A Day in the Life of a Mom / Professional Photographer
Thinking of starting a professional photography business? Or any business from home? It is equal parts challenging and rewarding, but it is so many other things I never expected too. This is the first post in a series about what it’s like to be a mom and run a professional photography business from home.
I feel fingers on my eyelids. My eyes slowly open – I can’t be sure it’s at my own will or if the aforementioned fingers are in control. I see my 4 year-old son, Harrison, standing in the dark. My eyes dart to the clock on the nightstand. 5:30.
This is what I get for “sleeping in.” When my husband isn’t traveling for work, he wakes up super early and goes to the gym before the office, so if I force myself to get out of bed when he does, I can typically squeeze in a few hours of work before our 3 boys get up. My “office” is actually just a sitting room off of our master bedroom, and while this may not be ideal for establishing boundaries between work and my personal life, it makes it easy for me to roll out of bed early and knock out a few hours of editing images, answering client emails, working on my website, or scheduling social media postings.
But I’m not up at 4 a.m. today. Today I’m sleeping in. And Harrison is having none of it. I convince him to stay in bed a bit longer, but when Sebastian, my oldest, wanders in at 6, I know the battle has been lost. A few minutes later, the baby starts to cry, as if he was simply waiting for my surrender. Is it all worth it? Of course, my little guys keep me on my toes and my heart full of love and wonder.
And with that, we’re all up. Let the beautiful chaos begin!
The big boys go get dressed for school while Jameson (14 months) and I start breakfast. And by breakfast I mean cereal and on occasion, if the boys look up at me with those big beautiful brown eyes, we will splurge and make scrambled or dippy eggs with cheese – my little chefs love to crack eggs. Before I can even turn on the coffee pot, Jameson whips off the diaper I’ve just put on him and laughs as he darts behind the kitchen island. I can’t play hide-and-seek just yet though. Must have coffee.
Sebastian comes down first and starts on his cereal. I yell for Harrison to join us. “I’m coming!!!” he replies, followed by “Where are the scissors?” At least, that’s what I think he said, but I can’t be sure, thanks to Jameson’s shrieking. He’s given up on the 1-sided game of naked hide-and-seek and just wants to be held. I scoop him up – realizing of course, that this is not the best way to cure him of this habit – and make my way up the steps. Harrison appears in the hallway. “Don’t worry,” he says, “I found them.”
I cock my head as I take in his choice of outfit. He’s wearing a shirt with a dinosaur on it but something is weird about the sleeves. I step closer, and see the jagged edges.
“The dinosaur ate my sleeves!” he explains, proudly – scissors still in hand. I’m not sure if I should applaud his creativity or scold him for abuse of property, but before I can say anything, I feel the wet warmth on my side. I really wish I’d put the diaper back on Jameson. Did I mention I still haven’t had coffee?
I finally manage to get in a few cups (after I clean up myself and Jameson) while the boys eat and watch TV (don’t judge me). As I’m savoring every sip, I hear silence and then giggles from the boys as they run out on the deck. Then, Sebastian whispers, “How adorable are Smokey and Bella in their sombreros? … Mom, Mom, you have to get a picture of this.” Seriously, the sweetest kittens in the world.
Eventually we all pile into the car for school drop off. Sebastian and Harrison go every day from 9 to 1. Providing me with precisely 20 child-free hours to manage and grow my professional photography business each week.
Oh wait. Except for Jameson. So yeah, not totally child-free. But when you’re used to having 3 boys around, having “only” 1 is no big deal, right? Except, of course, when it is. Which is why I couldn’t do half of what I do without Danee and Lauren, our babysitters extraordinaire. They only come a couple times a week – more if I’m shooting a lot – but what a lifesaver. They’re not only great with the boys, but they’ll do whatever it takes to help out – whether it’s going to the grocery store or dropping off prints for a client. Amazing! But that’s all I’m going to say about them. I can’t afford to have people trying to steal them away!
When I decided to start a professional photography business, I knew there was more to it than the time behind the camera. But I’m not sure I realized exactly how much more. Of course there’s the culling and editing of images, I expected that, but it’s the amount of time I spend on other details that still surprises me sometimes. The reality is – most of my time is spent on little things like scheduling sessions with clients, answering their questions, coordinating details with contacts at the various Atlanta photography locations I use, and preparing styling options and props for shoots.
There’s also the purely administrative stuff – the uploading of images to galleries for clients to view, managing the online purchasing and scheduling process and making sure the lab has everything they need to deliver quality prints once clients have placed their orders. Oh and those little things called CRM, Accounting, Managing Financials, Proper Business Licensing and Insurance and taxes – thank goodness for our amazing tax team to help me keep everything in order.
And of course, there is the marketing of a professional photography business! I spend hours curating and crafting posts for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ (chances are good, you’re reading this post because you saw my post about it on one of those networks). Then there is the website, blog, and newsletter. I also spend time entering images in contests in the hopes of gaining recognition and exposure on other websites. There are also the special events and mini-sessions to promote. I work out the details and then figure out ways to get that information out to the masses – be it social media or a flyer hung in the lobby of the schools I work with. Then comes the flood of questions about all of the details and scenarios the flyer didn’t address.
I’m most certainly not writing this to vent or complain – I love what I do! But there is a lot more to running a professional photography business than you might think. And on most days, I’m trying to do all of this while my toddler plays with the cat beneath my desk or on the deck where I sometimes work to change things up. It’s comical, to say the least.
After what feels like a mere 15-20 minutes have passed, it’s time to go pick up the boys from school. We usually stay and play at the adjacent playground for an hour or so and this is one time that I really try to leave my phone in the car. So thankful to see their smiling faces after they’ve been gone all morning. Most of the time we are out and about, I’m watching my boys closely of course, but I’m also keeping an eye on my phone for any issues from clients – which makes me feel guilty. I briefly consider removing the internet from my phone.
Once back home, the boys are ready for some downtime. Jameson goes down for a nap while the other two watch TV or play games. This gives me a little more time to work before the next bout of chaos commences – homework, dinner, bath time, and then sweet, sweet bedtime.
Life is certainly crazy. But I know it’s crazy for everyone. Being a mom and running a household is just hard. And I’m pretty sure I’d feel crazy even if I wasn’t running a professional photography business in my “spare time.” Wouldn’t change it for the world though! One giggle from their little bellies brings all the perspective one could need. And I adore the fact that I can hop over to school for their little concerts or a special party. Working from home and setting my own hours definitely has its perks.
However, I have to laugh at myself when I remember that one of my reasons for wanting to quit the corporate world and start my own professional photography business was to achieve a better work-life balance. I’ve learned that flexibility doesn’t necessarily equal balance! The reality is, when you run your own business (and are basically a 1-woman show!) there is no such thing as work-life balance. My business is so woven into my life that it’s hard to distinguish between the two. So that part isn’t exactly ideal. But there are plenty of other things about being a mom and a business owner that are ideal (see concerts and school parties above!). The pros far outweigh the cons, I think. But I’ll save the specifics for the next post in this series on What It’s Like to Run a Professional Photography Business From Home.
About the Professional Child Photographer
Jennifer McCarren of Freckled Flower Photography specializes in newborn, child photography and family photography in North Atlanta, Georgia locations such as Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Marietta and Canton.
Freckled Flower Photography is a proud member of Professional Photographers of America.
Freckled Flower Photography has been featured more than once on Beyond the Wanderlust, Mozi Magazine, Inspire- Digital or Not Fine Art Photography Magazine, Photo Artistry, Pretty Forum and many others. I’ve also been published in CHIC Critique Magazine: The Vintage Issue, Young Kids Fashion Magazine and Petite Magnifique Magazine.
Contact me here to request more information about an Atlanta photography session, or you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I announce special offers and share my favorite images from recent photo sessions. I’d love to send you my newsletter as well – scroll up to enter your email address on the left.