In a previous post I wrote about myself and some of my experiences growing up. In this post I’ve written about how I started my business.
Where I started and getting made redundant
Once upon a time I worked for a mental health charity - as a digital content manager for the majority of it. I enjoyed being part of an organisation that was doing something that was giving a voice to those who needed it. I was employed there for 14 years. I studied photography at RMIT part-time while working there and then did photography work on the side once I finished while continuing to work for the charity. I started off mainly photographing landscapes. I am a lover of the outdoors and was camping, hiking, climbing or mountain biking nearly every weekend. Life changed a bit (ok a lot) after my baby boy was born and that's when I truely fell in love with portraiture. I really enjoy bringing a natural, beautiful and organic element of the outdoors into my portraiture while also bringing out the love and true character of my clients.
When I was pregnant with my second child I was made redundant while on maternity leave. Some of you might know this if you’ve been following my Women Who Fight with Grace project. It’s now been two years since I was made redundant and two years since I took this beautiful business full time. It’s been quite a journey. One that started off full of lots of frustration, sorrow and fear to something wonderful I can call my own.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission 1 in 5 women in Australia are made redundant while on maternity leave. It's a huge issue as well as homelessness for women. Women who are not working are also not getting money for their superannuation. According to Homelessness Australia in their 2013 Homelessness and Women report returning to the workforce after extended leave can also be difficult for women – a third of women returning to the workforce after maternity leave believe they work for non-‘family-friendly’ organisations resulting in double the likelihood of psychological distress.” To add to this, I repeat, I worked for a mental health charity and still had issues returning to work to not even having one to return to! I was told it was due to funding and there would be a few of us going. That it would be all of us or none of us but in the end it was only me - the one on mat leave that got the axe. That tells you a lot about attitudes towards mums in the workforce. I worked for a wonderful genuinely caring and kind woman for 12 of those years but unfortunately the new CEO who took over when she retired was none of those things. I got the axe and they got new office furniture. I could go on about this but the main point here is I’m not alone in this not by a long shot – it happens to women all the time. I know women who tried to go back and were simply told we don’t have anything for you now, messed around until they quit or also made redundant. They weren’t all in a position where they could take it to court so just tried to find something else but finding professional part-time work can be really hard to come by.
Now, here's the silver lining
First and foremost, I absolutely love my business and what I do . . . my clients, all the wonderful people I’ve got to meet and document, see their gorgeous children grow, stories I’ve heard, tears that have been shed and the list goes on. I couldn’t be more happy - I'm exactly where I want to be. Two, it’s also given me the opportunity to see how strong, courageous, thoughtful, caring and supportive our amazing community of women are. I’ve met and seen so many women getting out there starting their own businesses, raising kids, supporting each other, kicking arse and doing it their way. Nothing is more inspiring than that. I am truly hopeful that attitudes will change and we will see more support for women in the future.
I went to see Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard speak recently in Melbourne. As a citizen of both the USA and Australia it was extra special for me to be able to attend such an extraordinary event listening to these two amazing women. After everything they have both been through the drive to continue to see change and push forward has not faltered. Pick yourself up and keep going. That is true power and grace.
And I got the chance to get a quick pic with Julia!
So from landscapes, portraits and Julia Gillard . . . I will keep going my friends and hope to see you on the other side of my camera one day!
Love to each and every one of you,