I first came across Nicole's work through Instagram, sometime last year. The rich colors, the warm, dreamy, soft and beautiful tones grabbed my eye and pulled me back in every time.
There is a raw beauty to the moments she captures and memories she creates, a classic and timeless quality to her images. Posed, or not posed, her photographs are filled with warmth and always seem to make a statement. I was so excited to be able to feature some of her images in the FRamed Social Media Bundle last year!
After a lovely meeting over coffee a few weeks ago, I was even more intrigued to learn more about the lady behind the lens. You can follow more of Nicole's inspiring work, through her Instagram account, her Facebook page, and/or through her website.
Please meet Nicole...
Let’s start by talking a bit about yourself. What are some of the places you’ve called home? Where is home now?
I grew up in and around Boring, Oregon. I spent 4 years living in Ashland, Oregon while attending Southern Oregon University (SOU) and loved it there, but my family was too far away to stay there after graduation, so back to good old Boring I went.
What do you love about life in Boring?
I’m a lover of the country and small town atmosphere. Growing up I always wanted to live in the big city, but the older I got I realize you just can’t beat coming home to giant fields and a star lit sky.
If there was one thing you would want us to know about you, what would it be?
I am a proud momma to two little ladies, Leila (7) and Kenna (3).
How would you describe yourself and your personality? How does your personality affect the way you take photos?
If I’m comfortable with you, I’m straight forward, hard headed, insecure, sassy, impatient, anxious, moody and hilarious after a few drinks. I have always been stubborn, yet wear my heart of my sleeve. My clients know me as patient, kind, and a bad comedian. I try to bring those qualities out when I shoot so my clients feel comfortable and relaxed.
What is your all time favorite image you shot? Why?
Hardest. Question. Ever. But the image that sticks out most to me is a high school senior from last year, shot in the most beautiful golden light. I could stare at that image all day.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer? How did your photography journey begin? Did you have any ‘aha’ moments? Perhaps a photograph that you took and really liked, or a session you really enjoyed?
I have always been a fan of photographs. Whenever I was at my grandma’s as a little girl I would pull out all her photo albums and browse the pages. I loved looking at the past, how things used to be. My parents divorced when I was little, so I think that’s where my love for photographs came from, keeping the memories because life constantly changed.
I also was the kid that always had a camera, if it was the last day of school I had a camera, if it was a birthday party I had a camera. I have so many snapshots of my youth. However I took my first real photography class in high school (black and white film) and the rest is history!
How would you describe your photography style?
I’m not really sure. Putting myself into a category feels odd, especially since I shoot different types of sessions in different ways. What I do know is that I would like for my style to be raw, beautiful, emotional and timeless. I’m not so sure I am there yet, but that’s where I would hope to end up, a style that makes you feel something over being just a pretty photograph.
If you could only use one word to describe your photographic style what would it be?
Who were the first artists that you found inspiring and influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing and career path?
I would say the artists that first inspired me no longer do. What I liked when I was young is very different from what I like now. I currently find inspiration through artists like The blissful maven, her work is so raw and beautiful. Her images take my breath away, which is the point I would like my work to get to. Artists like Andria Lindquist who’s images not only inspire me, but who’s business style I look up to. She does what she wants, shoots what she wants and doesn’t say sorry for a damn thing. I wanna be like these boss ladies when I grow up!
Where does photography fall into place in your life? Being your own boss can be challenging at times. How do you keep work and family life in balance?
The easy answer to this is that I don’t keep life in balance. I have been struggling with balance since my second daughter was born three years ago. In one year I had a baby, got married and took on the role as bread winner for my household, and my business boomed. Photography is my full time job, on top of raising two daughters and caring for my husband who battles Lupus. I have yet to find the balance for it all. I often feel like I can only be good at one thing, so if business is thriving all other aspects in my life are failing. Balance is a HUGE goal of mine.
What are three fun facts about you that most people don’t know?
1. As a kid I wanted several occupations when I grew up, including teacher, artist, dancer, actress and nurse.
2. I absolutely HATE stickers on stuff. Seriously, why put a sticker on something and ruin it??
3. I love to mix mountain dew and orange juice together.
Looking back, from the beginning of your journey in photography, what has been your favorite subject to photograph and why?
I absolutely love photographing children as they are. No fluff, no moms yelling for them to give me a cheesy grin. Just real, dirty, snotty kids!
What type of session do you look forward to the most versus what type of session you most often do?
I always look forward to shooting high school seniors. I believe my strengths lies in a one on one connection with my clients. I love the fun, the fashion, and the youth of high school seniors. They are always excited for their sessions. While I am trying to currently build my senior business, I would say the majority of my sessions are families.
What technology, software or camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best as you photograph?
I am a simple girl and a creature of habit. I edit in Photoshop, it takes forever, yet I just can’t let go of the process. I shoot with a Nikon D610 DSLR and almost always have my Sigma 35mm 1.4f ART series lens attached.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
My Sigma 35mm 1.4f ART series lens barely ever leaves my camera. People are often shocked I shoot with my 35mm so much, but I just love it. I am a prime lens girl and rarely switch out lenses, on the off chance I do it’s for my 85mm. I do dream of adding a tilt shift to my bag one day however!
Do you use any lighting equipment on your photo shoots? Reflectors?
No. I am a natural light lover, and I am a one woman show, so I never have anyone to help with reflectors. I just find the light.
What is your favorite editing accessory, other than your computer (program, plug-in, Photoshop tool)? How important is Photoshop to your final images?
I do all my editing in Photoshop currently, so it’s very important. I have my own set of actions I created based off of some of my favorite action sets. I don’t edit everything with the same actions, I use whatever I feel works best for the session I am working on. I tend to hand edit a lot as well, which takes even longer. I love the torture I guess.
It’s so easy to waste money along the photography journey. What would you say has been your best investment thus far and what do you wish you hadn’t spend your money on?
Like I said, I’m a simple girl. I like minimal things involved but the best investment I have made so far is on good quality lenses. The difference a lens can make is huge. My biggest “waste” of money would have to be my fancy paper that says I have a bachelor’s degree. While I don’t think college is a waste of money per say, it really didn’t do much for me in the way of my photography career. I thought going into it I would learn so much and come out an amazing artist, but the truth is I have learned more on my own constantly shooting than college ever taught me.
What has been the best source of information on your photography journey (online forums, webinars, workshop, fellow photographers, a mentor etc.)?
Creative Live is a great source as well as help from Facebook groups like Shoot & Share. I also think that having a good few local photographer friends has been a huge help to me. Not only to help lift me up, but to also relate to. Sometimes you just need to vent out frustrations to someone that understands. I also have had my eye on a few artists that hold workshops. I’m hoping in 2017 I finally take the leap and book one!
What is the best choice you have made for your photography business?
Saying “No.” No is not an easy word for me, but as I got busier I realized I felt drained from shooting things I didn’t love, or squeezing people into my schedule because I was worried they would go to someone else, or just be mad. Adding “No” to my vocabulary has been a slow process I’m still working on, but I noticed the difference it makes when I love what I am shooting and I’m not over booking myself because people procrastinate booking their own sessions.
Where do you hope to see your business in five years?
Specializing in what I love to shoot. Having every client that comes to me put their full trust in me as an artist because that’s when I am at my best. I would also love to have a studio/work space so I can meet, shoot, and work outside of the home.
If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?
Learn what GOOD lighting is and photograph constantly. Experiment often, never compare yourself to others and take more business classes.
If you could give one tip to those photographing families what would it be?
Capture details. Capture emotions. Have fun with the family. Deliver photos that the family never realized they wanted or would treasure so much. Also, learn patience because you will need a lot of it.
What is your favorite thing about photographing seniors? What do you find challenging?
Seniors are always excited for their sessions. Senior sessions always feel relaxed and fun. Young people have fun style, personalities and really want to be photographed. Photographing people who want to be there makes a huge difference. Senior sessions can be challenging sometimes when parents attend. Their idea of senior photos are from when they had theirs done back in high school. Senior photography has come a long way since then. Parents can often make their children nervous as well so when I get one on one time with my seniors, they really seem to come out of their shell.
How do you make the kids and parents feel relaxed in front of your camera when photographing families?
I’m not always successful at this. The parents tend to be WAY tougher then the kids. I try to reassure them kids being kids at their session is a good thing, and it always makes for great photos. I try to make jokes, or have them do something fun so they relax a bit. As a mom I understand the stress that can come from having family photos done so I always practice patience with them and reassure them the photos will be great.
What has been your most memorable photo shoot and why?
I had a wedding last year that really set a plan in motion to be very selective on the weddings I shoot. Too often people are stressed on their wedding days, and it reflects in the images and really gets to me on a personal level. This wedding was the most stressful and dramatic wedding I had been a part of and it just reminded me that I don’t want my work to make me feel that way. Cutting weddings down has been the best choice I have made in the last year for my personal and mental health. While not memorable in a good way, I am thankful for the experience and where it has taken me.
Do you have a favorite and least favorite part of owning your own photography business?
Oh yea… the business side of things is so not me. I want to create beautiful photographs, I do not want to do accounting, deal with asking clients for payments, and I hate talking on the phone, it gives me anxiety. I do however love making my own hours. I don’t have to miss dance class anymore. I can sleep in (as much as my toddler will let me) and I am my own boss.
How do you stay inspired?
It can be really difficult to stay inspired for me. I have to shoot for me sometimes, or just put my camera away and spend time with my family. They inspire me to keep going and better myself. I also love following photographers I admire. I’m always inspired to try something new or work harder for where I want to be when I see their success.
Are there any techniques you tried and loved these last couple of months? I saw you posted about prism play and I would love if you would talk about it a bit.
I love playing with techniques. I don’t do it often but trying something new is always fun. I have a large prism in my bag and if a shoot feels right I pull it out and try to get a couple fun shots. My current love is free lensing, yet I have not nailed a single shot while doing it, so it’s really a love/hate relationship at the moment. I’ll get it, one of these days...
If you could acquire a new skill, what would it be?
Free lensing! Seriously I just love the image results I have seen photographers get from free lensing.
Is there a website and/or blog you visit often?
Honestly I am a social media gal. So I don’t often go to websites or blogs. Some of my favorite social media accounts are @lookslikefilm & @beyondthewanderlust they feature so many talented artists, its gets me excited about photography every time I look!
What do you do to get centered and relaxed? What time of the day is your favorite? Why?
I enjoy music, baths and sunsets. Golden hour is my favorite time of day. It makes me feel inspired and alive, whether I am shooting a session or not. Oregon sunsets (when we get them) absolutely take my breath away.
If you could have any photographer capture your family photos, who would you choose?
Picking one is like pulling teeth. I admire so many photographers’ work for so many different reasons, but currently my favorite family photographer is Sarah at Sarah-Beth Photography. Her perfectly imperfect photographs make me swoon, always.
If you could photograph anyone, who would it be and why?
I would want to photograph my grandfather who passed away seven years ago. He was one of my favorite people on this earth and I truly wish I had more photographs of him in his later years. Details of his hard working hands or a photo of him with my husband because one does not exist.
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be? What would be the first question you’d ask him/her?
Justin Timberlake. I have been crushing on him for 20 years. I would love to ask him how he balances his success and family life now that he is a father, and if we can take a selfie of course!! Ha!
Your favorite movie of all time?
Hands down, Grease. I just know I was born in the wrong decade.
Your favorite guilty pleasure?
Something you are still learning…
How to be easier on myself, love myself and be confident in who I am. It’s been a long tiring road so far.
Thank you so much Nicole for answering my questions so openly, for all the wise words and for sharing your work with us! You can learn more about Nicole and follow her work through her Instagram account and/or through her website, and can also find her on Facebook. If you were inspired by her art and her words, head over there and leave her some love! :)