Creating a dream: couples who work together.

Professional photographer and mama, Kim Campbell shares some important advice on deciding to work with your partner!

Years ago, Francisco and I collaborated on a shared vision. With two master’s degrees under our belts, we wondered: what do we do now?

After assessing our shiniest skills, knocking our nickels around and realizing how much we liked working together, we had a plan. We would take interesting and artistic photos of people. To our delight, we quickly developed a following of loyal clients. This plan allowed us to create a family lifestyle that we cherish and the opportunity to have jobs that we love.

As much as we have in common, it became clear early on that we both excelled in ways that benefited the other. I tackle marketing, advertising and product development. He manages all facets of production including photo editing and framing. On top of that he is the handiest man I’ve ever met! He can design a sculpture, repair a blocked pipe and sort the mail all before noon. The cherry on top of the cake for both of us are the hours we spend each week behind the camera, photographing chubby babies, blossoming bellies and happy families.

Thinking about starting a business with your partner? Consider the following:

Figure out if you really enjoy being around each other 24/7. It’s not for everyone. You aren’t able to come home from work and tell stories about your day because often your days are so similar.

Spend time figuring out what parts of the business would bring you the most satisfaction and communicate that to your partner. Communication, as corny as it sounds, is really the key to making a successful marriage/business partnership work. Assess your strengths as individuals and then compliment each other as a team. By having minimal overlap of skill sets you are better able to maximize everyone’s usefulness within the business.

Now, cross-train. If you know as much about your partner’s role and can perform it yourself you are the ultimate back-up system. Get sick and your partner can step in, it’s just one of the benefits to owning a business with your partner.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of having meetings at 10pm in bed. Separating work life from home life is always a continual challenge for us. It’s so easy to ask over dinner, “Hey did you order photo paper?” and switch into business mode when we really want to be in family mode. We’ve tried to address this by having a rule that no business can be discussed in bed or at the dinner table. If we absolutely need to discuss something we check in with the other person first for permission.

If you are working together and things are getting rocky, check-in to see if working together is having a negative effect on your personal relationship. If that’s the case you should really reassess whether this is the right path for the two of you as a couple. Remembering that working together is not for every couple might take some of the pressure off.

I suspect Francisco and I will always find comfort and strength in joining our work and personal lives together. I’m looking forward to the years ahead. Happy Valentines to my beloved partner and friend!



Kim Campbell

Photographer, Portland, OR, USA