nicholeV photography, LLC
# Monday, November 21, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011 10:53:50 AM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00) ( )
Well, if you're like me, you're most likely still struggling with what to do about holiday cards this year. As a photographer, I feel like I need to send out cards each year. If nothing else, it forces me to do at least one session a year with my kids, haha. I try to come up with something fun and unique each year, but I don't think that I'm topping last years card, to be honest. Of all my cards, it was my fav. I just so loved everything about it. Sigh. I'm half tempted to just copy the same idea again this year. Anyway, as many of you have been asking to see it, I thought that I would post it here for you. Maybe it will help give us all a little inspiration for our cards this year.

So this card was actually 4 different cards, all 4.5x5.5 in size, printed on a thick, matte cardstock paper. The cards were printed front and back and I wrapped them together in an off-white Thai handmade see-through lace paper and then wrapped them in a sage green ribbon and sealed the ribbon with a silver foil printed sticker. Everything went into a gold metallic envelope.

For the cards, I did a front card and then each of the following 3 cards represented one of my 3 children. I wanted something that really captured who they are as people, so I asked each kid to write their name and then take a black pen and draw pictures that represented them. I then scanned the images into my computer and hand-colored each picture in Photoshop and did the design and commentary for each child. I just so love that each card really captured who they are as people and that they were able to tell about themselves directly.

The images for the card were taken at my fav ghost town in Montana, which we had visited as part of a family vacation earlier in the year (cause hey, family vacation for me means going somewhere cool for a session too, haha). Each set below represents the front and back of each card.

Card #1

Card #2: I love how he wrote each of his interests and his name in his best cursive handwriting . . .

Card #3: I so love how you just so see her personality with this. She had to add bling to everything.

Card #4: With this card, obviously my 2-year-old wasn't quite old enough to really draw discernible pictures. So I gave my husband a sharpie (yeah, a big, black sharpie) and a single piece of paper and asked him to draw what Kian told him to. My husband seriously came back in less than 5 minutes with these drawings on the paper. Freehanded without a single mistake . . . . married to someone for 12 years and he just whips out this amazing talent for illustration. Who knew?!

So there you are . . . . now I need to stop procrastinating and get back to actually designing my card for this year, haha . . . . Hope you're enjoying this holiday season!
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# Sunday, November 13, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011 9:28:37 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00) ( )
Well, I have to be honest and say that I've really been looking forward to this post. We took a little family trip to Montana a couple weeks ago to my favorite ghost town and found even more to love about the place. I think that they have about the coolest cemetery in the whole country (well, from my romantic photographers viewpoint). Old, falling-down picket fences surround large gravestones with sage brush overgrowing everything.

I have to say, I love everything about desert sage brush. It's silvery, muted green color and little leaves that blur so beautifully . . . . and then there's the smell of it, especially after a rain storm . . . . there's nothing quite like it. It speaks of wild, forgotten places for me. As I did this shoot right before Halloween, right on the heels of autumn, everything about it felt melancholy . . . I wanted to evoke mourning . . . I also fell in love with my 85 1.2 lens all over again. I actually don't shoot with it that much, but it really suited everything that I was going for here, so all the images from these sessions were shot with it.

So here are a couple images. There are many, many more to follow, but these suffice for now. First off, my daughter. She's always my favorite muse and she really got into character here (though it did cost me a $30 toy from Amazon to get her to actually touch the headstone).

And then a bride . . . . I really don't think that I could love this bride any more. She's as gorgeous inside as she is outside and a truly amazing model. Not only did she and her new husband drive forever to the middle-of-nowhere Montana, but she was so much fun to work with and such a trooper with the cold, cold wind that was blowing throughout this whole shoot. I completely admit that my inspiration for this came from Kamee June (who is also part of this circle, so check out her work!). She did a ghost shoot a year or two ago and I couldn't resist doing my own. So I shot every series of images on a tripod and also shot the scene without anyone in it and then faded the two together when editing. So here's just a taste of this entire shoot.

I do think that this will go down as my fav shoot of 2011. You know it's a good shoot when you slowly savor editing every image. There will be many more to come.

But in the meantime, don't forget to check out the amazing workshop giveaway we're doing and enter to win your choice of {life as art} workshop! And also don't forget to continue through this blog circle and see all the other amazing fine art creations that others have done. So hop on over to Maureen Wilson Maureen Wilson | photographer in McComb Mississippi and see what she's done!

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# Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:54:23 AM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00) ( )
Whew! Well, I'm going to be honest and say that I've been extra busy lately. On top of sessions and weddings and travel and a little family vacation, we managed to find time to create a new {life as art} workshop website. And even better, we've lowered the prices across the board on all our workshop products.

So come see the new website and save $50 off your purchase/enrollment in of any {life as art} Workshop. Just enter this code:


at checkout!

And we also have some love for Flourish Emporium. So don't forget to save an
extra 25% off your entire purchase. Just enter


at checkout.

Oh what's a launch without a giveaway?! I'm
giving away a {life as art} Workshop for FREE. That's right, we are giving away a 2012 {life as art} Workshop to one lucky winner. The winner can choose to have a workshop in a box of their choice OR to attend an in-person workshop of their choice. This is an incredible value, so don't miss out. This contest will run until November 25th, so enter while you can!

So how to enter?
  • To receive 1 entry into the contest, just leave a comment to this blog post.
  • For 2 more entries, sign up for our newsletter and become a fan of my Flourish Emporium Facebook page (if you aren't already). Come back here and leave a comment to this post with your Facebook name so I can find you (yay!).
  • To receive 3 entries, tweet about this contest with a link or post a link to this contest on your Facebook wall. Come back and leave a comment here with a link to your post.
  • To receive 4 entries, post a link back to a nicholeV website on your blog or other website (i.e. or and come back here and leave a comment with a link to your link.
  • To received 10 entries, if you love Nichole Van products, post a blog review of at least 50 words raving about the product that you love the most and link to it. Again, come back here and leave a comment linking to your post.
Yep, that's a total of 20 possible entries and past contests have proven that more entries do matter. Note that all online posts need to post-date this blog entry (sorry, no digging up old posts) and entries need to be visible publicly, as I do verify them. The winner will be chosen using a number generated via and will be announced on November 26th.

The fine print: The winner of this contest will have the workshop fee waived for a 2012 in-person workshop of their choice OR they may opt for either the {life as art} professional workshop in a box OR lighting workshop in a box. If the winner chooses to attend an in-person workshop, the winner will be responsible for all travel and lodging expenses possibly associated with attending the workshop.

And how's about one image? This is from a little family vacation we took to Montana. There are many more images of this cemetery to come, which I've decided is my new favorite place ever. So come take a {life as art} workshop and learn all about how to create images like this:
# Sunday, November 6, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011 8:40:42 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00) ( )
For this month's installment of "What ____ Looks Like," I decided to visit some old files. I live in a mountain community which is lush and beautiful and bucolic in the summer, but is also buried in snow in the winter. This is the time of year that the snow arrives and I usually don't see the ground again until May. We received our first foot of snow this week and my kids were just ecstatic. They couldn't dig out their snow boots and ski bibs and sleds fast enough. I managed a few images of them playing in the snow, but I was mostly struck by how much they've changed in just a few short years. So here is my daughter in 2006: same deal, playing in the first snow fall of the year . . . .

And here she is this week . . . . crazy how much she's changed . . . .

Continue the circle of this group and hop on over to see what
Brenda Acuncius  |  Dallas/Ft. Worth Child Photographer
has done this month.

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# Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 11:17:46 AM (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
So after many requests and a ton of work, our Texture Palette now has a pro version! What does this mean?

Well, you know all those textures you have saved into random folders on various harddrives (or is that just me?), now you can organize them all into one place in Photoshop. And even better, have a program that will organize and open the textures for you. So how does this work? You install the Texture Palette Pro (yes, it comes with an installer, so it's SUPER easy to get going with it!) and then you import your textures into the palette. You can organize them into folders if you want as you import them. Once they're imported, you just play one of the actions included in the set. The Palette opens and you choose your folder and the texture you want. The program opens the texture, resizes it to perfectly fit your photo, integrates it into your photo, separates the texture color from the texture pattern (sooooo useful to be able to control them separately) and then leaves everything in layers so you can tweak as necessary. Whew! And best of all, the new set comes with 16 new gorgeous, high-res texture files. So if you don't have any other textures, the set will get you started!

You can see the whole process here:

So what are you waiting for?! Hop on over to Flourish Emporium and check out the new Texture Palette Pro! And even better, we're running a 25% off coupon code until Sunday, October 16th. Enter Texture2011 at checkout and save an additional 25% off your purchase!

One last image!

So come check out what everyone has been raving about!
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# Sunday, October 9, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011 10:58:11 PM (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
Well, I'm excited for this second installment of our fine art exploration group. I LOVE having something that forces me to actually get out of my office and realize the ideas in my head.

So for this month, I decided that I wanted to mess with my love of encaustic. Encaustic is an ancient art form (think Egyptian pyramids, yes, it's that old) where basically you use a mixture of beeswax and resin to paint and create luminous works of art. So of course, in recent years, some fine art photographers have taken to incorporating encaustic into their fine art photo printing. I've loved the look for ages and even ordered some encaustic prints, but decided to FINALLY start creating my own.

The process is quite simple. You get a board, glue your photo to it, melt some encaustic medium, add a little pigment to the encaustic, pour the melted encaustic over your mounted print and then use a heat gun to tweak the look of the image.  Easy, peasy, right?!

Hmmm, well, it is simple, but there is a lot of nuance in the process, haha, as I've been realizing. First, it required getting the helpful workers at the local hardware store to cut a HUGE sheet of MDF into tiny little print-size chunks. So worth it, though, as me and table saws have never had a friendly relationship. From there, I needed a good image. I love lighter images for encaustic and I love the look of encaustic with sketched-like images. So I decided to do that to a photo.

So I started with this image of my daughter:

I then edited the image to have a more washed-out look courtesy of my Tints and Textures Action Set:

Then I took the original image and turned it into a black and white line drawing, again in PS:

Then I blended the two edited images together, to create a sketched, pastel look to the image:

Lastly, I layered some textures from my new Texture Palette Pro set (which if you haven't seen it, you need to check it out. It's amazing! . . . . oh and don't miss out on our great newsletter savings too, haha)

Okay, whew, that was the first step. My goal here was to create an image that looked more like a painting or pastel sketch than a photograph. I then printed the photo as a 5x7 print (which allowed me to create a more off-centered composition), glued it to a 5x7 piece of MDF that the poor hardware employees had spent an afternoon cutting for me and then melted and poured my encaustic . . . Here is the final result:

I love how the wax creates a yummy layered texture look to the image and the little tint in the wax warms it even more. Here are a couple detail shots of the sides, so you can see how the wax just runs over the edge:

A final image. I love how you can really see the texture of the encaustic in this image. I wish that everyone could actually handle this print. It's beautiful how the encaustic creates a depth and hazy luminosity to the image:

So there you go! I can't wait to do more encaustic projects . . . . it's so fun to actually take an image from conception and shooting through the actual art of printmaking, creating a one-of-a-kind work.

And if this isn't enough, hop on over to
Maureen Wilson | photographer in McComb Mississippi and see what amazing fine art project she's done this month!
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# Sunday, September 25, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011 10:54:19 PM (Mountain Daylight Time, UTC-06:00) ( )
So it's time again for another post for the lifestyle blog circle that I'm participating in. I'm so loving this project because it's forcing me to get out my camera and document my life. Which is honestly why I ever picked up a camera in the first place . . . so it's nice to get back to shooting those that I love the most.

So here is just a smattering of what our evenings look like. Nothing posed, nothing really planned . . . . no art prints here. Just my life with my family.

We live in a beautiful mountain community nestled in the trees (a rarity in deserty Utah, haha). We've been loving the balmy fall weather we've been having and are trying to soak up every last warm ray before winter comes. So every evening finds us outside playing pirates in trees or taking a walk up to the local park for a game of frisbee.

Pirates at sunset with stick swords . . . .

And family walks up to park . . . you gotta love the deer . . . they're ridiculously tame around here and everywhere. I think that I see deer more than I see birds, honestly.

And he's off . . . . my three-year-old just can't seem to stick with us . . . he's either completely ahead or utterly behind. This night he chose ahead . . .

And I love that the fall leaves are just beginning . . . This is a composite of several images and yes, you can barely see my little guy still running in the left hand corner, haha.

My older children being good and NOT running away . . . 

This park has to have about the best view of any park in the state, honestly . . .

A little time-out for running off while the older kids play frisbee . . . Why do all our family activities involve him being in time-out at some point?

And here's the last shot right before she fell (she's fine) but the sobbing meant putting down the camera and tending to the wounded . . . again, just a typical evening, haha.

Whew! So there you have it . . . now hop on over and see what Brenda Acuncius  |  Dallas/Ft. Worth Child Photographer has done for her challenge this month!

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# Sunday, September 11, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011 10:54:23 PM (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, August 29, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011 7:06:13 AM (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, July 5, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 10:37:37 PM (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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<November 2011>
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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