Having kids and having a business is....well...let's just say it's an "adventure". It's a lesson in time management....it's "interesting"...to say the least.
I often wonder what it's like on the other side....what it's like to do this as a DINK (dual income no kids) or a single lady (hey girl!) ....or a single dude. So many stories, so many ways to approach this job.
Here's what goes down as a photographer who HAS kids. Throw a hand up in solidarity if you know the drill.....
1. Kids Started You on the Journey
Not ALWAYS, but for a LOT of us the reason we picked up a camera in the first place was because we had kids and wanted to take nicer pictures of them than our phone or our point and shoot could provide. I know that's when I ended up getting a "nice camera". The thing sat...for a LONG time...but once I had the time (read: I was fired from my big girl job)....I took to it like a duck to water. Well, maybe like an awkward duck missing a leg to water at first....but I took to it none-the-less.
2. You Have Built In Guinea Pigs
When I first started "lighting all the things", I made Betty stand in front of the flash for hours on end as I adjusted settings and feathered softboxes. She was mighty patient with me.
She was also subject to years of horrible Photoshopping.
Kids allow you to try stuff out before you unleash it on the masses.
3. You Feel It Necessary to Bring Out the Big Guns
I honestly feel BAD if I don't bring the "real camera" to events with the kids....like I'm not doing my duty. Sort of like a dentist's kid having jacked up teeth....I feel like my kids should at least have their photographer mom bringing the "real camera" to document their stuff.
Even though it's often a giant pain in the butt, I will drag the D800 and the 180mm to the Christmas program.
4. "You Must Have Gorgeous Pictures of the Kids"
People say this ALL. THE. TIME. They assume my kids are wonderful angelic models in front of the camera and that my walls are festooned with incredible images of them.
Most of the time, I get this:
I also haven't gotten new pictures of the kids on my wall since Molly was a newborn....with the exception of a family session done for us by someone else.
FAIL. My job is to make other people's kids look good. Not my own : )
5. Your Work Spaces are a Mess
Now, I try. I really really do. I try to make sure my home office is tidy.....but often the desk is full of drawings the kids did for me of various Princesses....I'll come home to find they put stickers of Anna and Elsa all over my computer screen, and my camera bag TYPICALLY has a Pony or Shopkin in it.
The more kids you add, I find, the more STUFF accumulates. Just looking at my desk right now, there's more kid-crap than work-crap.
6. You're Gonna Miss Stuff. Lots of Stuff.
I have not made it to a Family Reunion in YEARS. I've worked on Betty's birthday for several summers (including this one). Wedding dates have fallen on important event dates and I just have to say "Welp, that's the way it goes"
I know friends of mine in the industry who have missed graduations, plays, recitals and sports events.
It's the nature of the beast.
But, when you have kids....events happen. When you're a wedding photographer, you're gonna miss some of those event. Its inevitable.
We move Birthday Parties to Sundays.....we have fun on the weekdays....I make sure to REALLY take a good look at schedules but sometimes planning a year in advance is just impossible.
7. You Gain A Major Understanding of Other Parents and Their Kids
Dude, for real. NEVER feel bad if your kid comes to the studio and is acting like a psycho. I feel ya. Seriously. Have you MET my 5 year old?
I totally get it when kids don't cooperate. When they throw major fits or give me attitude. Because I live with it. Every day. And trust me, when it happens to me I am JUST as mortified.
Usually I feel bad because as the "professional" I can't get them to straighten up and fly right in front of the camera. But, I can't get my OWN kids to do that!
Just know I feel ya.....I'm with ya....don't sweat it!
8. You Have MAJORLY Understanding Babysitters/Spouses
You kinda have to. Because your schedule is whack. Because things run long. Because you work when other people don't. Because while hubby wants to cuddle on the couch with a bottle of red and a good movie, you have to FINALLY sit down to edit because the kids FINALLY went to bed.
We are fortunate to have a VERY flexible babysitting situation (read: a very understanding mother-in-law) and my husband is super-parent on the weekends. It works for us, but it took YEARS of schedule adjusting and...let's face it....fights about how much I worked to get to this point.
9. You Wonder If You Need to Start Saving For Therapy
Because you're gone all the time....spending time on other people's kids. Or, because you're ALWAYS at the computer.
We all question our abilities and competency as parents. Seriously. None of us think we are doing everything we can all of the time....
But to this day it keeps me up at night wondering if ALL the time I spend on the business is going to ruin my kids for life.
10. You Realize Balance is REALLY HARD....if not Impossible Sometimes.
People talk about "balance" all the time. I even blogged about it at one point, I'm sure.
After 8 years and 3 kids....I'm realizing there really is no such thing. If you're going to run a business and have kids, something is going to suffer at some point. You have to give SOMETHING up. I've chosen, for example, to tighten up my workflow so I don't have to edit so much. We chose to sell our retail store to have more time with the kids. I chose not to work ANOTHER full time job in addition to shooting.
We make choices. Sometimes the business is going to win. Sometimes the kids.
Maybe that is balance, I dunno.
We are all just hangin' in best we can. And sometimes it gets SO hard that we want to just quit the whole thing, scoop our babies up in our arms and say "I don't care if mommy's employed, let's go get ice cream".....but that's not realistic now, is it.
Have some grace with yourself. Have some patience with this journey, because it's YOURS....you make it what you want it to be and sometimes it's not going to be perfect.
I kinda like my imperfect little mess, sometimes. It's certainly never boring : )