Inspire interview with photographer and stay at home dad Ariel Majtas

The Lucky Things Inspire series kicks off your week with a bit of inspiration. As Lucky Things blog chats about feeling confident (not always easy), wellbeing and career it’s great hearing from a mix of people. I’m hearing more stories of mums and dads making career moves to support their families in different way. A work-life balance is becoming more and more important for my generation. I first heard about Ariel through his wife Christelle who is the founder of Mumoclock.com (check out the clever monthly subscription boxes for mums). We were chatting about her Instapost on her husband changing his career to take on the full-time childcare for their daughter.  Here’s what Ariel had to say about blurred photos, patience and working flexibly.

Hi Ariel, tell me a bit about your career so far
I have over ten years’ experience in photography. As with nearly every young photographer, I started with fashion photography but switched my focus on shooting live music, streets and portraits (arieldasnapper.com). After becoming a father, my camera roll was filled with my daughter pictures so I decided to provide a family photography services to document the moments of family life that usually fly by unnoticed. (https://dreamcatcherfamilyphotographystudio.com). I also work as a destinations wedding photographer along with my brother (lovesnapstory.com).  It’s hard to talk about my main focus. I don’t like to put myself in a box. This is why I call myself a photographer, not a music photographer nor a portrait photographer just photographer. I love all the various types of photography and mostly love capturing the little moments that ooze authenticity, they make great pictures.
So, what prompted your decision to become a “stay at home dad” for your daughter? 
I was working two jobs at the same time – as a general manager in the hospitality industry and as a freelance photographer. After having a terrible experience with one of London’s nurseries, together with my wife we made the decision that it will be beneficial for all of us if l quit my day job and start focusing more on my photography. Being a freelance photographer means being flexible and allowing me to do both things; look after my daughter and work on many photographic projects.

That’s a big decision for anyone. Any top tips for making the move from employed to self-employed/freelancer?

  • Don’t quit your day job just yet, becoming a self-employed  takes time
  • Get the basics right – register yourself
  • Spread the word – networking becomes even more important
I know I’ve mentioned the words “Stay at Home Dad”. I’m not sure what I think about it. What do you think about this label? Should we be using any other words instead?
I don’t like it. I really don’t like labels. I look after my daughter, I am a Father, Dad, Parent. I don’t feel like I need to mention I spend most of my days at home.
In my eyes, flexible working and work-life balance mean different things. So,what does “flexible working” mean to you? 
As a parent, for me it means having a job that lets me work around my child’s routine.
And what does work-life balance mean to you? 
It’s understanding that you work to make a living not live to work. My work is also my passion and hobby so the work-life balance can be blurred at times but my family always come before any projects. Most of my freelancing projects happen in the evening or over the weekend and I will be editing during my daughter’s nap. When I manage several projects with tight deadlines like the past few weeks, Christelle and I always find a way to make sure that our everyday family life remains a priority.
What three things have you learnt from your own career over the years?
  • Pick people you want to work with, don’t try and work with everyone, make sure your client understands you and you understand the client and his needs, sharing the same vision is very important.
  • Since becoming a freelancer, I learnt that you don’t need a full time job to feel fulfilled. I think this was one of my biggest challenges, I always thought you need to work 5 days a week, Monday to Friday to be successful. I was wrong.
  • Networking is key to your success, go out there, talk to people, tell them who you are and what you do.
As you may know, Lucky Things is a big supporter of mental health for both women and men. Have you any tips on how can men in particular look after their own mental health and wellbeing?
Exercise. It helps to deal with stress. Exercise is your best doctor. Also, I truly believe a healthy diet has got a strong impact on our mental health too. And I don’t only mean eating your greens.
I had trouble with eating at all. I simply wasn’t eating enough. I thought I was too busy and always felt like there are more important things to do. Eating felt like a waste of time (crazy, I know…). Since I started working out, I also started eating more which made a huge difference in the way I felt. Headaches were gone, tiredness was gone, I am a much happier person now. People please don’t forget to eat. You need energy to look after your kids!
As we know kids keep us very busy! What are your three top tips for staying organised as a parent? 
  • Use Google Calendar, it keeps me organised on a day to day basis. I have got all my personal and professional reminders there.
  • Work around your child’s routine, i.e. I know exactly when and how long my daughter will sleep during the day – this is the time I can progress with all my daily tasks.
  • Ask your partner for help, if you feel like you are struggling with staying on top of things, reach out for help.
What are your three top tips for keeping your daughter entertained during the day?
  • Keeping them active, long walks in the park, playing the ball etc. Kids have so much energy, you need to let them spend it properly.
  • Music, my daughter loves listening to music with me, I love to watch her dancing, singing and pretending she is on stage.
  • Books, my daughter learnt so much from books it was hard to believe.
Lots of Lucky Things readers love taking photos. So what are your three easy tips for taking nice photos?
  • Don’t concentrate on the rules too much, focus on emotions. Trust me, blurred picture telling a story is a million times better than a perfectly composed sharp picture where you can’t see or feel any emotions.
  • Shoot everyday! Practice, practice, practice.
  • See the light (that sounds rather prophetic, ha ha) before you lift your camera. Find where the light is coming from and how it is interacting with your subject.
What has your daughter taught you about life? 
Patience. I was stressing way too much, I always wanted for everything to happen at this moment, right now! Since having a child I slowed down a bit. Some of the things I was stressing about stopped being important.
Lucky Things is all about encouraging others to feel confident. What’s your top tip for feeling confident? 
Believe in yourself and don’t compare yourself to other people. We are all different and unique.
We all need to little boost at times. What’s your favourite song when you need to feel energised/ need a pick me up?
Chase and Status (featuring Tom Grennan) – All Goes Wrong. I had the huge pleasure of photographing their gig at Alexandra Palace last year.
That’s a good uptempo tune as they also talk about pulling yourself together and keep moving on. Which grown up tunes do you and Christelle play to your daughter? 
Our daughter loves Sugar by Maroon 5 and Miss Stone by Jasper Wilde.
What are your three lucky things? (These aren’t lucky charms – it’s more about things you feel grateful for in life or things that make you happy).
  • The fact that I picked up a camera and decided to make photography my profession
  • The fact that I was the youngest kid in my family, having a 14 years older brother and a 12 years older sister helped me to understand life a bit better.
  • The fact that I live in London. I complain about this city a lot but at the same time I feel extremely grateful for being here surrounded by so many different people.
Thanks Ariel for featuring in the Inspire series. Goodness, the point about eating healthily is an important one; especially when we’re all running around and busy looking after others.
 
What did you like about this interview? What do you think about the labels stay at home mum and stay at home dad? Is it possible to achieve the ideal work-life balance? Have you had to change your career to look after your family? It would be great to hear your views too so leave a comment below.
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