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Debs Mullaney of Little Minx Photography | My Move to Tauranga
9 October 2018
Debs Mullaney of Little Minx Photography | My Move to Tauranga

Auckland-raised, Debs Mullaney, fell in love with her first baby and photography at the same time.  After taking thousands of photos on her film camera, it became evident, first to her friends and family, and then to Debs herself, that photography was something she should pursue professionally. And thus, Little Minx Photography, was born.

Debs developed a reputation for her beautifully styled maternity and newborn photos and grew a business based on capturing the special moments in other families, all the while growing her own. But by 2016, Debs and her husband, Tim, began to think that perhaps it was time for them and their three boys to escape the rat-race, traffic and the huge mortage that were part and parcel of Auckland life.  

This is her story.

Can you give us a snap-shot of your pre-photography career?

When I was younger I worked in the corporate world as a personal assistant. It wasn't a career that I loved so I left and became a temp at Massey University. 

I had my first baby at this stage. Unfortunately I had to go back to work when he was eight months old.  After my second baby was born I purchased a franchise called First Impressions, where I took moulds of newborn's hands and feet and framed them for parents to treasure. It suited my creative personality and I owned this business for three years.  When my third son turned one I decided to do an online photography diploma and the rest is history!

What drew you towards photography?

From a young age I have always loved babies and children. After having my first child I took thousands of photos on my film camera.  My family and friends would always comment on how cool my photos were but it wasn’t until I went and had a professional photoshoot with my own family that I realised, “I could do this”!  My family, especially my husband, was a great driving force behind it. Tim gave me the push I needed and supported me throughout the process.

When did photography move from being a hobby to a business for you? 

After I completed my diploma (2012) I created a Facebook page and started taking photos for friends and family.  Word of mouth kicked in and I became busy quite quickly. I started off with family photos but my heart just wasn’t in it.  I loved taking photos of newborns, babies and children, so I made that my main focus after a few years. 

Tell us about your business 'Little Minx Photography'

I predominately do newborn and maternity shoots. This is the main part of my business but I also love to photograph babies and children. I absolutely love working with both pregnant ladies and brand new babies.  I love making my maternity clients feel beautiful.  It's such a special time in their life. They may not be feeling the best but I capture them in a way that brings out their beauty and their perfect growing bump.  I shoot at sunset so I get that beautiful golden light coming through and its like the icing on the cake to an already perfect image.  

Newborns just melt my heart, they are so pure and innocent. I love to photograph the connection between parents and siblings and all the little details like their wrinkly feet and peeling hands, lashes and little rolls.  My sessions also come with beautiful posed shots which have your ovaries jumping out. I love being able to take these precious portraits for my clients. The first few weeks are always hard adjusting with a newborn and life becomes a bit of a blur. It’s a special time for families and capturing your baby in the first weeks of life is so important, so you can look back and remember how tiny they once were.

Why did you and your family move from Auckland to Tauranga?

From the moment my husband Tim and I got together we have always enjoyed weekends away to The Mount.  We have brought the kids here for a few holidays too, so it has always been a favourite place to travel to. We wanted to live in a place that was smaller, safer and had good opportunities for the kids. We wanted a slower paced life, but we also wanted more than what we had in Auckland.  We felt trapped by a huge mortgage and unable to do what we really wanted with our life.  We wanted to give our kids a better future.

My brother and his wife moved to Papamoa after being away for 10 years overseas. I knew they were going to start a family and I wanted to be close by to catch up on all that lost time - but also to have that special aunty bond, which means a lot to me.

My mum has sinced moved to Tauranga, which is wonderful.

What had to fall into place in order for you to move down?

To be honest, it all happened very quickly. We started thinking about leaving in June 2016 and moved in August. We basically sold our house and moved with no jobs lined up.  We had a home to go to but we took a huge risk.

What has the move been like for Tim and your three boys? 

Tim has settled in well and met some nice people through work.

My eldest struggled for the first six months due to leaving his very tight knit group of friends but he doesn’t look back at all now.  He loves his life here and all his new friends.

Noah, my middle child, has loved it from the day we arrived. He has much a much better group of friends here and gets out a lot more due to the area we live in. It's like the old days where kids meet up and go off biking after school for hours. 

Kaden, my youngest, has thrived since moving. He has close friends and absolutely loves his school. We have seen nothing but positive change in Kaden.

What has it been like establishing Little Minx Photography in your new city? 

I found the move down a bit scary as I had built a great client base in Auckland.  I built a fresh new home studio and opened the doors in October.  I ran a few competitions to get my name out there and before I knew it I was heavily booked.

I have been open in Tauranga for two years and feel I have made a good name for myself, but I am truly thankful to all my clients who have recommended me to their friends and family. Without them I wouldn’t have been as successful as I am today.

What do you love about living in Tauranga?

I love that I can travel anywhere at any time of the day and not get stuck in hours of traffic. We don’t have to plan our trips, we can be spontaneous. I love the people - they are so friendly and they always have time for a chat.  I love that every time we go out we bump into someone we know. I love the freedom and opportunities this move has given us. We have a life that we could never have achieved in Auckland.

What has moving to Tauranga meant:

For your career? I am solidly booked for months at a time. It’s a great feeling to have achieved a successful business in two years.   

For your wellbeing? We are happier as a family.  We get outdoors a lot, we love adventures and all the beautiful walks Tauranga has to offer.We generally find everything so much easier here.  We are both working very hard and sometimes that balance goes off but that’s just the nature of owing a business and having a busy family.  The most important thing is that we get positive family time together.

For your relationships? I have personally found it hard to meet other people here, mostly due to my job, but two years down the track I have made some wonderful, genuine friends who are honestly so caring and I am so thankful to have them in my life.

But the most amazing thing of all is I have a gorgeous little nephew called Ollie, and I just love that I get to watch him grow up. I am so in love with him!



Gets You Thinking Doesn't It?

No-one can tell you when you're ready for a change of lifestyle...but when you are, we'd love to have you in Tauranga!

1. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaurangaWelcomesYou

2. Subscribe to our montly e-newsletter to receive stories just like this one about people who have already made the big move you are thinking of making. 

3. Have a story to share? We love sharing your sea-change or homecoming stories. Email me at kathryn@priorityone.co.nz to start a conversation.

Meet Kathryn Overall
Explore www.wishyouwereworkinghere.co.nz


Looking for work in Tauranga?

Send me your CV and a 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesess who are on the lookout for good people. Priority One is not a recruitment agency, but as the economic development agency for the region we seek to make connections for people where we can. There is no charge for this service.

Email me at annie@priorityone.co.nz.

Annie Hill | Priority One
Communications/Project Manager


Contact Priority One

Contact Priority One

Need help?

Send us your 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesses who are on the lookout for good people! info@priorityone.co.nz

Tauranga Welcomes You

Tauranga Welcomes You


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About Kathryn

About Kathryn


Kathryn Overall is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' stories and Facebook posts.  Each month she chats with returned Kiwi expats,  Auckland imports and New Zealand immigrants who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you. 

CLICK HERE to read her own story of reluctant homecoming!


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