My latest mompreneur interview is with a local mom I know who manages to find time for her family and a thriving photography business, as well. She did my maternity photoshoot, and you may see some more of her work here on the blog in the near future! It’s great to hear that I am not the only one that gets shiny object syndrome and then becomes overwhelmed by all the options. She offers some of her insights on how to best stay focused with all the stuff being thrown at her daily. Read on to learn more about Chanel!
Tell us a little about you.
I am a mom of three under three. I’m passionate about taking care of our planet. I love to exercise and promote a healthy lifestyle. I recently put myself through a self-driven weight loss journey after having my three babies and it was eye opening. I realized so much about my body’s reaction to certain foods, how dependent my mood and energy are on what I am eating and how active I am staying! I am all about finding my balance between being myself, a photographer, a wife, a mom and running a household.
What is your current business? Did you do something else prior to this?
My current business is Photography; Lifestyle portrait sessions, Weddings and Luxury Photography. Luxury Photography covers boudoir, milk baths, nursing/breastfeeding and maternity sessions.
I also recently became a Senegence/Lipsense Rep! I promote and sell long lasting, vegan makeup!
Prior to running my own business; I owned a storefront that featured local artists, photographers, crafters and designers.
How did you get into photography?
Photography is something that fell into my lap. Literally, on Christmas of 2010. Growing up, I always was the one with a camera in hand. I constantly needed to take photos. My now-husband, gifted me my very first DSLR Nikon camera for Christmas that year. He had accidentally dropped my Canon Powershot into Harpers Ferry River a year earlier – and finally decided it was time for my upgrade!
I am fully self-taught. I went to school with the dream of becoming a teacher and eventually within administration. Once I got my camera, I immediately incorporated my administrative skills and added a studio portion to my store. Another photographer was a part of it and I just handled the back office details. Within months; I was ready to take the reigns. It was a lot of experimenting, model calls, offering sessions for very inexpensive pricing to allow people to take a chance on me.
What is your biggest challenge as you work to establish and grow your business?
My biggest challenge when I began, was not comparing myself to others. I was brand new and knew nothing about editing images. I would over soften images or just over do everything in general. I wanted to be original but there was this unspoken trendy setting all over Annapolis. I was unsure how to compete. I also was unsure what was important to invest my money into to ensure growth. There were so many options between workshops, classes, tutorials, photoshop, lightroom, lenses, cameras – I was overwhelmed and choose none of the above. I borrowed lenses, I used free online editing software for years and I didn’t attend a single workshop until last fall.
Six years later, I can now say being original is my forte. Breastfeeding, Boudoir, Adoption Series + milk baths are something I’ve focused on for quite some time and have stayed strong with! My biggest challenge lately is working smarter, not harder. While I’ve seen major growth within my clientele and schedule; I’ve also wanted to make sure my prices reflect my time with my clients, editing – and of course, my investment.
With little ones at home, how do you make time for your business?
Having three little ones at home; who are back to back in age ranging from 1.5 up to a very recently turned 4 year old, balance is absolutely essential. I may not be on my A-Game as often as I’d like. However, to be a successful photographer – keeping organized is everything. I have a planner, an online note keeper which is synced to my phone, a giant color coded chalkboard calendar in my dining room, notebooks + lists everywhere!! My husband is probably the main reason why I am able to have time for my business. He supports and does his best to help me find as much time as possible for myself, for my editing + shoots and for everything in between [emails, client meetings, contract drafting, marketing, blogging, social media and so on!].
I attempt to keep no electronics within my bedroom aside from my phone. I don’t want to feel tempted to wake up in the middle of the night to finish editing. I don’t want my kids seeing me attached to those items either.
I tend to keep client scheduling for my down time – whether its waiting for something to boil on the stove or while Moana is playing on the TV. Editing is reserved for times they’ve got a play date or my husband is home – editing takes a lot of brain power for me to run through a session at a time. I have a very fast turn-around rate of 1-4 days for sessions, and 2-4 weeks for weddings [I quote up to 12 weeks for weddings but that never happens!]. Sessions are filled in between the help of my sister, friends, my in laws and my husband during the weekdays/evenings. Weddings + Sessions fill up my weekends for sure! This year, which is something I started to mix in last year, is to make sure my Faith + my family come first. My main focus within planning is to make sure I am never putting my work ahead of those things. For example, if it can be helped, my sessions do not take place during our Church time. Also, not every single weekend can be jammed packed with my sessions, events and weddings each month. I’ve focused on putting my clients on sunrise and sunset sessions due to the gorgeous lighting and the freedom it allows my day. Not all clients can work with that timeframe and I accommodate as best as possible!!
The kids enjoy being around for some sessions if they’re at the house or if they come along with their sitter or my husband. We’ve met incredible friends this way! Once the kids see mommy grab her camera bag; they know it’s time for mommy to go take photos and they seem pretty happy about it.
Photography gives me my sense of peace and freedom, as well, which is important to me as a mom and a wife. My days are spent with the kids at home – which is in thanks to my work; however, some days I just need to lose myself in the creative realm.
Where to find Chanel online: