#GOAHEADGIRL: GIRLTALK with Photographer Nicole Balsamo
Not every female works a typical 9 to 5 job. Some are always on the go and experience their passions through their craft. Nicole is an artistic wedding photographer. She captures the moments that all newlyweds want to treasure. When it comes to her profession, Nicole is always willing to go the extra mile and never sells herself short making her the perfect choice for Female of Style. Nicole's portfolios feature in The Knot's "Best of Wedding Photographers in 2016" and Wedding Wire's "Couples Choice Award in 2016." Also, you can see her work in over nine wedding blogs (including the Knot). Continue reading below for some useful tips and motivation.
My alma mater is Michigan State University where I received my Bachelor's degree in Communication. I knew once I graduated I would never be a 9-5 person found sitting behind a desk. It was not in my fabric. I wanted something "bigger," I wanted to be the boss! I always knew I would pursue a creative path in life and have come to find that photography is the perfect outlet.
Since I was little, I have been passionate about photography, but it was not until after I graduated college that I picked up a camera and said, "This is what I was born to do!" Weddings make me crazy happy. I am very blessed to be able to do what I love and meet some of the sweetest people along the way. What started as a dream has turned into a career. All of my hard work these past few years has indeed paid off. I recently received The Knot's "Best of Wedding Photographers in 2016" and Wedding Wire's "Couples Choice Award in 2016." In addition, I have been featured in over 9 wedding blogs (including the Knot) and am blessed to have received all of these within my first full wedding season.
3 tips for anyone in this industry:
Having a successful business is NOT about the money. If an opportunity presents itself that affords you to get your name out there, do not turn your head. Even if it means doing it at a discount or for free. Pay attention to details. It seems silly to say, but the small details in the floral arrangements, rings, shoes, etc. are some of the most important and essential shots when it comes to getting published. Plan ahead for shoots by going the extra mile. If you have a client who loves the 'Boho' style, find props to enhance that in your shoot so that you can emphasize who your customers are and what they love.
It can be very hard at times meeting deadlines, answering emails all day, on top of, editing, blogging and networking. To be my best, I start each day by getting up early, having a healthy breakfast and hitting the gym. It allows me to have some 'me' time. I burn off the stresses that come with running your own business. I start the day off energized to be my best for myself and clientele. I also try to take advantage of traveling opportunities, whether it's for business or pleasure. Visiting new cities and seeing the beauty that particular place has to offer is so inspirational.
My creativity runs wild. I find myself enamored with beaches and sunsets over the water. I owe part of my success to the time I have dedicated to networking and growing through sharing experiences with those in the industry. I am a people person and feel there's always room to learn, grown and inspire others. If an opportunity presents itself that allows for me to learn something new I do my absolute best to make sure that it holds just as much as a priority as other things in my schedule.
Keeping the Faith:
What people do not realize are the sacrifices I have made and countless behind the scenes hours I put in both to better my business and better myself as a photographer. Without a doubt, I was overwhelmed the ENTIRE first year of starting my business. It is always scary starting something new. The fear of the unknown had me wondering: "will I make it? will I be successful?"
I had just graduated college, had no money and not a clue as to what I was doing. Of course I was scared. I was doing everything in my power to learn everything I could about being a photographer and running my own business. I always went the extra mile (still do). To the extent where I worked for free for a LONG time the first year just to gain experience and build a portfolio. People told me I was crazy for that, but I would redo it all if I had to. I can honestly say there was never a time I wanted to give up because that was never an option. In order to be successful you must believe in yourself and know that you WILL make it.
An industry moment:
Do not sell yourself short. I think in the beginning I was so unsure of exactly what I was doing that I started to doubt myself. I knew deep down where I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish but taking the steps to get there can be hard at first. I would go a week without any emails and start to panic that maybe I was doing something wrong. Fast forward one year later, I can't go an hour without an inbox full of emails.
My advice would be to have patience and faith in yourself and what you set out to do in life. All great things take time...if you work hard!!
In your industry, is there anything you wish you could change, or what would you like people in the industry to do differently?
Take the time to invest and inspire others. Creativity is not a competition. I have had mentors in the industry who have shared tips, tricks and invested in me. I pay that forward every chance I get. I believe by working together we are able to push each other to our best potential. Our personality and style is what draws clientele to us. As many successful photographers know your schedule builds fast. If we are able to collaborate more and learn about each other we are able to share alternative photographers based on the clients' style and needs.
One app that has changed the game for me is Instagram - I am totally obsessed with it. I am CONSTANTLY on it browsing wedding accounts and other photographers just looking for inspiration. I think the beauty in this industry is that you can shoot two weddings at the exact same location and they will be unique based on your clients and what they bring to the shoot. Being able to find inspiration and ideas from others is what it's all about.
Aside from all of those great apps, I firmly believe in using a planner and filing system. Staying organized with all of the competing priorities that come with the photography business allow for me to plan each day, week and month accordingly. I am very pleased with my Day Designer organizer and Colorvale organizers. Personally, I prefer handwriting my schedule and appointments because you can never guarantee technology will not fail. Of course I utilize my iPhone to keep me on track but I always make sure I have my planner with me so that I have a hard copy handy.
My favorite camera strap are from Bloom Theory Straps!! Super stylish and comfy around the neck for working long weddings. My favorite camera bag for smaller shoots is Kelly Moore Bags (engagements, portraits, etc.) Again super stylish.
#GOAHEADGIRL is our powerful "NO HATERS ALLOWED' Movement. Share some advise, or a motivational message.
My advice is to surround yourself with positive people. If they are not inspiring you, pushing you, encouraging you and believing in you then it's time to make some changes. I have had many people tell me variations of "your dreams are not realistic." I had to make some tough decisions to ensure I was setting myself up for success. Follow your heart, you will have bumps along the road but that just makes the success in the end that much greater.
#GOAHEADGIRL, HEAR ME ROAR!
Some say women are overly emotional, sensitive, a bit sarcastic and moody. What do you have to say to that?
YOU ARE MISSING OUT. Seriously though, because we rock!
100 pairs of shoes and only 2 feet! What was the last thing you bought for yourself? How would you describe your style?
Ironic, because the last thing I bought myself was a pair of shoes (one can never have enough)! They were beautiful Jeffrey Campbell flats for my upcoming trip to Italy. Fashion is most definitely another passion of mine. I would describe my style as edgy and forward. I love to try and experiment with new things. I am very comfortable in my own skin and if it's flattering and refreshing then I am willing to give it a shot. I have always had a "big city" vibe in a small-town setting.
Guilty Pleasure If your cable package supplied only one channel, which would it be and what would you watch?
NBC - Law & Order SVU all day.
Keep up with Nicole!
*This interview previously published, permission from original publishers were granted for re-publish on beautycocktailsgirltalk.com.*