Former AP-photographer takes a new shot at life
December 9, 2008
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Nanine Hartzenbusch spent a good deal of her childhood in Bonn and Frankfurt. Our biographies intersect on many levels, including our passion for balancing kids with career. Once a high-powered staff photographer for the likes of Reuters, AP, and New York Newsday, Nanine downshifted to Charlotte, NC, to raise her nine-year-old son and reclaim some sanity in her once fast-paced life.
When you say “no” or are selective, you keep room in your lives for the things that count.
She generously shares her thoughts about the power of slow living below.
CLH: You have had a tremendous career as a photojournalist. What caused you to downshift?
Nanine: I had worked as a newspaper and wire service staff photographer for 20+ years in Washington, DC (Reuters), New York City (NY Newsday), Philadelphia (Associated Press), and Baltimore (Baltimore Sun). 18 months ago, my husband and I moved to Charlotte, NC. We moved for several reasons: he for a good job and I for the chance to work smarter. I now have my own business using my skills as a photojournalist. We each used to have one-hour plus commutes – we lived halfway between Baltimore and DC; now we live in the city of Charlotte. My husband commutes 20 minutes, and I work out of our home. Occasionaly, I travel to my freelance work and for family photography photo sessions. We both have more time to spend with our son and be more involved with our community such as youth sports, volunteer work, church activities, and the PTA.
CLH: How do you view work-life balance today?
Nanine: Our work-life balance is so much more in synch today than it was several years ago. We still are doing what we love career-wise, but I have time to cook great meals, volunteer on PTA, participate in our church, and be able to drive our son to choir practice, sports activities and play dates without being frazzled or stressed out. My husband doesn’t spend three hours a day commuting, so he’s able to spend more time with our son than before and do hikes & bike rides and be at our son’s games during the week (something that never would have been possible before).
*Photo used with permission from Nanine Hartzenbusch.
CLH: What advice would you offer others struggling to make their lives work?
Nanine: Set limits or parameters to your work day. My goal is to do all my work during my son’s school day and schedule appointments only then. I save the afternoon for homework help, playdates, afternoon activities, and errands we can do together. My husband is a good time manager and is home by 7 pm. He still has time to work out in the morning. I do family shoots on the weekends, because that’s when families are available, but then my husband can spend time with our son (without me).
Your spouse/partner needs to be an equal contributor with the house chores, parenting decisions, etc. This works for us because my husband helps with some of the homework and projects, bakes on the weekends, does the laundry, picks up milk and other groceries on the way home. We all clean the house together once a week.
Time management as a family – I keep a calendar on a laptop in the kitchen. We discuss the week ahead, and talk about the things we need to do and the things we’d like to do as a family at the dinner table. (we eat breakfast and dinner together most days). We discuss opportunities for work and fun, and make it possible for each of us to have enriching experiences.
Balance – important to do things as a family, but also as a couple. we found a great sitter, and go out a couple of times a month. Also important to get together with girlfriends and for my husband to do things with “guy” friends. so we try to do a little of each.
Learning to say “no” – probably the most important piece of advice. when you say “no” or are selective, is that you keep room in your lives for the things that count.
CLH: Spoken like a true work-life balance pro! Thank you for this chat!
Nanine: Thank you!