When I found I was pregnant in June last year, the first thought that went through my mind was “Oh my gosh” (happy face/dance/fist pump).
The first emotion I felt was excitement and, really, slight disbelief.
The second emotion was a twinge of guilt and fear – my husband and I are self-employed, and work together at most weddings and events. I was due at the end of February 2016, and just a couple of weeks prior we had booked one of our biggest events of all time.
I’m a worry wart. I worry more about others, however, than I do myself at times, which is why I immediately felt guilty and sad that we would have to tell our bride in February that she’d have to make a decision – keep us on as her photographers knowing that if I went in to early labor both Adam and myself would have to leave the wedding, or just break off the booking all together which also made me feel bad because she was such a fan of our work.
The following week I scoured the internet for articles on how to shoot during pregnancy, what the chances were of delivering early, and how to tell clients and found a couple of helpful articles, but was left wanting more information to make an informed decision about what to do to tell the clients and planners we were currently working with.
Here are the steps I went through – I hope, as an expecting mother-to-be, or as a photographer planning a family in the future, it provides some insight as to how we handled our situation and a gentle nod in the direction of confidence going into your pregnancy – it’s going to be okay for you, and for the client.
- We checked our schedule. February is a pretty slow month for us so we were lucky in a way that my due date wasn’t in the midst of a dozen bookings. But we still had a few people to tell.
- We made a plan. Weddings in January would include a third shooter who we hired at our expense. Reasoning? If I needed a break, we would still have two lenses on the event which the client expected. If baby decided to come early, we could both leave and not leave our couple without a photographer! Again, as first time parents we had no idea what to expect. Better over prepared than not.
- We waited. Telling others about your pregnancy is a personal decision most people make in their own time. We told family early on, waiting until I was around 16 weeks pregnant to announce it to the vendors we work with. We told planers our course of action.
- We contacted our brides and grooms. Everyone was very supportive. We offered the option of returning their retainer if they weren’t comfortable with the scenario, which only one couple took us up on – our huge wedding in February – and I completely understood. They were still happy for us and we returned their retainer knowing they had plenty of time to secure another photographer.
In the e-mail we announced our exciting news, followed by assuring the client we had their best interests in mind, would be hiring a competent professional shooter, and outlined all their choices moving forward. We assured them we would still edit their event to our signature style and while their contract states our retainer is non-refundable, we would give it back if they would rather hire someone else.
Going into the announcement I had this irrational fear everyone would be angry and hate on us – ridiculous, looking back, but blame the building hormones for that.. or just the fact that I care a lot for our clients and didn’t want to disappoint them. But while a few might have been disappointed temporarily, at the end of the day we wanted to make arrangements well in advance keeping in mind what is most important to us – health, happiness, and our growing family.
Speaking of growing, did I mention working through pregnancy isn’t all that easy? But it usually can be done as a photographer without too much disruption to your business.
I’ll share what I did in the next blog post, which you can read here.