Welcome to the Empathy Economy

Do you have something about yourself you once saw as a flaw and now recognize as a superpower?


I know I do.


Nice to re-meet you!

This is a re-introduction blog post. A reintroduction of my business and of myself.


Hello Gorgeous has always been about making photographs of my clients that empower them to fully step into their next chapter. Spending time uncovering their story, unnoticed beauty and funny details are what guide me and my clients to see a side of themselves they may not have noticed and allow them to feel seen and beautiful in places they didn’t previously look.


Recently, I added the service of improv facilitator to my business when I began to see the parallels between improv and photography and came to see my empathic nature as a superpower.


A few years ago, when I moved to Portland, to be a caretaker for my mom, I found myself in a brand new city needing to pivot my business.


As I met more people, I began to understand how improv had empowered me to get out of my comfort zone and become bolder in my life. It increased my emotional intelligence, helped me get better at having difficult conversations, being more comfortable with the unknown and becoming more present.


Around me I was hearing about teams and companies looking for ways to learn empathy in order to create psychological safety.


I was seeing more people battling depression, anxiety and a feeling of lack of community. I was learning about the neurological challenges with my mom’s disease and how to become a caretaker.


I had seen how improv addressed all of these things and had come to understand that improv hadn’t just been my outlet for fun and expression, it became a tool with positive impacts on relationships, growth and communication for a wider range of people and scenarios than I ever realized.


Today Hello Gorgeous is about creating amazing experiences plus photography. We create a portfolio of portraits for you, your team, or your company. We help people become better leaders, learn to get out of their own way, find confidence in being in the moment, feel less precious about mistakes and free themselves up to be willing to explore paths they would previously have avoided.


Schedule a consultation for improv &/or photography here.



Now to reintroduce MYSELF

You may know me from advertising, photography or from improv.


You may know me as a first generation American and youngest daughter of a Serbian father and German mother.


©Vitus Herb. Photo by my favorite uncle after I got poked by the roses.

You may know me as a nice midwest girl with curly hair from Chicago, an unfiltered, direct, impatient New Yorker or as a bread baker and deodorant maker relatively new to Portland.


You probably don’t know me as someone, who was recently diagnosed in her late 40s, with ADD.


Is there something true about you that you once called a flaw, but now recognize as a superpower?


For as long as I could remember, I’ve had unfinished projects, big ideas, bigger ambitions, and an underpinning of frustration with myself. Why wasn’t I able to stick to one thing or feel the confidence in myself to be more successful— despite knowing I was intelligent, a go-getter and a doer with a great work ethic?


The lack of understanding around ADD brains, left teachers, parents, siblings, classmates, co-workers, partners… wondering if I was just lazy, unmotivated, not serious and why I was definitely not living up to my potential. As I started to believe these things, it translated to self doubt and low-self esteem- something that plagues a lot of highly intelligent people with ADD/ADHD.


ADD is full of contradictions; one day we can have a lot of confidence in ourselves and the next feel like nothing we do is good enough. Frustrated by lack of focus and excited by every little thing, we can also have hyper focus and concentration on one little weed. Translation: we can easily get caught in the weeds, but we are also valuable needle-in-the-haystack finders. Tenacious.


Unbeknownst to me, over the years, the challenges brought on by ADD—time management, organization, quick to boredom, an ever-swirling mind of new ideas—were threatening my full potential.


Or was it directing me toward the things I was great at?


My uniquely wired brain with its need for constant newness, search for outlets for an ever-swirling mind of new ideas, and noticing the interesting juxtapositions of the small details, was drawn toward advertising, photography and improv comedy.


HELLO ADVERTISING!

In advertising, getting to really understand your client, their audience, the media, and the message– thinking of all the ways to tell a story, is benefitted by the tenacious and noticing-every-little-detail, ADD mind.


Advertising provided the perpetual newness an ADD mind craves and the support system an ADD mind needs.


Every day was different from the next—creating a small black and white newspaper ad one day, to a pre-game Super Bowl commercial the next. Going from editing houses, to animation houses, to music houses, locations, photoshoots, new creative outlets on the daily, with the built-in support system of producers, traffic coordinators, account people and researchers who kept things rolling and on track, it was no wonder I didn’t recognize ADD. It was a strength in this arena.



HELLO PHOTOGRAPHY!

ADD brains are also prone to big leaps and risk taking. Even in Advertising, a sameness occurred to me, so I quit my full-time job as an art director and went to South America.


My first plan was to become a photographer and make a coffee table book about a small town in Uruguay. This was a place on the cusp of getting wired for electricity for the very first time. My plan was to do a before and after about this town without electricity.


©Katarina Kojic. Surely a sign I was on the right path.

I booked my flight, found a free place to stay, and when I got there, I felt unmotivated, shy, and unconfident about entering this town, speaking Spanish well enough… all the elements of self doubt rolled in.


I did event-u-ally meet some people, make some photographs and feel good about the images, but where was the motivation and fervor for my idea?


I had gone into the unknown with no support system, no editor, no publisher, no one waiting for the work to hold me accountable. I was starting to learn how badly I needed structure to do my best work.


My tenacious ADD mind didn't give up on photography, but it did become a little more dormant as I returned to New York and began freelancing back in advertising to support myself. I was energized by the fervor of the city, the daily newness of advertising and feeling effective thanks to the support teams. My career was still missing something, but I didn’t know what.


I began taking classes on anything I was interested in. On week nights and weekends I tried African dance, Belly dancing, Capoeira… I took a boxing class at Church Street Boxing, a gym professional boxers trained at, (and was told I had a great right hook.)


©Katarina Kojic. Playing with Capoeira Nago in Union Square.

The exposure to so many new things made life exciting and fulfilling. And I began to see I had access to so many different worlds I could photograph and document.


The daily excitement of living in NYC distracted me, kept me busy and entertained and the inaccessible cost of therapy kept me from discovering the root of my frustration of moving my photography business forward.


Then, I took my first class in improv.


HELLO IMPROV!

Fireworks went off. It was love at first, “Yes, And.”


My need for newness, being seen, connection and creativity with no boundaries was met. It was scary and thrilling and I was good at it. People told me I was. I felt it and felt confident. Self doubt dissipated.


I was all in. For the next several years, everything else went away except for photography, my day job freelancing in advertising, and improv.


Nights and weekends were dedicated to classes, and shows; seeing or performing in them. I was all in. Even if I had a terrible scene, show or class, it didn’t break my confidence. I was immersed in empathy by way of character improv with Holly Mandel from The Groundlings. I came to understand that to play a character well required empathy, and I had lots of it and now a way to channel it.