A little while ago I introduced a piece by the lovely (and also very talented) Meaghan over at Little Love Designs. She kindly shared what it’s like to mix raising a family with running your own business. I’m delighted to be able to introduce the second in this series with a charmingly candid piece from Marie, the creative genius (seriously, folks, just check out her gorgeous images!) behind Marie Donn Photography. Marie has been such a kind supporter of Riding the Stork, and so it’s with great pleasure, I hand you over to her. I defy you not to love her by the end.
Hello, my name is Marie and I’m a photographer <insert chorus of ‘Hi Marie’s here>.
For the longest time I wouldn’t have called myself that, in fact one of the reasons this fab blog is dear to me is because for ever such a long time I was a Wife. Or a Mother. Or a ‘TTCer’. Or a ‘Baby-Loss’-er (that sounds clunkier than it should!). Starting my own business has given me another title, but as with most working mums it’s one I wear on top of all the others rather than instead of any of them. Picture me, if you will, with a tall tower of hats on my head… wobbling!
I started my own business, the eponymous Marie Donn Photography, about three years ago after the loss of my first son, Joe, who died before birth. I had maternity leave from my day job stretching out in front of me and needed to get out of the house, so I enrolled on an adult education course in Photography. I had no desires to do anything other than be with other humans once a week, but slowly it dawned on me that there were worse things in the world than doing lovely creative things and being paid for them, so I started the business.
No, not really!
If I’m totally honest, I didn’t have the first clue about what starting a business meant at the time. I’m afraid I probably shared the opinions that many people still have, that professional photography was swanning around clicking the camera a few times and taking some pocket money home. By the time I had decided to jump into self-employment, my maternity leave was starting to get shorter and shorter, my next maternity leave was looming (my littlest boy was born in May 2010) and as I had my hands quite full I completely failed to do anything sensible like undertake business training. I DID however complete a business plan, and slowly the light bulb came on that I would have to do this properly or not at all.
Who knew, for example, that photography involves not only shooting at weekends (necessitating a super-supportive other half and childcare), but also editing into the night because I have kept my day job to support us as my business grows? Juggling family bills with new equipment, insurance, petrol, website maintenance? Finding an accountant (I learned quickly which tasks I had the skills for, and which to outsource, accounts being one of them!)?
Putting yourself into a professional frame of mind reminds you that your clients expect (and deserve to expect) nothing but the best from you (professional photography is a treat, a wonderful investment, and done properly it’s rarely an everyday expense ) while you are getting the best from them. Whoo! The pressure!
So why do I do it? Well, because photography matters to me. Families matter to me. This little business of mine allows me to give other families the most precious things, memories together, and the ability to bring them home.
Not to be too blunt, but the only memories I have of Joe are in my photos of him. I never got the chance to make any more memories with him after her was born, and because of that I’m pretty darn passionate about taking time to make a moment – and to keep it afterwards. Photography is a wonderful way to do that – and if I can have fun meeting new and wonderful loving families, singing Old McDonald (my Cow should be Brits-nominated) and rolling around in leaves while they laugh, this must simply be the best job in the world.
So I run my business from laptop and mobile, I email when the children have gone to bed, I have a ridiculously organised husband to help me ensure that I don’t spend more time with other people’s families than my own (my girl Sofie is 6 this year, my boy Milo is coming up to 3), I search the internet constantly for inspiration, I balance my books (grudgingly).
I meet new mums, noisy families, I travel up and down Essex, London and Herts, I source gorgeous products (I’ve just added THE most beautiful album to my newborn packages), and I take people’s pictures.
And when they cry over their galleries, I smile ear to ear. And that’s why I do it.
All photos by Marie Donn Photography, of course, and feature her beautiful children.
If you run your won business whilst juggling parenthood and want to be featured here, please do get in touch!