The school photograph. Yes, that thing.

On this day, the 16th January (only nearly half way through the month, what have I been doing?!) I have decided to get straight to the point. In 2019 I am taking on ‘the school photograph’.

Child outdoors

Yes people, I am making it my mission to drag this little rite of passage, the dreaded school photograph, into the correct century because it is time. It is so time. As both a parent and photographer I feel that I am qualified to do this task!

Let’s start from the professional point of view, the photographer one. I was appalled at both the quality and the price of this so called ‘professional’ photograph. First and foremost, snot, a close second is food residue, third is hair, fourth is pose and five, oh me oh my, five is background. 

When working with children it’s a given that snot, eye sleep, food residue etc will all be there at some point. I try where possible to ensure that all clients children have a fresh face prior to snapping away.
Sometimes this isn’t possible however that doesn’t matter because part of my job is ALSO to check in post production. Removing such things from an image is tidying up, it’s ensuring that your focus is on the most important thing, your child. Not the crusty nose.

The pose and the background. Education has changed since the 1970s, so has the teaching environment. Why hasn’t the school photograph?! Children now spend more time learning outdoors than times gone by, many environments are ‘child led’. We no longer see row after row of desks nor are children expected to be seen and not heard.

Could the lack of change be anything to do with the fact that the photography industry is unregulated and unfortunately people have assumed that the professional photographers out there, offering such services, have also changed with the times? Or is it, (can it be?!) that the demand for this dated photograph is actually still there? I do wonder. We don’t live in houses where primary coloured school jumpers and cardigans complement the walls and frames of today. We need our child’s school photograph to show off our child in all their school day glory as well as needing it to be something that we truly want to put on a wall or in a frame. This is good for children too. We can talk about that psychology in another post.

Child in the classroomMoney, then we get to the money (that’s a whole blog in itself, I’ll keep this short and sweet though). The prices are too high for what is received and most important of all they are not fair. All parents feel duty bound to buy the school photograph, our parents did and our grandparents did. As I said earlier, it’s a rite of passage. For some this is their first experience of using a professional photographers’ services and oh my goodness me things do need to change. Why can’t a parent have all the digital images? This rule is not applicable to all shoots by the way. For example, it would be an unfair ask of a wedding photographer, there would simply be too many photographs. Now that I have defended that little bombshell – there isn’t a need to take more than five per child, so why not hand those over?

Before I really get going I will ask you a few questions and sign off. 2019 is the year of the school photograph for me so there will be more from me on this, this is simply for starters! I have way more to say and do …. I don’t want to throw it all out there just yet though!

  1. Would you buy a school photograph of your child if the photograph was of the child at play or studying rather than seated and looking directly at the camera?
  2. Do you buy printed copies, digital copies, both or neither? If neither, why not?
  3. Would you like to have an option of being able to buy black and white/colour toned down (less bright jumper allowing for your focus to be the child) school photographs?

Any feedback would be hugely appreciated. I really would like to work on something that truly represents what people would like.

Children walking along a tree top walk

Enjoy 2019 people, do what works for you and remember to be kind. Kind is always good.

Come on September, you can do it!

Am I being somewhat misguided with my belief that at some point I will have everything under control?! And that this will then mean that I have the freedom to blog regularly, drive my business skywards and parent in a way that would suggest that I have got this?! Or … is this the norm? I feel overwhelmed by all of it right now, trying to work, being a parent and being a wife. Not in a ‘woe is me’ way, more of a ‘how on earth do I do it all/what is the method’ way!

I started September with such gusto, perhaps too much?! I blame the Virgo in me. If you read any of my previous blogs there is a definite tone of ‘if only I had more time’ to them. Building a business and shocking the world talked about juggling it all and, if I am to be completely honest, when I wrote that it was a little tongue in cheek. I had yet to meet September, I did not know what juggling actually meant.

A busy mother, motherhood

On a parenting note let me quash that belief that when your child starts school you will be drowning in free time to Instastyle business plan. It is a myth. It does not happen. Your time suddenly becomes dedicated to ferrying people to various locations, when you are at home yes, you do have free time however this new free time is simply the same time you had before MINUS two people trailing your every move and undoing your every task. It is a better time yes … and it leaves you with approximately 20 minutes freedom before it is time to pick someone up!

Yes, I have been known to sit on the sofa with either my laptop or phone in hand in a vain attempt at working. This isn’t the time to do it either as this is when my partner in crime aka my husband is here. I don’t want to sit and go through the intricacies of both of our days or look lovingly at one another however I have noticed an enormous difference when sitting watching something together and actually doing that. Not dual screening, that doesn’t work. I was shocked at the lovely feeling I had when we both watched a film together, no phones or laptops in sight. It felt like we had truly done something together, how awful is that?!

So, back to the planning and reorganising of life. Both children are now settled into their new establishments. The puppy is a little easier to manage (that was a battle in itself! I felt so guilty about taking time out to walk the dog rather than to be working, either in the house or on the business!). Then I realised that this could actually become a multi tasking Self Care session. I am being deadly serious here too because I truly believe in this whilst previously also finding it nigh on impossible to put it into practice. For me, this now works. I am out of the house, I am exercising, there are no screens and the dog is being exercised as well as squeezed. That’s some planning right there and it just happened, naturally. Not with yet another list in a beautiful notebook. It wasn’t the way that others do it either. My planning and reorganising now is about doing. At this stage in life it appears to be the only way and I cannot believe that I haven’t accepted this before.

Children are not robots, recipes or reports. They are beings, they are unpredictable. Parenting is exactly the same, it is unpredictable so for the time being I will “unpredictably” build my business and manage my household.

This is most certainly more a parenting blog than a photography one today and that is something that I have tried to avoid … and I have no idea why for I am both. I am not a victim of parenthood though!  I am grabbing that by the same unorganised balls as I am my business! No wine memes, no bitterness and no hippiness. Just a work hard and play hard attitude to it.

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Kate Stoddart-Scott Photography is on it’s way people, it’s on it’s way!

P.S. Yes, I am quite anti people being glued to screens at the moment which is a tad ironic considering I am writing this for others to glue themselves to a screen. Ah, what IS the answer?! And what is the right balance?!

Controlled risk … or without abandon?

DSC_3666SM Child_It’s been a while since my last post, in fact, more than a while. Last time we chatted I ended with something about needing time to not only live my dream but also to live my life, as me, a mummy, a wife and everything else that is in the mix! That was in May, it is now August so I’ve had some time!

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour”. John Heywood

I continue to work away quietly behind the scenes with my business, grabbing hours here and there to practice, build and choose which direction Kate Stoddart-Scott Photography is heading in. So many of John Heywood’s lines ring true right now! No, Rome wasn’t built in a day and yes there were people constantly working on it! Everything I see is a potential story, a piece of art for someone’s wall or a memory of a precious moment and it is through my eyes. Naturally there are those who see things differently … it is those who see things similarly to me that I am after, my tribe! Before I can get to those people though I need to find the right people to help me build my business.

I thought that finally making the decision to go professional and doing the Training byLumiere course was the ‘tribe moment’. It was, however what I am learning now is that it was just one of them. There are so many elements to a business and naturally, a tribe is a human social group … so I am working on building my human social group!

Running your own business and being a work at home mummy can actually be quite a solitary profession, there’s no water cooler chat or brainstorming sessions to inspire or frustrate. With the rise of childcare costs  it is becoming more and more common for mummies to stay at home and work, generally setting something new up, rather than to return to work. There is an army of people like me out there, the skill is to tap into the right regiment! I tried a handful of networking groups and eventually found the right fit.

Danni McCabe of Mama Tribe … I know that I am not the first person to say thank goodness for her genius! She has ensured that networking in 2018 is current … rather than the somewhat dated and corporate approach that can be a little blind to the necessity of social media being part of your business plan! I met with Danni and Gracey in Milton Keynes (along with some other greats such as Susie, check out Wiki Places for Kids and Adele of Nutmeg Wall Art ) and left feeling like I could take on the world. Taking on the world, that feeling needs nurturing and feeding in order to keep it going and that is just what Mama Tribe does. Not only that, it introduces you to like minded individuals and it gives you the freedom to talk about work and then to switch topics and laugh about the intricacies of being a work at home mummy …  you are simply someone with two jobs and you are allowed to discuss both jobs. Don’t misinterpret this though, it is not a child discussion session, no! It is an understanding that you are more than likely to be working when the children have gone to bed or you head to a meeting, turn the iPad on and Paw Patrol blasts out rather than your business plan.

My human social group aka My Tribe is growing and in turn my business is growing, as are my children and my family DSC_3654 (we recently bought a puppy, thought that we needed to jazz things up a little!). Meet Zola. She’s amazing.

What isn’t growing is my bank balance, not yet. I think that it is as important to talk about that as it is talking about what your business is and what you are about.

When anyone makes a decision to do something completely different it is a risk. It is a controlled risk if you manage it and the most important element to manage is the expectations of others, at this stage. From day one of making this decision I have screamed from the rooftops that I will not make the mega bucks within the first three years. In fact, I won’t make much at all as with any new venture everything is outgoing rather than incoming! That combined with the fact that I am a stay at home parent is a huge thing. Financially, emotionally … and quite honestly, sometimes depressingly. I haven’t had my own pay slip for four years and now that I am doing my thing, living my dream I am essentially receiving a negative pay slip!

… and do you know what, I wouldn’t change it for the world! Don’t panic, I’m not completely delusional. I have this magic power to create extra time so, in that magical time, I’m a virtual assistant. It doesn’t inspire, it contributes and it reminds me why I am doing what I am doing now.

Take the risk, live the dream and accept the consequences … oh and find some amazing people to help you do it along the way.

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