Two years ago I had a great job as Picture and Video Editor for a UK TV channel.
As the end of my maternity leave loomed, I realised I had a big decision to make - do I return to work?
When we sat down and did our sums, it didn't make sense.
I'd be working full-time, we'd be paying London prices for childcare (I shudder) and at the end of the month, I'd be left with just pocket money.
I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted time with our daughter but also a creative outlet and the chance to use my 10 years of photography and photo editing skills.
I took the plunge. My small newborn and baby photography side business would become my full-time job.
There was a lot that appealed, I would be my own boss, work the hours I wanted and have a good mix of work and family life. I could build up the business slowly and at my own pace.
In recent years many companies have put a greater focus on a healthy work/life balance and flexibility for their employees. This shift in attitude has seen the rise of freelancer communities such as The Hoxby Collective, making it easier than ever to work on your own terms.
I also made the decision that in between photo shoots, I would continue to work on improving my skills and striving to be better at what I do.
Gone are the days where heading out in the dark to sit in a classroom is the only option. There are loads of great courses online with passionate and enthusiastic teachers.
These are a few I have completed and really enjoyed over the past year:
Emily Quinton runs Makelight, a company offering a selection of photography courses and workshops both online and at her London studio. She has a stunning Instagram feed - take a peek here. I didn't really understand Instagram at first, so looked to Emily and her Beautify Your Instagram course. She teaches you about composition, editing, hashtags and shares her tips for photographing with a smartphone. As a mum of four she also offers advice on how to run your creative business whilst balancing family life. I signed up to the course and each day, for a week, a new video landed in my inbox. All I needed to do was find a spare half hour to put the kettle on, listen and learn.
Kirsten is a wonderful documentary photographer. In this course she shows how she produces special, unique, tender family moments. Her course is amazing and has had a huge impact on me. Kirsten also runs through her whole editing process and her photography style has opened my eyes and given me a fresh perspective on my own work. Kirsten's class consists of 37 lessons, available to buy and download at www.creativelive.com.
I don't even remember how I found this class but I'm so pleased I did! Jeff and Kelly at Studio DIY run Can’t Crop This Class which is a series of downloadable videos. They teach you about building a profile on Instagram, branding, editing and composition. They make the class fun and their tips for using different editing apps on your phone has made a huge difference to my Instagram feed already.