Bless the Weather photography: A relaunch
When I first started my photography business at the end of 2016, I was knee deep in my first year of making the transition into motherhood. I've learnt that it's something that takes time, adjusting to having a baby and being a mother. It's not something you understand fully while you're going through it, but once you've come out the other side it's so much easier to reflect on. It meant for me that a lot of new-ness was wrapped up together. Becoming a mother and starting a business at the same time was exciting, but equally terrifying and a lot of hard work. I didn't have the space to properly get a handle on either one because I was navigating them simultaneously.
Year two of both freelancing and parenting has been much easier. More rewards, and a little less of the hard slog. I've grown a lot in both roles, and it's been such an enjoyable experience for me despite the difficulties. I've learnt to love the growth process, to understand that it takes time and that it's not always easy. I've had the confidence to invest in myself, to infuse more of who I am and what my values are into my work, to focus on improving my skills and worrying less about clients or money. Those things come with time, and I feel patient.
A huge shift in both my life and business came after attending The Family Narrative in New Orleans in March. As well as being an inspiring experience, I also took on board a lot of uncomfortable truths that were sent my way. Truths about pricing, running a sustainable creative business, making time for personal projects and the importance of creating for yourself outside of doing work for clients. Things I thought I had a handle on, but I realised abruptly that I did not. It can be so easy to get stuck in your own head, when you work for yourself and spend a lot of time alone with a small child. Your world gets smaller, and it's important to remember to reach outside of that as often as you can.
Since coming back from New Orleans, I've been working hard behind the scenes to improve every single aspect of what I do, from the creative side down to the nitty gritty admin stuff. Honing my shooting and editing, streamlining my client process, improving my organisation and giving a lot of thought to the kind of work I want to produce and the kind of business I want to run. While running a successful business sure is in part down to a lot of hard work, it's just not all about 'the hustle'. But when you're in it? It takes some work to shift your mindset away from the grind and to focus it on the reasons why you started this in the first place. I didn't pick up a camera to make money, and I didn't have a daughter so I could spend 50% of my time with her staring at my computer screen while she plays alone. I love my work, and I love my clients, but the balance for me this past eighteen months has been all out of whack. The reality for me at the moment is that with one small child at home with me most of the week, my family comes at the top of my list. These years of my kiddo being small, they're precious and they're not coming back. The sacrifices must be worth it for me...creatively, and financially.
So, with all that said I have thought long and hard about what my dream business looks like, and how I balance it around my family commitments and all the other things I want to do. Hopefully, in the coming years we will add another baby to our family, and along with all the good stuff will come many sleepless nights, teething, endless washing...basically, it's crunch time for making my business sustainable because the juggle is not going to get easier just yet. I calculated the other day that in my busy season I work about 36 hours per week, on top of caring for a toddler. I wouldn't like to tell you how much I earn for all those hours, because it's pretty minimal. Of course, my business is young and it's building all the time, but there comes a point at which I have to question if the sacrifices are worth it. Working so much while being a full time parent puts pressure on everything, and while we might be able to manage in the short term, in the long run it's going to impact my health, my relationship and ultimately my kiddo.
I think it's important that I tell you all of that. Because as women there are a multitude of ways that we keep ourselves down, work harder and make more sacrifices than our male counterparts and all while feeling like we must provide others with the impression we have it all together. We don't talk honestly enough about the hard stuff, especially not money, and we tell ourselves stories about how far from perfect we are at being humans, mothers, artists, business owners etc. We can't do it all, and I'm OK with telling you that I can't do it all either. But, I can make some changes to how I am living and working to make my sacrifices a little less and the rewards a little greater.
So, at last, this brings me to sharing some of the changes I've made to my business in the last few months. Changes that feel good for me, that I've been excited to develop and that I feel really proud to have put the work in to do. I can't wait to meet and work with even more wonderful people, families, creatives and businesses in the coming year, and if you're one of those thinking of hiring me here's a little of all the fun stuff you're gonna get...
Pricing and Packages - I've increased my rates for the first time in 18 months, something which in all honesty I have been a little nervous to do. It brings up a lot of fraudy feelings that are uncomfortable to work through, but I know that raising my rates means I can create a more sustainable business for myself, and afford to create a better experience for my clients. I truly believe photography is an investment, and one that's worth making at least once a year for your family or business. It's practically zero waste, built to last, increases in value over time and trust me, those family photos are the first thing you're going for if your house catches fire. It's worth it, and I know I am worth it too. Take a look at my packages for families and creative business owners here.
Streamlined client process - along with those higher rates, my clients get a more professional experience. It's organised, easy to use and walks you through everything you need to know before and after hiring me. You'll get a printed brochure by post as well as a digital PDF, so you have something tangible to hold in your hands and get excited about your session.
Image delivery - I've changed the company I use to deliver online galleries to my clients, and I am so happy with the results. Your gallery is cleaner, more modern and easier to navigate. It's simple to share on social media, with friends and family and also to order additional images, prints and albums directly from your gallery. I've already started using it with my Spring clients, and the feedback has been great. You'll love it I'm sure!
Print offerings - when clients receive their final images, they're able to order prints, albums, frames and other photo gifts directly from the gallery. They can also share the gallery with family members so they can order their prints directly too. It's a high quality, professional service and makes the whole process really simple.
Giving back - a more sustainable business means I can support causes close to my heart with both donations and my time. You can read about the charitable contributions I've been making on behalf of my business here. Being able to give back, spend my money and time with those less fortunate than myself is something that really sets my soul on fire, and I'm excited to be on the look out for more opportunities to do that over the coming years.
Plans for the near future:
An in-home photography studio - when we move to our new house, this is one of the first rooms I plan on tackling. It will be a studio in two parts; one part office/studio (using natural and artificial light) and a second part styled bedroom that I can use for portrait/lifestyle shoots and sessions where clients don't want to use their own homes. Other photographers will be able to hire out either space for their own shoots too.
Workshops - I have some photography ones in the planning stages, and I also want to host other creatives to teach workshops from my home too. I've been excited about this for a long while, and it's one of the reasons I fell in love with our new house. The space, the garden and all the possibilities.
More free content - photography tips, downloadable guides, photography challenges...I was so happy with how much you all loved my indoor photography guide, I've got a whole list of ideas of more things I can share with you to help you along your photography journey.
Travel Days - Something I realised when I came back from New Orleans was that I need to make my own travel opportunities for work, and not wait for them to come my way. Occasionally they do, and I'm so grateful for that, but there are heaps of places in the UK I want to visit and with a little planning I can make it happen. So look out for travel days and weekends where I might just be in your town.
A summer break! - I am taking a two month break from client work in July and August so I can focus on the new house, decorating, settling in and shifting my attention back onto my family, my own wellbeing, enjoying creating and hopefully getting some rest. It's been a stressful twelve months trying to sell our flat, and I'm looking forward to a pause once it's all over. I'll return fresh in the Autumn, with bookings available from September to December.
You'll still find me here, blogging occasionally, and on Instagram where if I'm not posting on my feed I'm almost always on stories chatting with you all. Thank you, as always, for your endless support and encouragement. I so appreciate all the support that my you have extended to me throughout my journey. It means a lot, and whether you're silent or not, I'm so glad that you're here.