Below are our answers to the questions posed by Kat for the article…
What role does each of you play in the business and are these well defined? if so (or if not) why?
There was never any intention of defining our roles, although it soon became clear who excelled at which areas of the business (and perhaps who was willing to do what!). Happily for the majority of the business we prefer different elements; for example Penny loves the marketing, blogging and social networking side of things and Martin prefers the technical bits like keeping our equipment up to date, website updates and maintenance and printing photographs for clients. Out in the field, neither of us takes on the role of primary shooter as such, but again, we do tend to gravitate towards the areas we most enjoy. Penny gets stuck into all the little details and close-ups and perhaps notices some of the more girly aspects of a wedding and Martin brings the macho… to an extent! It may sound rather stereotypical but it works!
Do you ever argue about work and how do you resolve these disputes? Do you have any advice for any couples who might be struggling to see eye to eye on work things?
Yes, a few seconds ago when answering question one! Penny finds puppy dog eyes work a treat when trying to resolve disputes, failing that, stamping feet often yields results! In all seriousness, the trick is to keep discussions light and not take anything to heart. We tend to see eye to eye on most things professionally and personally, which we feel is what makes us such a good team. We both understand that we are working towards a common goal- our happiness and the happiness of our clients, and no dispute we have is ever significant enough to jeopardise this. Of course there are also aspects of working together that are hard, particularly on the creative side of things – it can be difficult for one of us to critique the other’s photos, especially when it’s obviously a personal favourite. We do tend to find a balance in these things though – maybe including an extra ‘vetoed’ photo each if we feel that strongly about them. Interestingly, we think this actually benefits our clients – we’re more likely to lose images that really shouldn’t make the cut, and we believe the final collection always works great together.
How do you keep your personal life separate and not allow it to be taken over by work?
Actually, until quite recently we haven’t kept our personal and professional lives separate. Our office was our lounge, we had no defined working hours, and we were working so much that when we did venture out it was often with people in the industry and conversation tended to centre on work. To be honest we really love what we do and haven’t found this as much of an issue as you may think. That said, we have fine tuned our working processes over time and now that we have almost found our feet, we seem to be acquiring a little more time to ourselves. Having recently got married and with talk of growing a little family (eventually), we feel that we should focus on us a little more and make the most of our time together as a unit of two! A recent move gained us an extra room… no not for a nursery! It is packed out with all our work stuff and even a little craft space in the corner for Penny to potter in! And Martin has his guitar in the other corner to jam on during our breaks! This means that we now have a clearly defined work space and nice tidy, presentable lounge to retreat into and welcome visitors!
Do you think its easier, harder or of no consequence to work with someone you live with? why?
Well we are best friends, and being able to work with each other is actually pretty easy, because we love spending a lot of time together! As long as you can stand to be by your partner’s side 24/7, working with someone you live with can create a very productive working environment. For a start, if you have an earth-shattering idea out of office hours you can get it off your chest there and then – not all of us are at our most productive between the hours of 9 and 5! In fact the flexibility of working together is one of the major benefits of our job – sometimes neither of us is in a particularly great working mindset, and because we live together we can drop work for an afternoon and disappear off for some R’n’R. Maybe a trip to the gym or wandering around junk and charity shops (our favourite thing!). We can’t recommend highly enough having the opportunity to head off in the middle of a work day, spend some time together, and come back with a fresh mind, ready to crack on.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who want to start working with their partner?
Well we did it the other way round – we got together as a couple after we’d been working together for a while – so we’re not sure that we could offer helpful advice to couples now looking at starting a business together. Perhaps as we mentioned above, if you are able to spend most of your time together, see eye to eye on most things, resolve any issues quickly and without any fuss, and keep things as light-hearted as possible, we can’t see any reason why you couldn’t have a great working relationship too.
Anything else you’d like to add?!
If you do decide it’s something you really want to do, we wish you all the luck in the world! It’s so rewarding, and the best thing either of us has ever done!