Today I have the pleasure of introducing my good friend Natalie to you! I first met Natalie way back in the day ;) (circa 2004), as we were attending the same church. We became friends and I fondly remember her and her husband Steven rockin' the dance floor at our wedding! Soon after though, they left to move back to Texas. But wait, there's more. All of sudden I started seeing images all over Facebook taken by Natalie! Not just good images, but great images! I was floored! I had no idea that she was even a photographer! We had been friends for almost three years and never once did photography come up in conversation! I watched as Natalie grew her business in Houston, steadily and surely over the past few years. This is girl is amazingly talented and I am constantly in awe of the way that she sees the world. Natalie just welcomed her first son into the world last year and I have loved watching her become a mom. As someone who is not a mum yet, I've been curious as how some women balance running a successful business all while meeting the demands and joys of being a wife and mom. I asked Natalie to share her thoughts and experiences with you in hopes that she can encourage us all! So everyone, give Natalie a warm New England welcome!
When Deborah first asked me to do a guest post I was very flattered but had no idea what I would post about. A lot of my blog posts are one to two sentences! Every once in a while I'll write a paragraph or two but, for the most part, I keep things pretty short and to the point (kind of like me, I'm 5'2'' and pretty blunt;)). Deb suggested I write about the balance of raising a child and running a business. I laughed a little as I usually think of my kid as surviving in spite of me and my business running and me trying to catch up. As I thought about it more though, I realized I did end up having to make some strong suggestions (I hate rules) for myself which I thought I'd pass on you. As a mom and business owner, these are the choices I've had to make in order to find a semblance of balance in my new life! Take it, leave it, whatever you'd like.
1) Time, What's it Worth?: Figure out just how much time you're wanting to commit to photography. If you're still trying to book a wedding every weekend and be a full time, stay-at-home mom, something will have to give. Something will get put on the back burner when it should require your full attention. Hopefully, that's not your child. Your clients don't know and sometimes don't care just how busy your life is with a kid. They expect and deserve the time and attention they're paying for. Figure out how your schedule will have to adjust so that you can give your clients the best experience possible, while still being able to be a great mom.
Look at your pricing structure too. Your time is now worth more. Time away from your little one (though, at times, will be much needed!) is time you'll never get back. And for all the unwanted pearls of wisdom you get from mothers, this one rings true: It goes by so fast. SO. FAST. As for me, my goal is to book no more than one or two weddings a month. After Engagement shoots, Bridal shoots, consultations, editing, emails and the actual Wedding Day coverage, I find I need that time not just to keep up with it all, but actually to do it well. And maybe even exceed the expectations of the client every once in a while :)
2) Strictly Photo Time: Before Gus came around I had a very laissez faire approach to, well, pretty much everything in life. Now I have very set times (usually nap time or evening hours) when I'm focused on nothing but emails and editing. Luckily, my husband is a teacher so he can be home in time for most of my shoots or Saturday weddings. I'll be honest and say usually those times get eaten up with with other stuff (cleaning, laundry, cooking, episodes of 30 Rock or The Bachelor on Hulu, etc.). So, sometimes I have to get out of the house. Luckily, we live close to family or, like I said, my hubby has a lot of afternoons at home, so someone is usually available to watch the kid and I can escape to a coffee shop (which is currently where I am!)
3) Making Lists, Checking Them Twice: Lists keep me organized. Evernote keeps me sane. I also have a huge white board at home where I can write down spur of the moment ideas as well as long term goals on something I can't lose! With Evernote, I can also take pictures of the whiteboard and save it for later.
4) Outsource What You're Not Good At: I hate math. Numbers make me sweat. Before, I would suffer through taxes and hope I didn't get audited. I was terrible at keeping my receipts in order, never entered my checks in a timely fashion (or ever), and never (NEVER) entered mileage for shoots and consultations. Now I have someone who does that for me! I still keep track of my mileage (well, I'm supposed to) but that seems much more manageable now that I have help keeping track of the other numbers associated with my business. If you're not good at something, or it causes you stress, decide if your business really needs it. If it does, see if there is someone else you can pay to do it for you!
5) Comparison is the Thief of Joy: Stop comparing yourself to other mothers and other photographers! It doesn't do you, your child, or your photography any good. Of course, there are mothers and artists who offer wonderful advice and/or inspire your creativity -- keep spending time with them, searching through their blogs, and the like. But if you find that you're spending all your time looking at other people and then comparing yourself to them, it will be a dead end road. While we're on the subject of blogs…
6) Get Off your Computer and Go Outside: There doesn't need to be much of an explanation here as to why this is beneficial to you, your kid, and your photography.
Anyone else have good tips or tricks for moms with a camera? Like the perfect bag that carries your gear and diapers? I'd love to hear in the comments!
Peace, Natalie ps -- I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to share just how adorable my kid is. Seriously, he's the smartest, most talented, beautiful child ever in the history of the world. Nay, the universe;) So, if you feel so inclined, click here.