Interview: Photographer Nicole Thomson
Where did your passion in photography start and how did you decide to invest yourself in it?
That’s a good question! I grew-up with grandparents that were artists, so I was exposed to art, design and photography at a young age. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I took a black and white film photography class. Everything was shot in film and developed in a dark room. I would say that was my first introduction to photography. After that, I purchased a quality DSLR and took photographs here and there for pleasure and at my jobs post-college, but nothing serious.
Fast forward to January of this year (2017) when I filed my LLC for Map + Compass Photography. Opening a photography business wasn’t something I had on my radar. It was actually the last thing on my mind, as I had a 7-year career prior in the digital and tech industry, bringing order to chaos as a project manager and Director of Operations. I love all things tech! However, various different circumstances, including getting married and moving out of state, lead me to photography. I quickly re-discovered my love for photography and the natural ability I had for it. I hit the ground running in January and haven’t looked back! I’m thankful to have had my prior career, as I’ve been able to apply everything I learned to Map + Compass! I absolutely love what I am doing and wouldn’t change a thing!
How would you distinguish your style?
I believe my love for people is reflected in creating a safe space to capture genuine and true moments. I care deeply about others and find so much joy in relationships with others, so I quickly realized that would be the foundation of my business. I wanted my love for others and capturing the unique, extraordinary stories of my clients to be behind every interaction and photo. It’s not about me. It’s about each and every story I am privileged to capture. I’ve been given a gift that I want to bless others through!
I adore traveling to new places and seeking new experiences, which is exactly why I offer Adventure Sessions! I was a big traveler before starting my business, so it was only natural to include that part of my life in Map + Compass! Adventure Sessions and Destination Elopements are my favorite! I get to spend quality time with clients and develop a relationship and trust with them. It’s a priceless experience!
In a nutshell, could you explain the photographic community from your perspective and experience?
The online community has been tremendously helpful in me learning the ropes, from business questions to location scouting. I’m not sure what I would do without online community, especially Instagram and Pods! The people I’ve met have been crucial to my growth as a photographer. The photography world is incredibly competitive, which I believe it can be of great value in pushing you outside your comfort zone. It also makes finding true, lasting connections invaluable! I love how photography connects so many different people! I’m currently planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand for February 2018 and the photography community has been so welcoming in both places!
What do you aim to do with every shot?
This question speaks to my heart! I want to capture the true personality, emotion and story of each person! The whole-hearted adventure of stories: the smiles, laughter, joy, craziness, and the true in-between moments when it feels like no one else exists, when people are just being you. Those sweet, surprising unplanned shots are always the best and make my heart skip a beat.
I truly believe each person and couple has an extraordinary story to tell. It’s my job to create a safe space for clients to be their true selves. I don’t pose, but prompt and direct people, resulting in the most accurate reflection of clients true selves.
What are some helpful tips and tricks for anyone who’s getting into elopement and weddings?
Build your portfolio with free sessions, styled shoots and second shooting weddings! People hire you based upon your work, so have a quality portfolio is key! Styled shoots are great for connecting with other like minded photographers and vendors that can potentially lead to leads. Second shooting weddings was invaluable to my growth early on, as I was able to learn from other photographers and situations!
Be open to learning, asking questions and ALWAYS stay humble! Photography is an on-going learning process, so there is always something to improve upon. You won’t be an expert at everything.
Also, give yourself grace and understanding! Building a business takes time and we all start somewhere! Life happens and things don’t always go as planned, so be open minded and stay flexible!
Where are the best places your travels have taken you thus far?
Wow, this is a hard question! I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and Switzerland for 3 weeks in September 2017 for pleasure. For 2018, I will be traveling to Australia, New Zealand and Colorado so far for photography and pleasure. I have a few other trips in the works too!
We’re gonna put you in a scenario for a second; you’re photographing a couple, the woman is wearing heels and she slips and breaks her ankle… what is going through your head?
Oh no! I would first ask how much pain she is in and what I can do to make the situation better. I function well in high pressure situations, so I would stay calm, while coming up with a solution and making the most out of the situation. I use to be a project manager, so situations like this don’t bother me too much. I’m use to bringing order to chaos. I would take their minds off the situation by making them laugh. Life is so unpredictable, you have to make the most out of each and every situation!
Is there anything, anything under the sun or beyond, we didn’t ask about that you’d like to share?
I absolutely love to teach, mentor and see others succeed! I accomplished all of my first year business goals within 6 months, without an existing network or community of people. I want to help people others do the same! With my prior career, I gained invaluable knowledge that can help anyone wanting to start or grow their business. I tailor mentoring sessions to each person and love the personal connection that comes with that! I truly believe this is the best way to make the most of our time spent together. I always provide clear and honest feedback, while providing action items to achieve goals!