Hello and welcome back to another week of Mama You Can, a series started to started to share inspirational stories of Mama’s who have changed career direction, started their own business or negotiated a more flexible role to fit in with family life.
This week we hear from Clare (Clare Murthy Photography), who takes the most beautiful photographs of families. I love her style and we’ve been lucky enough to have a few photographs to add to our collection from her recently.
I’ll hand over to Clare to share her story, she has some great advice for anyone about to venture make a change in their working life at the end.
Mama You Can: Clare Murthy
I’m Clare. I live in Surrey with my husband and our two year old daughter, and run my own photography business. I specialise in natural and relaxed family and baby photography, and also work with some lovely mum-led businesses, taking headshots and brand photographs for them.
Before starting my own business I spent 14 years working in the retail industry for Boots and Apple. I originally started out as a pharmacist, but my career evolved quite quickly and by the end my roles focussed on learning and talent development. I was really passionate about what I did, but for quite a long time before I changed career I had this niggling feeling that I wanted to work for myself. I probably read every book ever written about starting your own business in the years leading up to making my decision, but I was comfortable enough in what I was doing that the ‘push’ to take the plunge was never there.
When my daughter was born that ‘push’ was suddenly there. We started looking at nurseries when she was just a couple of months old, and the thought of being away from her for so much of the week made me realise that I didn’t want to go back to work full-time. My employer was very open to discussing part-time options, but I knew that I would constantly feel torn between wanting to give my all at work, and giving my all at home.
I’d talked about turning photography into a career for a long time – I’d bought my first DSLR around 10 years ago, taken courses and loved it as a hobby. I followed lots of other photographers on Pinterest and Instagram over the years and had always thought “what if…” Having said that I also had lots of other business ideas! I spent a bit of time exploring a few of them and what it would take to make them work, but I kept coming back to photography.
In making the decision to resign from my job I went through a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. Deep down I knew that I wanted to take the plunge, but I had a lot of fears too – was I crazy to be leaving all that experience I had behind for a brand new career? How would I manage not having a regular salary, and would I be able to make a success of it? My husband is amazingly supportive, and I think he believed that I could do it more than I did – it was his confidence that really helped me get over my fears and I made the decision that I wouldn’t go back to work after my maternity leave.
Now you have taken the plunge how are things going?
It’s definitely the best decision I’ve ever made. I work with some really lovely families and business owners, and getting to know them is a real highlight of what I do. This year I’ve had families come back to me for the second time, or mums who’ve had a family shoot and then hired me to take photographs as they launch their own business, and being able to see their children grown and develop, or support them in their new ventures has been brilliant.
It’s also hard work! My daughter is at nursery a few mornings a week so I work then, and squeeze the rest into nap times and evenings – it makes life busy and adds up to a lot of hours, but it’s all on my terms and it means I get to be at home for these important years in my daughter’s life which is priceless I think.
What advice would you give to other Mama’s who are thinking about making a change to their working life?
Taking the first step is often the hardest, so the biggest piece of advice I’d give other mums is to just get started and do one thing to make a change. When I first started out I spent a lot of time trying to plan everything perfectly before I ‘launched’. The reality is that you can’t plan everything perfectly and I’ve learned a lot more from trying, doing, failing and succeeding than I ever did from trying to plan every detail. If you just take the first step, the next one won’t seem so scary and before you know it you’ll be even further than you imagined.
Thanks so much to Clare for sharing her story, I totally agree that, ‘taking the first step is often the hardest’ I think it’s true for a lot of big changes or steps, making that initial step can be so hard but once you’ve done it you generally don’t regret it!
You can find more from Clare over on her website.