This week’s Ms New Brunswick is Melissa Tremblett, who with her husband, operates a full-time professional photography business, Tremblett Photography. The pair do maternity, family portraits and lifestyle shoots, but their specialty is wedding photography, which Melissa says they absolutely love. I sat down with Melissa and we chatted easily for an hour, which is exactly what you're looking for when hiring a photographer. After years of honing their skills, Melissa and her husband formally started their business when they were seeking a better work life balance after they had their daughter. Melissa's story is that of many women; she took an objective look at her life after her daughter was born, and evaluated how she could best serve her family. There are always big changes when you have kids - homes, schedules and even careers - but it's so frequently women who are making those decisions to sort out what their family needs the most, and how to make it work. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.
Tell me about your business.
Tremblett Photography is the business I run with my husband. We are professional photographers that work primarily weddings, but we also do lifestyle shoots. We officially started the business three years ago after our daughter was born, but both of us have been taking photos long before that. We are a great team. Glenn is the creative genius, and I'm better at interacting with people and our styles perfectly complement one another. We love what we do, and feel very lucky to be doing it full-time.
How did you get started?
I had an interest in photography when I was younger, that was fostered by an old boyfriend's father. He took me to buy my first camera, and over the years I got pretty good at working with it, though I never considered it would become my career. When Glenn and I met, the first gift he gave me was a new camera - he knew I had an interest and wanted to get me something I would really enjoy. Strangely enough, he had always been into photography himself, so it was something that we could do together. We eventually got married and became pregnant with our daughter, and at the time I was working in a restaurant and was certain that I needed a change of pace. I wanted something flexible that allowed me to stay home sometimes. Glenn actually considered going into photography full-time before me, but I became a little bit jealous - almost like he was about to start living my dream without me. So I just sort of decided like, no, let's do this together. And we did.
Do you love it?
We absolutely LOVE what we do. I get asked this all the time, and it's sort of like, in order to keep doing it, you have to love it. You have to feel inspired and creative with every couple, or it's really hard to deliver the magic they're looking for in their photos. You have to love it because you're taking responsibility for documenting the most important day of their lives so far, and they trust you. If you don't love doing it, that is a huge burden to carry. Our approach is a little bit different. We feel that we have really good perspective about what couples are looking for, because we look back at our own wedding and wish things had gone this way or that. We don't make people book us for 6-8 hour blocks, if we shoot your wedding we are there the entire day, however long that might be.
Has the community been supportive?
Yes! Three years in and we've been completely booked for wedding season two years in a row. We are basically full for 2019 and even have bookings already for 2020. A lot of our business comes from word of mouth, or friends and family of past clients who liked what we did and that's really the best compliment.
How can we support you better?
Word of mouth is honestly the best way to support us. If you like us, or what we do, tell your friends about us. Another great way to support us, and other photographers as well, is to value the service we provide.
What is the biggest difficulty in your business?
People who undercut our business. There has to be justifiable value to the service we provide, so it can be really difficult in this industry when anyone can buy a camera and call themselves a professional photographer. It's very frustrating on both ends because it means the pool of potential photographers in an area is oversaturated with underqualified photographers who price themselves extremely low, and it also means that potential clients are expecting lower prices from other businesses as a result. I don't want to offend anyone, but this is simply what we see happening because there is no regulation in the industry. I don't think that should discourage anyone from really working on their craft if they're passionate about photography and want to get into the business. It just would serve the industry so much better if there was a level of understanding and respect for the skills, equipment and time for those well-established in the business. It can be very, very difficult to deal with people who don't understand the value of the work we do. Sometimes we encounter people who don't know how much we have invested in our equipment, who don't understand the hours and hours and hours we spend meeting with a couple, shooting their engagement, shooting the wedding and then combing through and editing thousands of photos afterwards. They don't value photographs in their own personal lives, so they can't come to terms with the price of hiring a professional. That can suck the joy out of it, if you let it. We have come to realize that people who don't align with us, or our work, won't value our product and probably shouldn't be our customers. That is VERY HARD to accept when you are starting a business and just want to take all the clients you can.
Another difficulty in this line of work is managing others' expectations. When you work with brides, you have to be very clear that your style is what they're looking for, and if it's not then you have to recommend that they go with someone else who fits their aesthetic better - it's just the right thing to do. Similarly, it can be tough to navigate what other people besides your clients expect of you on the big day. I would say that more often than not, it's the parents and not the clients that have the most to say about what they think you should be doing, and that can be frustrating.
How do you balance work and personal life?
Well we are lucky to get to work together, and that we genuinely love what we do. We also have a huge support system at home that help us with our daughter when we need it, and that is critical. Our jobs are flexible enough to allow us to be home when we need to be. When you run your own business I'm not sure there is ever a point where you feel like you've done enough, but we have good systems in place and we are happy with the way things are going.
What piece of advice would you offer other women starting their own business?
Just do it!
The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.
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