Each stroke of the brush that Shari Ford makes has its purpose in the picture. The process alone can take around 3 to 4 months just to complete one portrait. Considering the amount of time it takes, you can imagine her dismay when she walked into her studio to find one of her pieces defaced reports KnoxNews.com.

The culprit? Ford’s daughter, then 2 years old, who loved to play in her mother’s in-home studio.

Ford’s daughter, never touched a portrait again, but Ford said she was accustomed to finding colorful little finger prints on the walls after one of her two daughters, now 20 and 16, or son, 15, had been in the studio.

Lillian Prince, another West Knox mom who works out of her home, said she considers her photography business a blessing because it allows her to be home during the day with her daughter, 3, and son, 2.

“I’m just very thankful I can do this,” Prince said. “Not many people get to do it. I’m thankful I get to stay home, and I get to work.”

Angie Merrick, a mother to two boys, ages 4 and 7, also turned part of her Hardin Valley home into a work space four years ago when she opened Merropa, a mobile boutique that sells children’s apparel and accessories.

“It’s nice because if I want to take a vacation or pick the boys up from school, that’s part of my daily job, too,” Merrick said.

Though Ford, Prince and Merrick have flexible schedules, that doesn’t mean they work part-time hours.

“I probably get as many hours in as a mother who works outside her home,” Ford said. “I guess I’m always on call, always working.”

Since Ford’s studio is adjacent to her living room, she said it is sometimes difficult to let go of her work mentality.

“I usually just have to set hours while I do my work,” Ford said. “But it’s just a great career to stay at home with them and be there when they need my attention.”

Prince said she spends most of her day with the children, so her work hours begin after bedtime.

“I put the kids in bed at 8 p.m. and then it’s time to go to the basement and edit photos,” Prince said.

Photo by nimbu