Sophie wears the Anoushka dress
Photography My Lens of Love
"You can do anything, but you can't be everything", someone said this to me once and it has really stuck with me. Having a career and a family is a juggle, one that Sophie of My Lens of Love knows all too well. Sophie shares her story, juggling life as a Mum, Step Mum, Wife, running two businesses in amongst everything else and how something had to give.
Her beautiful shots are a testament to her love and passion for photography. As I write this Sophie is heavily pregnant awaiting the arrival of a brand new baby! I wish her all the love and luck on this amazing new chapter of her life!
Tell us about your background - what has led you to here?
I studied Visual Arts at Sydney Uni. My major was photomedia. I then worked in Aerial photography for years, which was going up in small planes & helicopters to take photos. It was mainly for construction, development and real estate. It wasn't at all creative, and because creativity was something I always craved I started my own photography business on the side at the same time I also started my own ladies swimwear range/brand. I did this alongside my day job for 10 years. So essentially I had my hand in 3 different things.
How did you juggle two businesses and a family?
It was definitely a juggle once my daughter was born to run two businesses- my photography business and swimwear brand Sol Bellow. My swimwear business was very seasonable, but even through Winter I was still deep in production and design of the new collection and promoting sales etc. So come Summer, I was pretty crazy busy between wedding season for my photography and also peak time for the swimwear. I would not have made it through those two Summers after having my daughter without family and friends support. My Mum was always there for me, when I needed her as was my sister and a few close friends to help out minding Malou when things got crazy.
Sophie wears the Della dress
Was it hard to let one business go?
It had been on my mind for a while that something had to give, as I really knew that neither business was getting my full attention. It was hard letting the swimwear business go, because I got so much creative satisfaction out of it. But I knew the parts I would miss the most- the photoshoots and designing were something I could continue on with regardless. So that is what made the decision easier. I had a few different people show interest in taking on the business, so making sure it continued on in the right hands was a big part of feeling ok with it.
How are you blending photography, designing and time with your family?
The first year after having Malou was definitely the hardest to juggle. I went back to work officially to shoot my first wedding when she was 10 weeks old, and my husband had to wait outside the reception venue so I could duck out and feed my tiny baby. I found myself on certain days when my workload was too much, I would wish her sleep times upon my day, so I could get images edited or emails replied to. Then the Mother guilt sets in, because you think "No I need to be relishing her while she is young". So when she was 15 months I put her in family daycare one day a week. I became soooo productive on that one day to get through the bulk of my work. Even though most nights I was still working after she went to bed, I just felt so much better knowing I had a dedicated day to get work done. She is now in care 2 days a week, and it works perfectly with my work load. I feel content because my other days are just her and I, doing things she loves and are all about her and spending time together. I do often work on weekends too, so my husband is home to be with her. I actually think its great for them to have this time together on the weekends and she is a real Mummy's girl. So its nice for Daddy to get some love and attention when I am not around!
What made you want to capture special moments?
It started a really long time ago I would say I was about 9 or 10 years old. I used to get my two sisters and their friends and take a little disposable camera into our backyard and have them pose for me in the garden. I would get so excited to get the little pack of photos back from the local chemist. I also remember sitting on my Grandparent's floor looking through their old photo albums and just being so fascinated with photographs. The dark room at high school with the black and white prints sitting in developer was where I would spend my lunchtime. I feel like I have always just been obsessed with photography and the printed photograph.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started?
How all consuming running your own business can be and how much work it actually is. Although I wouldn't change a thing, there were times in the early days of being a Mum and running a business that I looked at the Mums in my Mother's group that had 12 months maternity leave, and wished maybe that was me. That I could just be a mum for that time and not have to worry about replying to email enquiries, sending out orders etc. But now, I feel blessed to be around so much and have a creative outlet that makes me happy and fulfilled outside of being a Mum.
Any special tips for amateurs?
Oh there are soooo many great resources online now for any type of business. Podcast are my favourite thing at the moment for learning!
Sophie wears the Anoushka dress
What would be your dream shoot?
Oooh good question!!! Let's say a wedding inspired shoot in the Greek islands, with amazing gowns, location and a little holiday in between!
Has this changed over time?
Yeah I definitely feel like I have already done so many shoots that one upon a time I would have dreamed of. Just working with amazing creative people!
You are about to have a baby, how are you feeling?
Yes about to go back for more sleepless nights haha. Feeling all the emotions. I am currently 36 weeks. So I am excited, a little nervous and also nostalgic. I can't stop thinking about how much our life is about to change again and how my daughter will cope with us splitting our time between her and a new bubs. But I cannot wait to experience that new love all over again!
What food/alcohol have you missed the most throughout pregnancy?
Definitely a nice glass of wine after a long day and also soft cheeses! they are my guilty pleasure!
Do you think it’s better going into a birth having an idea of what to expect or would you rather not know like the first?
Oh this is a hard one. I think knowing that you can do it is definitely a plus the second time around. I remember my birth with Malou so clearly still, and I remember thinking and telling everyone "I can't do this", but knowing that I did and can is what I will try and focus on this time when things get intense. I was very lucky with a natural birth and smooth delivery. It was still long, intense and like nothing you can prepare for, but I did it, and know I can again.
Sophie wears the Anoushka dress
Are you going to take a break from work for a while to enjoy/survive the baby bubble?
Yes I will take 4 months off to just enjoy the bubble this time. Then slowly ease back into work come Spring. Its kind of perfect as I will be able to hibernate over Winter with my bubs.
You are also a Step Mum, what have you learned or continue to learn from this journey?
I have been really blessed with my two step children. It was easy from the start and they accepted me very easily. They are now 13 & 18, were 4 and 9 when I met them. I really can't imagine my life without them actually and I feel like they have taught me a lot about myself and challenged me too. When we had our daughter it brought all of us even closer, as she is our common thread. I feel so happy knowing she will always have them around to protect her and be there for her. They adore her and she adores them so much, its so special.
Sophie and her daughter, Malou
How have you and your husband prepared everyone for the new baby?
I am not sure we have or how we can!! Malou is 3.5 so a great age, and is very very excited. She kisses my tummy and talks about and to the baby in there all the time.
Just to add to the mix you have also just relocated, was this a conscious decision for lifestyle?
Lifestyle choice really. Sydney was just getting so expensive and busy. We started looking at other options, and with a short ferry ride from the Northern Beaches, the Central Coast seemed like a winner. I have always had the desire to move away and try somewhere new, and I doubt this will be the last time we relocate. Life is too short not to experience new things & places.
What do you hope for on this new location adventure?
We don't have plans to far away and are definitely open to other places. I am not sure this will be our forever home. We may keep creeping further North and we would also love to do a stint living somewhere overseas!
What do you like to do when you get a moment to yourself?
At the moment being so pregnant, lie down on the couch!
What is your earliest or favourite memory?
One of my earliest memories was when I just turned 3. We were sailing around the great barrier reef living on a boat for a few months with my sister and parents, I don't remember much of it except a big beautiful pool with a butterfly painted on the bottom. Maybe one day Ill go back and find it!
What’s your mantra?
Everything happens for a reason.