2019 has been a transformational year for me. In 2017 & 2018 I skipped doing my end of year reviews. Why? Because for one, these yearly reviews seriously take days to compose, and as a new mother of 2 there was no time for writing, only for surviving. But I also skipped them because I was feeling lost and confused and almost gave up photography. At first I wrote out a 2 page outline on everything I was going through that year and why I was considering quitting, but I don’t want to bore you with the details so let me summarize it:
Motherhood + Artist/Photographer Business Owner = Really F*%&!ng Hard Work for Very Little $
Before kids I didn’t mind working 60 hrs/wk for a measly salary. I was my own boss, traveling a lot, and even got to photograph weddings in Venice & Jamaica! I was enjoying my freedom and life as a photographer, that was all I needed, money was not on my list of priorities. Funny how having kids changes everything. I love them to pieces and am so glad to have them in my life, but damn it they are expensive! Especially if you want them to go to pre-school or take dance lessons, or if they need to go to the doctor- again! So I considered giving up on over 10 yrs of photography to go back to teaching or to try out a new career, such as mail carrier. Yes, I seriously considered that, because spending my days walking outside delivering mail sounded like a breeze in comparison, and they actually get paid really well (at least in comparison to most photographers)!
But after lots of soul searching, some coaching, and rediscovering a new passion with boudoir & beauty portraits, things started turning around for me in 2019, and I am so glad I am still doing photography! It also helped that my son started preschool this year, freeing up time to focus on myself and my business again. And just this month I started a masterclass with some incredible business coaches that are going to help me get on track so I can run a successful photography business while also being a full time mom. And now in retrospect I have gratitude for the rough times the previous years dealt me because it helped lead me down the path I’m on now. The experiences and soul searching of 2019 woke me up and I ’m so excited to see what 2020 brings for my photography business and my personal life! I’m not going to lie, I’m scared too, because now being successful is not just for me anymore. I want my kids to bear witness to a successful entrepreneur, and a confident and happy mom. And I want them to have the ability to take any dance, music, sports, or astronaut in training class they desire, and for us to be able to take family vacations exploring the world, while also contributing to the non-profits that are making this world a better place. And I want to do all this while also following my heart, embracing my passions, and using my talents and abilities to also make this world a better place- that is my dream!
But 2019 wasn’t just about my photography business transforming, it was about me personally changing as well. You need to read through this blog post to find out that story, scroll down till you start seeing rainbows. So what did I do this year with photography? Well, go ahead, scroll through all the pictures to see and read more about it! But 1st I’ll start with a few fun pictures of my family, because right now they are my top priority and my inspiration to live my best life and be the best person I can be.
I booked & photographed more boudoir photo shoots in 2019 than I ever have before…and LOVED it! Read all about my decision to switch my focus to boudoir photography and empowering women in this previous blog post. Here are just some of my favorite boudoir pictures from the first few months. Scroll to the end of my blog to see lots more beautiful women.
In April I attended an amazing 4 day photography conference in St.Louis, Missouri. This experience rejuvenated my passion for photography and solidified my decision to adjust my focus to boudoir photography. I took some classes with some amazing boudoir photographers that taught me some new lighting and posing techniques, here are some of my pictures from those workshops below.
I had 2 destination weddings in New Orleans, both in the French Quarter, both small and intimate. They were so much fun! I love documenting love in my hometown…especially when it entails wedding pictures around the historic streets of the French Quarter & a 2nd line parade! Ironically they both also had their ceremonies at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel, a great unique venue for elopements and small weddings.
One of my favorite photo sessions from this year was with this couple below for their 10 yr anniversary. They rented a limo that picked us up at the Brown Palace, the hotel they also stayed at for their wedding, and we spent the evening going around the city taking pictures at their favorite spots in Denver. They re-lived their 1st dance at City Park, enjoyed the sunset at Cheeseman Park, dodged cars in front of Union Station, and enjoyed the views and lights of downtown around the Millennium Bridge. Although I do way more engagement sessions then anniversary, I would love to do more of these in the future. Your relationship as a newly engaged couple is quite different then what it is 10 yrs after your wedding. And an anniversary photo session is such a fun and romantic one of a kind experience. The couple gets to rekindle their passion and have a very unique date night out, and a photographer to document it all so you have new pictures together to last a lifetime!
I also had quite a few random portrait sessions this year- headshots, family portraits, engagement pictures. Here are some of them below.
One major accomplishment I’m so happy for this year was pulling off some last minute mini family sessions for a holiday fundraiser I threw together. I actually first had this idea a couple of years ago but I’ve never done “minis” before and didn’t know if I could pull it off, or honestly if it would be worth the hassle. But then I had a few people reach out to me asking if I would take photos of their families and it finally felt right and I knew I just had to do it! I had 4 families book a family session with me the first week of December, nothing too overwhelming but just enough to make a sizable donation to my favorite non-profit Friends Vision. My family has been sponsoring an orphan through Friends Vision and we actually just found out that she did exceptionally well on her exams and gained admittance into a top prestigious National school that she will be starting after the new year, we are so excited for her! It was also great getting to re-connect with former weddings clients that I haven’t photographed since their wedding and capturing them now years later with their kids.
Love is in the air! I love the engagement sessions, capturing the love between a couple is so special! And I can’t wait to document these couple’s weddings in 2020!
In 2019 I also had the opportunity to enjoy some traveling around Colorado and back home to New Orleans, and capture some pictures just for fun. Here’s a few of them:
Another event in 2019 that was really transformational for me was the Arise Music & Yoga Festival. It’s really hard to travel with kids so my husband and I decided we are going to start going on solo trips. It allows us to take some time for ourselves and do something or go somewhere that we really want to go while getting a little break from changing diapers or cleaning food off the floor. I decided to take a 3 day weekend trip with a friend to Arise, just a short hour drive from Denver. I’ve been to many music festivals before, so all I was expecting was to listen to some great music and have fun dancing and chilling, all of which I certainly did. But what I did not expect was to be so moved by the workshops and yoga classes. Our camping spot was conveniently located just a 2 minute walk between both the yoga tent and the workshop village. I have been doing yoga for over a decade, but typically one class a week at the most. However, to have no where to be after a class, and to have the option to stay on my yoga mat for as many classes as I wanted, was so freeing! I must have done 5 or 6 classes while I was there and each teacher was amazing, leaving me feeling rejuvenated and refreshed after each session. There was also a plethora of meditation and other unique classes and workshops that were extremely enlightening. I got to do a song bath, ecstatic dance class, and learned a lot about herbal teas and brain health. I also spent a lot of time having adult intellectual conversations with camp-mates that weren’t constantly interrupted by a toddler. And without other mouths to feed or butts to wipe I could just lay in a hammock relaxing and reflecting on my life. The whole experience was extremely enlightening and left me on the biggest natural high for weeks on end, I truly felt like a new person. It led me towards picking up books and listening to podcasts about mind and body wellness, something I was once into years ago but I realized ever since I had kids every book I read was focused on caring for babies and how to be a better mom. All great things to know, but it helped me realize that to be the best mom I can be, I need to also take care of myself and be the best “me” that I can be. So other then my career making a big change this year, I feel that my body & soul has as well.
Now to end my 2019 review with more boudoir pictures, these taken the 2nd half of the year. I’ve done boudoir photography here and there very randomly over the past 15 years, but it wasn’t until this year that I truly realized how therapeutic the experience is for women. I kept hearing from other photographers that specialize in boudoir how much it empowers females and how positive and uplifting of an experience it is for their clients. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t fully understand it until I was feeling down on myself one day while I was huge and pregnant and pulled up my boudoir pictures from years ago and instantly a smile of confidence came across me. Woah, did a picture really just change my attitude that quickly- YES it did! And then when I really dived into boudoir and beauty portraits this year I really started to notice the same change in my clients and realized how my photography could help women. It’s hard to put a lot of it into words, but if you’re at all curious about boudoir photography, please join my girls-only FB group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NicoleNicholsGirlsGroup/
So what’s next for 2020? I am growing the boudoir side of my business and will start doing sessions at a brand new studio in my West Wash Park neighborhood. I’m very excited about this new space and will need some “real-women models” that will allow me to use their pictures to show off the space. So if you are interested in that, or if you just want to get boudoir tips and special offers, then please sign up for our email list to get all the details!
If you read this far then thank you so much for your support and checking out my work from the year! If you have a moment I would love to hear if you have a favorite photo from my 2019 review, please mention it below or any other positive comments are always welcome as well. Thank you and Happy New Year!!!