What's in a Name

I wrote a version of this explanation a few years ago, and after some thoughts, revelations, and a few people asking me, "what does Nicoleinbold mean," I have decided to update and rewrite my answer. If you have followed me for any length of time I am sure you have noticed a change in my work. If you are more perceptive, I am sure you have noticed a change in what I share and what I say. With these changes, I have noticed an evolution in who I believe I am. I have grown, matured, softened, and been through many life changes since the beginning of Nicoleinbold, but I'll start at the beginning.

Coming up with a business name is not always easy. Just like naming a child, you go through many options before you decide and then change it again one more time…and again. Trying not to ask for too many opinions because that can always through a wrench into the mix.

Nicoleinbold came about when I was soul searching . "Who am I?" "What do I want to be remembered for?" "How do I want to help and serve others?" I started with the idea that I am me. Profound, I know. Many photographers use their own name as their business name, and I wanted to take that a step further. 

Sure this business is mine, but I serve others. What I create, produce, and share is ultimately not about me. Then I moved to the belief that I am the artist. While I depict others, it is my past, present, and future, my perspective that drives me to press my shutter button. I am showing how I see and feel about other peoples' lives. You can see it in how I compose my work and how I process and stylize my final images.

Your life - my perspective.

In explaining this recently to a friend, she pushed me further, "yeah, but why bold? I know you are creative, spontaneous, and silly - is that what you mean?" This is a great question, and one that embodies my life more than I ever realized when I chose my name almost 5 years ago.

The bold-ness, if you will, come from a few things which all boils down to my hopes, dreams, and even fears I feel for you, me, and our families. There is a bold-ness in saying I will take a piece of equipment and make a picture. There is more bold-ness involved when I feel strongly that when I make a picture I am sharing your love for life and your love for your family with you. The bold-ness continues to grow when I state that I highlight your love, connection, curiosity, and fears with every frame I capture.

I understand this can sound pretentious. Believe me when I say I feel a bit of shame for feeling so passionately about other's lives. This shame comes from feeling like I shouldn't care. From being told I shouldn't care most of my life. My current transformation is leaning into these "shoulds" and fully accepting my role as someone who loves my own family and wanting to preserve the love in others' families.

I have never considered myself an empath or highly sensitive person, until recently. It actually took a therapist to break this news, and then me telling a couple of my closest friends, who wholeheartedly agreed, to even accept this fact about myself. I feel emotions deeply. I perceive other's emotions very well and feel them deeply on top of my own. I share this because it is the most recent "ah-ha" moment about the name I have chosen for my business.

As I journey through life I have questioned my purpose. Most recently I have been unsure if I wanted to continue to pursue being a photographer. It wasn't until I was asked what my name means, what I hope to provide the people and families I work with that I became confident in my own legacy. After everything you have read it might not be a surprise to you, but it was to me. When I was asked this question these words tumbled from my mouth, "I want to transform vulnerability into confidence." Phew! That is bold.

So now what does that mean?

The goal I work to achieve with each shutter release is to highlight your humanity, your love, and your connection to those around you. It is vulnerable to ask someone into your life and to take your picture. Many people don't see it this way anymore because so many people own some type of camera, but it is scary. All of our insecurities can creep in. I hope that when I am asked into your life, into your home, that I can transform those insecurities into confidence. No matter if you are insecure in your body image, how you parent, what it looks like inside your home, I want to document your life right now. Show you it's beauty. Give you permission to be yourself. SEE yourself how others see you. How your children see you, and will remember you when they are older.

In owning this name I have created for my business, to include all the revelations there after, and having been present for many families, I can tell you with confidence that you are AMAZING. You are doing way better than you think you are. Your presence in this world is a gift. You are more than a mom, a dad, a wife or a husband. You are you, and your story matters.

It is simple. A clean statement. A concise and profound core value.

I am Nicoleinbold.

Nicoleinbold is documentary family photography with a promise to give you confidence serving Richmond, Virginia and available for travel.

Closing "With Grit and Grace"

I received a question recently inside of a client questionnaire. A mom had asked me why I close my emails, “with grit and grace.” It wasn’t until this email that I realized my words may not make sense to people. It's one of those "you don’t know what people don’t know" scenarios. Sure, we know what the words are and their respective definitions, but strung together, the intent and deeper meaning can be lost.

Grit and grace is how I view life. A mantra of my human-ness. I tumble, fall, and cry, but I overcome, get back up - I live. I find the good to keep going. While I'm not overly positive, I strive to be real with myself and others. "Grit and grace" is a reminder of the delicate balance of sanity as a parent, professional, and woman. I'll be honest, I never put much thought into the resilience of life and the patterns we live day in and day out until I had my daughter. Until I became a mom, my grit for life was like fine sand. My gears could pretty easily turn, and when I got stuck it was relatively easy to ask for help.

Now though, between the calm and chaos of everyday life with a little human, my grit is a bit larger and definitely more messy. It takes quite a bit more energy and focus to get through tasks. At the end of the day, I don't have all the answers! Heck, on some days you will find us crying together on the kitchen floor - seriously! (I hope I'm not the only one!)

This new and different grit, while challenging, also helps me slow down. This slow down is a dream I have for all parents. I hope we can all find a stillness in this 18 year season, even if in brief chunks of seconds and minutes. This new grit has pushed me to desire and learn mindfulness - the art of being present. I no longer feel like I need to have all the right answers right away, if ever. The fortitude to see and feel this, to set a good example is all great, but it's a mental gymnasium I'm not fully equipped to traverse. And you know what, showing my weakness and frustration to my daughter and partner helps us all stay connected. This is my grace. Especially, when all I want is a nap and eat all the ice cream in the world. (Again, I hope I'm not alone!)

This motif, "with grit and grace," is also what I strive to  document within the families I work with. We as parents are leaders, teachers, and friends. Our children are teachers and leaders in their own way as well! We each balance boundaries with love - words with action. Life is a trapeze between emotions and reason within ourselves. Not to mention coexisting with our partners and children. I don’t think it is ground breaking to say no one gets along 100% of the time. I don’t even get along with myself 100% of the time. Between the self talk, talking with others, trying to accomplish life (grocery shopping anyone?), and all the connection that happens in between. This is art, this is life - this is grit and grace. Beautiful, maybe a little painful, but gorgeous in it’s dance to keep us together.

I sign my emails “with grit and grace” to honor the notion that I am not perfect (far from it), but I try. I try gracefully to answer your questions and communicate information accurately. I try to be aware of your perspective, my child's perspective, and my perspective in any given situation. In the end, it is a salutation and a promise of respect, imperfections and all, for both you and me.

Richmond family photographer capture joy and environmental portraits of kids being kids.

Mental Health and My Current State

Life scares the crap out of me most days. The shear potential of each day overwhelms me. As most of you know I self identify as a deep thinker. I have also told you that I struggle with anxiety and depression. This may come as a shock to some of you but I have also recently learned that I am an empath, a super feeler of my own emotions and others. (I honestly had no idea) Mental health and our each individual nature can look incredibly different for each person. Real talk time, for me, all of this presents as avoidance, rumination, and a lot of the time complete isolation where I feel shame, guilt, and envy. This comes from comparison, but it also come from within. Not knowing myself, not listening to myself, and running toward what I THINK I SHOULD be doing with my life. Can you relate? Recently I have promised myself to work on all of the above.

With photography, especially birth photography, I have seen many people burn out. This looks insanely different, just like anxiety and depression, for each individual. I have written a version of this post a few times now and noticed I kept pushing myself down to provide a lesson to you, the reader. This. Thinking I have to provide a scripted lesson over just sharing my own story is where I am burnt out and honestly a bit lost. I’ve started my business and fueled my passion out of a desire to do more, offer more, and provide what I did not have at any given point in my life. While noble, this "why" is incredibly unhealthy. I did not see what I was doing to myself or who I had become. A giver without regard for myself or even my family. This year I plan to simplify and figure out who Nicole is so I can better serve myself and others.

A powerful part of everything above is the lack of validation and the source of the validation. This is a hot topic word for me right now. The concept and definition I want to make clear, because for all intent and purposes I had it wrong. Validation is the "recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile." (dictionary.com) I’m just starting this journey and I do not have all the answers, but growing up the way I did, I did not get validation from my parents, was constantly questioned my friends, and therefore learned to question myself in everything. This lead to chasing likes, making excuses, pursuing leadership, typing lessons, and honestly doing and giving others what I desperately needed to do and give myself.

Recently, I met with a local friend and told her some of my troubles and she simply told me that I had given everyone else everything but have lost myself. The shirt off my back is gone, so to speak. I say a lot, too much probably, at every turn. I give, take on, and learn so that I can teach others, help, and support others. I got stuck. I’m still stuck. Worrying about everyone else’s business and families, everyone else’s reaction - this is something I thought didn’t affect me. I'm a doer, a change maker - I might be those things but I lost all grace and empathy for myself. I have recently learned this exact thing has held me back. Somewhere along my journey I have stopped creating for myself, for my local community, for my own family. Geez, this is all crazy hard to admit to you and to myself. I don’t have answers as to my next move - what is coming next - other than I need to be doing something different and more simple.

Knowing that ‘you can do more’ can become an excuse, a burden of sorts. Doing more is a big reason I stopped celebrating the tiny victories and chased the next thing I could show, share, and tell each of you who follow me. As much I as I believe in "shedding the should," I have should myself into a hole. The funny thing is I don't do this to others. I have spoken to many people over the course of the past couple of years. Helped many get started, been there for others, all while not really accepting myself. This has to change. I’m scared. I don’t know what this looks like. Asking for help doesn’t come easy. Admitting that I’m struggling is even harder. I’m not even sure what or where I need help most days. I’ve always considered myself the strong one, an island if you will, but as much as I have talked about not feeling lonely, I realize I may have been the most lonely.  

You heard that right. I am guilty. I don't reach out or ask for help often because I'm too afraid to do so and my anxiety about life leads me to avoiding everything and everyone. I also don't really know what I need help with other than to say I'm lost. I’m unsure of the questions to ask and conversations to have. Most days I want to sit still wrapped tightly in a heavy blanket. I have no clue if this is a common occurrence for others, so of course this creates doubt, which means I probably again won't reach out for help. Do you see a theme in this entire post. As I have read, reread, tried to rewrite this piece many different times I see how flippantly unsure I am of my own calling. This mental health thing is no joke. I want to talk about it though. 

Are you scared of sharing yourself? Do you have anxiety or depression? How does it present itself to you? Do you validate yourself or wait and hope for others to take up the slack? How are you feeling - really feeling? 

How I Share My Everyday Images | Privacy and Connection - Life Cake | Richmond, Va Photographer

today everything exists

to end in a photograph

- susan sontag -

Your privacy and the privacy of your children come first, and in this day of instant gratification and digital technology what we share online is seen by quite a lot of people. Yes, you can block people or change your settings, but in reality everything on Facebook is public! I was guilty of this my daughter's first year of life. I wanted to connect with family! Keep them updated with the milestones and to share her seriously cute face. 

I started scaling back after she turned one. I wasn't sure how public I wanted to make my daughter's life. You have to think children born within the past few years don't know a world without the internet or smart phones! That is crazy to think about!!! I see parents posting all sorts of things that involve their children. Some of this is great. I love being updated about everyone's family, show my support of their updates and story. Acquaintances, colleagues, clients even! Do not get me wrong! I am a selfish individual like the rest of you! I want likes and comments. I want to see other peoples pictures to compare and contrast where we are at as a family. Is Nora on par with other kids her age? Grateful that we are passed some seasons in life and a bit terrified of others. (Yes, I said that, I am human and I over think everything, I can't be the only one!!) With that said, Facebook, or even Instagram, isn't the only way to archive and share those precious moments.

Images in the end are meant to be shared, I am not telling you to stop documenting your story as a family! I am asking you to consider the privacy of your family and the privacy of your child. 

Preface: I am in no way linked via payroll or in contact with the following company. I am however an avid fan!!

Enter: 

This company's product is the bee's knees! The simple "mission is to help parents be storytellers - recording and sharing beautiful life stories." Want to know more?

This is an online and smartphone compatible app (yes, apple and android). A few things that I LOVE about it:

  1. You have a profile for each child, but can tag one image for multiple children
  2. You enter in their birthday, so when you upload images it will tell you exactly how old they were when the image was taken.
  3. You can caption the images, and others can comment.
  4. You can invite people to watching your child(ren) grow. (Family, Friends, Care Providers, etc.)
  5. Even better, if you have invited someone, say Grandma, and she watches your tiny human and takes some images; she can also upload and caption them. So you have the full story of their life happenings! EEK!!
  6. At the end of the year, or on birthdays, you can have a book printed through Lifecake. So seamless.

I feel like I can continue to list things but I'll stop! Here are a couple of short videos for more information:

Last but not least, I'm sure you are wondering about cost. The good news, it is free for the first 10GB of information. 10GB worth of images and videos!! Whether you take professional images or snap pictures with your phone, you can upload content to Lifecake. Check it out! Let me know what you think!!

With grit and grace,

Happy Birthday Miss Bits

I'm sure every parent feels this way, but seriously - WHERE HAS MY BABY GONE? As I write this, three years ago at this same time I was having contractions in my home wondering what sex our baby was going to be and if we should just go ahead and go to the hospital. I was an anxious mess!

Now that we are into this parenthood thing, for just a hair shy of three years, we live in a constant state of sass in our house. This girl is fiercely independent, crazy empathetic, and seriously in love with all things rocks, sticks, and pink. Oh and ice cream! I have only cut my foot on legos once so far, and REALLY hope that doesn't happen again! Enough about me!

August 20th is all about this crazy smart ball of sunshine that demands her boo-boos to be kissed (and will kiss yours if she knows your hurt), refuses to brush her hair, and insists on sleeping with the light on. She thoroughly enjoys dancing, mac and cheese, and ALL of the popsicles!

This year was another major year for growing and learning. From her colors and numbers to potty training and sleeping in a twin size bed! She rode her first roller coaster last month and is hooked! Today she told us her favorite candy is Swedish Fish and asked for her toe nails to be painted pink. A silly girl to fit in with the rest of the goofballs in our house for sure!

I can't get over how much this little human has changed my life and rocked my world for the better! Scroll down and look how much she has grown this year!! I'm equal parts excited for new adventures and sad because she has grown so much!!

Be sure to scroll all the way down to she a video of our adventures this past month!

With grit and grace,