Creative Parent Series: Gemma Mount Photography

Welcome to the Creative Parent Series where I’ll be show-casing a range of small business owners all of whom have one thing in common: running a business whilst being a parent and balancing a family life.


There are many people who are at the cusp of taking their first steps into building or developing their own creative venture but maybe the realities of balancing a family life and thoughts of limited security are factors acting as barriers to taking those all important steps.


My aim with this series is to break down some of those worries and highlight that having a family should never be a barrier to building the lifestyle business you want… actually being a parent with his/ her own business is quite an incredible achievement and I applaud each and every one of you!



Today I introduce Gemma Mount from Gemma Mount Photography.


Gemma has a varied and interesting background prior to starting her own business whilst also balancing having 2 young children.


She lives with her young family and husband in West Sussex.


Tell us more about you and your business.

I am a mum of two, my kids are currently 5 and 3 so the oldest is now in school and the youngest is at nursery 3 days a week.


I am a photographer, I work in my maiden name, Gemma Mount, shooting for small brands and designers. I photograph children’s fashion, interiors and portraits of designers and makers. I also photograph families and babies in my married name, Gemma Hughes.


I have always been a photographer, I studied photography as my degree and worked on film sets, commercials, music videos and in the theatre during my twenties and early thirties. I also shot stories for various magazines. This involved lots of traveling and unsociable and unpredictable hours so not very practical with small children!


When I was pregnant with my son I started Gemma Hughes Photography, in my married name. This meant I could work locally, often on weekends when my husband was home to look after the kids.


I photograph families and babies either at home or in my studio. 


Nearly two years ago I was approached by a great local designer who designs kids clothes, called Magnificent Stanley. I began shooting kids fashion. I now shoot for various small businesses locally, mainly interiors and kids fashion plus portraits. Many of my clients are mums, it is very normal to have small babies behind the scenes on our shoots. My own kids occasionally get involved too if we need more models.



What have been your biggest challenges in balancing being a parent and a business owner?

For the first couple of years I really struggled to find headspace. I felt very frustrated that I couldn’t think as clearly as I could before kids. There was always so much going on that I found focusing difficult. 


I think when you take time out to have kids you also lose a bit of your confidence. Things change very fast. Instagram wasn’t big at all when I stopped to have my first child but now it is so important. I was lucky to find One Girl Band based near me in Brighton. Lola Hoad runs a brilliant group for female creatives and I went to some of her meet ups which were perfect to catch up on all the latest social media tips and meet other women running their own businesses.  


The first couple of years were tricky as my local nursery only takes kids from two years old. My work has no set hours and random childcare isn’t easy to find. I am very lucky to have a mother-in-law who is always keen to help so that meant she could watch the kids on my shoot days then I worked when the kids were asleep if I needed more time. Now my youngest is in nursery a couple of days a week and I feel much more in control of my time. 


Another challenge is mum guilt, I work at weekends quite a lot and I hate seeing the kids faces as I head out for the morning, I’m generally home by lunchtime though! I missed my son’s first Sport’s Day at school last year as I was shooting an event in Brighton so couldn't rearrange the time which made me feel terrible!


What have been your biggest achievements?

I was really excited to have a fashion feature in Little Revolution magazine last year. I worked with a friend, Vickie Keeble, who is a brilliant stylist, on a Fairytale story with several models and loads of beautiful clothes lent to us by various designers. 


Are there any lessons you want to impart to your children? 

I want both my children to choose something they love doing for their careers. I don’t want them to spend their weeks just looking forward to the weekend so they don’t have to go to work. I hope they can see that both their parents love their jobs, my husband is also a photographer/filmmaker. 


What inspires you to continue doing what you do?

I have never wanted to do anything else.



What advice/ hints & tips would you give to another parent who wants to start their own business?

Start before you are totally ready, it is easy to procrastinate and put off things that scare you. Give yourself deadlines to do the things you are putting off. The “Step Up” book by Alice Olins and Phanella Mayall Fine is brilliant for helping you make a plan and also to start thinking clearly about what you really want.


Having a career break to have kids gives you a window to stop and think about what you have always wanted to do and start on it.


If there are groups near you, like One Girl Band, it is definitely worth going along. I was terrified the first time I went along, I could hardly speak, but now I really enjoy the meet ups. There are always lots of interesting people to listen to and tips to pick up. 


A shared calendar on your phone is a great way to organise sharing childcare with your partner. Also having a to do list on your phone helps, I add to it when I have ideas then can work on things when I have a few minutes of quiet time. 


You can find Gemma on Instagram at @gemma.mount and @gemmahughesfoto and Facebook.