Katie Soyka

Fabulous People: Katie Soyka

Katie Soyka is the owner and photographer at Katie Soyka Photography and is the market manager for The KNOW Women in Milwaukee. “After photographing the amazing women leaders, creators and entrepreneurs in the inaugural Milwaukee KNOW Book, I was inspired to be more involved [with The KNOW Women].” Learn about Katie Soyka…

Hometown: Wausau, WI

First job: Beverage cart girl at the local country club. Apparently, I had a service-oriented spirit from the start, and over the summers worked my way to assistant bar manager.  

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WI: Hands down at the family cottage in Minocqua, WI. As a child, I would head up north most weekends, and now that I have my own family, it continues to be a special gathering place to appreciate nature and enjoy lake adventures. Seeing my daughter put on the same water skis I used and my sons catching minnows and fishing on the dock are special joys. 

Your biggest accomplishment and why: I have to say the elusive balancing of family and a business is my biggest accomplishment. I quit the corporate career path when my daughter was born 12 years ago, beginning a great adventure as a stay-at-home mom. Over the years, I was able to turn my photography passion into a business and then a fulfilling career, while holding at the core my need to be there for my three children. It hasn’t been a particularly easy road–at times you feel like you are doing too much–and none of it well. Through the process, I have learned that when I do something that fills me up inside, I am a better mother and role model.  

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Getting past imposter syndrome and comparing myself to others. Once you embrace the idea of marketing from the inside out, you realize there is nobody who is your competition because there is not another YOU. I love bringing this out in the women I work with. 

Someone who inspires you and why: My grandmother. She and I had a special bond and she lived to be 93. One time I interviewed her for a photo book project, and I learned so much about her life. Growing up during the depression, the struggles and isolation of being a mother of young children, her desire for a college education even though it wasn’t seen as important for her at the time. Her love of  music, dancing, fashion and devotion to family are special inspirations in my life.   

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Photography:  Be a sponge for training and education. I was lucky to work with, and learn under, three different wedding photographer mentors. Some are great on the technical side, others may be stronger on the people side or the business side. Take in what everyone can give you and then create your own style and vision. Invest in educational webinars, read the manuals, Google like crazy and network as much as possible. KNOW Women: Be open to new opportunities. During the early days of the pandemic, I think we all sort of looked for ways to cope and find deeper meaning–journaling and meditating worked for me. One day I uncovered a desire to bring women together in community. The next week I was offered the role of Ambassador for The KNOW Women, Milwaukee. I have no doubt that being clear on what I was drawn to deep in my heart opened that door. 

Favorite quote: “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.…You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.” –Desiderata poem

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I eat ice cream most nights before I go to bed.

What makes someone fabulous: Having empathy. Appreciating the struggles other people go through. I think they do such a wonderful job teaching this in school today, and we can learn a lot from our children about seeing the best in others and being kind.

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