At home with Monika Berry

Australian wedding and brand photographer Monika Berry is one of those people who just feels good to be around.

She describes herself as an introvert: I describe her as having an incredibly grounded, sage and present energy. Today, we’re visiting Mon inside her Bellarine home, which she shares with her husband, two young children and pup.

Originally offering graphic design services to clients, Monika Berry now focusses solely on her photography work.

Mon has built up years of experience shooting content and campaigns for brands and businesswomen including Sophie Cachia, Renée Enright, Emma Hawkins and Sally Bloomfield and she is already almost booked out for branding and wedding shoots for the year ahead.

But that should come as no surprise when you read testimonials about Mon like these:

She also has a ‘way’ that puts you at ease behind the lens…

And…

She was such an easy person to have around, she seriously felt like a friend rather than our photographer…

So you might be wondering – just like me – as a woman with an incredible eye for detail and a calming soul, what would we find inside Mon’s private retreat?

Wonder no more!

Today, we’re going inside Mon’s coastal home, where she recharges between shoots, to hear the story behind where she lives and her successful photography business. And the photos? Captured by Monika Berry herself (of course!).

Mon, tell us about the story behind where you now live?

We moved to the Bellarine, Victoria, about 4 years ago, shortly after selling our Edwardian style home in Country Victoria.

We wanted a home that reflected where we lived: coastal, fresh and close to the beach.

How do you want your home to feel?

I want my home to feel inviting, but also happy and inspired by the colours. Each piece in my home is thought out and has meaning or sentiment, I think that is what makes a house a home.

I love your style! How would you describe it – and does this seem to change over time?

Hmmm, I have often thought about this and while it can sway between, Scandinavian, minimalist and hints of vintage.

I think modern eclectic sums it up pretty well. 

There are certainly trends that have inspired my style, but I like to keep things pretty timeless. A few years ago, I was upcycling a lot of vintage furniture  but now we are starting to purchase some really nice investment pieces for our home.

Where do you love to source homewares from?

Wandering through homewares stores is one of my favourite things to do, whether for inspiration or finding a cool new little piece for my home. Favourites have to be Rigbys Barwon Heads, Stone & Grain Ocean Grove, Fenton & Fenton and Marmoset Found.

What is an investment purchase you have made? Or how about some great bargains you have found?

We recently had a lime-washed dining table and bench seat made by Brad Ottens, which we also paired with some Louis Ghost Chairs. We spend so much time around it as a family, it is my favourite place to hang out.

Working from home, how did you create a space you can be productive in?

I feel like my passion for home décor and creating a home I love was really amplified when I launched my business 5 years ago.

If I don’t feel inspired by my surrounds, I certainly wont feel inspired to do my best work.

I am quite an introvert so I love creating a sanctuary where I can feel at ease and rest after a big week of photo shoots.

The biggest thing is to free our home of clutter. I do this every 3 or so months, where I will do a sweep through each room and donate or sell things we no longer need.

This might sound frequent but it makes it a lot less daunting to do and keep on top of an organised home.

Before I make purchases, I consider how it will work in my home and always reference mood boards/Pinterest before big purchases. It helps to make an informed decision and not impulse or wasteful ones.

How long have you had your business and how has it changed over time?

I’ve had my business for 5 years now. It originally started as a graphic design and photography business based in Country Victoria, working mostly with life and business coaches.

However, today I am a branding and wedding photographer based on the Bellarine, Victoria. Even though I no longer offer design services, I still feel having those skills influences my photography style. 

What has been most challenging about running your own business?

I actually launched my business while on maternity leave from my corporate job. I now have 2 kids, aged 3 and 5, so I would say the most challenging times were the early days of parenthood when sleep was minimal and I was still needing to meet deadlines and show up to jobs like I had it all together… I actually owed all my energy to caffeine.

Also, I probably was a little too self-critical in the early days. I felt like a very small fish in a big ocean.

Learning to push past that and stand proudly in front of my work made things a lot easier. 

What has been a great lesson you have learnt?

It is going to sound so cliché and I almost didn’t want to write this, but honestly putting yourself first.

When your cup is full, you have more to give.

I used to give everything to my business and my family, with nothing left for me. I honestly felt like there was no possible way to put an effort into my health and fitness without something else falling over.

Most days felt chaotic and like an uphill battle at times. It took about 3 months to restructure the way I worked to prioritise my fitness and eat a much cleaner diet and since that shift I have felt incredible. I have so much more energy, my business has flourished and I have more quality time with my kids. It is all a flow on effect.   

What marketing has worked the best for you for growing your business?

Organic growth: while it is the slow route to success it is definitely the strongest. It means I no longer have to ‘hustle’ for new clients, because I just nurture the connections I already have. Some of my greatest jobs came from previous clients recommending me or word of mouth.

How would you describe your strategy for Instagram? What do you focus on?

I actually have 3 accounts, one I keep purely as a wedding portfolio (@monikaberry_weddings): I don’t do any stories or engagement there as I keep that all for my personal one, @monika_berry. This is where I share snippets of weddings, branding shoots and my own personal life and style.

Lastly, we have one for our caravan (@vintage_van_adventures). It was just a fun outlet to document our renovation of a vintage van and we are now up to our second van!

I have been focusing on more Instagram Stories this year and I have found engagement to increase by doing this and I love the fun conversations it sparks.

What’s next for your business?

I am currently completely booked out for brands/influencers and 95% for weddings for this year. The entrepreneur in me wants to continue to grow and learn new things, however I am also looking forward to enjoying more time with my family, working on fun creative projects and continuing the health and fitness journey. I will be sharing more of this on Instagram too.

Finally can you name drop a woman who has a chic Aussie home for us to stalk?!

No surprise that one of my favourite home accounts I love is actually a home style photographer, Nikole Ramsay (@nikoleramsey). She has been inside some of the coolest business owners’ homes, like Mister Zimi, Emma O’Meara and Kip & Co. Her feed is a beautiful blend of her work and coastal life.

A huge thank you to Monika Berry for taking us inside her home. Visit her website and Instagram to follow her journey.

All photography by Monika Berry.

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