seen trends come and go, technology advance, and algorithms change…again and again.

The one thing that helped KT Merry thrive in the long haul was the realization that she had to be a talented artist AND a solid entrepreneur. 

And with 15+ years in the photography industry, she’s helped creatives like us step into the role of the business owner without losing their integrity & creativity as an artist.

And staying true to my integrity and creativity WITHOUT jumping on the giant hamster wheel of *to-do’s*– that’s a mentor I can get behind.

With a beginning in fashion photography, KT Merry creates timeless images with an editorial eye. Along with having her work frequently featured on OTM, Merry has also lensed famous brides like Lea Michele, Kate Upton, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver and shot bridal campaigns for the likes of Monique Lhuillier. Ready to book Merry for your own special day? You’re in luck, she’s available to capture images for destination weddings nearly anywhere in the world.

Over the Moon

My mentor, KT Merry, not only believes in her art, but YOUR ART — and she has helped so many other photographers and creatives (including me) me understand that it doesn’t have to feel like walking a tightrope between creativity and commerce to run a business.

So, in this blog post I’m sharing THREE things I learned from KT Merry, and how you can use them in your daily life or business.

And if you want to get in on the action, keep reading because I’ve got some good stuff saved for the end…

Grab your free fine art wedding guide today!

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VISION

Where do you want to be at 80 years old? What do you want life to look like?

This is one of the first things I remember about hearing KT Merry speak, and this question hits differently when you don’t expect *this* to be the first question about setting a goal. 

Normally, I hear “Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 1 year?”  It’s a common theme in the business and growth mindset books  I’ve read.  

But – envisioning what I want my life to look like at 80 years old? Whew.  That’s a doozy.

From this question spurred a whole slew of envisioning that I truly wasn’t mentally prepared for, some that rocked me to my core, and highlighted quite a few limiting beliefs I’ve held about myself, my art, and my business.

Which – if you know me, and you know I’m a faithful person, isn’t limiting my own potential limiting what God can do in my life?  

Like I said – it rocked me to my CORE. 

This vision inspired me to dig way deeper …

The first place I heard about The One Thing (my literal favorite book from 2021) was from KT’s favorites list.  After going through her Rise and Refocus Challenge last October, I dove into some of her favorite books and podcasts.  I had just created the vision I wanted for my business and for my ideal client, and I did not want to lose momentum.

As KT shares in The Abundance Plan – her story started out with her in northern Nevada working with horses.  Hearing about her humble beginnings and her transparency about her life  – where she started, where she was going, where she currently is – is such a beautiful testament to what hard work can do.

Not only has she envisioned a beautiful life, she serves others with a huge heart and makes time for what matters.

Her stunning print shop gives back in order to help the environment. “The photographic series Simply Wild, focused on American Mustangs, donates 20% of all retail sales to the American Wild Horse Campaign aimed at preserving these American icons where they belong – in the wild.”

AND she runs Render Loyalty, a fine art print shop showing the beauty of some of the most majestic animals in the world that need our protection. 20% of all sales are donated directly to conservation partners.

When you hear KT talk about her mission, it makes you want to get up and get started giving back. I do myself, and I would suggest to anyone to do the same. There’s no reason to wait until we have *enough* — we can start making a difference now.

So how can you use this in your daily life? Quite literally, THERE IS NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT.

We can envision the future we want and start planning it today.

One of the visions I have for our family? In the next 5 years I want to travel with my family — bring the fam along and paint weddings all over the world... Like really travel. Show my children the world, and different cultures, and have another way to make memories enjoy this time where I have them all with me.

Friend — make a point today to WRITE DOWN one thing you want to look back on when you’re 80 and remember about your life. Then start brainstorming how to make that happen.

Need some help? Comment below or send me a quick email. I’m here to help.

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MINDSET

Mindset is everything.

If I am not working from rest, I’m limiting what results can happen. If I’m not working from rest, and I limit myself to what I believe can be true, then aren’t I limiting what God can do in my life? 

If I sit firmly on His promise that He makes me sufficient for the fulfillment of His purposes, shouldn’t I believe that I’m not limited by my own humanity?

Well, I never realized just HOW important that was.  

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

It’s one of the first things KT talks about and I now know why — because it pervades EVERYTHING we do as people. Literally — everything.

When it comes to *mindset* be thinking:

Be – Do – Have.

Be – Do – Have.

Be – Do – Have.

What does this EVEN MEAN? It means to believe in yourself and be the person you want to be. If you want to be the CEO in the boardroom, BE THE CEO. Dress the part, do what a CEO would do, live your life the way a CEO would. Be the person you want to be, do the hard work of becoming that person, and then have the life that you want because you’ve set it all in motion.

Be – Do – Have.

This may be the wee hours of the night talking, but we have a tendency as humans to limit ourselves in what we think we can be, do, and have. All the things we *want to accomplish* seem far-fetched and unachievable.

I’m not a *woo* person, manifesting in a woo sense isn’t my thing, but I do believe that a limiting mindset keeps you from achieving all the things that God has planned for you.

I mean, that’s something Jonah knew all too well…

So really, all the work begins with believing in your own potential. Believing in yourself like Madeline L’ Engle said.

This mindset thing is something I’m still working on – it’s a good discomfort to lean into, and I’d encourage you to start thinking of some affirmations that can help you change your mindset.

Here are some I’m currently believing about myself and reminding myself daily:

  • I am called to be creative.
  • I am getting better and better every day.
  • I am grateful for everything in my life.

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WORK

There are two things about *doing the work* that KT taught me.  

It’s all about our habits. 

It’s not the big things that shape our lives.  It’s our habits that shape our life.  

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle

And it’s true.  


I hadn’t even realized HOW true it was until KT mentioned it.

Another book I was prompted to read because of KT is James Clear’s Atomic Habits – and boy, if you want to get into the nitty gritty of habits, look no further than this book.  

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The work of creating habits is hard – it takes 66 days according to one study to form a habit.  But, it’s the habits that we keep that make us who we will become.

It’s our habits that make things happen.  It’s out habits that make us excellent.  It’s the hard work that no one sees that shape who we are and what we accomplish.

In order to make things happen, we have to do the work.  We have to embrace and be the future version of ourselves – even when it feels uncomfortable.  Keep going, and repeat.

Simply start. If you’re new here, you may not know I’m an avid reader (check my book list). But one of my FAVES from 2021 was ATOMIC HABITS. James Clear says this:

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Habits make or break us.

And it’s that 1% more work that we do everyday that get us to where we want to go.

How to start this? I’d first recommend reading Atomic Habits.. then choose the ONE habit you can start. My first one I started after reading Clear’s book? Filling up a cup of ice water while my coffee is brewing. Then (if possible) drink it before the coffee is finished.

It’s so simple. Not easy. Simple.

Here are some examples:

  • Set out your exercise bag the night before (or even put it in your car). (exercise)
  • Place your Bible next to the cozy chair + lamp you like to read by. (quiet time)
  • Brew coffee in the morning instead of getting Starbucks. (saving money)

Drop a comment and tell me what little habit you could START TODAY.

So while doing the work starts out simply, the thing to note most here is consistency. It doesn’t work if we don’t keep at it even when it’s hard.

I am so grateful to KT Merry for all that she does and all that she teaches. The big goal my deep work and habits are leading me to? Painting a wedding KT is photographing.

That would be a literal dream come true.

Now you know exactly why I love KT Merry on the same level of T-Swift, you’re going to LOVE what is next…

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While Taylor Swift’s over there making it rain marbled vinyl, vintage CDs and cassettes, this show us that nostalgia just won’t quit (gotta get my cashmere sweater out for these fall months) AND also reminds us that these ways we listened to music in the *before* were FOUNDATIONAL.

And these things I’ve learned from KT? All of these FOUNDATIONAL pieces of entrepreneurship? I learned them in KT’s Signature Course, The Abundance Plan, and so much more.

In case you’re wondering, KT Merry has gathered all her tried and tested strategies, tools, and blueprints from 15+ years of experience in the photography industry into ONE business-building plan for you in her signature program: The Abundance Plan.

The Abundance Plan is a one-of-a-kind mentorship program for driven photographers (like you!) who want to build a strong and sustainable business foundation, so that YOU run your photography business instead of it running you. 

Inside the program, you’ll find the structure, systems, and step-by-step Blueprint you need to become a confident photographer AND entrepreneur, build a business that serves your art, and finally experience the lifestyle you desire. 

Whether you’re an artist, a photographer, a wedding planner or any creative entrepreneur, you didn’t sign up to wear ALL THE HATS like we do in this day and age. And let me tell you, it’s exhausting.

When I started my *business,* I was focused on learning and growing my craft, becoming a better artist, and getting in all the practice I could. It was NOT about the copy. It was NOT about the website analytics. And it was most definitely NOT about branding, marketing, web design, a clean email inbox, or KPIs…

As creatives, when we start our businesses, we’re not driven by a love of money (or a desire to be in our inboxes 24/7!): we are driven by love of our artistry and the impact our work has on the people it touches.

KT is hosting *basically* a super cool party for creative entrepreneurs — and YOU’RE INVITED:

The Art + Science of The Irresistible Photography Brand: Master Your Art + Business

From October 5th to October 13th, KT Merry will be sharing insightful gold to support you in your photography business journey. Whether you’re new to the world of running a photography business or you’re an established creative entrepreneur, The Art + Science of The Irresistible Photography Brand: Master Your Art + Business was created for you!

After three, LIVE workshops with KT, you’ll walk away with:

  • a framework to build a wildly profitable & creative photography business that attracts portfolio-worthy, inspiring and aligned clients
  • a clear picture of who it is you uniquely serve (so you can stop trying to serve & sell to everyone and anyone)
  • a blueprint of how to build a business that will allow you to reach your potential and do your most meaningful work

>> Join The Art + Science of The Irresistible Photography Brand: Master Your Art + Business Workshop for FREE<<

Click here to join the party. I’ll be there and can’t wait to learn alongside you!

And if you’re interested in hearing more about The Abundance Plan, grab a spot on my email list here. I’ll be sharing a super sweet BONUS for KT’s course — and it’s only available if you sign up for TAP through my email list.

If you liked this post, please let me know by liking it below, subscribe, and share it with your photographer or entrepreneur friends who need a reminder that the beauty of entrepreneurship isn’t found in the hustle, and comment below with “helpful” if this video helped you!

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