#MUMLIFE with: Catherine Smith

The simplest way to describe my childhood, would be to say that it was very diverse. I'll touch on it briefly, because it's a big part of what makes me the mother I am today, but there's so many layers to it, that I think it almost really does need a novel to describe properly!

My mother and father separated when I was very little, and my father is now a minister for the Salvation Army, while my mother is finally coming out the other end of a pretty rough couple of decades. These rough years of hers involved mentally, sexually and physically abusive partners; as well as poverty, lots of drugs and alcohol abuse in the home and mental health issues. My brother and I would stay with my father on the weekends and my mother during the week. My Dad moved to the South Island when I was 11, but I was fortunate to have a few outlets from all this heavy stuff during my formative years thanks to my grandparents, Hula practice and Husbands family (we met when I was 15).

Definitely some pretty heavy times in my childhood, but unfortunately, the reality is, I was still so, so privileged. Because I still had love, support and a way to escape from it all when I needed to. And I've actually been so fortunate to have this childhood, because it’s given first hand exposure to different cultures, poverty, mental health struggles and different ways of living. This allows me to understand, connect and communicate with people on such a deeper level than I feel I would have been able to otherwise.

What is a typical day in your life?

A typical day in my life is pretty hectic at the moment! I'm still trying to find this balance between mum and work life. I LOVE my job as a photographer, but things have definitely grown faster than I expected! So you'll usually find me on Instagram responding to messages and on my laptop editing from 8pm - 11pm/1am. Then I'm up again at 6:30am with the kids, getting my son Quaid ready for daycare. I spend the day at home with my youngest baby, Manawanui, normally doing household chores and any other editing I can get done between her and those. I'll then spend most of my weekends out and about doing my shoots while my Husband can stay home with the babies. 

How do you balance Mum life and running a business? Do you have any tips and tricks for us?

I don't hahaha. But no seriously. That's a MASSIVE struggle of mine at the moment. I'm spending WAY too much time on my phone. So just in the last few weeks I've actually invested in a few pieces of software that will help me save a lot of time with my business. And me and my husband are looking to implement some new routines with phone usage. Other than that though, my MIL and family have been massive life savers too. There's absolutely no way I'd be able to have this business without the support of our village. 

What led you to work within birth photography?

I was on maternity leave with my son and just really wanted to connect back with my creative side. So I picked up the camera to give it a go, I learn best by actually doing, so I tried to photograph anything and everything I could so I could learn how to use a camera and also so I could figure out what I actually liked to photograph most. Being a new mother at the time, I was pretty damn inspired and amazed at what my body had just achieved so was inspired to give birth photography a go and asked a few people I knew if they would allow me to photograph their birth. As soon as I done my first one, I knew this was for me. There’s nothing more magical, powerful and emotional than birth. I’m seriously addicted. I just love it. 

What advice do you have for someone who may be considering investing in a birth photographer - what can they expect?

If you've ever considered having a birth photographer, honestly, just message us! Ask ALL the questions. Meet with us and have a chat. (I personally offer to meet up with all potential clients before booking). That way we can go over all the 'unknowns' and 'what ifs' and if you decide it's not for you, then that's totally okay! But at least you've made an informed choice you won't regret, rather than say, having your baby and then finding out 2 months later your local birth photographer could have offered a payment plan. Because you can't re-do your birth. That moment is truly a once in a lifetime experience. (Although I mean, totally feel free to have another baby just for the birth photography haha). Also, I know that having someone in your birth space can be a big consideration, by meeting with us first you can get a feel for our energy and personality. 

What is the best parenting advice you have received?

It’s okay for you to hold your baby. If people offer to help you, often they offer to hold your baby while you do the thing. But it’s okay to hold your baby instead and ask others to do the thing for you. I remember reading this somewhere. And it’s perfect. Obviously though, if you need a break then it’s okay to give them your baby too.

Catherine describes her work as 'Motherhood Photography' and if you haven't already, we highly suggest you check her work out - it's incredible! You can find more information on Catherine and view her portfolio at Catherine Smith Photography or via Instagram @catherinesmith_nz. Thanks so much for sharing with us, Cat! x

Catherine's Little Mash Loves;
Ooh Bubs Black Wrap
Kuwi & Friends Maori Picture Dictionary
Honey Sticks Bath Crayons

*Images in this post have been provided by Catherine and used with permission. Photo credit to: Shannon from Shan Radford Photography
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