Kate Rankin Photography

A year ago today I went back to work after maternity leave. It was a big deal – and anyone who has ever been wrenched from a warm womb of maternity bliss and chucked back into open plan offices, deadlines and tuna salads named ‘Kevin’ understands just what a tricky transition it can be.

I went back to work with a renewed sense of purpose and my feelings on working moms, flexi time and balancing it all are not hidden. When I went back to work I wanted to do really really well at my job, but also be a great mom. And I did, but something was missing. I wanted to find my passion project. Wine drinking aside, I never really knew what it was that drove me. They say the things you do when you’re not consciously thinking about it, is what you really love. So if I think back on my life it’s actually pretty glaringly obvious that photography has always been my thing. I am never without camera, and my favourite present of all time was a 1.2 megapixel digital camera that came free with a double mattress from Dial A Bed. Oh, bless you, growth of technology.

Taking photos for me means capturing and preserving a memory forever. I view life through the eye of a lens and to me, everything is a picture waiting to happen. When Carter was born it was the perfect opportunity to take this interest of mine, and turn it in to something more. During my maternity leave I studied and passed with a distinction a diploma in photography, and finally felt comfortable using my camera on that terrifying ‘M’ mode. Sadly, work, motherhood and the aim for the perfect-mom-bod all got in the way and I let my camera gather dust for several months. Then, a few months ago, as if the heavens were aligning, I got asked by a mutual acquaintance – Jen –  to come and do their family/newborn photo shoot. I was flattered but said no. Then she asked me again. I explained that as much as I would love to, I didn’t ‘know enough’, ‘wouldn’t be able to do it justice’, ‘was too scared’. She insisted, and I’m so glad she did, because that was what it took from me taking this from a fun hobby to something more serious.

What followed was an intensive 2 week self taught crash course in ‘how to make nice picture for dummies’ and picking the brain of photographer friends. I dosed my arse on Clair from Fraser Photography’s couch for the better part of a morning and picked her brain on newborn swaddling and ISO and drank wine with Devin from Devin Lester Photography and tried to understand the ins and outs of Lightroom. I posed teddy bears on window sills to try backlit window shots and used my sweet (not so) obliging 1 year old as a model. A friend helped me design a watermark and YouTube became my best friend. The more I learnt the more confident I l felt. I also used this time as an excuse to sign up to more diplomas and buy a lens. Any excuse for a shop. Also, I now need to start making money off this fast-becoming-expensive hobby.

When I tell people I want to go into photography I’m often met with a lot of bashing and negativity. It’s pushed me more, and I’ve had some really great people help and support me and make me believe that maybe, actually, I can.

About two hours ago I shared the newborn pics with Jen and then posted them to social media. I was shaking like a leaf. Putting it all out there meant that I was out there, that people could now actually see, crit and comment on my work.

They say your first 10,000 photos are the worst. I’m pretty certain I’ll look back on my first few shoots in years to come, and cringe, but for now I’m so proud, and happy, and my heart feels so fulfilled.

Say hello to Kate Rankin Photography.

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10 Reasons Working Mothers Make The Most Valuable Employees

There’s something quite terrifying about going back to work after maternity leave. Despite your hardest efforts, you change a lot as a person during your time off. I tried to keep my brain busy with online courses and adult stimulation, but the change goes deeper than that. It’s an internal shift that happens with or without your permission.

When I was pregnant, I would often carpool with my bestie, Amy, to work. Coming from Fourways, and traveling into Hyde Park, means traffic, always. A stresser by nature, I hated the fact that I was spending more than 3 hours a day sitting on a congested Jan Smuts, when I could be doing something productive with my time. Amy, mom to Ben (nearly 2) would always tell me that my anxiety for things that were out of my hands (read: traffic) would diminish, if not disappear entirely when I had the baby.

She was right. Something in me has shifted, and I’ve found a backbone and will that I never knew existed. My life is no longer just mine, and going back to work means adjusting to a new kind of normal. Do I strive to succeed in the work place any less? Absolutely not, but my priorities in terms of my timings have changed. I no longer have the luxury of dawdling over a task until 6 pm. 6pm is my child’s bedtime. I now steamroll through my work in order to leave at a decent hour and make the painful commute back home, to fetch my baby from crèche.

The past two weeks, of re-learning how to adjust to a full time job, being a mom, and not losing my sanity has taught me some very important lessons. And this is why I believe that working moms make the most valuable employees**. Here’s why:

  1. We are efficient. We keep humans alive, so running a team, managing a client and getting things done comes as second nature to us. Trust me, work is a hell of a lot easier than being a stay at home mom. For any mom who raises their baby on a routine, implementing a similar routine at the office becomes second nature. Timing is everything (just ask the parent who’s been shat on when they took too long to replace the nappy.)
  2. We have empathy. I used to have sympathy for moms when their sick child meant they worked from home, or when they left early to go attend little Johnny’s underwater basket weaving tournament, but now, I totally get it. Sadly, the world does not stop spinning after you have a child (the fucking thing doesn’t even slow down) so getting anything done is twice as time consuming. Just this morning, millions of parents woke up, bathed, changed, fed, burped and played with their kids, before packing their school bags, making their lunches, wiping their nose for the 18th time and shuttling them off to school. They did this all before bathing, feeding and getting themselves to work. I’m not asking for a medal, I’m asking humans to have some compassion towards other humans.
  3. We don’t fuck around. Yesterday a colleague mentioned to me that she’s hardly seen me since I’ve been back at work. That’s probably because I get in, sit down, work harder than hard, and make sure my shit is done before I have to leave for the day. I know that I get 45 minutes with my baby every day, and I need to be able to do that with a clear conscience, knowing that I have achieved my work goals for that day.
  4. We have a zero bullshit tolerance. I no longer have the energy, nor the time, to tolerate bad behaviour. Be it in a personal relationship or a working environment. I will never be rude, but you can bet your ass that your behaviour will no longer go down with me rolling onto my back.
  5. We are patient. Sure, we have a low tolerance for rudeness, but we are possibly the most patience specimens on earth. Any mom of a toddler will tell you that, compared with her child’s “but why” questions 1000 times a day, helping someone with a work related, laborious task, just ‘aint no thang.
  6. We will deliver. Listen up, I have sucked snot out of an infants nose, using little more than a plastic tube and a prayer. That means I am resourceful as hell, and can probably go the extra mile to ensure you get what you need.
  7. We are trustworthy. I’ve kept my child alive this long, right?
  8. We can work under pressure. Having a baby is like giving birth to a ticking time bomb. In the early days, one never knows how long the nap will last, how long the nappy will stay clean, and how long your bebe can go between hunger screams. We live our lives like brave explorers, fitting in hundreds of chores and activities between naps and poos. That means, the more you pile on us in a working environment, the more we can do, You’ve all heard the saying – if you want something done, give it to a busy person.
  9. We are resilient. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in almost half a year. If that’s not resilience, then I don’t know what is.
  10. When we are there, we are there 100%. Having a family means spontaneity disappears faster than your figure. So, when we do commit to something, it means we have lined up a plan in our absence in order to be there. That also means, we are going to take full advantage of the situation, and be present in the moment. Unless it’s a finance meeting, because I mean, snore.

** I’m not saying every single working mother is a win though. I have worked with a mother of 2 who proved more useless than Eskoms delivery promise. I’ve also worked with childless people who couldn’t arrange a piss up in a brewery. So, basically, some people are great, some people are dicks. You can’t win them all.

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When Talking Too Much Earns You Money

In my case – it happens to be true…

Many years ago, before joining the big bad world of the corporate I worked in radio as a DJ. (Back when Highveld was still tolerable I’ll have you know). I hosted the weekday morning 5-6 am slot – I often referred to myself as Jeremy Mansfields fluffer – and I also had my own weekend afternoon show on Saturdays and Sunday’s from 2 – 6 pm. When I wasn’t waking up at the crack of Satans bum to go on air I was lecturing radio courses and freelancing as a voice over artist.

Eventually, after 7 years in ‘the biz’ I realised I had to make a call; Follow my life long dream or keep it as a hobby and get a ‘real’ job. So, get a real job I did (although events and PR person for Nintendo was a very nice transition I’ll have you know).

I have been freelancing as a voice and TV artists for over 10 years now and I love how I still get to do what I love, on the side, and have a steady income with my 8 – 5.

I’ve never promoted my work on line and all work I do get is via word of mouth (pardon ze pun). Which leads me to tell you about one of the most embarrassing moments of my life:

An old colleague of mine had given my details to a guy looking for a voice over artist. Now, just to out it in context, people are always looking for free work and I can’t explain how often I’ve been called on to record company telephone lines (every company I have ever worked for) do free corporate videos and everything in between – ya, I really love working for no pay.

Anyways, this guy Mark asked me to come through to record a demo one afternoon after work (I generally do all my work at 6 am before work or in the evening). The lead up to The Most Embarrassing Moment went as follows (All of this via Whatsapp)

Mark: “Hi Kate, Can you pop round after work to record a demo? My address is X”

Kate: “Sure, no problem. See you around 7 pm”

Kate (then sends a message to Barry her then boyfriend now Husband): “Love – this is the address I’m going to (insert address). I’m getting there around 7 pm. If you don’t hear from me, call the cops, I suspect this man is dodgy and about to kidnap me.”

I then realise I HAVE SENT THIS MESSAGE TO MARK AND NOT BARRY AS INITIALLY INTENDED. Fuck fuckity fuck! (Also, the delete option on a Whatsapp message is about as effective as a condom stapled to a flyer).

Message then supposedly ‘deleted’ I arrive at Marks office red and embarrassed and praying like hell he never saw it. Sadly he did. Mark now thinks I think he’s a creep and I want the earth to swallow me whole. Turns out his office is on the same property as his house and Mark couldn’t be nicer. That night, to ease my fears he introduced me to his wife, 2 adorable kids and golden retriever puppy. I kid you not.

Mark also pays me well, on time and gives me loads of work for which I am eternally grateful.

If you too would like me to do some not-free work for you – below are some links to some work I’ve done.

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