As you may know, in a "past life" I was a journalist. It's what I studied for years and what I did for quite some time right out of college. I love asking the "why" and luckily, I get to tell stories now, through my images and through my relationships with my clients.
So I thought it would be fun to do the occasional q-and-a with some of my favorite people -- professionals and small business owners across many different facets who I've worked with or known and who can offer some insight into a similar field.
In this next installment of my Q-and-A series, I chatted with another dear friend, Nicole Starr (formerly Schwalm) of Nicole Starr Photography, a full-service boutique studio specializing in newborn, baby and family portraiture in the Boston area. Today seemed a great day to do this since she's offering a special promotion in honor of my son Zack (A complimentary session for every family with a child with DS in the Boston area that contacts her) for Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
Nicole's photography style is light and whimsical, her sessions are easy and playful and she truly focuses on capturing children just as they are and letting their personalities shine.
"As a full-service studio, I help my clients every step of the way as they discover the best way to showcase their memories," Nicole said of her business. "The families that I work with absolutely adore the signature heirloom products that we offer to preserve these moments together."
Nicole shares how she started photography and what the future holds for NSP below.
When and why did you begin photography?
Photography is something that has always been with me. I've had a camera in my hand for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I was constantly bringing rolls of film to the drugstore to develop them. Later, when I traveled the world, my camera was permanently attached to my hand, the shutter finger clicking away at my surroundings. I would come home fro my travels and pore over every minute detail in the photos. I found myself always looking at the people in the background: the head poking out of an upstairs window, the couple laughing under the umbrella. I knew that the stories I wanted to tell were with the people in my photos, so I started focusing my efforts more on portrait photography. I found that I LOVED capturing these stories and these memories and I haven't been able to get enough of it ever since!
How did you decide to specialize in children?
I have spent nearly half of my life working in classrooms with young children, so it was a natural transition to child and baby photography for me. I learned early on that I loved capturing their laughter, their toothy smiles, their nose wrinkles, their curiosity and their sense of wonder. Childhood is pure magic and I love that I can capture that on camera and hold it in time for an instant. Seeing how much families I work with treasure these photos of their growing and changing little ones means the world to me. Once I started focusing more on newborns and babies, I was hooked! There's something so incredible about capturing a newborn during his first days with his new parents, or a nine-month-old showing off her new sitting skills and that bubbly trademark laugh of hers. These sessions are magical.
How would you describe you/your work in a few words?
Whimsical, Light, Authentic and Classic.
What's in your bag?
Nikon 85mm 1.4
Nikon 50mm 1.8
Nikon 24-70mm 2.8
Nikon 105mm macro 2.8
What will you be adding to your bag next?
I'm excited to upgrade to a 50mm 1.4 and purchase a 35mm Sigma Art lens.
What challenges do you face in working with kids/babies?
Their changing moods and schedules can always be tricky, but our sessions are relaxed and calm so that the babies have time for a snack break, playtime with Mommy and cuddles.
What is the best compliment you've received?
Lately, it's been all about the dads. Husbands are occasionally more reserved when it comes to our photo sessions, but two recent sessions stand out where the dads had so much fun during our session, loved seeing their babies in front of the camera and when it came time to order their photos, they were all in. One husband sat behind his wife and told her how long they had waited and prayed for their little baby to arrive and how they deserved the album with every single photo from our session capturing their daughter's first days with their family. For him, it was a celebration of their daughter's arrival. Another husband knew how much his wife loved the album idea and the way it wove together all of the photos from their session to tell their family's story, so he secretly contacted me to plan an album gift for his wife. We designed it, ran the proofs and sent it out to their home. It arrived just in time for their daughter's first birthday as a gift to his wife. What amazing guys! It's when you see the whole family excited about the session and eager to showcase their memories in their home that I love my job the most.
What's the future hold for NSP?
I left my teaching job this year to focus on my photography business full time, in addition to opening an in-home studio last winter. The next year will be spent growing my business and improving the services and products that I offer to the families that I work with. I have so many plans that I am thrilled to finally be able to bring to life now that I will have the time to really focus on them! This Fall, I have opened my studio doors and started teaching others through workshop experiences, which has been so incredible. I'm also doing a lot of networking with local small businesses to support each other and help each other reach others in our community. Within five years, I hope to be running a successful storefront studio that keeps me just busy enough doing what I love, while letting my creativity fly.