Having your own business, doing what you love… is basically the American Dream! Sure it comes with it’s own set of problems that you don’t find in the 9 to 5 rat race: most of which you are entirely unprepared for as you jump in with both feet! As a small business owner AND a mom, that set of problems is at least doubled if not more. But it’s also absolutely filled with the joy that only comes with following your own path. It takes a lot of work to be both the premier photographer in Kansas City for newborn photography and the premier mom to my own newborns (ok they’re not so new anymore, but they are still my babies!).
Running a business is a lot of work, especially when your product is, in fact, art. As an artist, you never really turn it off (mom or otherwise!). You are always noticing the light, or realizing that where you are would make a great location, or offhandedly considering whether the color of the curtain in front of you might make a spectacular prop for an upcoming session! It’s just the nature of art – inspiration can hit you at any time. And when art is your business, it’s your job to pay attention to those moments. And it’s hard sometimes, not being able to ever truly be “off the clock.” If your goal is to be the best photographer you can be, you also need to invest time (and money) in always moving yourself forward; taking classes, being involved in workshops, reading up on new techniques and trends, so that you know you’re always providing your clients with the best experience possible. You want to grow as an artist for personal reasons, but when your art is your income, you really do need to prioritize that growth.
But you’re not just an artist when you have a photography business. You’re a Business Owner. That means you’re in charge of marketing, branding, pricing, packages, finances, contracts, insurance, social media, keeping your gear up-to-date, the list goes on! I think this is what most photographers aren’t prepared for. I mean, you don’t ever really set out to start a photography business, after all. I started with a love of taking pictures and wanting to share my skill with the people around me. Getting paid was the icing on the cake! And as a mom, I know how fleeting each stage of a child’s life is, and I really have a calling for helping other parents preserve those special moments. So it kind of couldn’t help but become a business! But running a photography business is about 90% business and only 10% photography. Ok, I may be exaggerating a little – but not that much. People often think “it must be so easy, you just go to fun places with your camera, take a few shots, and viola! What a fun and easy job.” But there’s so much time spent behind the scenes preparing for a session so that everything goes as planned. And then afterward, I spend hours editing and coordinating to make sure the clients end up with exactly what they were dreaming of. That’s just the time put into producing the actual product: there are so many hours dedicated simply to all the other stuff that keeps the business up and running.
And when that’s all done, I don’t put my feet up and take a breather or relax in a tub full of bubbles and aromatherapy. Because I’m a mom! I’ve got two amazing boys, and in reality, they are what inspires all of my art. It makes me really happy to know that they are growing up watching me follow my dreams. I know that kids are so much more likely to pursue their own passions when they see that modeled by their parents. It provides so many opportunities for lessons in out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving. I love that I have the ability to involve them in my work in a way I never could if I was punching in at an office every morning. Being an entrepreneur provides a lot of freedom for us as a family, since I can set my own hours – boy does that help as a mom! There is always that pitfall that small business owners can fall into, where you forget to schedule time off or work far beyond the average 40 hour work week instead of scheduling in family time. So balancing mom-life and work-life does take a lot of intention. But I really strive to find a healthy balance between the two! In a lot of ways, it’s the best of both worlds.