Name: Chelsea Nicole
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Company Name: Chelsea Nicole Photography
Number of Years in Business: 2
How did you get started in photography?
It started in high school with landscapes… 35mm film and large format view cameras, dramatic skies and long nights with the intoxicating smell of the darkroom, thick fiber-paper, images slowly coming to life submerged in developer. I then merged into fine-art nudes. Something about the honesty, vulnerability, mixed with confidence, daring, lighting, romance, expression… it’s something I still love, so I incorporate that into my intimate boudoir images for couples.
At the time I actually didn’t know photography could be a career path – but I knew I needed to be around it constantly so I continued studying it in college with a major in photography.
Then something happened. While learning the ropes as a second-shooter to a successful wedding photographer team, I found my absolute favorite thing in the world to photograph: people in love. Vibrant hearts, united.
If you didn’t do photography for a living what would you be doing instead?
I actually can’t imagine doing anything else. If I couldn’t do photography, no doubt I’d be weeping dramatically in some dark and empty room clutching my lens cloth…
What are some of your hobbies?
I have quite a few!
• Swing dancing (east-coast-style, with the love-of-my-life of course!),
• Dancing with fire poi on the beach (sounds odd, I know – but it’s beautiful, it’s like a moving meditation with the sound of the flames whooshing by your body. Dangerous but beautiful – I wouldn’t have it any other way.)
• Reconnecting with nature during long hikes with our puppy ‘Bella’
• Costume making (we go all-out for Halloween, my favorite holiday!)
• Snowboarding (I fall a lot, but I love it!)
I’m a very social person and love to get outside my box, learn new things and have a great time. Of course you’ll usually find me with a big-sexy-camera in hand to document the fun!
What is the craziest wedding experience you’ve ever had?
I do get some crazy weddings! One of more interesting weddings I’ve photographed included fire-dancers (I felt right at home!), stilt-walkers, a guy in a Dalmatian-patterned suit that fit inside a glass box, and a full-on mini-Cirque-du-Soleil-type reception. After being pronounced husband-and-wife, the newlyweds walked through an archway created out of the performers’ bodies. It was definitely a surreal wedding experience!
What is the best wedding experience you’ve ever had?
They are all the best! I’ve photographed intimate weddings with just the couple and their parents, and I’ve photographed extravagant celebrations and late-night receptions at some of the hottest nightclubs and lounges in Vegas. For me it’s always the people involved that make it the best.
What is your inspiration?
Okay, this is going to sound super-duper-cheesy – but it’s true: Love is my inspiration. I have a lot of love in my own life, and I’m always trying to find ways to celebrate it. Photography is one of the greatest ways to do that. I’m surrounded by love everyday yet I never want to take any of it for granted. I think the couples I photograph share that feeling and there’s nothing more inspiring than capturing it for them in some unique way that’ll make their friends and family ooh and ahhh for years and years! Yep, I’d say that thought inspires everything I do.
Name an exotic location you’d like to visit soon.
Ah yes, traveling is a big dream of mine! I want to photograph weddings and brides and “dress-trashings” all over the globe, so I’ve built quite a list! A few at the top would include Paris, Fiji, Tokyo and Egypt. I love the idea of being immersed in different cultures and learning about people, art, and lifestyles from all over the world.
Why do your clients choose you over some of your competitors?
My fantastic work, why of course!
Actually – I think good work really is not enough. Although I have studied with some of the best photographers, I have all top-of-the-line lenses and gear, and I take days and days until my eyes are blurry to perfect my images – although I do all that, there must be more. There must be some kind of connection.
Some of my couples have told me my images stood out to them because there’s true joy in them. My favorite images are of those beautiful everyday-people whose love for each other just shines through. That kind of real and honest vibrancy is the inspiration behind my tag line “Vibrant Hearts Unite!”
I’ve also found that most of my clients really value photography, which makes me happy, of course! I think they’ve realized it’s the one thing they’re taking away from this once-in-a-lifetime event, so they make it a key investment in their day.
I think couples also see from my blog and my online portfolio that these images and relationships are much more to me than a typical client/vendor relationship. I cherish getting to know them really well before the wedding. That’s why I do the free engagement sessions. We also usually become Facebook friends, e-mail, twitter, and blog buddies– the whole lot. Having a great connection like that dramatically adds to the fun times and amazing images we’ll be creating together.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer a bride and groom on their wedding day?
RELAX! If I could tell my couples one thing – it would be “relax”. You’ve earned it. You’ve worked so hard for it. You’ve done so much to make sure everything is taken care of in advance. (A good coordinator definitely helps with that! Trust me.) So no matter what goes wrong, there’s simply no such thing as a “bad wedding day”. Not when you think about how great it is that you’ve found (and locked in!) the love of your life! It’s YOUR day – the one you’ve been looking forward to. Don’t let it fly by without enjoying it, and, of course, although I may be biased, don’t let it fly by without capturing it with fantastic images by a photographer who inspires you.
Anything else interesting you’d like to share?
To the fantastic Green Orchid Events:
Thank you Juliet for taking the time to interview me on your blog! It’s very appreciated!
To all wedding vendors:
Any vendors that would like to meet up – I host a monthly photo group (sponsored by Pictage) at my house that’s open to everyone involved in the wedding industry. Although it’s mainly photo-centered – it’s always a great time and you meet lots of great people. Check out my industry blog ‘reach’ or contact me if you’d like to come!
To all future newlyweds and trash-the-dress-ers:
First of all – big huge congrats! And second, I hope you’ll check out more of my work on my site: chelseanicole.com – maybe our vibrant hearts are meant to unite!