Sara Hasstedt and I became social media “pen pals” a few years ago, while I was still living in San Francisco and long before we both had baby girls. Now that we live pretty close to each other in Colorado, and both have little gals of our own, we’ve had the chance to start daydreaming about coffee dates and playdates. Me? I’m also dreaming about a family photography session with this talented lady. Read on to see why this SpitfireMom is on my get-to-know-ya-better list.
Sara is a Fine Art Wedding Photographer specializing in sun-kissed outdoor weddings for feminine, playful and feisty brides. She’s also a work-at-home mama to a baby girl who just had her 1st birthday. When she transitioned into doing weddings full time over three years ago, she had in mind that she wanted to build the kind of business where she could be a work at home mama full time, but not having any kids at the time, she wasn’t sure how this would work logistically. She shared a bit about how it is working.
When she’s photographing weddings, her husband is at home with their girl since the majority of the weddings take place on the weekends. Thankfully, his work environment is pretty flexible and allows him to work from home for those times when she might have to travel during a weekday for a shoot or wedding. He works nine 9-hour days which means he takes every other Friday off of work and gets to be full-time daddy for the day while Sara gets to focus her entire day on work. She said that, to be honest (because that’s what SpitfireMoms do), one full day every other week is not a lot. Ideally she would love to have two full days a week to solely focus on work uninterrupted and they are moving toward figuring out how to make that a possibility.
Here’s what Sara had to say about being a SpitfireMom.
What’s your daily routine?
For right now, my weekly schedule looks *roughly* like this:
|6 to 7:30 A.M is Me Time. I drink coffee and read, while snuggled up under a blanket on the couch. If baby girl sleeps past 7:30 then I will head to the computer and start the day by returning emails.
7:30 to 1 P.M. is Mommy Time. My daughter and I eat, play and then maybe meet with friends for a playdate, go to story-time at Barnes & Noble, shop at Nordstroms and Target (we do this more than I’d like to admit), attend orchestra concerts, or go to the baby gym. When we return from our outing we then eat lunch and read books. Nap time is at 1.
1 to 3 P.M. I have Work Time. This is when I have client/vendor calls, work on emails, cull and edit photos, post to social media, update my accounting books. I generally can’t get anything super creative done in this short time frame so I focus on tasks with predictable timetables that I can fit into this narrow window.
|3 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. Back to Mommy Time -snack, play and prep dinner. Then 4:30 p.m. 7 p.m. Family Time. I will sometimes put another hour of work in during this time frame since my husband is home at 4:30 but I prefer not to do this every night so we get to spend some time just the three of us before Ayla is in bed at 7:30.
8 P.M. until 10 P.M. is Creative Work Time. I use this time in the evening to put together blog posts, plan styled shoots, and just dream and plan since I have fewer distractions at night. I try to not post much to social media (and sometimes do social-media-free weekends), and I don’t respond to emails after 5pm Friday until Monday morning/afternoon.
How does being a mom influence your work?
Being a mom has required me to be more disciplined and scheduled with my time, which are two really beneficial things when running a business! I work with such limited time frames now (unless I want to spend every weekend behind the computer working, which I don’t) so I have really had to look hard at my workflow and put better systems into place. I am not doing less work now, I am just wasting less time with systems that didn’t work or that required more time and effort to do the same job. I have become better at goal setting as well and working toward making dreams realities instead of getting too caught up in just dreaming.
Something that has been really challenging since being a mom is the comparison game. Not with other moms, but with other photographers in the industry who are single, or maybe married but don’t have children yet. I have always said I want to build my business to serve my family and not the other way around, but sometimes it is hard to not feel like I could be doing more, should be doing more, because so-and-so is doing this, that and the other thing, etc. etc. Sometimes social media has a way of glorifying the “busy,” and when that happens, I tend to forget what my priorities are.
Family is the most important thing to me, and it always has been. It is really sobering when I think over the past 13 months and how much Ayla changed and grew in just one year! In only a few more years she will be going to school full time and then I will have a full 5 day work week back, and I’ll be missing these crazy days when I had her at home with me. I know it will be a short time when she will be at home with me, and I want to make sure I cherish this season instead of wasting it away with a comparison.
We know a SpitfireMom like Sara has tips to share, so we asked for her best time saving trick:
For me, something that saves me a TON of time is shooting film instead of digital. I switched back to film a couple of years ago for many, many reasons, including color, how it captures light, its dynamic range, the softness, etc. etc. But beyond that, I switched because I knew that it would save me from spending hours upon hours editing behind my computer screen. I now can spend more time on marketing, blogging, being inspired, and even take days off to spend with my family, instead of having to spend 20+ hours editing every wedding I photographed. I want to be a photographer, not a photoshop editor, so while I do end up doing some editing and retouching still, it requires far less time than it did when I was shooting digital.
Also, my husband bought me a Keurig for Christmas! Sure, French press coffee is fantastic, but seriously, who has time? I like to have several cups of coffee throughout the day so having a Keurig has seriously saved me at least 45 minutes a day that I used to spend prepping, using and washing my French press. Best investment ever.
What’s one thing you haven’t figured out?
Scheduling phone calls with clients or vendors has still been a tricky process to figure out. I don’t like scheduling calls during naptime since, as most mamas know, naptimes can be unpredictable and just when you are thinking your baby is a solid 2 hour napper, you schedule a phone call and 10 minutes into it your baby wakes up crying. I end up doing a lot of my calls or vendor meetings in the evenings which has been working out well for both me and my clients. It’s also not difficult to have my husband work an afternoon from home, or come home early from work so that I can schedule a call, but it just requires more advance planning that what I was used to before we had Ayla. It’s not an ideal system yet, but it is getting better.
Do you talk about your kids with clients or potential clients?
This is something I only recently came to terms with! Only a day after bringing our baby home from the hospital, I answered a phone call from an unknown number at 8pm. My girl was ready to nurse and she was crying and here I am answering a phone call from a super sweet bride who wanted to talk to me about booking me for her wedding! I had to be honest with her and tell her that I just had my first baby 5 days ago and that I would love to talk to her, but I needed to schedule a different time to do it. She was so gracious and understanding and ended up being one of my most favorite brides of the season! It has been a learning process ever since then.
Just in recent months I feel like I’ve come up with more of a “policy” of what works for me. I used to think that if I didn’t tell clients that I had a baby then I was being dishonest or acting ashamed or embarrassed to be a mom (which is obviously not the case). It’s difficult because it is one of the most significant and miraculous things to ever happen in my life so it’s natural to want to talk about it. But I’ve since decided to not be super public about my mom life in relation to my business. I came to this decision because I want to make sure that my “brand presence” that I put out on social media and in interactions with clients and vendors is one that brides can easily connect with. For most brides, myself included 6 years ago, being a mom is just NOT on the radar when you are planning your wedding! It’s a “someday” sort of thing.
The only exceptions I really make to my “policy” is when it comes up out of necessity (as was the case with the bride who booked me 5 days after I had Ayla-thanks Morgan!), or if a client asks me directly about that part of my life or otherwise brings up the topic. I do share little snippets of my personal life on Instagram since I think it’s one social media avenue where people want to see a little bit of the “behind the scenes” from a business as well. I know other people who do things very differently than this but I’ve just found this to be what works best for me and my brand.
And, if you’re a mom entrepreneur and just found out your expecting, Sara says:
Congratulations! I mean, what else would I say? She’s growing a little miracle and that is the most precious gift! I would tell her she has SO much joy to look forward to, she can only begin to imagine.
Sara, if only two happily married mamas could get married again and again (and again). You’d be booked for these two SpitfireMoms’ multiple weddings in a heartbeat. We love creatively-minded women who manage to think in terms of systems and flow and process. It’s the only way the juggle & hustle works.
Heidi & Julie
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