CMW January feature: Kaia Calhoun
Monthly feature – interviews and stories showcasing common women who put their creative ideas and passions into action.
Name: Kaia Calhoun
Before you were a mom, you started a photography business. Can you share a bit about how that came about?
“Starting my photography business came about very organically. Photography was something I was interested in, wedding and portrait photography was something I could make money doing, and I had plenty of requests from friends and family so I figured I’d roll it into a business. I took job after job for the first few years, even worked for some other companies to increase my know-how. One of these companies provided an introduction to a man in charge of a community-based magazine in Hinsdale, IL. This is when my dreams came true. Sounds small, and it was, but all I ever wanted out of a career was to do photojournalism. Because of this magazine I was able to get a job as a freelance photographer for BRAVA Magazine in Madison when we moved to Wisconsin. Perhaps one day I’ll work for an even bigger magazine, perhaps with more travel, but for my season with babies I couldn’t be more happy with the photography work I’ve been given.”
What makes you passionate about photography?
“I love portrait and wedding photography in order to provide my clients with marriage-saving and family-making photography. I’m passionate about taking pictures that are more than just pictures, that are memories that serve to keep the passion aflame in other families and marriages. I love photojournalism for so very many reasons. With photojournalism I get to tell a story with my images and see my work published at least once a month. In the process I get to see awesome places, meet awesome people, and taste awesome food too, can’t beat that!”
How did becoming a mom impact your photography work?
“In many ways becoming a mom improved my photography work. It helped me streamline my process and focus on what mattered most about my business. I learned to follow my gut more as I edited because I didn’t have time to tinker around with every preset or setting, I now strive to choose what feels right from the get-go and run with it.
I’ve also never loved wedding editing. I love photographing the wedding and taking care of all the correspondence but the hours upon hours of wedding editing was not my cup of tea. In honor of being the best mom I can be I started hiring a great friend and fellow photographer to handle my wedding editing for me. She edits the weddings as if she were me, it’s perfect. This way I don’t get frustrated with my babies when they’re making it impossible for me to get work done. I’m more than happy to pay my friend to do it too! Better to put my money in the pocket of a buddy than a stranger I think, especially when she does a perfect job.
Having kids, particularly hosting the daycare at my house, has forced me to be wiser with my schedule. I like that I know more what to expect out of each day. I have the daycare Monday through Fridays, I edit and otherwise work while kids are napping and playing nicely, I do my photoshoots on Saturdays and I take 2 Mondays off of daycare a month to do photography as well, then Sundays I take as a Sabbath completely.”
So, on top of being a mom, and a photographer, you have started an in-home daycare. Can you tell us what lead you to start that?
“Starting the daycare was entirely a God thing. He put the little idea in my head as Maisy got older. I entertained taking on a kid part time as a guaranteed play buddy for Maisy during the week. It never became something I pursued though. One day on my Natural Mamas Facebook group a local mom posted that she needed a caregiver for her newborn, someone who cloth diapered. I replied to her post simply asking what days and times she needed care to see if it’s something I thought would work for my work life and family. Next thing I know another mom, who saw my reply, asked if I would take her two girls Monday to Friday. Me and all my friends and family thought I was crazy for saying yes to four kids (including Maisy) under 3 years old. All I knew is that I felt the Lord asking me to say yes, so I did. And man am I glad I did! The income is a side note for me, I feel so blessed to have such amazing playmates in my home every day for my fervently people-oriented and extroverted toddler. Now, one and a half years after I said yes to daycare I have two of my own kids and five others in my care all day every weekday.”
Have there been any major obstacles or struggles to overcome in running your own business and being a mom at the same time?
“Oh absolutely! Every job has it’s own set of struggles. My main struggle is time management. In order to do all the things I want and need to do I’ve forced myself to budget my time on a daily basis. For each day I write down what I want to do and when in order to accomplish everything from my devotional time, quality time with my kids, quality time with my husband, date night, painting a wall in my house, writing for my blog, editing my photography, shooting my photography… and the list goes on. There’s a lot of things this mom has on her list and with impeccable time management I can actually tackle it all!
Other than that, when I started the day care, and every time I take on a new kid, I struggle with getting them on board with the routines and rules in the house as well as what’s expected of them as a kind and gentle playmate to all the other kids. Kids catch on fast though!
My photography world is mostly a well oiled machine these days. Some shoots present themselves as a little more intimidating to me than others. But really any challenges I have are related to areas of running a photography business that aren’t my favorite areas to tackle like website maintenance, social media, and other marketing things. Since these areas are a struggle they also take longer for me to tackle which means it’s also harder for me to find time to do them.”
What keeps you inspired and motivated each day?
“I actually keep myself inspired and motivated each day. First of all, one of my strengths is the “achiever” (according to StrengthsQuest). That alone drives me. But, on top of that, I also ensure I’m enjoying every day and for me that means setting up routines that enable me to “achieve” my tasks throughout the day and sprinkling in some treats or rewards as needed. Sometimes this means I get myself a donut so I’m excited about the day, sometimes this means consuming caffeine to jump start my productivity, and this definitely means scheduling in time for myself to write and work out and go on a date with my man.”
So, I heard you have chickens in your backyard. Can you tell us about your decision to do that?
“Several years ago I found a passion for homesteading planted in my heart. And about five years ago I felt convinced about stewardship. The Lord prompted me to treat His world and all that He created in it as best as I can. This in turn fueled my passion for homesteading because that decreases your “carbon footprint” as they say to nearly nothing on the food front. By producing as much food in my backyard as I can I am treating God’s world as kindly as I can. Chickens included. Besides being way too much fun and being awesome because of their egg production, they also fuel my other homesteading adventures my pooping fertilizer for my garden and stirring my compost as they forage.”
What encouragement or advice can you give to those who are still figuring out their heart’s passion, or trying to get the courage to pursue their passion more fully?
“Oh man, I’d say whatever lights your eyes up and makes your heart beat fast is what you should do. Sometimes this just starts as some little ol’ thing. For me, it started when I was a kid taking pictures on a dinky little film camera my parents gave me for my birthday. And loving day care was a surprise to me, I did it, first and foremost, for my kid and realized how perfect it was for me as a result.”
What do you think the future holds for you and your family?
“I hope my future reveals a traveling magazine job, a published book or two, and perhaps several more children, but mostly just many more days full of love and joy.”
Thanks Katie for featuring me on your blog!
Feature Curated by: Katie Simkins
Photography by: Kaia Calhoun, Hannah Woods Massey, & Mandy Henry Photography