Have you met Tash Leach?
Tash is an entrepreneur, a mother, wife, photographer, artist, lover of fashion, beaches and travelling around Aus. She is an all round ray of sunshine.
Tash has just hit her 18 month milestone for her business Tash Leach Photography and I'm so happy that she kindly agreed to share some words of wisdom below. If you are a photographer, an entrepreneur, a parent or looking to start something new then keep reading because Tash has a few pearlers when it comes to slowing down, enjoying the ride and an appreciation for timing.
Tash, when did you first decide you wanted to be a photographer?
When I was 18-19 I was really interested in studying photography, but at the time I was also at uni studying nursing and working as a support worker for long hours at a time. This was pre Instagram so there wasn’t that constant source of inspiration to push me so I never pursued it. Once we had our first baby, and I was a stay at home mum – I had a constant subject to practice on and time on my hands so it resparked the fire in me. By this time though Instagram was HUGE and along with all the inspiration it brought, it also gave me a lot of self doubt from comparing myself to others. It was when people started commenting to me that they could tell my Instagram photos were taken on a camera as opposed to from my phone that I really started pushing.
What was it like studying at home with two little kids?
It was challenging in that the mum guilt slipped in to my mind a lot. When my husband got home from work I would lock myself away and study study study for hours at a time. I could hear the family life going on around me while I tried to concentrate and so often I would have a quick fix for what was happening out there but I had to concentrate on what I was doing and let them work it out. I chose to really turn it into a positive for the kids because I thought if I could show them that I am working too, and their oldest memories as they grow up are of me trying to make my dreams a reality, then they will know they can do it too. We use a lot of positive chat in our house around my work, because a lot of the time it means that while I am in the house, I cant play because I am working, so we had to draw a line in the sand but keep it very positive. It is so cute listening to the kids repeat to others positive things about me working from home, and it is also so nice to be at a point where when I am sitting at my desk they just know to go to dad.
Do you believe that there is such a thing as work life balance? Or it more depends on the week?
I do TOTALLY believe it is so important to find a work life balance, but I think this is what I am still struggling with most. I am lucky that both my kids are at school this year which gives me 9-3 guilt free with work, but when you run your own business you cant just neatly contain it to what you want. I find I need to be ready any time day or night to get back to people ASAP because of fear of loosing business if I take too long to respond. I also find in busy weeks I need to be editing all day and night to ensure that people aren’t waiting too long for their galleries.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you started TLP and what were your first steps in starting the business?
I started TLP as I was finishing my photography course, by creating an Instagram and getting my friends and family to share it around. Same as when you get your drivers licence, you can have the theory down pat and pass the test, but the reality of practicing that theory can only be done through lots of experience once given the licence. So once I was qualified, I knew I needed to build up some serious hands of experience, which I did through offering extremely cheap photoshoots for the first good 6 months. People jumped on it, because who wouldn’t take advantage of a cheap as chips photoshoot!! This built not only my experience, but also my confidence in everything I was trying to achieve, from working with and directing people, to creating good habits post shoot with backing up the content, and editing techniques as well as turn around times and packaging styles that worked for me. It was a time when I could become consistent in my brand without people expecting the world as they had only had a small financial outlay. After the 6 month mark when people had come to know what they would get from me, I did increase my prices, but still kept them relatively cheap. Now 18 months in, I have finally got to a point where I have set my prices at a competitive rate.
You’ve now had your first 18 months in business – how are you finding it?
18 months in, I am absolutely LOVING it. I love having this special thing that is all mine. I truly never actually feel like I am working – and when leaving the house for a photoshoot and I say to the kids “bye kids mums gotta get to work” I literally feel like I am lying because calling it “work” just doesn’t seem right.
I love creating my own content to keep me popping up on everyone’s Instagram’s, and I love finding work and creating advertising around that work. Eg, at the moment I have a sunflower field mini session day coming up and I have loved creating an advertisement for that as well as a running sheet, and have a consistent group of documents relating to the day. This will benefit me so much for the next time I run a mini session day as I have a heap of templates now.
What do you think of social media for your business?
Social media is literally the bones of my business. Its how I get all of my business, as it is a quick way for people to reach me instantly rather than searching for my email address and hoping it doesn’t land in my junk email. Its how I can quickly show off what I am capable of with photos of my recent shoots, and those photos are the best at translating into new bookings, when people like what they see and then want that for themselves. Without instagram I actually don’t think I would have a business.
Is there anything you would have changed about your start up and the process that you followed?
Off the top of my head I cant think of anything I would change. It was hard to be working so much for such little money, but I definitely wouldn’t have changed that because I can see for myself how much I improved in that time.
Do you have any wise words of wisdom to other peopled looking to get into photography?
YES! The first thing I would say to anyone wanting to get into photography is to grab your cameras user manual and read it word for word from front cover to back cover. People don’t realise that their user manual is basically a course within itself. Of course you wont be a qualified photographer just by reading your manual, but once you then start a course you wont be behind either as they start to talk about the technicals of photography. Before I did my course I wrote a whole book of notes just from my camera manual!!
ALSO, book a photoshoot with a well respected photographer. Enjoy the process of getting nice photos, but also, watch them work. Watch the tricks they use to get you to pose how they want you. Watch how they engage with your kids who are being shy and uncooperative. Watch how they communicate with you post shoot. Look at the packaging they are giving you. Look at what you have received for how much you have spent. Watch how they conduct themselves on Instagram – are they positive or are they more like the complaining type, and how do they conduct themselves and make you feel while you are waiting on your photos? Really watch their process and take note.
As a kick ass working mum – what would you say to other mums looking at starting a work from home business or side hustle?
It is hard, and the mum guilt is oh so real! BUT the example you are showing for your kids far far outweighs it!! The biggest bonus of all is that I can walk away from the editing for an hour to be at assembly or a kids party or a mums catch up where if I was working in an office or at a shop etc I wouldn’t have that luxury. In a way, as the kids get older, they will benefit more and more from me working for myself.
Do you have a mentor or source of inspiration that you look to as a photographer or working mum?
A big source of inspiration for me is Jessie Windle on Instagram under the name @louieluxe. I don’t at all know her personally but I have followed her for years kick starting her own business from home with a toddler in tow. Over the years she has knuckled down and grown her business from the kitchen table all the way to now owning her own studio, with two employees. I find that so inspiring. Obviously she only shares small snippets of her life on Instagram but it looks to me like she is managing her work life balance so well. She goes to the gym every morning and cooks the most delicious and nutritious meals every evening, and also looks very hands on with her kids. To me, she is GOALS.
Who is your all time favourite photographer?
My all time favourite photographer is no longer a photographer!! Her business name was Blee Photography. She was located in Perth and she did the most amazing outdoors newborn sessions – that was her thing, and she was the leader in her field for it. She retired a few years ago but you can still see her work on pinterest and via some hashtags on instagram.
Any favourite accounts you follow on Instagram?
@louieluxe – business goals
@misskyree loves – photography tips (she is self taught and does things slightly different but I do enjoy her for inspo)
@emmylouloves – she is always having photoshoots done and she shares the whole thing on her stories and I find it fascinating watching other photographers at work.
@spell – again, because the photographers they use really embody the style of photography I love, so I love seeing when they come up with – eg making a person a hero in a photo even when they are standing in the most beautiful surrounds.
If you could look back and tell your 18 year old self anything at all what would it be?
I would smugly tell my 18 year old self who wanted to do a photography course but didn’t, “you just wait and see where you end up 12 years from now”. I am glad I didn’t do it back then when I wanted to, because I was young and busy and could have easily lost the passion at the time. Now I am wiser and much more motivated, so the time is definitely right.
To see more work or to follow along with Tash head to her instagram page @tashleachphotography or check out her website