We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Stewardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My work life balance has definitely changed over time. When I first started my business in 2012, my daughters were so young, one year and three years old. So, naturally I had to focus a lot of my time of them. One of my biggest intensions for choosing photography as a career path was so I would have the flexibility to be present for my kids. During those first couple of years that Melissa Stewardson Photography was operating, I was building my business slowly so I wasn’t extremely busy. I would work when my kids napped, after they went to sleep, during pre-school hours, whenever I could find some time. As the years went on and my business became successful and especially busy in the fall season it became harder to keep that work-life balance. As a working mom you just have to find pockets of time to get the work done. I hired babysitters and at one point had a sweet college girl who would pick my kids up from school and spend a couple hours with them outside my home a couple days a week. My husband was also helpful when he was home from work. Now that my kids are school aged, it is a lot easier to work while they are gone. I try to get the majority of my emailing and editing done while they are at school (a little more challenging during COVID times). Thanks to my laptop I am able to edit during soccer practice, dance, hair appts, etc. As most moms know, we have to multitask to get so much done in one day! I still have plenty of late nights working, but luckily now, that is mostly during fall busy season.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Before my I started my photography career I worked in corporate for a Fortune 50 company for eight years. I learned a lot about of business, professionalism and the importance of follow up and communication during my time there. Besides taking beautiful photos, running the business side of things of a photography business is a major undertaking. I do everything and I mean everything! All the emailing, scheduling, styling assistance, accounting, editing, marketing, social media posts, blogging, SEO boosting, contract writing, web management, etc. I attribute my quick response time and constant communication with my clients to help set me apart from other photographers. I also believe constantly learning and evolving my art is super important. I have taken several in person workshops, done tons of online learning and am always trying to hone my craft! The road to having a profitable and successful business was not an easy one. You have to learn along the way and sometimes you get burned. Having a solid contract and client intake process is SO important! Lastly, being extremely self-driven and hard-working is vital to entrepreneurial success!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am so lucky to have lived my entire life in beautiful Orange County, CA. So, I would for sure take my friend to visit the beach, probably Corona Del Mar or Laguna Beach. Lunch or dinner overlooking the water would be a must! A shopping trip to Fashion Island, would also be on our list of places to visit. And you can’t come to OC without a trip to Disneyland! I still love going to the happiest place on earth – hoping it re-opens soon! A day spent relaxing by the pool would also be in order!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband has definitely always been my biggest cheerleader! He has provided so much encourage and support and has been my sounding board for advice since I started. My parents have been there as well. Supporting me and watching my kiddos when I have photo sessions.
Melissa Stewardson Photography Alice Akiyama Photography