Here at JPEGmini, we feel very lucky for the opportunity to interview a multi award winning international boudoir/portrait and wedding photographer, Nicole Ashley. Nicole is creative, artistic and loves meeting interesting, and inspiring people everyday. She has a unique ability to find various ways in order to customize sessions for her clients so the shoot will be more personal, memorable and meaningful. It’s no wonder why she has been asked to present at the Canada Photo Convention this upcoming October.
In this interview we ask Nicole some great questions about various things she has learned along the way so we can all learn from them and become better photographers. So without further ado, here’s Nicole.
Hi Nicole, for those of us who don’t know you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Nicole and I am a boudoir/portrait and wedding photographer! I have been shooting professionally for 6 years! I started shooting for fun in University while I was completing my Education degree.
How did you feel when you first started working?
Nerve-racking! I definitely second guessed myself a lot!
How long did it take you to feel truly comfortable shooting engagements/weddings/boudoir?
I’ve only started feeling really comfortable with my style and how I shoot over the last couple of years. Second shooting really built up my confidence for weddings and photographing family and friends for boudoir/portraits allowed me to ease into creating for strangers.
How do you find juggling all 3?
I’ve really found that shooting boudoir and portrait work has made my wedding work so much stronger. I definitely think they cross. It’s really helped me to shoot loud moments quietly and to focus on connection rather than the chaos of the day.
How many weddings do you shoot per year?
On average, how many photos would you expect to give to a couple?
For weddings, roughly 400-500, boudoir/portrait work 10-15 unless the client orders more.
Walk us through a normal day’s shooting.
Again, it depends on what I am shooting. If it’s boudoir, my team comes 1 hour prior to the client and we set up together. A lot of work goes into creating a comfortable atmosphere for the clients before they arrive. Once the client shows up, we help them with their items, offer them a beverage and start to discuss the look/style they are wanting to achieve for their session. Hair and makeup takes one hour and then we shoot! After the session is wrapped we go over their contract and usually spend time just hanging out and chatting! Once the client leaves we clean up and then I start the process of uploading my cards. I always try to turn around a shot from the shoot for the client right away so they know that I am excited about it and that I appreciate their business.
What do you do with your spare time?
I love watching movies and hanging out with my best friend- my husband Jon! He’s also an artist, so he understands my strange schedule and need to create. Some of my favorite nights are when we play music, open a bottle of wine and work on our art together.
What’s the best and worst thing about being a wedding photographer?
The best part about being a wedding photographer is being able to create images that will become family heirlooms for others through art. I feel really fortunate that I get to be a part of the one of the most important days for people and that I get to witness so much happiness!
The worst part of being a wedding photographer is that you lose many of your summer Saturdays! Haha which isn’t that terrible at all.
What do you both find the most difficult thing about shooting weddings?
How hard it is on your body! I usually feel like I have been hit by a train by the end of the night!
One of the biggest parts of wedding photography has to do with the business behind it. How did you go about learning that part, realizing that you need to constantly bring in money, set budgets, etc?
I’m really big on excel sheets and keeping track of everything. I’m lucky to have an amazing accountant/bookkeeper who helps to set me up for success. I’m also big on making daily to do lists!
Where do your influences come from as far as a creative vision go?
My influences come from movies, music and other artists (not just photographers). I love hearing and seeing people create- I’m truly fascinated by it.
So walk us through a typical client meeting. What do you feel is important for you to get answered to deliver the best services?
Making sure that the client and I are a good fit is the most important thing for me at a meeting. If they don’t laugh at my jokes, it’s a red flag. Just kidding. But not really.
Can you describe your workflow after a shoot?
After a shoot I upload my images right away to my desktop and then later to an external hard drive. Making sure those files are protected is really important. I also pay for online backup storage (Crash Pro Plan) so I know if anything were to physically happen to my work area that all those files would be safe! I then cull the images with Photomechanic before taking them into Lightroom for retouching. I only use Photoshop for more extensive retouching, but it is still a necessary digital tool!
How heavily do you edit your images?
Depends on your definition of heavy! I really enjoy retouching so I do take my time with it, but I never want them to look over-processed.
What are you doing to specifically market the creative services you offer?
I try to keep as active as possible on social media. Instagram is a big one for me, as well as Facebook and more recently Snapchat. I’m finding a lot of my destination clients coming from Pinterest as well!
What has been the most successful advertising for you?
I definitely have to thank Instagram for really getting my name out there.
What’s it like to be asked to speak at a conference?
Amazing and terrifying. I want to be able to offer people valuable information and help them with their business, but it is very intimidating to speak to your peers about your work. There are so many incredible artists that attend conferences!
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring photographers what would it be?
Don’t go out and buy every piece of gear out there to feel like you are a professional. Rent, or borrow to see what works best for you first. Remember that they are just tools- they don’t make you 🙂