We caught up with one of our all time favourite local photographers this week, chatting about the many obstacles that came her way during the pandemic and how she adapted her business to survive.
Cara Mia Photography is run by Cara Mia Shindler, a dedicated, hard working and adaptable woman who is ready for any challenge. We caught up with her whilst she was hard at work editing images from one of her latest shoots. Even though she is super busy at the moment, she talked passionately about her business to us whilst clicking away at her computer, filling us in on all the challenges the last year has thrown her way.
The Covid-19 pandemic shut Cara’s studio doors for nearly ten months so she has been busy catching up with all those newborns the last year has welcomed. Lockdowns meant complete closure of Cara Mia Photography. She was unable to provide her newborn photography services, especially as such close contact with babies is required.
She told us how in the beginning, there were mixed messages and lots of confusion around restriction measures and how to keep each other safe. She did everything she could to make her studio safe but two weeks before our first lockdown was announced, however, there was no business coming through the doors.
But blimey did this talented photographer learn to adapt. Pulling all the tools out her toolbox, she has utilised her many talents and experiences in the industry to keep afloat. Expanding her offering to product photography during the height of the pandemic allowed her to support other local businesses to keep going and provide help for the new emerging small businesses popping up across our beloved region. She worked on products such as bridal pieces for Herra Hair and capturing the aromatherapy products from CorinCraft.
Cara told us how much she enjoyed working on product photography again and it allowed her to keep things going at Cara Mia Photography. But whilst she enjoyed the challenge, it’s not where her passion lies. Cara loves working with families to capture some cherished stages in their lives.
So when restrictions began to ease and the government were introducing their tiered system across the UK, Cara was learning to plan ahead. She had preempted the lockdown that was announced after Christmas, so she had planned her sessions prior to help keep things afloat. But then Warwickshire was moved into tier four in November, forcing Cara to close again. She told us how her Christmas sessions were going to help her business bounce back after being closed for so long and when she had to postpone the planned studio sessions, Cara was terrified she might lose it all.
This passionate photographer has had to adapt and change the way she works, how her business operates, what she offers and how she can best plan for the future during this pandemic. She kept herself busy when she wasn’t able to be behind the camera lens, creating brochures for her clients which would give them all the information they needed and even developing a form which would reduce her hours working on admin.
The Covid -19 pandemic just solidified Cara’s love for her job, driving her to do whatever she could and work as hard as she could to keep her business going. She told us “I’ve wanted to do this since I was fourteen, I wasn’t about to let it go”. So, this photographer worked hard creating whatever she could; even learning how to do calligraphy in order to design some vouchers.
When restrictions began to ease earlier this year, Cara was nearly at sinking point. After planning her finances up until February, she knew she would have nothing left to keep going by March.
So, with Mother’s Day on the horizon, Cara created some Mother’s Day Vouchers for an outdoor photoshoot. She told us this saved her businesses from going under. With all her vouchers sold out and some wonderful memories created for mothers and their children, Cara was able to keep her studio going! We’re so thankful she did.
And now the studio is back open, things are non stop for this wonderful business woman. Her newborn photography is and always will be Cara’s specialism but the pandemic gave her the opportunity to expand. Now, she also offers maternity photography, cake smashes and mini sessions which are great for getting updates of your little one’s development. Capture your family throughout the years with Cara’s indoor or outdoor sessions.
This local photographer received no support from the government at all during the pandemic, fitting in with a huge group of self-employed people who were ineligible for help. In fact, the only financial aid she received during the pandemic was one month’s discount on her council tax. She’s pretty mad at the government for their poor handling of this pandemic but she’s mostly angry on behalf of the wedding industry.
She told us how appalled she was to see a multi billion pound industry ignored and forced to close, with brides and grooms having to cancel, rearrange and resize their special days over and over again. She frequently posts about the What About Weddings Campaign on her social media, raising awareness of the struggles the industry is facing.
Cara managed to do wedding photography for one covid wedding during the pandemic though; with just the bride, groom, two witnesses and parents present. She said it was a beautiful and intimate affair that she felt privileged to be a part of.
She loves being able to capture wedding photography and whilst it’s not the main service of her business, she does plan to do between 5 and 10 weddings each year as the industry reopens. For Cara, it’s all about ensuring the work she does is to the best quality she can, giving her clients her full attention and time. So, she can’t do everything all the time!
She is also recommended supplier for Bluebell Barns at Stratford Park and Cotswold House Hotel so if you are planning your wedding for next year, get in touch with Cara for an incredible service and beautiful photographs of your special day.
So the next twelve months looks like steady plans for growth for Cara Mia Photography. With Newborns being at the heart of her business, she is hoping to grow the popularity of her new services which include maternity photography, mini sessions which offer the chance for growing families to capture their little ones as they grow and she hopes to expand into offering more toddler photography too.
Cara has successfully launched her cake smash shoots too, with many happy families visiting her at the studio for fun and messy shoots with their little ones. She told us it’s been a great way to celebrate first birthdays and for families to be able to share their prints with distant loved ones. She has also loved seeing little ones again that she photographed as newborns.
With the success of her cake smash service, Cara reflected with us on working for other companies. She told us how limited time she was given to such shoots and how she wanted to ensure that families coming to her were given the time and attention they deserved.
Dedicating a few hours to ensure parents and little ones feel comfortable and at ease for their shoots, Cara’s patient and attentive nature to her work shines through. She told us how the pandemic just solidified her desire to do things her way and how being self employed allows her to do this.
Cara’s services, whilst fantastic, are just one of the many selling points of this wonderful local photography company. But the business owner, creator and photographer behind the lens is the really unique selling point. She is passionate about what she does, adores meeting families and watching new mums grow into motherhood and she works exceptionally hard to produce beautiful prints you can cherish forever.
She told us she feels honoured to meet and get to know parents juggling all of life’s challenges, seeing their strength and growth as they navigate parenthood. Once you go to Cara for your family photographs, you’ll find yourself a friend and a cheerleader. She is patient, kind and warm with your little ones and works flexibly to create images you can hang in your home.
Cara’s new baby books have become a popular product, giving you the chance to capture not just your newborn but also stages of your maternity. What a beautiful way to collect memories of your little one’s growth.
Whilst editing away, Cara passionately talked about how much she values hard copies of images. She talked about how quickly technology is changing and how it has become a common habit to just store all our images on the cloud where we can’t see them. She has developed her prints, baby books and keepsake collection to give her customers the chance to showcase their new photographs on their walls and have hard copy memories that won’t get lost in the world wide web.
Her baby books are personalised with your selected fabrics and colours too, making them extra specially for you.
We finished chatting with Cara as she told us a little about her goals for the future. She told us things were quietening down now after a big boom in catching up with newborn photography shoots and with a little break coming up in August, she plans to keep growing her services. Designing sets for her maternity shoots, working on more cake smash sessions and getting involved in more toddler shoots are some of her plans but before she does too much expanding, she wants to save for a house.
She told us being self employed means you have to work hard for what you want; you work as many hours as you can to get there. It’s especially important to avoid burnout and working on her personal goals is important too. She told us she’d like to enrol on some extra qualifications, save for a house and start her own family too.
She asked us to thank her wonderful customers for her. You keep her going. Whilst times have been tough for everyone, you’ve supported her and trusted her to hold your precious babies.
To find out more about Cara’s services, visit her website here.