Balance is something i get asked about a lot. “work life balance” is not a thing. should not be a thing. isn’t work just part of “life”?
the truth is, i fit my work into my life. the other truth is: the “my life” part is not some glamorous swirl of trips around the world with my family while we gram pics of our lunch and our perfectly decorated home when we’re not at the national parks. it’s coaching the same “pleases” and “thank yous” a hundred zillion times over. it’s trying to be consistent in parenting. it’s tending to so.many.needs–just imagine the bodily fluids of three kids under 3, then spread them allll over the house and watch me try to clean them up while they just dispel more, or smear purple lipstick and green paint across eight stairs (real life examples here folks! didn’t even have to dig further back than 5 days for those two gems. 😉
it takes a lot to run a business. there is constantly work to be done, and so lots of photographers have trouble shutting it down and feeling like they have time to do anything else. then they just wrestle with that big mean monsterbear mom guilt, which is a losing fight cause that beast is big yo.
so while there are a lot of nice-sounding tips to create “work life balance” (i have to keep puttin it in quotes cause it’s just such a weird name) i want to dig in to the practicality of what my life looks like as a …working mom? mostly-stay-at-home-mom-who-also-runs-a-business? see. labels. they’re a problem.
My usual daily schedule goes like this: we all wake up, eat breakfast, exercise, bathe and get dressed. and GUESS WHAT THAT TAKES ALL FREAKING MORNING. yup. we’re usually fully ready by 11 am, and then it’s either time for therapy, a little outing, or playing at home. lunch and then the heavensent glory that is nap time around 1pm. My three year old is transitioning out of naps, so she mostly does quiet time. this is my work time. 2 hours per day and that is it. I don’t make a habit of working at night. i dread it and it drains my energy big time–and here’s the takeaway advice that i would give to all people: find the energy leaks and plug ’em up.
lots of photographers like to work at night after the kids go to bed but i hate it, i get hardly anything done and feel like a robot and a life-failure and my eyes start to feel dry my mouth starts to frown because at night after my kids go to bed i want to be spending time with my husband. or doing anything BUT working, ha. But maybe you like working at night and if so you should do it. Find the times you function best and maximize that time, boo. If you want to get really technical, I do spend time every day on instagram and in my facebook group, but that fits into small moments of down time and isn’t a big stressor/need to be at the computer thing.
What about shooting, you ask? I shoot mostly on Saturdays, and right now I am taking on one shoot per week with my little kids. I’ve transitioned to taking on very few weddings with more photography education and the load for me is completely manageable. Other photographers take on a lot more. Some take on a lot less. Some hate shooting on Saturdays. This seems like basic basics but please dooo not worry about what works for other photographers. Hone in on your own energy, what nourishes you, and find ways to minimize or outsource the things that make you want to scream. Especially if this isn’t your main gig/you don’t NEED to have your own biz–work shouldn’t feel like work. It hardly ever does for me–and that’s because I’ve spent a lotta time molding my business into what I love + what recharges me.
Which brings me to outsourcing.
I shoot film, and I get premium scans from The FIND Lab. Could I save loads of $ if I shot digital, or if I just got basic scans? Yep. But here’s the thing: time and energy have a cost, too. You can’t buy more of either of them. Buut I kinda feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing when I outsource. When I get scans back from the lab, they are 80% ready to deliver to the client. I still take care of things like culling, cropping, cleaning up silly things that weren’t meant to be in my shot, etc. It takes me one hour to cull, edit, upload and deliver a family session to a client.
Here’s the other thing: I am constantly reevaluating where my business is as far as time I spend on it and time I spend with my family. I make room to make changes, whether it’s particular offerings or session types that go away or get scaled back. The perfect example of this: weddings. I’m taking on a very limited number of weddings in 2017 because I want to keep them in their gorgeous I-love-this-so-much bubble.
So, what do you have to do to keep the branches of your business in the I-love-this-so-much bubble? Is it eliminating a certain type of session altogether, creating a new passion project, or scrapping absolutely nothing and telling me you got dis all figured out? (wink)
I’d love to hear what your personal flavor of “work-life-balance” is and how you arrived there, either in the comments or in my facebook group.
Brooke Schultz is a family + wedding photographer who can be found hugging her one hundred babies (aight there’s only 3), photographing families at home, and wearing obnoxious shiny pants. Her 2017 family photography + writing workshop details are gonna go live soon, so if you want to know bout them sign up right here.