Meet Nicole

Hey y'all! I'm Nicole & I capture authentic moments for classically elegant, unconventionally adventurous couples who believe in stylish simplicity. 

My Shoot & Share Contest Results 2019 – About the Photos

Engagements

 

Every year, I enter 50 photos into the Shoot and Share contest, an annual contest that received about half a million submissions this year. Now that the results are live, I thought it would be fun to do a recap of the images of mine that placed in the Top 30% and higher and provide a little explanation of each shot.

This year I had:

  • 2 photos in the Top 30%
  • 4 photos in the Top 20%
  • 3 photos in the Top 10%, and
  • 1 photo make the Finals!

It’s always such an honor to see those badges and it’s so fun for me to see what the voters latched onto.

Enjoy!

Top 30%

There’s not much I don’t love about this photo. The colors, the textures, and the graceful elegance of Clara’s motions are all so exquisite. And, of course, when Paris is my backdrop it will always have my heart.

About the Shot

We had a beautiful sunny day, so I didn’t have to be too concerned with having enough light. Which meant my priority was simply making sure I was getting the soft creamy background I wanted (via my F-stop) and making sure I was shooting at a fast enough shutter speed to freeze Clara’s motions. But, again, since it was quite sunny I had PLENTY of wiggle room with my shutter speed!

Ever since I snapped this, I knew it was going to be one of my all-time favorites. I’m ALL about capturing candid moments as they happen vs. staging them. Obviously during portraits, you have to strike a balance, but beyond that I like to follow you around (yes like a creeper) and catch unprompted moments like this!

About the Shot

We had just finished portraits in the middle of downtown Chicago, in the dead of winter, and the sun had already gone way down so by the end of our portraits my ISO was already cranked up to where it needed to be to let in enough light. The rest of the settings from this shot were leftover from the last portrait we did since the light was all the same at that point. I saw Alex grab the champagne bottle and just knew I had to snag that moment!

Top 20%

Wintery romance at its finest! I love this classic shot of Hong and Bryan during their winter wonderland wedding in Northern Michigan. Don’t be afraid of winter weddings, friends – they are downright dreamy!

About the Shot

We had a decent amount of light and it was nicely diffused through the clouds, so I didn’t have to mess with much in terms of settings! I figured out what I wanted as far as background blur and then set the rest to accommodate that. My go-to setting for ISO when I have good light is 400. If it’s super sunny, I’ll drop it. If it’s super overcast, I’m usually at 800. The bigger part of my thinking for these portraits was the positioning of the couple. As luck would have it, Northern Michigan had had a fairly warm week, leaving most of the snow melted. The good news for us was that the bay was still frozen over and looked beautiful. We really wanted winter vibes so we found a spot right on the edge of the bay that still had some snow and set up shop there! All that white behind them is the frozen bay!

Another beaut from Hong and Bryan’s wedding! I ADORE this winter bouquet from Stem’s Market. And the way Hong’s fur wrap is draped gives us the winter feel without having to show the snow. I love the color palette and that little pop of blue from the thistles!

About the Shot

Most of the info from the shot above applies here! Not much else to add other than how I chose the crop. I didn’t want any of the bay background in this – I wanted the flowers to be the first focus, followed by that little glimpse of Hong’s beautiful wedding day style. It makes for such an ethereal photo!

Another favorite of Clara! And in one of my FAVORITE courtyards in Paris, the Palais Royal. There is just SO much elegance here. And I love the whimsy of those black and white columns. A pink leotard and skirt was the perfect complement to the light blue, cream, and grey hues of the surroundings.

About the Shot

Even more so in this shot than the first photo of Clara, shutter speed was important because that moment where the lines are perfect from fingertip to toe is so fleeting. We did a number of takes here to make sure that every little bend as well as the toss of the skirt was perfect.  Because the courtyard was a bit smaller than the area where the fountain was, I opened up my aperture a bit more to make sure Clara popped off the background the same way she did by the fountain.

Who DOESN’T want to elope like this? With a beautiful view of the city and a personalized champagne toast. I love this shot of Emma and Brian during their fall elopement planned by Lace and Brass Events. It was such a beautiful sunny fall day full of golden wheat hues.

About the Shot

We had beautiful light this afternoon, so my main concern for this shot was my aperture. In order to get this shot on a 50mm, I’m standing fairly far back so it’s easy to accidentally end up with soft focus when my couples are under this arch. Which means I usually don’t shoot below 2.8 at this spot. Plus, the background is already far enough away that I know the background blur is going to naturally be in line with my style. We set up Emma and Brian’s picnic blanket in the middle of this archway, told them to wait for my cue to pop their champagne, and then sat back and let them enjoy each other’s company!

Top 10%

Oh I LOVE this shot of Amanda and Mark walking downtown! It was a super rainy, overcast day, but I actually like it more because of that since it means we get to see a sprinkling of headlights and streetlights. All of those things give it a little more of a magical vibe!

About the Shot

We didn’t have much light, so my first order of business was upping my ISO. After that, composition was my biggest priority, so my 35mm was the obvious choice to get that full shot with the theatre sign. If you aren’t from Chicago, this street is NUTSO. So to get this shot we waited for a break in traffic, ran out into this center area, and did our thing! I’m obsessed!

Ok but really, is there anything better than a rooftop view like this? The Ambassador Hotel has this INCREDIBLE rooftop terrace that made for an unbelievable setting for Charley and Nick’s engagement session. And a classic view like this calls for a classic wardrobe which they pulled off beautifully with their black and white color palette.

About the Shot

It was a very sunny day, which was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because we had plenty of light to work with, and a curse because it meant it would have been very easy to accidentally blow out the background since my couple was standing in the shade. And that was obviously not an option. So I had to make sure to watch my highlights and keep that background in check. That was my number one priority when finding my settings.

If you want to channel some elegant European vibes for your wedding day, The Armour House is the perfect option to accomplish that. With beautiful, light stone walls, giant windows, and a light pink and green checkered floor, it is full of soft elegant romance. And that’s just the inside! The outside is just as lovely!

About the Shot

Despite those big beautiful windows, this spot is actually pretty dark, so I did have to up my ISO a bit to give us enough light to work with. Aside from that, I just played around with the rest to get the look I wanted! For this shot I knew I wanted to show the bride looking out of the window but I wanted her to still be the main focal point of the image as opposed to pulling back and showcasing more of the architecture. It was a lovely way to show off her big beautiful bouquet, her loose effortless hairstyle, and the detailing on her dress.

Finalist

I love this shot of Amanda & Mark at the Rookery Building in Chicago! It’s full of classic elegance and can you ever go wrong with a huge spiral staircase? So many cool angles to play with!

About the Shot

This shot was tricky to expose for because the area was really dark; outdoors was incredibly gloomy and rainy so the windows didn’t provide much light for us to work with. That meant cranking my ISO pretty high. In addition to that, I was shooting down from a decent distance up, so I had to be very conscious of my F-stop to make sure I got the couple in focus. I used my 50mm lens because I liked the crop that gave me with the staircase (I prefer to get the crop I want in camera as opposed to cropping things later). Since I was on a fixed 50mm, I slowed my shutter speed down as much as possible, stopping at 1/100. Even though I wanted more light, I did not want to risk soft focus. After a bit of brightening in Lightroom, you’d never know how tough our light was 🙂

See more weddings, elopements, and engagements

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