The Mother Hustle Interview: Suzanne Johnson Photography
May 10, 2018
Things have been quiet on here (again!) I have been busy plotting and planning our big Sumer event - The Scummy Mummies Show!! (TICKETS HERE)
There are a whole host of local mums getting involved, including dream team Rebecca ( The Unique Cornish Events Company) and Lauren (Laureate Communications) who I met at the MOC Christmas do amidst a gaggle of drunken sailors but thats another story! Proving just how wonderful this community is at bringing together local mums to work together and help each other out in their businesses. Suzanne will be chief photographer at our Scummy Mummies event and so I thought I'd introduce her and her beautiful work here on the blog. I love the sound of her mini informal family sessions on the beach or in the woods!
1. Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are and what your family looks at the moment.
I’m Suzanne Johnson, I moved to Cornwall 11 years ago with my husband (boyfriend back then) to study for my Masters Degree in Photography at Falmouth Uni. We both got utterly enchanted by the laid back Cornish lifestyle and beautiful surroundings. We’re outdoor people and have always loved long walks (well hiking over Dartmoor or a Cornish coast path to find a pub!) and both LOVE gardening, I cannot tell you how excited I was to get a greenhouse when we finally got our own place. We‘ve sampled life in a few parts of mid and west Cornwall and were over the moon to buy our first house in Penryn. It’s been a crazy 11 years of “adulting” since we’ve been here. We’ve gained a dog called Molly, a cat called Pudding, lived in 5 houses, got married and with the arrival of our beautiful daughter Florence in 2014 it’s safe to say that we’re well and truly settled now.
2. Tell us all about your business/ side hustles/ work life and where we can find you on the interweb?
I am a perfectionist and definitely a one man band (haha) I built my own website on Wordpress (www.suzannejohnson.co.uk if you fancy a gander), designed my own logo and do all of my own marketing literature, of my business and I do all my own advertising and bookwork. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.
Being a mum has really changed the way I see the world, I gained a newfound respect for my parents and every other parent out there (that could never have been there before giving birth) knowing the struggles they must have gone through as I was growing up. It’s the hardest and toughest job in the world but also the most rewarding. I soon realised that children change so quickly, they are only babies for a fleeting moment and before you now it they’re off to school (Flo is this September ☹). I also realised that I was constantly taking photos of my daughter and hubby but was rarely in any photographs with them – I thought to myself at this rate Florence will have very few photos of us all together to look back on! So once I understood this it changed the way I photographed people, I started to really look for moments, for emotions, for interactions, I noticed things that others didn’t and started telling authentic stories of love and relationships with my images. I decided to launch my Mini Sessions outdoors at Gylly beach and in woodlands near Falmouth and decided they would be adventures – no posing and getting the kids to force a smile (which never works anyway). No I’d capture families being families – interacting with each other, hunting for pixies, jumping in puddles, having races, playing tag, doing absolutely anything fun that doesn’t involve saying cheese!
3. How do you find the Juggle with work/ family/ life / childcare etc?
At a year old I put Flo into nursery and until last September I managed to build my business up on 8 hours childcare (split over 2 days), snatching the odd hour hear and there during nap times and bedtime. Sometimes I have to remind myself how far I’ve come and all of the things I’ve a achieved with so little time to do it; I’ve photographed weddings families, businesses and even the Duke of York! Sure it’s frustrating and there’s a hell of a lot of guilt about my daughter missing out when I have to work or that my work is suffering on the days/times I don’t have childcare but I still have deadlines to reach, especially as I work at weekends and all times of the day. It’s like having split personalities: I am Florence’s mummy but at the same time I have to still be my own person – for my own sanity I can’t let being a mummy be the thing that defines me, I’m not someone who could be a full time stay at home mum – I’d go insane!
4. What would your ideal balance be, and are you close to achieving it? If not what needs to change?
In an ideal world I’d love to build my business up so I could employ someone to do the admin and marketing side of my business freeing up more time to spend with my family. I’d also love to have my own office that’s not at home so I could actually go to work and close the door on it when I need to. At the moment I do all my editing/ desk work from home which is very tough if I need to work when my family is around (think toys on my desk, “mummy I need ****” and people chatting to you while you’re trying to work etc) It’d be great to have a dedicated space of my own that I could meet clients and get in to the editing zone.
5. Why did you decide to work for yourself?
It was after Florence was born (and time for me to go back to my 9-5) job that I decided working a 40 hour week and putting her in nursery for 50 hours a week just wasn’t going to work for me. On a whim I thought – I’ve spent 5 years studying my craft as a photographer and the jobs I’ve worked have not allowed me to pursue my passion so why not give it a go as a business of my own? With the amazing support of my hubby I didn’t return to my office job after my maternity leave and Suzanne Johnson Photography was born. I started out photographing weddings and later families. It took me about a year or so to really find my style and who my ideal customers are – it certainly wasn’t easy but now I know that my ideal customers and the people I love to work with are just like me – creative mummies who hate having their photograph taken!
6. Would you say you have been more productive since having children, or less?
I’ve definitely been more productive since having children – I’ve just had to make it work. If i didn’t then the mortgage wouldn’t get paid. I think working for yourself makes you more productive anyway because you have more to lose.
7. What is your favourite thing about being a mother?
My favourite thing about being a mother is seeing my daughter’s achievements. Florence is so proud when she manages to learn or perfect something new and I love to see her face beaming with smiles and it makes me proud to think I’ve helped her along the way.
8. And your least favourite?
My least favourite thing about being a parent? The guilt! I know we are all just winging it but I’m always questioning if I made the right decision or if I was too soft or too hard on her. I feel guilty when I work but also when I don’t – it’s a never ending cycle!
9. What do you love about where you live and what does your ideal weekend look like?
We’re so lucky to live in Cornwall, it’s such a beautiful place with a diverse landscape. I love being near Falmouth, it’s beaches, shops, restaurants and bars when we get chance for a date night! We love rambling through the woodlands nearby especially College Reservoir and Kennall Vale. We love that we can drive half an hour up the road for a weekend away and feel like we’ve gone on holiday. We love spending weekends exploring local gardens, beaches, woodlands or National Trust properties then pub dinners with a large glass of red. Sundays are made for gardening and home cooked roasts followed by a good film on Netflix (with more wine!).
Thanks Suzanne! xx
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