I am a father, husband, photographer, brewmaster, artist and political enthusiast. Not exactly in that order, but I do my best to balance them the best I can.Where is home?
Home is anywhere my family and camera are with me. If you mean where was I born and where do I collect a paycheck, that would be Pittsburgh, PA. Home of many great people, great food, beers, sports and family.Did you go to school for photography?
Kind of… I went to school for graphic design and as I got deeper in to my degree, I took more and more classes in photography. By the time I graduated, I had at least as many classes in photography as I did design. I had always used a camera my whole life, so the classes I took were not totally new information to me. It was nice to get a different perspective on what I had already been doing for years and to fully understand why I was doing things the way I was doing them. I quickly learned that there is no right or wrong way of doing photography, only the way that tells the story you see through the lens. Sure there are rules of photography that make you a good photographer, but a great photographer bends and breaks the rules.
How long have you been a photographer?
Well that depends on how you want to look at it. I have been taking pictures since I was 15 but only started to make money from photography for about 8 or so years now in 2011.
What got you started in photography?
Like I said, I have always taken photos since I was 15. How I got really in to it was when I met my wife. I wanted to document every aspect of our relationship, where we went and what we did. I started to perfect my style and vision through photographing her and my younger brother at his hockey games.
I entered a few contests and won a new camera that really got me in to photography even more. It wasn’t until I was about to graduate college that I decided to become a wedding photographer. While in school, I did a few weddings with my wife “at the time she was my fiancee” but did not think I would do it as my career. While planning our wedding and looking for our photographer, I fell in love with weddings even more and decided this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
So here I am today, an award winning wedding photographer with my own in home studio/gallery and my own business that I am proud to say I built from the ground up. Even though we have been around a lot longer than a lot of other wedding photographers out there, I think we still have a lot of room to build our family business in to something bigger in the future.
How would you describe your style?
My style is unique from everyone else and there is not just one word that can describe what it is we do. So I created my own style and we call it N Style. N standing for Nick’s Style. We like to capture the brides wedding day as we see it and adapt to how the couple interacts, the families interact and what settings are around us with a twist of our own special touch and photographic love.
How many weddings do you average a year?
Between 20-30. I know that is a huge range but it all depends on when and where the weddings are. We do a good amount of out of town work so obviously we can not be in two places at once. If we are in one place for the whole weekend and we have 2 clients who want to book us, then we sometimes might do 2 weddings in a weekend. Most years we do 25!
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
Nikon DSLR’S. I would name which one but we change every so often when something needed or better comes out. I am sure if I name what we are using now, by the time this is published then we might be on to a newer Nikon. You can be assured that we will always have never gear and the latest technology to make sure we get the best possible quality photos. It is not always about the gear, it is mostly technique, knowledge, experience and vision.
If you had to choose only one lens to use what would it be and why?
This is a tough one because I love every lens I own for different reasons. If I could only use one then it would have to be my 50 f1.4 because it allows me to shoot in near dark situations, on. Full frame body it gives me nice coverage for portraits and small group shots and on a crop body it gives me just a tad more reach when needed. It is truly a great lens for sharpness, color and nice creamy smooth backgrounds.
What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?
Whatever is needed to get the job done. Everything from reflectors, Nikon flashes, studio strobes and video lights. Most times I try and find available light to use around me, but there are times when you need to use artificial light to make the picture work, so we are ready when those situations arise.
Do you use Photoshop to edit your images?
Not really anymore since there are so many other great pieces of software out there that are just as good if not better. We use Lightroom, which is similar but is mainly used for our organization of the images and basic edits. We still use photoshop if we want to take an image to a different level or need to airbrush something.
Do you plan on buying new equipment soon and if so what are you looking at?
Actually we just got new iMacs, new cameras and lenses for this year. But our next purchase is probably going to be another set of radio poppers for some fun and cool ideas we have for this year.
What albums do you offer and do you design them yourself?
We offer magazine style albums with thinner pages like a magazine and also coffee table style albums with the thicker pages. Both come with over 100 different cover options and we do all of the album designing ourselves. We do have a crew of great designers that can assist us when we get really busy, but we always do the final designs. When a client books us they book us for our vision and artistic abilities. Outsourcing everything would eliminate our vision we saw when we first took the photo and might not render the same output we hoped for from the start. Plus I like to have control of the final output
How about cropping an image? Do you do it?
Sure I will crop an image but I like to get it right in camera as much as I can. When you crop you lose part of the image which might limit the size the final image can be printed as. So we like to do it in camera when possible and let our feet do the cropping.
How important is social media to you and have you booked any work from it?
Social media is HUGE!!! If your not connected to the world then your clients are not connected to you. We push our ideas, vision, tips, promotions and more through many different forms of social media be it Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and our blog. We book half of our work from people who found us through something we posted on twitter or Facebook or our blog. Most of our clients are between the ages of 22-40 and most of them are on Twitter and Facebook so it is a great way to connect with them. For our other clients outside of that age range, we still use many other forms to connect and grow with them too.
What do you think you have succeeded in where others have failed?
This is hard to say because you do not succeed until you are no longer living and people can look at your work and say wow. But what works for me currently is that I have developed my own style and image where I see so many other photographers just copy someone else and are happy with being a copycat. What is going to keep us going where they will fall behind is when the economy changes and there are 500 others photographers out there just like them. Now who is going to stand out from those 500 similar photographers? I will tell you who, the handful of us that took the time to developed a style and vision that no one else can copy.
What is that style and vision you speak of?
Sorry I can’t tell just yet Check back with me in 75 years when I am no longer living and you will know In all seriousness, my style and vision can be seen through my work. It is easy to see and easy to read, but not easy to copy because every single one of my clients are different and I adapt to them.
How many images do you shoot at a wedding and how many do you deliver to a client?
I don’t like to set a limit on how many photos I take. If you set a limit or make a goal of shooting x amount of photos, then you are not truly telling the story of the day rather than just filling a bogus number. I could shoot anywhere from 300 photos to 10,000, it all just depends on what is happening and what the story is. I usually deliver about 75% of what I shoot. If I shoot it then it was meant to be shared with the client. The 25% that I delete are double takes, test shots or things I was experimenting on so the client isn’t missing anything if I throw it away.How do you make the bridal party and bride and groom feel relaxed?
That’s easy, just be myself, talk to them, have fun with them and treat them like they are your friend and not just a client. Also, listen to them and seek their thoughts on the event helps them relax knowing you care about their story and not just there to take pictures.Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding? How did you handle it?
Sure, every wedding something goes wrong that is 99% of the time out of your control. That is the biggest reason I became a wedding photographer. I love when I am faced with a challenge and I love to think of new ways to overcome them. An example was we were shooting a wedding at a place that had amazing outdoor settings. It rained! The bride freaked! We smiled! Why did we smile? Because we knew it was time to truly work our magic. We found locations that were covered but also let us include the setting and mood for the day. These ended up being some of the best photos we ever took at this rainy wedding.
The other 1% are problems that are our fault like a faulty camera, dead batteries or broken lens. That is the reason why we come to a wedding prepared for the worst and bring, 4 cameras, 10 lenses, 5 flashes, tons of batteries and more. If something breaks, dies or won’t work then no need to worry we just grab another tool.
What is the most challenging thing about photographing a wedding?
I would be lying if I said nothing. Everything is challenging to different degrees, but like I said before I love a challenge and that is the sole reason that drives me to be a wedding photographer. I like to see my results from a challenge.
Do you belong to photographic organizations?
Sure do, PPA, WPPI, NILMDTS and a few online forums. They build trust, character and a great way to learn new things from other professionals in the same business.
How do you market Photos by Nick?
We change that every 6 months to a year. We look to see what’s hot, what’s working and what’s not and adapt from there.
What is one thing you are still learning?
Everything! If you stop learning then you do not grow and your competition will get ahead of you. I am a student for life! When I feel I have mastered something I then find something wrong with it and learn it all over again and make it better.
If someone asked you how they could be like you what would you say to them?
Seriously why would you waste your time trying to be something or something you are not? Find who you are instead and build from there. You will be better off in the future and so much more successful than if you tried to be someone else. Trust me
Where do you want to go next?
That’s hard to say because I love where I am at right now with my life and business. I guess my next step is to continue to produce great work and grow my client base. Then one day I plan to hand my business off to my kids if they would want to become a photographer. If not, then just keep enjoying what I am doing and see where it takes me.