This December my business turns 7 years old.  When I started out my two eldest boys were 2 and 4 and our littlest wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes.  I sometimes joke that my business is my fourth child because it would make the age gaps between our boys (and my business) equal: for those that know me you’ll appreciate why this appeals to me (I wave my Type A flag proudly).


One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is “Why don’t you offer more sessions on weekends?”

Fall is the second busiest time of year for me and with September around the corner I thought it was time to answer this question and share a little bit about what my life is like behind the scenes.

Unlike the majority of family photographers in Ottawa, my business is my full-time job.  Most family photographers work part-time or in addition to their full time job, which is why their sessions take place on the weekend.  When I started out I photographed most of my sessions on the weekends because I was home with my boys during the week and grateful to escape from the house for several hours when the weekend arrived.

My how things have changed!

For the last several years my business has operated on weekdays when my eldest boys were at school and my littlest was in preschool, childcare, and at home with me.  During the week I photograph newborn, maternity, and baby sessions.  In between shooting I am editing, taking care of book keeping, marketing, social media, and planning.  In addition to my daytime sessions I also teach at least one night each week, either hobbyist photographers eager to learn to use their cameras, or mentoring other photographers.


Weekend session are the equivalent of overtime for my business.

When I offer a morning or afternoon of weekend sessions, typically 6-10, it generates the equivalent of another forty hour work week for me.  Even though those sessions may only take three hours of my time on the weekend, I still have to take care of all the behind the scenes administration, editing, and ordering prints and products.  Without the help of my amazing session coordinator I would easily work 80 hours every week.

Mother Nature is my best friend and worst enemy.

I am limited in the number of sessions I can offer on weekends because of the unpredictable weather in every season.   For each block of sessions I schedule I also have to schedule a back-up date, in case of inclement weather, as well as at least 1-2 weekend days per month in case I get sick and need to postpone sessions to another weekend.  If I offer sessions on two weekend days a month that means I have to block off at least 5-6 weekend days in my calendar in case of bad weather.


There is no “great” season in Ottawa

In the Fall I struggle with dwindling daylight and rain.  Not to mention leaves that change colour sometime over the course of a four week window.  I’ve had Fall session days that were 28 degrees and days that were hovering around 0 with snow.

In the Spring it’s either freezing cold, humid, or it’s pouring.  The horror show that the weather has been since May this year has wreaked havoc on the schedules of hundreds of photographers in our area, myself included.

In the Summer you would think it would be relatively easy to fit in sessions but I often have to cancel because of heat advisories or thunder storms.

I don’t save lives or do anything heroic but you’d think my career was highly important given the number of social functions we have to turn down as a family because I have sessions scheduled or am waiting to see if I can go ahead with shooting or not.  I’m that friend that says “yes I can be there BUT….”

My schedule is ruled by tiny humans

And I’m not even talking about the ones I live with! Each month I photograph between 8 and 12 newborn babies.  My newborn sessions are pre-scheduled based on my clients due dates but the thing with babies is that they come when they come.  Due dates are pretty irrelevant, which means I could have a week with 0 newborn sessions and a week with 5. Between the studio set up, session time itself, clean up, and editing, a newborn session can take anywhere between 4-8 hours of my time.  Knowing that I may have a week where I’m working with a newborn baby every single day means I need to leave space in my schedule to rest and recuperate as well as to stay on stop of my editing.

My own tiny humans

When I started Sara McConnell Photography I wanted a business that allowed me to be at home and present with my family.  My boys were little when my business was born but they aren’t so little anymore.  At 5, 9, and 11, we are entering a new phase of our life and the push and pull between my family and my business gets harder to manage.

With the boys in school all week I want my weekends free to spend time with my family.  My son recently made a competitive team and with 4-5 practices a week and monthly competitions I admittedly look at my Fall and Winter calendar and break into a cold sweat.  My husband is an incredible parent and partner but even he can’t be in two places at once when we have two kids scheduled to start activities at 10 am.  As the boys get older and their interests narrow it’s harder for me to schedule our life around my business.


The hard stuff

My husband I are both only children and neither of us come from large families.  We have a small but mighty support network that we can rely on but there’s definitely weekly struggles when it comes to managing my fluctuating schedule and the needs of our family.  It’s not something I often write about, although I’ve shared our life with so many of my clients, but we also have an amazing son with special needs.  Parenting is intense as is the schedule for therapies and support, which throws another “hmmm where will this fit” into our schedule every single week.  As much as I like to think that my schedule is my own because I am an entrepreneur the reality is that it’s determined by so many things outside of my control.


I am a mom first.  I want to be here for my family and my kids and as they get older their needs are changing.  I am also incredibly grateful for my clients who have supported my business and become friends over the past seven years and I want to do everything I can to offer sessions that meet their needs.  Please understand that, just like you, I’m doing the best I can every single day.

Your patience and understanding as we enter the busiest four months for my business lets me rest easy at night and know that I’m making the best decision for my family and for myself.


***A huge thank you to the amazing Jenn Austin-Driver Photography for the beautiful photos of my family***