Earlier this year when I moved my office & studio space in to Gore, creating a separation between work and home, it created a very different dynamic which has brought about some healthy changes for me. I'm talking about that elusive work/life balance thing you hear self-employed people talking about.
With the new office space I had hopes I would only need 1-2 days a week in there for meetings and consults (and to use Gore's much faster broadband!) while still being able to get the bulk of my day-to-day computer work done at home. However within a month of being in the new office space I realised my two years of productive working from home life was vanishing. I could no longer get motivated to work at home, I suddenly craved the office environment where there were no distractions of domestic chores or homely comforts, where I could come in, sit down and power through my workload.
I'd always been so good at working from home that at first I found this sudden change in motivation alarming. But then I realised to look at this change as a good thing. I'd finally forced myself to draw a line between work and life. The office space was for getting the work done, then I could come home and switch off. I was actually gaining that elusive balance. 🙌
Sure there are days when I am required to work from home still and sometimes I do want to just edit from the couch rather than drive into the office, but there is a new joy of coming to work and then switching off the computer and going home to be present in my life. Instead of that awkward in-between where the laptop was always open as I flitted between work and home life constantly and at any hour of the day (or evening!).
I love what I get to do as a job. And I love the life I get to live because of my business. But the transition into an office space really opened my eyes to just how merged my work and life had been. At the time I had thought I had it pretty well sussed with work routines and good workflows, but really I still let the email inbox into every awake minute of my day. As a business owner there will always be a blurred line, work can never really ever be left at the office, but that doesn't mean we should just let it be a part of our life 24/7.
Here's to continuing to create the perfect work/life balance! 🥂
I was chatting to someone recently about photographs. She mentioned how she always has her camera out taking photos of her family - kids at sports games, candid holiday snaps, generational photos at family events. When her father died she gathered up photographs of him with her, him with her children. As you do, whenever a loved one passes the first thing you reach for is the tangible remainders of precious memories - photographs. She said it was sad that her siblings then realised that they didn't have a lot of photographs with their father, or him with their kids. And so even though family sometimes protested that she always had her camera out, it showed her that documenting her family's life through photos was important and valuable.
This person also told me how herself and her children walk past those photographs of her father on their wall at home everyday. Her kids often talk about her dad and their fond memories. The photos weren’t tucked away on a dusty USB, or saved in a bird’s nest of folders on the computer. They were out to be enjoyed on display.
This conversation was a simple chat over coffee, but it was profound because I realised that all too often I hear the opposite story; "We've never had family photos done", or "I'm never in the photos with my kids, I'm always the one taking the photo". I know myself how true it is to regret the photographs that were never taken.
Photographs are a celebration of our lives. The photographs I have of my loved ones are the greatest possession I own. And I get to create photographs for others to enjoy and cherish too. I love being a photographer, there is nothing in this world I would rather be doing.
Take the photo. Be in the photo. Exist in photos.
Sometimes I write because I am inspired. Other days I write to tell stories. Sometimes I simply write to express how I feel. I write for others and I write for myself. Today I’m writing a letter to myself and to my fellow small business owners.
Over the years I’ve had people ask 'so what do you do other than photography, like as an actual job?'... because photography can’t be a real career? People often comment that I’m so lucky to be able to work from home/be my own boss/do something I love every day. Yes I do love it and I will never stop being grateful for it, but it’s not all as glamorous as it looks. It’s a lot of hard work, long hours and isolation. I also wouldn’t call it ‘luck’.
I’m not some girl with a glorified photography hobby. I am a business owner making a living from being a photographer, educator and blogger. I rely on my business to pay the mortgage. I rely on my business to get food on the table, the power bills paid and to build a retirement fund. It is a legitimate, tax-paying business with all the outgoings of any other.
And although Heidi Horton Photography is a business, I am also a person who happens to be the face of a business. Every day I put my heart and soul into this business, doing what I love and caring for everyone that comes into contact with Heidi Horton Photography. I never really talk about the boring side of business, because I’d rather tell people about the fun stuff - the cool people I get to meet, new friendships that are forged, the awesome industry I belong to, the imagery I get to create, lives & stories I am asked to document. I also share about our marriage, our dreams and adventures, I talk about our dog, we even open our home to host workshops. Heidi Horton Photography is very much a personal brand. There would be no Heidi Horton Photography without Heidi, or Matt.
Having such a personal brand and sharing a lot of ourselves does add a huge level of vulnerability. Most of the time that vulnerability is meet with compassion. For that I am thankful. And not everyone is going to be a fan. I get that. I would be kidding myself if I thought I could make everybody happy. I choose to be grateful that I have found my tribe. And they are fiercely loyal friends, supporters and clients.
Somedays I know it would be a hell of a lot easier to work for someone else, but then I remember that even the worst day in my own business is better than working for someone else, because it's my dreams I'm chasing, one step at a time.
I know many peers and fellow small business owners who face similar challenges, successes and vulnerabilities - maybe just in different ways. Those who bleed for their business, working all hours, not only for the gains but for the sheer love of it. And so this is for you: I acknowledge you. You are the real deal. You are worthy. And you are not alone.