nicholeV photography, LLC
# Sunday, 11 September 2011
Sunday, 11 September 2011 22:54:23 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
I love art. It’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I grew up thinking of myself as Anne of Green Gables where I had to turn the whole world into something romantic. I longed to be the Lady of Shalot floating to her doom down the river, pining in her unrequited love for Lancelot. I ached for rustling silk dresses with puffed sleeves and thick hair to my knees. I wanted a world that was removed from the mundane simplicity of everyday life.

But of course, life comes in and we grow up and move on. There isn’t enough time in the day to even shower, much less indulge in artistic flights of fancy. We have children, get a job and acquire debts. We cheer soccer games and kiss booboos and wash that same cup for the thousandth time.  We forget the past and become “adults.”

And then one day, we pick up a camera. And take that first shot.

And all that youthful longing comes rushing back—it’s as if we have been drowning all these years and someone finally pulled us back to the surface. Color comes back to the world, color that we had never noticed was missing.

Coming up for that first gasp of air is exhilarating. For me, I couldn’t get enough of photography. It consumed me as I was suddenly able to express everything inside, all this longing that had been pushed aside for so many years. I would stay up nearly all night working on a new project or a fun idea. I would read everything and had a huge list of photographic concepts I wanted to try out.

But of course, again, life comes in. And we want to share our newfound gift and now there are photography debts to be paid too. So we leave that list of concepts and turn our passion into our job. It’s fun and rewarding and exhilarating in a different way. But appointments and editing and deadlines leave little room for personal expression.

But I’m still that hopelessly romantic girl. And I still have a list of creative ideas a mile long that I would love to complete. Henri Matisse stated, “An artist is an explorer.” I often feel like that, though perhaps it’s just a journey of self-exploration, understanding myself a little more. So I decided to take a little time each month to explore photography as an art form, to elevate my understanding of both art and myself, and allow that deeply artistic side of myself a chance to spread her wings.

So I banded together with a handful of other photographers to create a blog project focused on exploring the fine art side of photography. Each month, we will post a photo or series of images focused on art and photography. There are no rules. Just post what comes from the heart and allow the inner artist a chance to explore and fly.

So welcome to “{elevate} a fine art photography exploration”

This is a concept that I've had in my head for a long time. I can't say that I'm 100% satisfied with this image . . . . you might see me rework it at some point . . . . . but for now, I just need a good title . . .

I'm so excited for this fine art exploration group and the fact that it will push me every month to learn and grow as an artist . . .

So head over to Maureen of Maureen Wilson Photography and see what her fine art vision is for this month!

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# Monday, 29 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011 07:06:13 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Whew! Okay, so it's been a ridiculously long time since I posted here . . . but I'm determined to make up for it, haha.

Today I have something a little different for you. Several weeks ago, I was asked to join an amazing little group of photographers who wanted to start a fun project. The idea was that once a month, we would post lifestyle images of our own families focused on a theme of our choice. Let's face it. I rarely pick up the camera to take photos of my own family. It's terribly sad but true. My mom teases my constantly because at any family event, I'm guaranteed to be the one who doesn't bring a camera to record anything. It's not that I don't enjoy having images of my own kids . . . . it's just that a camera equals work for me nowadays and I usually see family time as a get-away from "work." Does that make any sense?

But the sad reality is that my children are growing up fast and I would love to have more images of them just being them . . . . So I need to pick up my camera more and challenge myself to capture them as they really are, right now. Anyway, I'm excited for this project, because I know that I can pick up my camera for a few minutes each month to record something of my family. We have a basic topic: "What _____ Looks Like" and each month I get to fill in the blank with whatever I want it to be.

So this is my first post . . . . we spent nearly a month in Australia this summer. It was fantastic. We visited old friends and made new ones. We did workshops and some family sessions. We hung out on the beach and we hiked through rain forests. I forced myself to carry my huge camera along for a lot of it and just shoot. So here are some of my personal images from our trip. There's nothing special here, nothing amazing . . . . no pre-planned shots, no fussing with lighting equipment or flashes (though that would have helped, haha). Just some family happy snaps of our lovely time in Oz. So this is what Australia looks like to me, just taking photos of my fam down under.

Okay, so I lied . . . . her is one shot of my daughter from my pro workshop where she modeled for us . . .

And even better, click through to see the other photographers and their posts with this project! Brenda Acuncius, a Dallas/Ft. Worth Child Photographer is next. So click and see what she's done!

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# Tuesday, 05 July 2011
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 22:37:37 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
So as if my July wasn't already busy enough with Australia and our Flourish re-launch, I also have had time to be [Framed] . . . If you haven't heard about [Framed], well, then you really need to check it out.

[Framed] Show

They do web shows that feature different photographers and even little competitions. So this week is their first competition web show and, yes, I was chosen as one of the competing photographers. So if you'd like to see me in action, shooting and doing what I love, check out the link! And even better, throw in a vote for me. Apparently there will be a finale competition with all the webisode winners, so hey, vote for me if you'd like to see more, haha.

Anyway, I thought that I'd post some of my images from the shoot a little larger for those who would like to see. I also wanted to post some of them SOOC, just so you could see how little editing most of them have. As many of you know, I'm a HUGE fan of getting it right in-camera.

So here are some images. This first series are from my shoot with model Kenzie. And in looking at my exif, from first pop to last, I shot for a total of 23 minutes to get all these images, including 5 minutes spent walking between locations and all the time it takes to set-up my lighting gear. Whew! It was ridiculously fast.

This one was one of my favs from the shoot. Nothing like making the sun at high noon in summer look like nighttime. Everyone always asks how I create these shots in Photoshop, but the reality is that I do them in-camera, haha. So here is the photo straight from camera:

And here's the edited version . . . . like I said, the difference is subtle . . .

A few more from my shoot with Kenzie. These were all edited with my Tints and Textures action set:

Here is another SOOC before:

And after going through PS . . . . again, the difference is so subtle . . . .

After shooting downtown, we headed to a studio location and I got to work with models Phoebe and Nate. Huge kudos go out to Darin and Dallan, the hairstylists, for their amazing idea to use turn the truffle wrappers into a hairpiece for Phoebe. Loved it!

My goal with this shoot was to create images that Utah Truffles would realistically use in their advertising. So I wanted to make the images fun and really feature the chocolate without making the images too overly sexy or racy, which is soooo hard to do when you have two amazingly gorgeous models!

So here are the images. Again, from first click to last, I shot for exactly 20 minutes to get these images, including a complete lighting reset when I decided to completely change what I was doing, haha.

For starters, an SOOC before:

And after going through PS . . . .

More from the shoot . . . .

And then, at the end of it all, I was super flattered that the Framed crew asked me to do a quick group portrait for them . . . . so one light and some posing later, I was able to frame them, haha. . . .

I think that every client should have to be a tiger for at least one shot . . . . just sayin . . . .

Whew! It was quite the amazing day. Thanks again to all the Framed crew! It was so much fun.

And don't forget to vote for me! I would love to work with Framed again in their finale challenge!

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# Thursday, 30 June 2011
Thursday, 30 June 2011 15:59:33 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Whew! You know that I'm insanely busy when I go nearly a month without posting anything, haha. I am in full stress mode, prepping for our upcoming workshops in Brisbane, Australia in less than 4 weeks (eek!). The workshops promise to be so amazing . . . . I can't wait! And we even still have a couple slots, particularly in our Lighting workshops. So if you've been sitting on the fence, now is the time to jump in! Email me about our last minute specials.

And as if packing for Australia wasn't enough, we're also busily putting the final touches on a complete site redesign for Flourish Emporium. The new site is slicker and prettier . . . . but best of all, we're doing to be upgrading most of our products over the next few months. So this means that my Essential Color Pop action set is about to get even better . . . . think softer, even more flexible actions and an expanded Texture Palette that comes with every texture I sell . . . . I'm so excited for all these new changes to go live. We have a launch date set for next week, but we'll see how it goes, haha. We're still working out all the last minute glitches, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, here are a few images from our last Lighting Workshop earlier this month, just to get everyone excited about the workshops in Australia in a few weeks! Thanks again to our fabulous models and wonderful participants . . . . the workshop was just amazing! And of course, these were all edited with the new versions of my Essential Color Pop and Essential BW actions that we'll be releasing next week!


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# Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 07:54:27 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
More session images . . . . so loved this bridal session. Her dress was just beautiful and the setting spectacular! Add in a gorgeous bride and I call this perfection, haha!

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# Friday, 13 May 2011
Friday, 13 May 2011 09:53:28 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Alright, in my continuing attempt to at least catch up a little on posting sessions, here is a fabulous engagement session from last fall! A beautiful gracious couple and some fall scenery . . . . it doesn't get much better!

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# Monday, 02 May 2011
Monday, 02 May 2011 10:44:03 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Alright, I'm hopelessly and utterly behind on client sessions, but I'm determined to at least post some. This was one of my fav sessions from last fall. We actually broke it into two sessions . . . . I mean, we did have to hike to get to the waterfall, haha. The photos were so fun and working with this beautiful couple was even more wonderful!

Some images . . . .

So loved the look of this image . . . . edited with my new Tints and Textures set . . . . it totally looks like something from 1975, haha.

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# Thursday, 14 April 2011
Thursday, 14 April 2011 10:58:26 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Whew! Well, I've been aching for spring around here, but woke up to 6 inches of snow this morning, so spring is still a ways off. But being cooped up inside isn't all bad, right?! It's given me time to perfect a new action set: my Nichole Van Tints and Textures actions.

This new set is amazing. Not only does it have several amazing vintage tinted actions, but it also includes my new Texture Palette. This Texture Palette has revolutionized using textures for me. The action is incredibly fast, allowing you to integrate a texture into your photo in under 15 seconds, start to finish! The Texture Palette opens a palette of the 12 textures, allowing you to choose which one you want to use. From there, the action inserts the chosen texture into your photo, resizes it to perfectly fit your photo, separates the color of the texture from the texture itself (a VERY useful thing) and then allows you to adjust the exposure of the texture to match that of your photo. Did I mention that it does all of this in less than 15 seconds? Wow!!

This fabulous new Tints and Textures set includes 13 yummy vintage-toned actions and 12 enormous high-res texture files, as well as 3 Texture Palette actions, giving you quick, fast results! I love this set so much, I even created a little video demo of it. You can see it on our Flourish Emporium Facebook page here:

Texture Palette Demo Video

And even better, let's have a coupon code. Visit Flourish Emporium and enter this code at checkout to receive an additional 20% off your entire order, including the new Tints and Texture set.


And if you've been waiting for a coupon for the {life as art} workshops, now is your chance. We're running an amazing $75 off coupon over at Workshop Jungle. So hop on over there and get yourself a little workshop love!

And how's about some images?! The new Texture Palette:

Tints and Textures Actions:

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# Tuesday, 05 April 2011
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 11:32:47 (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Just thought that I'd pop in and mention that the lovely women over at Workshop Jungle are giving away one of my {life as art} Professional Workshops in a Box. They've been able to see and use the box and offer an excellent review of its contents. So hop over and enter to win!


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# Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 14:56:10 (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00) ( )
First of all, let me post a winner for my survey contest. I used's number generator to come up with a winner and don't have a first name for my winner, but their email address includes the phrase MdniteMustang. So congrats on winning a $200 gift certificate for any of my workshops or products. Thanks so much to everyone who participated! I so appreciated your feedback!

And on another note, I've had some people asking about this soup, so I thought that I would post this recipe.

Hearty Indian Beans and Grain Soup

Alright, this is my all-time favorite, hearty, warm-you-to-your-soul, winter soup. I eat it nearly every day for lunch. It freezes beautifully and has around 100 calories of wholesome, fiber-filled goodness per cup.  It’s incredibly satisfying and wonderfully filling. Can you tell I love this recipe?

Let me just say that this is an Indian-based dish, so if you don’t like curry or Indian food, this might not be the soup for you. Also, the dish calls for a hefty 2 tablespoons of garam masala, which is an Indian specialty spice mix. There are many brands of garam masala out there, but each one can taste extremely different. I really prefer the garam masala that McCormick makes (I know, sounds lame). I’ve tried other brands, but there’s just something in the McCormick version that keeps me coming back. For those who live locally, I’ve actually found the McCormick garam masala at some Targets and Fresh Market stores. Don’t substitute anything else. It won’t taste even remotely the same.

Also, this recipe uses a Bob’s Red Mill mixture of beans and grains. It’s fabulously delicious with red beans, several types of lentils, barley and lots of whole grains (like wheat berries and kamut). I actually adapted this recipe from the recipe on the back of the package. You could most certainly do your own mixture of beans and grains, though I love the convenience and tastiness of the Bob’s Red Mill mixture. Also, you could easily make this a vegan dish by omitting the chicken and using vegetable stock instead. The meat is nice but hardly a necessary component of this soup.
  • 3 chicken breasts (about 1-1.5 pounds), chopped into bite-size chuncks
  • ½ package of Bob’s Red Mill “Whole Grains and Beans Soup Mix “ or 13 oz of the mix.
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. garam masala (preferably McCormick brand)
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 10 c. water + chicken boullion to make 10 cups stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup sugar or ZSweet powdered in a blender. I prefer to use the ZSweet as it doesn’t add any calories, but sugar is fine too.
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced into medallions
  • 2 c. frozen peas
  • 2 lb head of cauliflower, cut into smaller pieces
Place the chicken, bean mixture, onion, garlic, garam masala, curry, water, bay leaves, tomato paste and sugar into a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 2 hours or until the larger beans are soft. DO NOT add any salt or boullion to the soup, as this will cause the beans not to soften. Once the beans are softish, add chicken boullion to taste (I like to use an organic, reduced sodium condensed broth base). Then add the carrots and cook for about 5-10 minutes, just until they loose their crunch but still have some bite. Then add the peas and cauliflower. The cauliflower will cook quickly, so it only needs about 3-5 minutes. I like to leave the veggies a little crunchy. This helps them to freeze and reheat better. At this point, you might need to adjust salt and sugar a little if the dish is too sweet or too salty. And voila! Dish and serve!

This soup also freezes beautifully. I put it into 2 cup plastic containers in my freezer. You just microwave to thaw and warm it. It’s a perfectly proportioned, 200-calorie lunch!

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<2011 September>
About Nichole

Nichole Van has repeatedly been labeled as a hot, new, up and coming photographer. As a Utah wedding photographer and a Utah portrait photographer, she specializes in turning everyday life into art. Nichole loves expressing the unique beauty of every client, creating artistic images that make people gasp when they see them.

As an international award-winning photographer, Nichole won the prestigious International 8x10 Portrait of the Year from Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) for 2007. Consequently, her international award winning photography was featured in Rangefinder Magazine in June 2008. She has also taken First, Second and Third place honors from WPPI in other international competitions for her child and family photography. Additionally, Nichole has received numerous Accolades of Excellence and currently holds an Accolade of Photographic Mastery from WPPI.

In addition to her love for photography, Nichole loves teaching and enjoyed being English faculty at Brigham Young University for nearly 10 years. As the best of both worlds, teaching photography to others is her passion. Nichole currently offers international photography workshops focusing on helping others enhance creativity and artistry in their photos. Combining her excellence in teaching with her photographic knowledge, Nichole’s Life as Art Workshops are quickly revamping industry standards for photographic workshops.

Nichole lives in southern Utah County with her husband and three children. You can see her work at

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