Today 2 years ago it was the same sunny afternoon when I was sitting on the couch feeding Hazel. My husband Mike came home from work and asked how my day had been. “ Well” I said, “ I have started a photography business today, specialising in newborns.” I made a Facebook page (obviously official when you start a FB page right!?) and I already have 700 likes! I remember Mikes face. Infact everyone’s faces when I told them in the coming days. They all looked at me as if I was joking and not serious at all. But I was serious. I had already photographed ONE newborn (on my Sony cybershot point and shoot)…
How did that happen? Why did I decide to be a newborn photographer when I had no idea what I was doing? Well, one of my best buddies Quinn (From the Block NZ 2014) had a baby boy and I offered to do some photographs of him for fun (photos above). Little did I know that from that moment on I was completely and utterly hooked on photographing these little parcels of perfection. So I whipped together a logo and decided to make a little FB page called Hazel&Cass. I showed Quinn my page and said I might get into photography. Well that day Quinn & Ben shared my tiny little corner of the world with their 20k fans on facebook. 700 likes overnight….
My heart was racing and people were messaging me wanting to book! I didn’t even own a professional camera, the only prop I owned was a white sheet from mums linen cupboard, I still had a full time job and a 5 month old baby, oppps what had I done, how was I going to pull this off!? Then, it was official… I had my first client booked in 2 weeks. I had two weeks to learn how to be a photographer. I gave myself lots of pep talks “I am a graphic designer, I am creative, I did a bit of photography at uni, this will all come back naturally to me right?”.
The next day I rushed away on my lunch break from work and went and brought a second hand camera from Gregs Photo and Video in Merivale Mall. An entry level Cannon 40D, 100mm macro and a 17-35mm. The man that sold me the camera gave me a quick lesson and my first question was how do I make my images bright”. HAHA.
The bookings were rolling in much to my excitement and horror. Sink or swim right? I needed this to work. I had a fantastic career at the Canterbury Earthquake Authority, but I didn’t LOVE it. I wanted to be more creative. I wanted to have more time at home with my 5 month old Hazel and most of all I wanted to be my own boss. So I set myself a goal. In 1 year I will be doing this photography gig full time. But first I needed to learn how to be a newborn photographer.
Session by session every weekend I travelled to people’s homes and took photos of babies and families. I stuffed my giant bean bag in the back of my car along with my small growing collection of wraps and props.
August 2015 I decided that it was too much. So begged Mike to let me set up the spare room into a small home studio.
I was starting to get better control of my light and controlling the temperature of the room meant my babies were more settled. But a few months in here I decided it wasn’t quite big enough. So I moved into my current studio space. My old bedroom at my parents house that I grew up in. My favourite room in the whole wide world. So many amazing memories in this space and now I work in it. This room is truly my happy place. From here my work took a huge leap! I had this big beautiful window that let in the most beautiful light.
See current studio HERE ( Needs updating but this was the studio 6 months ago)
This crazy venture I was on came at a cost. My time with my family. Working 9+ hour days during the week, 3 photoshoots each weekend, editing each night till midnight. Meant that I lost a lot of time with Hazel. There was so much ‘mummy guilt’. So much! I think I cried 10 times a week. I specifically remember this one time. It was a long hard day at work and by the time I got home from my 10 hour day to hazel. Mum told me daycare said she was starting to walk. I missed it! Just one of many things. I just hugged her and burst into tears. I remember apologising to her and telling her that it won’t always be like this. That I was working on a way that we will be able to spend more time together.
3 months later April 2016 my full time job ended and I was out in the big wide world, that time was here and it was worth every late night and weekend. The hard work had payed off. I had more time with Hazel and I had my weekends back.
One year on, April 2017, and here I am. Our family has grown again and we welcomed George 9 weeks ago. Because of the sacrifices I made in Hazels early days, I now currently work from home, I get frequent lunch breaks to feed and snuggle George. Although I am still working very late nights I sleep well knowing that I am so blessed to have a business that works around my family life.
It has been a rollercoaster 2 years but here I am. I book out months in advance, I mentor newborn photographers from all around New Zealand and even one from Australia. I still love what I do more and more each day, I get to have great chin-wags with the loveliest families and get to meet the some of newest people in the world.
As I look back over my work I realised that I have always had a style I want to achieve. I have never wanted to be like any other photographer, I have simply just wanted to create images that I love and that my clients will love.
Tonight I am cracking open a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the last 2 years and I am going to snuggle on the couch with my babies. Now that is what I call the BEST Saturday night ever.
Quinn and Ben: By sharing my FB page 2 years ago, I don’t think I would be here today. You thrust my new business into the lime light, giving me the push I needed.
My husband, Mike: Once you got over the shock of me suddenly changing career you have been my biggest cheerleader, helping with the kids, also sacrificing your weekends so I can work. You have been my rock, and with all the encouragement you made me strive to be better and better.
Mum: Letting me set up my studio in your home, looking after Hazel every afternoon after daycare while I was working at CERA. And being a listening ear when that mummy guilt hit me hard.
Kellyn Shaw: not only did you make me such beautiful tiebacks and creations for my business, but you were also my first photography friend. I always leave our chats* so inspired. When you used to ‘assist’ my sessions in the early days, I think I learnt more off you then you did me!
Christchurch Photography girls : You all know who you are. Thanks for the wines, the chats and most of all being there when I have needed advice.
Last but not least,
Hazel: thank you for loving me unconditionally over this crazy journey.