This is my first article after taking a mini break from blogging. I am so excited to be back. My first interview is with the amazing Michaela Strivens, a photographer and a mum of two based in Carshalton- Surrey. Her amazing photographs caught my eye many times on her Facebook page and Instagram. When Michaela emailed to say we should collaborate on some pictures I could not resist her offer. What I love most about Michaela’s photography style is that there are no props or posing - she catches yu on unaware . I totally love these portraits she took on our stroll at a Carshalton Park. Her details are at the end of this interview, you can follow her work there.
When was Michaela Strivens Photography set up? I started my professional Facebook page at the beginning of Summer and went live with my professional website at the beginning of Autumn this year.
Why did you set up Michaela Strivens Photography? After my second daughter was born, I decided not to return to my marketing job. The cost of childcare for two children would have wiped out most of my salary and I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated in my job anyway. Adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mum wasn’t easy for me at first. I often felt quite lonely and, dare I say it, bored! There’s only so many times you can play doctors and patients without wondering whether an actual trip to the hospital might actually be quite fun! I found that meeting up with other local mums and volunteering really helped but I needed something more…
I’ve always loved photography but never took it that seriously. It was my husband who suggested I take it further and so I enrolled in a photography course designed for parents, and from then on I’ve been totally hooked. Photography has ignited a passion in me that I always knew was there but just wasn’t sure of how to access. I feel incredibly grateful every single day that I’ve found this path.
Setting up a photography business wasn’t necessarily something that I’d planned to do but more of a natural progression. After seeing my work, friends and family started asking me to take photos of their kids, and then their friends asked and so it got to the stage where I thought I’d better start doing things properly! It was a little daunting at first, but with the encouragement of friends and family, and lots of photo sessions and later, Michaela Strivens Photography was born.
What makes your photography stand out from the saturated world of photography? I’m a lifestyle portrait photographer, which means I use natural light, shoot on locations that mean something to my clients (either out and about or at home) and steer away from using props or rigidly posing my subjects. I don’t do cake smashes (unless you invite me to the party itself) or put babies in vegetable crates, but I respect that there’s a market for that style of photography and it’s already being very well catered for. I’d say that what makes me unique as a photographer, is the approach that I bring to the shoots; from the relationship that I build with the people I am photographing to the way that I and portray them. I am passionate about capturing authentic moments and expressions, which I hope translates into the photographs themselves. Most importantly, photography is not just a job for me, but a way of life and something I’m deeply passionate about. My hope is that this is reflected in photographs that my clients will love too and will look back on fondly in years to come.
You are a mum of two very young kids, how has motherhood changed you? I think motherhood has in the most part changed me for the better. I used to be a lot more obliging with people I didn’t agree with but these days I will stand up for what I believe is best for me and my family without hesitation. I also used to spend a great deal of time worrying about my appearance but now I don’t have time for vanity and so I’m much more comfortable in my own skin! Being a mother has meant that my focus is much more ‘outward’ which for me, has been a positive development. I’m much more involved in my local community than I was before – whether it be through helping to run a local mums and toddler’s group, or just reading with the children at my daughter’s school.
How do you maintain a work and life balance? As my photography business is still in its early stages so I’m still finding my way on that front. The next couple of months will be a real test for me as fortunately, I’m working almost every weekend! At the moment, I’m doing photo sessions when my husband can take care of the girls and I spend a lot of evenings editing photos, emailing, updating social media and the like. I sometimes feel guilty when the girls are plugged into the TV and I’m doing something work related on the computer but then I remember that if I had gone back to my old job they’d most likely be in after school care or similar and so don’t feel so bad! I’m always there for them when they need me but I also remind them on occasion that I have needs too and that they need to respect that. When I’m feeling a bit worn out I explain this to them and suggest that we do a less demanding activity. I think it’s important, especially in this day and age when mums are under so much pressure to be everything to everyone, to be honest with your kids. If you’re not up for another round of hide and seek then you have to speak up. I’ve had to relax my standards of neat and tidiness around the house quite a bit but I’m my own worst enemy on that front – no one else in the family cares if the house hasn’t been dusted for ages! My husband works long hours and travels quite a bit so he’s not around to help out with domestic stuff but he’s behind what I’m doing 100% and a great emotional and intellectual support. I’m very grateful for that.
What is the movie that made you cry the hardest? Dumbo.
If you ran the world, what law would you introduce?You have to have volunteered and worked with the most disadvantaged people in your local community before you become a politician.
How do you chill out? I love a good Scandinavian crime drama or movie along with a tall glass of something yummy.
What skills would you like to pass on to your daughters? The ability to empathise, to know and understand the rules before you go breaking them and how to make pancakes (everyone loves a pancake).
What is your favourite food? I couldn’t live without cheese – the smellier the better!
Freewill or destiny? A mix of both I think. Everyone has the power to change the path they’re on, even if it’s just a little bit. It’s good to have an understanding of how your upbringing and experiences have influenced the choices you’ve made in life but at the end of the day, they’re your choices and you’re responsible for them.
In three sentences, tell us what we don’t know about you.I’m Australian and have lived in four countries – Australia (obviously), Hong Kong, Japan and England. I spent my teenage years studying dance instead of going to high school. I have a metal rod and five nuts and bolts in my left arm – the result of an unfortunate snowboarding accident!
You can contact Michaela using any of the details below.