This post goes in a bit of a different direction, but don’t worry I have a few coming up with some family and baby pictures soon!
I’m a few days away from having a baby, and at a time like this I find myself to be quite introspective. Â I often get asked questions when I meet new people, such as, did Michael and I meet through photography, and how we can possibly work and live together. Â I thought I might take a moment to give you all a bit of insight into our life.
A lot can change in one year, and even more changes in five years. 2011 will mark our 5th anniversary – in this case that’s 5 years for Shandro Photo, and 5 years of marriage.
For those of you who don’t know us all, here is our current family photo, part of the maternity photos we had taken by Jill Coursen Photography.
Andrew is our amazing son, those of you who have met him know what a little bundle of sweetness and energy he is. Â He’s turning into a very polite little boy. Â That’s his favourite teddy bear ‘Cheesecake’ in the photo – a prize from Capital Ex. Â He’s obsessed with trains, and excited for the new baby (just for the record, he’s predicting a baby sister). Â And we can’t bring ourselves to cut his hair – he’s got his Daddy’s curls and my colour.
To answer the question, Michael and I didn’t meet in photography school. Neither of us took any formal photography training, and in fact Michael pretty much taught me everything I knew about digital SLRs when we first started. Â He would take pictures of my feet while I watched TV and then tell me all the technical things that he was experimenting with. Â We started the business after both having a long time interest in photography, andÂ taking photos at our friends’ wedding . Â Michael always wanted to own his own business in a creative fit, and it seemed like the perfect fit.
In particular, this last year has been a major milestone for our business. We started 5 years ago with me in grad school and Michael working for a non-profit organization. Michael left his job early in the life of our business, but 2010 marked the year that I finally said goodbye to the day job and came to work at home full time.
The decision wasn’t easy. Â It might surprise some of you to know that I spent 8 years in post-secondary education, and came out with a Bachelor’s and Masters degree in Biochemistry. Yes, that’s right. Biochemistry. Worlds away from photography or anything creative. Â It’s hard to say goodbye to science, to a good ‘dependable’ day job that I had with the government, and devote my life to art, people, and love. It was a decision that a lot of people wouldn’t understand. But…when you have a passion driving you, when something so strong is pulling you in a particular direction, sometimes you have to just give in and try it. I honestly think it was one of the best decisions of my life.
I have spent the past year living in my business with Michael, and being at home for my son. We’ve built a studio in our home, and welcomed many families to it.
A lot of people that we meet marvel at the fact that Michael and I can live, work, and parent together. Is it always easy? No. Sometimes he forgives me delaying the laundry so that I can finish an album design, and sometimes I send him and Andrew to Fort Edmonton Park for the day so that I can have some time to myself. But never once do we forget how special this relationship is, the fact that we can work and live side by side. A lot of couples tell us that they would NEVER be able to do it. Â What’s our secret? Â We get asked that a lot. We don’t really have one. It just works for us. Â After 7 years together we are still going strong, about to welcome another member of the family, and ready for the next stage of our business development.
One thing that I have learned in this ‘job’ is that owning your own boutique business means that you do everything yourself. I am a boss, employee, accountant, travel agent, secretary, cleaning lady, tech support, purchaser, artistic director…the list goes on and on. How do two degrees in biochemistry possibly tie into that? Well, owning a business takes a lot of organization, and so does planning out experiments for a scientific thesis. So I guess those eight years were still useful .
I want to thank everyone who has supported us along this journey, especially our families who have encouraged us in our most difficult decisions (and help out with babysitting when we need it). Losing my Dad last year was a big blow, and something that changed our life forever. I know that he would have been proud of us, and that’s one thing that keeps me going forward. We’ve been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people during these past 5 years. Families have welcomed us into their lives, and clients have become friends. We’ve become close with so many colleagues in Edmonton, and love being part of such a vibrant community. It’s been amazing, and we can’t wait to see what the next 5 years will bring.