We met the lovely Kika Mitchell very early on in our Mother Hub journey (week two, in fact!), over a coffee in our local Starbucks. We'd spotted Kika's gorgeous photography on Facebook, and we couldn't wait to meet the lady behind the pictures. Over a couple of cappuccinos and a nice long chinwag, we discovered that not only is Kika an incredibly talented photographer, she also has a hugely inspiring career story to tell. Now her own boss and busy mum of two gorgeous little ones, Kika previously worked in television - most recently on ITV's This Morning - before taking the decision earlier this year to focus on her own business. She's captured special moments for countless families and has recently worked with the brilliant Essex Mama, photographing her new clothing line. And if you haven't already seen Kika's incredible pics of our Launch Event, then you need to take a look! We asked Kika to tell us more about her journey and what she's learnt along the way...
Tell us a little bit about your background. When did your passion for photography begin?
I’ve always loved photographs, they have a power all of their own. As a little girl I remember being mystified by how different my parents looked when frozen in time on their wedding day. Even then I realised the power that these snapshots in time possessed. The fact that now I have the ability to create these frozen moments for my clients and their future generations literally makes me tingle.
As I’ve always worked in TV I’ve always been surrounded by different types of cameras but stills photography has always been my true passion. Some people think in words, some people think in numbers but I definitely think in images.
Most people would imagine a life in television as "living the dream". What led to you making a major career change?
I did live the dream for years and years and I’ve literally had so much fun at work it was insane. The people, the shoots, the travel, the atmosphere, the VIP treatment. But when the small humans came along (we had a very long fertility journey) I literally couldn’t do it anymore.
I went back after each maternity leave more passionate about my growing photography business which was slowly gaining momentum, and less interested in television. And anyone in the industry knows you can’t do national television if you aren't totally feeling it, it’s all consuming and it wasn’t fair on me or my team. The conflict of mothering, photography, working life in London and the enormous amount of guilt I felt became too much. Weirdly it wasn’t a hard decision, it was self preservation for me, my sanity, my children and my relationship.
What's the most important lesson you have learnt since starting your own business?
Create boundaries for yourself and your family. Having your own business eats into all areas of your life. Keeping connected to clients and social media can feed a little bit of an addiction so it’s really important to step away from your phone when possible. As a photographer a lot of shoots happen at the weekends, so my partner and I decided that I would only work 2 weekends a month, otherwise the balance I gained from leaving London would be lost as I’d never see my family.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career?
Happy returning clients! Photographing someone’s newborn, christening and next newborn, is a total joy and so rewarding. I feel so honoured to be chosen to capture these precious occasions. And having my work recognised and valued by the photographers I count as my inspirations. Silly things like getting a “like” on social media from my photography crush. In photography it’s really hard not to compare yourself to others so reassurance from creative talents is worth it’s weight in gold. My business is still quite new so encouragement like this is priceless.
What has been the biggest challenge?
After working for massive corporate companies, suddenly being head of IT, head of creative, head of marketing, head of accounts….has been mind blowing. The learning curve is insane when you have your own business but you have to remind yourself of the benefits even when things overwhelming. As a photographer there are a lot of technical things I’ve had to get my head around and I’m not a techie person.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
In the past it was "There’s the quick and the unlucky!”. Now as a working mother it is “You can’t pour from an empty jug".
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Oh my goodness this is a hard one, I want to say don’t be so hard on yourself but in reality this is what pushes you to be the best you can be.
I suppose I’ve always wanted to have more faith that it will all work out in the end, if it’s meant for you it won’t pass you by. However, I’m always wracked with self doubt as most creatives are.