"It takes a village to raise children... It takes a village to raise a Photography business"
Hi, Lauren here. The world’s most “OK” mom and Photographer. Over the last decade, I’ve taken my photography business from a corner in my living room, to a dedicated room in my house, to moving to a brand new area and a high street studio. As a mother to a group of spirited young children, I've figured out a few tricks along the way to save my sanity when raising four kids and running four businesses.
Ever heard the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, the same goes for your photography business.
As parents we are expected to bring up our kids like we don’t work… but then work like we don’t have kids.
As business owners, we are expected to be available 24/7 to drop everything and attend to our biz.
Business and children are kind of similar: Both take a labour of love to bring into this world. Both demand your attention. Both need you at your best. Both surprise you in ways you never would have thought.. And both keep you awake at night.
And if you’re doing a majority of it alone, you are at the risk of burnout. When you’re approaching burn-out, procrastination happens. Then and nothing really progresses.
Everything you do (or need to do, or want to do) can be summed up into two categories:
Visible Load and Invisible Load.
Chances are, you’re responsible for both right now.
The Visible Load refers to the tasks people can observe and see. The tangible tasks. see, touch and feel. The chores, shooting sessions, cooking food, housework, your website, keeping the kid’s clothes clean, editing and producing your photographs, your client communications, your marketing results, your finances… and everything between.
The Invisible Load (or emotional labour), by contrast is a little more complex. This is your mental and emotional energy expended in managing and organizing both family life and a business. It's the constant planning, worrying, and decision-making that often goes unnoticed but can be incredibly draining. The responsibility, the remembering all the stuff that keeps the people in your life happy. As photographers, we don’t just snap photos. We manage client’s expectations, constantly learn new techniques, and deal with the uncertainty of freelance work. Adding parenting into the mix intensifies our invisible loa tenfold. Being emotionally responsible for small people, as well as Biz, is draining.
Juggling these two demanding roles often means the boundaries between work and home life blur.
The stress from one area can easily spill over into the other, making it difficult to find a balance. Add to this the pressure to excel in both roles, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for feelings of guilt, inadequacy, stress and burnout.
In a nut-shell, trying to do it all by yourself only results in nothing really being achieved and a whole heap of stress all around. And there is NOTHING worse than feeling like an imposter in a sea of experts (trust me, been there done that and got the #Frankentog T-shirt).
I have found myself in this cycle many times, especially in the beginning. There is a huge myth that you have to do it all yourself in order to be successful. But this only results in important moments falling through the cracks, and essential steps being overlooked.
Having a support network can significantly lighten this invisible load. Delegating tasks, sharing concerns, and having a community to lean on can alleviate the pressure. Finding your “village” (virtual or physical) when running a business not only frees up your time, allowing for flexibility, it saves your sanity too and leaves you to focus on what is important.
Your Personal Village. Whether that’s enlisting others to help with the child care, meal prep, cleaning, transporting children to and from their activities - it’s essential you have some breathing space to run your business. I find the most help with the kids comes from my partner and childcare. Not everyone is lucky enough to have family close by, but your village is out there, whatever form it takes, you just have to find it. Age-appropriate chores also help. Afterall, the kids are part of the family team. Everyone is in this together. Figuring out what’s essential and what can wait is super important too - you need to find your rhythm within your personal village.
Your Photography Village. Connect with others in the same boat - either online photographer friends, or other business owners-come-parents in your town. You are in this together, and you’ll make some of the best allies you could ever dream of. I’m grateful for my photography fam every day.
If you’re in a position to take on a staff member, find a business partner, or a virtual PA then even better. If you’re not in this place now, one day you may be. It’s amazing when you find your person and “click”.
Your Virtual Village is essential too: This is kind of like splitting yourself up into your very own support network). Automating tasks. Pre-designing replies. Learning new Softwares to make things easier.
Automations are needed in all aspects of your life. If you find yourself doing the same time-sucking tasks over and over, then get some automations in place. Whether this is having canned replies, a script for your booking calls, a process for your shoots, a system for monitoring your goals, presets and actions for your editing - automation is your friend in the juggling act of life.
Small or large, you need one. Because doing it all alone is a sure-fire path to burnout. It’s essential to have “your” people who get it. Those who can step in (whether it's for childcare, brainstorming business ideas, or just to offer a listening ear) when things get overwhelming.
Your village is most important in those moments when the balance tips too far – when the kids' needs clash with business deadlines, or when you feel stretched too thin. That’s when your village becomes your lifeline. Even if it is just to rant over facetime to a trusted friend-photographer who gets it.
Find your people!
A village helps you stay sane and grounded. It provides perspective, a sense of community, and practical help. With this support, you can focus on achieving your goals and growing your business without sacrificing your family time or personal well-being.
Find your people. Even as an introvert, you’ll find them all hiding in plain sight. The first step is to look. If your village doesn’t exist, take the initiative to create it! Reach out, connect, and you’ll be surprised at how many are looking for someone just like you.
• Join or start a local Facebook group for people in a similar situation: You could create a group for fellow entrepreneur parents in your area. You could post in your community groups asking if others are in a similar boat. You can join the myriad of amazing Facebook groups for photographers. I found some of the most amazing photographers to connect with in groups, even if there is miles of distance between us.
• Whatsapp Chat: Fellow local parents to help each other out. You can also make a group with your local Photographers, to share shoots, chat, organize meets and everything else!
• Family & Friends: Utilize your circle. Remember, your family isn't always blood or the classic model of grandparents down the road. Villages are very diverse now. Don't be afraid to ask for some practical help with the kids. I'm sure you can return the favor in different ways.
• Carpool: Childcare, After-School clubs, weekend groups - share the car pool with the other parents on a weekly basis, freeing up everyone's time.
• Staff: Whether you are in a position to take on a member of staff or not, at some point you may wish to consider bringing in someone on a paid basis to lighten the load. Whether this is cleaning, reception duties, a virtual PA or a fellow photographer - sharing the load can make your business more successful.
• Mentorship: Connecting with more experienced photographers to hone and guide your skills can really help free up your time in the future.
Remember, it truly takes a villageto succeed in both your family life and your photography business. Don't be afraid to seek help and build your support network (whether it's downloads, reading blogs like this, your family, your friends, or fellow photographers).
Embrace the imperfections of life and your craft, and aim for one step at a time over the notion of perfection.
From Your Village Idiot,
Hi! I'm Lauren
World's most OK mom and Photographer.
Join me on this journey as we embrace the beautiful chaos of running a photography business with family life, so we can turn our everyday moments into extraordinary milestones.