A crazy two years!

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.  

 First session using a new camera...

First session using a new camera...

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.

 My first studio

My first studio

 My first session in my first studio. Me starting to understand natural light and how to use it properly. 

My first session in my first studio. Me starting to understand natural light and how to use it properly. 

 Me at the Woman's Expo in 2015. 

Me at the Woman's Expo in 2015. 

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.


Thank-you to:

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.