We had the good fortune of connecting with Sam Mehlhorn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sam, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
The work life balance has definitely been something I had to learn- and still am. I have a full-time “day” job, and have my photography business on the side, plus a husband and a dog child. During the busy season of my photography business, it was especially difficult to balance everything and I was definitely spread a little too thin trying to fit in all the sessions I could while working 40 hours a week, and finding time to spend with family and friends. I was literally getting up early everyday to edit before work, go to work, go to Starbucks on my lunch breaks to edit more, go back to work, go home and edit, go to bed late and do it all over again the next day. It took a toll on me and my relationships. I had to learn that work is good, but relaxing and taking time to rejuvenate and be with the people I love is important. I learned to set better boundaries with my time to ensure I had more of a balance between work and life. During the week, I set time limits on myself to have an actual “end-time”. For example, I’ll be like “Okay, at 9:30pm I’m going to stop working on this”. With managing my time better through boundaries, I am so much more productive and intentional when I’m working, and I don’t feel like I’m spread all over the place anymore. I feel like the quality of work and effort I put into all the things in my life has significantly improved. The work life balance is super important in order to prevent burning out and neglecting the people you love.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I absolutely love being able to capture the love and connection between two people madly in love, and I think that is the essence of me + my brand. I strive to have their photos reflect them as a couple- whether that is goofy and fun, sweet and romantic, or a unique mix- I want that to translate to their photos. I love making sure that I can capture their personalities through prompts and candid shots rather than stiff and unnatural posed shots. I think one of the things that got me where I am today professionally is investing in my business. I’ve attended workshops and styled shoots, upgraded my gear, became a member in some various photography communities, and overall investing more in my business. Honestly, it has been somewhat easy to get to the point where I am because I love doing it- it has never been about the money or anything like that for me. I honestly just love taking cute photos and making people happy through that! But, the hardest thing for me has been taking the leap to fully commit to my business because I was so scared it would fail and kept doubting myself on whether I was good enough to actually turn my hobby into a business. I still struggle with self-doubt, but I also learned to just take the risk because you’ll never know how it’ll turn out until you actually try it. And so far, I’m definitely happy I took that risk.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ohh there are sooo many spots I love in Arizona. I would most definitely take them to Sedona because it is just such a breath-taking place (one of my top happy places) and has one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Javelina Cantina. I literally drive up there just to go there sometimes. There are so many beautiful hikes there too, like Cathedral Rock, and some cool places to walk around and shop. Horseshoe Bend is also a must- it is stunning and I think everyone should see it at least once. Two of my favorite breakfasts spots are Snooze and Liberty Market, so both of those would be musts…. plus, who doesn’t love brunch and mimosas?! And I’m a total coffee lover, so Dutch Bros is a must (apparently they aren’t in all states, so I’m super thankful they are in AZ!!) Lux is also a super cool coffee place to check out, and there is an adorable garden next to it with beautiful plants and flowers. Postino’s is also a favorite- I love their bruschetta and they have some really good wine too! I would also recommend Moreno’s – it has authentic Mexican food, gives you 2 different salsas and a bean dip with the chips, and their margaritas are hugeee. I also love hiking around Usery or South Mountain, so I would definitely take them hiking to at least one of those!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a few people in my life that I would not be anywhere close to where I am without them. My parents have always given me their unconditional love + support, starting when I was in photography class in high school and I would make them look through EVERY. SINGLE. PHOTO. every single week for our “weekly faves” assignments. And they would sit there with me and look through all of them. My dad continues to give me photography tips, business advice and just general knowledge. My sister, Jessi, has always been down to be my model for all these years- she even modeled as a fake bride for a styled shoot I wanted to do earlier this year, and her + her boyfriend let me try out all my new couples ideas on them… and let me drive them on bumpy dirt roads for miles to go to a new location I wanted to check out. She has never once complained and has always been so supportive and encouraging. My husband, Jonathan, has also always been super supportive of me, goes with me to scout out all kinds of locations, and has continued to push me in my business, all while listening to me talk about all my ideas and patiently wait while I finish editing and going through all the final photos of a gallery with me. Lastly, one of my best friends, Karishma, has been such a huge encourager + hype woman of mine. She is such an inspiration to me. I honestly can’t imagine where I would be without all of their love and support, and I am forever grateful for each of them.