Hello dear friends! Happy Monday to you and Happy (almost) Fall to you!
It’s been a tad busy around here – every weekend has either been full of weddings or other photography related work. But now, although I’m still working on this past weekend’s wedding (the photo above is a sneak peek – wait until you see it!!), my weekend is open and I’m feeling a little less chaotic and stressed. The days are getting shorter, the wind is getting cooler, leaves are bustling around on the long country roads, and it’s nights like last night that make me oh so happy to live in Minnesota. Did anyone get a chance to sit outside last night? It was therapeutic. Last year, during the middle of one of our busiest wedding seasons, I used to just grab a few moments of solitude outside on our deck and watch the sun go down and the stars come out. It was a time for me to just unwind from the chaos of the work day. And finally, I went outside last night. I took my diary and just sat, listened, and wrote. Absolute bliss. I’m so glad fall is (almost) officially here.
Anyways! Recently I was asked to give an interview about life as a photographer from one of my past clients who has begun school for photography (you can see her photography page here :)). I’ve done interviews for a few other people for their photography classes and I’m always honored to even be considered someone that people would want to interview, and I thought it might be fun to share the interview with you! :) I hope you enjoy it and learn a little something about me that you haven’t already read on the blog. :) Cheers to you, friends!! xoxo
1. Tell me about yourself?
My name is Nikki Tran. I am a wedding photographer in the beautiful state of Minnesota, and I also create Photoshop Actions, Overlays, & Tutorials. I’m married to a wonderful, supportive man (Paul), who is also my co-shooter at every shoot and every wedding. We both grew up in the Twin Cities, but eventually moved out to the country (45 minutes West of the Twin Cities) and we can’t imagine living anywhere else. When we’re not busy with weddings, shoots, meetings, or work in general, we enjoy bonfires in our backyard, star-gazing, traveling (we try to plan a vacation every year), loving our little yorkipoo (Rusty), going to the next town over for ice-cream and a movie – we’re homebodies most of the time. I love decorating our house, gardening, reading, writing, and sipping tea. :)
2. Did you go to school to study photography or take some photography classes?
No, I did not go to school for photography. I actually majored in Elementary Education K-6 and minored in Mass Communications at St. Cloud State University. While I was at SCSU, I did, at one time, plan on majoring in Public Relations. During that small amount of time, I took an Advertising PR course where I was first introduced to Photoshop. The majority of the class was devoted to using Adobe InDesign but occasionally I tried little things in Photoshop.
When I was a year away from graduation and recently married, I began to think about other things I’d like to do when I graduated if I were to have kids right away. Photography was an option so we bought my first DSLR and from then I was hooked. I learned everything I know through Youtube tutorials, books (love Scott Kelby), other photographers’ blogs, and trial & error. By the time I graduated, my business was growing and I had no need to get a full-time teaching job.
3. How long have you been a photographer?
I bought my first camera in December 2011, but I didn’t actually book any clients until April 2012. We’re finishing up our 3rd wedding season and will begin our 4th soon. It’s been roughly 3 1/2 years – I can’t believe it’s already been that long!
4. How would you describe your style?
I’m a hopeless romantic – I’ve been that way since I was little and truly believed in fairy tales and happily ever afters (I still do! :)). My posing style is definitely romantic & classic – I love having couples nuzzle together or have them “almost kiss” or laugh while kissing…I love when my photos make me swoon. My editing style is bold, colorful, classic. Today there’s a lot of matte, hazy edits and although I love them and think they’re gorgeous, I just can never get away with editing that way. My style has gone a bunch of different ways but I’ve always come home to bold, romantic, & classic. In 20 years I want my couples to still be in love with their photos – I want my photos to be timeless.
5. How many weddings do you average per year?
Since we started we’ve averaged about 14 weddings per year. I also co-shoot with another photographer so my number sometimes goes up.
6. What type of camera do you shoot with?
I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II, Paul shoots with Canon 6D. He thinks his is the best, but I just love mine – it was my first full-frame camera, a camera I finally felt professional with.
7. What is your favorite photography accessory?
This might sound stupid, but I LOVE my new camera bag. It’s a Jo’s Totes and it’s mint blue. It matches all of my branding and it doubles as a purse, traveling bag, as well as my camera bag. It’s so pretty. :) But, I also LOVE my camera straps. My sister bought me my first one 2 years ago – it was lace and its item name was “Darcy” from Pride & Prejudice (love Jane Austen). From then I was hooked on camera straps. I wish I could have a different one for each wedding/shoot. :)
8. What is your favorite lens?
Until recently, it was my 50mm 1.4. That lens was my baby. Again, once I had that lens I felt almost professional. However, we’ve finally upgraded and I now use the 50mm 1.2. Although it’s beautiful and takes amazing photos, I still miss my old 50 1.4. :) But honestly, I could go an entire wedding just using the 50 – it’s my go-to lens and it works with my style. Paul’s favorite is his 70-200mm 2.8. He loves the flexibility of it and we both love that each lens gives us our own “look.”
9. What editing program do you use?
For culling photos and changing white balance and exposure (if needed) I use Lightroom. It’s super easy and fast. However, for editing I use Photoshop CS6. I know a lot of photographers use Lightroom and say it’s easier than Photoshop, but my first love was Photoshop. I love everything about editing, but I truly feel that editing should only enhance a photographer’s already beautiful photo – it shouldn’t be a crutch. As I’ve grown in my business and as my photos have gotten better, I’ve found that my editing process keeps getting quicker – there’s less to edit. I try to always nail the photo in camera instead of relying on Photoshop to fix it.
10. Why do you love photography?
I love photography for many different reasons. I love wedding photography because it’s just so romantic. I love my brides and grooms and it’s actually sad when I finish their wedding – I’m done working with them and that’s it. But I love the relationships that come out of weddings. I love working with Paul (people are always shocked to find out we’re married because we work so well together :)), and I love that weddings take me outside of my comfort zone. I’m always shooting in new areas, different light, and I honestly love the challenge of finding that dreamy light in every session. It’s like I’m competing with myself.
I love styled shoots that I use for my Photoshop actions business because it gives me another outlet for creativity. I can picture something beautiful in my head, and then make it happen in real life and then I get to photograph it! That is when I can truly see photography as art. Or taking photos of nature, the sky – I love how calming it can be and how it makes me look at everyday things in a different way. I love chasing the sun and I love driving out further in the country just to see the “Red Moon” or the potential Northern Lights. When weddings make me feel burnt out, I look to nature and still life to bring my creativity back.