No matter who you are or how long you’ve been in the wedding industry for, self-care is so important. But for all of my friends who are wedding photographers with chronic illnesses, self-care is even more important than you would think.
When I first started my business back in 2013, I didn’t know that I had endometriosis. And even though since my diagnosis, I’ve been able to trace it back until I was about 12 years old, which realistically means that I was likely born with it, I didn’t actually start noticing any sort of impact on my life until 2017. And it wasn’t until 2020 that I started having to actively manage it day in and day out. So the decisions that I had to make when I was starting my business, even part way through my business, are entirely different now than the decisions that I have to make managing a chronic illness day in and day out along with my business.
So today I’m going to be talking all about self-care practices for wedding photographers with chronic illnesses and things that you can do to make your daily life better and to make sure that your schedule isn’t overwhelming you.
Welcome to Keeping It Candid. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, an international wedding and family photographer and business coach. I help wedding photographers use systems to build out the backend of their businesses to gain control and continue to thrive no matter what life throws their way.
And on a more personal note, I’m a strong Enneagram 3Wing2 who’s obsessed with tacos. And my love for travelling combined with navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner. Join me every week for a candid behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer, where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level.
Absolutely no fluff here, friends, so go grab your favourite notebook and pen and let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Sandra Henderson (01:56.042)
So my first recommendation for self-care for wedding photographers with chronic illnesses is to incorporate Epsom salt baths into your routine. Now, like most natural remedies, there are widely varying opinions about the impact that Epsom salt baths have, what magnesium can do for your pain and things like that. But personally, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my life since I started doing this. And so that’s why I wanted to talk about it a little bit more.
I think what’s most important is not actually even using the Epsom salt. So if that’s not something that you want to do, then that’s totally fine. But taking the time to just press pause is so important and taking a bath is the perfect way to do that. Now pre-2022, I actually hated baths. I would always get so bored. It was like torture for my ADHD. I would get really hot in the water. Like I just, I hated baths.
But when I started just keeping it short and sweet, under 10 minutes, bringing a good book in with me, all of a sudden, I just really started enjoying taking this time out for my day. And for most people, hot water, regardless of the epsom salt, can help manage your pain levels. Now I say most because my best friend, actually, she doesn’t have a chronic illness, but she does deal with chronic pain from a past injury. And because of that, because of nerve damage that’s happened,
heat actually does the opposite for her than it does for me where I find heat and hot water to be a really relaxing thing and it helps my sore muscles. It actually makes her pain worse. So that’s something you obviously want to keep in mind when you’re figuring out what works for your pain and what doesn’t. No matter if you are looking for the temperature of your bath water or the way that you break down your schedule every day, I fully support doing things that work.
for you. If it doesn’t work for everybody else, that’s totally fine because they don’t matter. You need to just focus on yourself. So if that means taking a few minutes to have a bath, then I highly, highly recommend that. Now there’s this idea that using any sort of natural remedies for anything involving health doesn’t work. We all know that it exists. Some of us, myself included, have probably had those thoughts before, but here’s the thing. Even if it is all in our heads,
Sandra Henderson (04:17.682)
If it works, what the fuck does it matter? It’s not hurting anybody else, it’s helping us. So if you are thinking to yourself, oh, it’s all in my head, it’s not actually gonna work, or some person said this, some person said that, I want you to push all of that out of your head and just give it a try. You never know until you try it, right? I hate when people feel the need to share their opinion on things like that, when they’re trying to almost negate the fact that.
it’s working for you and take that away from you, but it’s not impacting them. So don’t let them take that away. If something works for you, then let it work for you and just embrace that. Now, next, I highly, highly recommend massage therapy, chirophysiotherapy, acupuncture. If these are accessible to you, then I highly, highly recommend taking advantage of them.
I personally see a massage therapist and a chiropractor. My massage therapist helps me with my back and my shoulders with hip mobility. And my chiropractor is adjusting my wrist for me because my favorite lens is a 70 to 200. And if you’ve ever used that before, you know that bitch is heavy, especially after an eight, 10, 12 hour wedding day. So my chiropractor is always adjusting my wrist for me, also adjusting my hips and my back.
to make sure that I am keeping my pain levels down and that I am as mobile as possible for a highly physical job. I also am going to be starting pelvic floor physiotherapy. If you are familiar with endometriosis and you know that this is something that people say, can be really helpful and I’ve never done it before. I’m a little bit concerned, or I shouldn’t say concerned, that’s the wrong word to use. I have a little bit of anxiety about it just because I’ve never worked with a physiotherapist before.
but I’ve heard good things, so we’ll see how that goes in the new year. Now also making sure that you are eating properly on a wedding day. This is a huge, huge factor when it comes to self care. On a wedding day, you are pouring so much of yourself out for your clients. And so it is really important to make sure that you are not also forgetting yourself along the way. When I was first starting out as a second shooter, I would wake up and I’d probably have some pop.
Sandra Henderson (06:34.558)
as I was getting ready because I was really, really healthy. I lived off of ginger ale and Coca-Cola and I wouldn’t eat breakfast, I wouldn’t eat lunch, I would get to the wedding and I’d be carrying around my bottle of ginger ale with me. And then sometime around, family photos and wedding party photos, my blood sugar would crash. I would start dry heaving behind my camera, I would start shaking, I would just get so, so sick. And so I would have to run.
find some juice or something to get my blood sugar back up. And the only meal I was eating all day was the meal that was being served during the reception. And so a lot of times it was actually six, seven o’clock before I was eating for the first time all day. And it is just mind blowing to think about that because I now many years later, 12 years later, like I need to have snacks with me all day long. I am.
I bring multiple bottles of water with me. I have to eat before I leave. If I have more than a like a couple hours of sessions in a row, I bring snacks with me. But making sure that you are eating properly and drinking lots of water and making sure you’re hydrated. These are things that are so important to your self-care. There’s nothing worse than the wedding hangover, right? I talked about that a lot at the end of the last season of the podcast. I think that was episode…
31 if you want to go back and check that out. But the wedding hangover it’s going to happen regardless, right? But if you’re not eating and drinking properly, it is just going to hit you that much harder. And so yeah, there’s a million reasons why that’s just so important. And then speaking of the impact that eating and drinking has on your body. We’re talking a little bit about our physical limitations here. Being realistic about your physical limitations is super important.
We’ve all seen those really gorgeous leather double harnesses, but personally I went with one that I found on Amazon that had a wider shoulder strap that was more foam because I just found it to be more comfortable. It definitely isn’t as aesthetically pleasing, but the purpose here is just because I needed to work within my physical limitations.
(Then, CLICK HERE to grab my wedding workflow freebie to help you get started!)
Sandra Henderson (08:52.958)
I’m interrupting this episode for a quick second because I want to tell you all about something that I have used in my business day in and day out for more than six years now and I truly do not think that I could run my business without it. And that is HoneyBook. HoneyBook is an all-in-one CRM system that handles all the things that are client-facing. Sending contracts and invoices, receiving payments, sending out questionnaires so you can get all those details to get ready for the wedding day.
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Now I used to have two cameras on each side of that harness, each with a lens on them. And one of those lenses was a 70 to 200. So we’re already adding so much more weight. And then once the reception came, there was also flashes on each of those cameras as well. So after about five, six hours of already being on my feet, and now I’m at the reception on my feet again, and I’m carrying around that much camera gear, it really starts to take an impact on your body. Even if you’re not.
really feeling it because you’re running on adrenaline and the excitement of the wedding day. So this year I actually scaled back. I switched back to just using a single camera. I do have a backup camera in my bag, but I’m actively just using one instead of having one on each hip. I also years ago decided to get a camera bag on wheels, so I’m no longer carrying everything around on my strap, so I’m no longer carrying everything around on my shoulder.
Sandra Henderson (11:08.462)
And years ago, I also bought a wagon. And if you’ve ever done a wedding with me before, you know how much I love this wagon. But it’s one of those four-wheel all-terrain wagons that you see a lot of parents using for their kids. And it is an absolute miracle on a wedding day. We can put my camera bag, my assistant’s camera bag, a cooler with water and all of our snacks and lunch and everything, light stands, tripod, jackets.
everything we could possibly need all fits inside this wagon and so my assistant and I can just wheel it around all day rather than having to move all of these bags and everything and we can just easily tuck it into a corner inside the venue so that it’s completely out of the way and not taking up too much space. I actually think I’m going to include the link to my Amazon storefront in the show notes because I got my wagon on Amazon.
and it has been with me for, I want to say maybe close to five years now. Those pandemic years really make everything a blur, but I’m pretty sure about five years now and honestly it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Another way that you can be realistic about the limitations that you have physically is just to keep an eye on the amount of time that you’re spending on your feet if that’s something that impacts you physically.
So when I’m standing around for long periods of time or if I’m walking for long periods of time, I usually start to have a lot of pain and tension in my pelvis and my lower back. And so I bought myself a pop-up stool, which you’ll also find inside that Amazon storefront I already mentioned. This stool can easily fit into that wagon. It can fit into a pocket in my camera bag. And I’m able to pop it out when I need to sit. And I just usually put it in the center aisle during the ceremony.
It’s a quite tall stool and I’m a pretty tall person as well. So when I’m sitting on this, not only am I completely unobtrusive to all of the guests, but I’m also able to still take photos from roughly the same perspective as I would if I was standing. So I’m not, you know, getting weird angles where I’m looking up everybody’s nostrils and things like that, and it’s super easy and discreet to just pop it open and then close it and pack it back up so I have seating available to me wherever I am going.
Sandra Henderson (13:21.726)
I also always carry around an ergonomic seat cushion. I have one that I’m sitting on right now that’s always in my office. I have one in my car and I have one that I bring on the go because these are an absolute game changer if you have any sort of hip, back or pelvis pain.
I highly, highly recommend getting an ergonomic seat cushion. And so I will put that on my stool if I need to, and I’ll also put that on my chair for the reception so that I am a little bit comfortable there, a little bit more comfortable there as well.
You can also put limitations on the number of hours that you’re working on a wedding day. I know a lot of photographers who put a limit on the amount of coverage that they offer at six hours because doing eight and 10 hour weddings just isn’t conducive to them physically. They won’t be able to give back to their couple in the way that the couple deserves and the way that the couple is expecting. And so that’s another really important takeaway from this. And again, driving that point home that you can do things the way that you want to.
and the way that works best for you. Every photographer might be offering six, eight, 10 hour packages, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer packages that look different. Earlier this year, I changed my packages to be four, six, and eight hours instead, because that’s more conducive to me, and it’s more in line with what my clients have always been looking for. And that leads me into one last takeaway. I want you to be realistic about your schedule.
We were just talking about the number of hours that you’re working on a wedding day, but what about all the other days, right? It’s super important to know what your limitations are, to set boundaries and not to overwork yourself. It is the absolute epitome of self care. For myself, in my photography business, I only do one wedding in a weekend. And if I have a wedding on a Saturday, I am not booking anything on a Sunday. Sunday is 100% a wedding hangover day for me. If I have
Sandra Henderson (15:15.298)
portrait sessions, I limit myself to three in a day, unless it’s a day of mini sessions, and then I kind of treat that as I would a wedding. So for example, this is airing in October. Next weekend, I have my fall minis coming up and I have those booked all in one day and so we’re pretending like that’s a wedding day and there’s nothing booked for the following day. Things like that are super important to me to make sure that I’m able to stick with my
post wedding and post session workflows, getting sneak peeks out, getting those galleries delivered and things like that. If I’m overworking my schedule and I am burning myself out day in and day out, then I have nothing left in me to get all of that other work done. So that is super, super important. When it comes to freeing up your schedule, I cannot recommend things like outsourcing or utilizing AI resources enough.
It’s all about working smarter and not harder. And there’s absolutely no rule, no matter what anybody tries to tell you. There is no rule that says you as the photographer physically have to be the one who does every single thing in your business. If anybody has ever told you that this is your permission to laugh at them, share some expletives, whatever you need to do.
to feel better about telling them that this is not working for you and you’re gonna just keep doing your thing. But before I carry on too much into that tangent, it’s actually what next week’s podcast topic is all about, so I’m gonna save all of that goodness for then. But to quickly recap my recommendations for self-care for wedding photographers with carotid illnesses, first was pressing pause on your day, taking a bath, whether or not you’re incorporating Epsom salts, just doing something for you that presses pause on all of the…
things is super important. If it’s accessible to you, also taking advantage of massage therapy, chiro, physiotherapy, acupuncture, and other holistic ways of treating your pain. Making sure that you’re eating properly regularly, but especially on a wedding day and having proper amounts of water. Being realistic about your limitations on your feet, on the number of hours you’re able to work, on the amount of camera gear that you’re carrying around and the impact that is putting on your body.
Sandra Henderson (17:34.206)
and being realistic about your schedule, knowing your limitations, not overworking yourself, and utilizing resources like AI and outsourcing your work so that you can work smarter instead of harder. Now, a few seconds ago, I talked about next week’s episode, and I am so excited to be joined by Sarah Monica, who is another Canadian photographer. She actually just lives a couple hours away from me, and we talked about all things outsourcing. Sarah is truly the number one person I think of when it comes to this topic,
The value that she gave in this episode is absolutely unreal. Like I don’t have the words to explain it, but she shares real numbers of what it looks like in her business before she started outsourcing and what her numbers look like now that she’s only working about 20 to 25 hours a week as a multi-business owner. Amazing, right? So if that is something that interests you, make sure you check back next Wednesday for all the goodness.
Until then, I would love to invite you to come and join the wedding photography unfiltered community on Facebook. This is a space for wedding photographers to come in, learn, support one another, and just embrace what it means to be a part of a community because that is so important as an entrepreneur is having a community that you can lean on and people to talk to who just get it.
So I would love to have you come over. You can find the link in the show notes and you can also go to facebook.com forward slash groups forward slash wedding photography unfiltered. All right friends, that’s it for me this week. I will see you next Wednesday.
Thank you so much for listening. You can find full show notes from today’s episode at simplysandryvonne.ca/keepingitcandid. In the meantime, let’s connect. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok, just search @SimplySandryYvonne. And if you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave a review. Until next time.
Sandra Henderson is a wedding photographer, business coach, and podcast host based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in helping wedding photographers create strategic systems for their businesses to help them get their time back so they can spend it doing the things they love most. As an entrepreneur who also navigates chronic illness life, Sandra also takes a unique approach to using systems that will help businesses thrive no matter what life throws your way.
On a personal note, she loves tacos, 90’s music, travelling, and spending time at home with her husband, step-son, and two cats!
October 11, 2023