Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Clare and I have a beautiful, 4 year old diva called Olivia and a French Bulldog called Lola.
What’s your business called?
My business is called Austhorpe Photography
Can you describe it in one sentence?
A mix of timeless family portraiture and standout brand photography.
When did you become a Self employed photograPher and what inspired you?
I started Austhorpe Photography in November 2015. Before becoming a mum I worked in Wealth Management and I knew I didn’t want to return to it.
I had always wanted to do something creative for a living but could never quite put my finger on exactly what. Then I had my daughter and, like many new mums, I took endless photos of my beautiful baby.
My iPhone snaps weren’t quite cutting it (and they looked nothing like the Pinterest photos I so longed to create) so I ventured into the world of DSLRs and then one thing led to another and I suddenly had a mini photography studio set up in our front room and a business was born.
How did you fund your start up?
My first camera was a gift from my partner. I say ‘gift’ but really I just told him I wanted a camera and used his credit card to buy it! The first photography course I did was relatively inexpensive which probably set some false expectations about how much my business would cost me going forward because the more in depth you want to go, the more money you’re going to need to invest. Every time I made money, I immediately reinvested it in training, equipment upgrades and business essentials like a website.
How do you manage working around your children?
With great difficulty! At first, I would shoot 2 mornings a week while my daughter was at nursery and then edit and do marketing etc when my daughter napped during the day and for a few hours after putting her to bed. I really didn’t want to ship her off to nursery for 4-5 days a week so i could spend my time photographing other people’s babies so I had to make some compromises and the main one was my sanity! I’m only half joking there. There have been times over the last 4 years where I have been so sleep deprived that I felt like I was a shell of my former self. I don’t regret my choices though. It’s been amazing to spend so much time with my daughter when she really needed me and it’s time I will never get back. My daughter starts primary school in September so I’m hoping the structure school days force into our lives will help with having a better work life balance.
Can you describe a typical day as a self employed PHOTOGRAPHER and mum, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
No two days are the same. I work on my business every day. If I’m not physically shooting, editing, or writing content, I’m still thinking about what my business needs next, how I can be better, how I can offer the best experience to my clients while still making enough money to enjoy my life. I can’t even scroll mindlessly through Instagram without thinking ‘I should leave a comment on this post because it will get me more profile clicks’.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge has definitely been google. I knew nothing about websites and search engine optimisation when I started and I had no idea how much I would need to know in order to be successful. I wanted to outsource the creation of my website to an expert because it’s more time efficient and the end result should undoubtably be better but there are so many website designers out there and it’s hard to know who to trust. I knew I would have to learn some basics so I wasn’t overwhelmed with all of their jargon. Learning the basics was another challenge because so many people express their opinions as facts and google is forever moving the goals posts anyway so information is quickly becoming outdated. Luckily I found a guy. He is really patient with me and happy to indulge my endless questions. I’m still discovering new ways of boosting my rankings and I think it will be an ongoing battle but that’s the joy of working in a competitive market.
What’s the best thing about being A Self employed phOtograpHer?
Freedom! I love being able to take a laptop to a coffee shop if I feel like it (which is where I am right now!) or to a soft play centre so my daughter can run around and make friends while I put the finishing touches to a blog post. I can decide to take a 2 hour lunch break, I can outsource elements of my job that I dislike, I can choose who I work with and when I work, I can attend all of my daughter’s events, book holidays without checking with anyone first and take an afternoon off for some me time if I feel like it.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re buying a studio! It’s been ongoing for 9 months!! But the end is in sight and we should have the keys within the next month. I’m so excited to have more space and be able to offer a really premium experience to my clients. I’m also expending my brand photography portfolio and moving my focus to women in business who are ready to take the next step and reach new levels.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Learn the business side of whatever you are doing first. So many of my friends have started little businesses using their amazing talents (tshirt printing, pottery making, sewing, makeup artistry and reflexology to name just a few) and have really struggled because they don’t know how to run a business, how to brand themselves, how to find their ideal client, how to market to them and how to get them to part with their cash.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Only you can make it happen. There will be people along the way that build you up and lots that tear you down. Surround yourself with likeminded people so that you inspire each other and push yourself to be better.
Enjoyed this? Check out our other stories about Mums who are working as self employed photographers.