Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Miller.
Nikki, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I got my first “big girl” camera 7 years ago when I got pregnant with my first son. Like most first time moms, I just wanted nice photos of my son and thought a quality camera was all I needed. A year into motherhood I realized that maybe there was more to working the camera than just pushing a button. Luckily I had become friends with one of my wedding photographers, and she was offering a class for moms on how to use your DSLR. I never had any intention of becoming a photographer, but after that class I was hooked. It took about 5 years for me to fully invest in myself as a photographer, but over that time I took classes, workshops, retreats, read everything I could get my hands on, and joined online forums to connect with other photographers and learn from them. All this time I still never considered going into business or even calling myself a photographer. Then shortly after my second son was born I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. As I started treatment I realized I needed something in my life to focus on besides my family and my illness. My camera gave me perspective and peace. I started Nikki Miller Photography in my backyard, with my sons and nephews as models. Now I am fortunate enough to photograph MANY families, not just my own!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are so many struggles to being a small business owner, but particularly in being what I call a “mama-praneur”. I am still a mama first. I am the primary stay at home parent to two boys, ages 6 & 3, and every day I walk a tight rope managing everything and everybody. Balance is a unicorn I am constantly chasing, and it looks different every day.
Managing my depression is less of a struggle these days, but in the beginning it was THE struggle. Looking back, I realize I have been struggling with mild depression my entire adult life, but I didn’t know what depression truly looked like. People think of depression as being sad all the time, but in truth it feels like nothing. No happiness, no sadness, just – nothing. I knew I loved my husband and my children, but I couldn’t feel it. I was tired all the time, but I couldn’t sleep. I lost my temper at the drop of a hat, but I couldn’t remember why 30 seconds later. The questionnaire doctors give you after having a baby to screen for depression ask things like, “Do you ever feel like harming yourself or your baby?” Well, no. I didn’t feel ANYTHING. But they didn’t ask that. It took 9 months and some very brave questions from my amazing husband for us to realize all that nothing was actually textbook depression. It took another year of being on anti-depressants for us to find the right dosage. Today I feel more alive, more inspired, more in control of my moods and emotions than I ever have. The real miracle is, though, that I FEEL.
Then, about a year ago, my husband was involved in a head-on car collision. For a few terrifying hours I had no idea whether or not he had made it. We were lucky. After being hit by an oncoming pick-up truck (he was in a small sedan), getting cut out of the vehicle by EMS, and care-flighted to a hospital, my husband only suffered a broken femur. I say only because it could have been so much worse. It has still been a hard road. At the time of the accident I was just beginning to really take off with my business. While he was in the hospital it hit me-what would I have done if he had died? How would I take care of my boys? I have been out of the work place for almost 8 years now. I had no confidence that anyone would hire me, even though I knew I was intelligent and capable. I think almost every stay-at-home mom feels this way at some point. When we got my husband home and knew he would be ok, I determined I would never feel that way again. That was the moment I decided I was going to stop “pretending” to be a photographer and own my talent and abilities. I hired a business mentor and focused on building a true business, not just an art. I still have a long way to go, but in the last year I have really found a passion for business branding, connecting with clients, and helping other small businesses define themselves as well. And as an added bonus, my camera-shy husband now completely understands the importance of a photographic legacy and even ASKS for his photo to be taken!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Nikki Miller Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I specialize in Family and Senior photography. I call my style “relationship photography”. The most important thing for me to capture when I am with a family is their relationship, whether it is between siblings, husband and wife, or parent and child. I think this is what sets my photography apart-I look for and capture the love that is unique to each family.
There is not a lot of sitting still in my sessions. I like to be active and interactive with my clients. I used to be a musical theater actress, so my talent for being absolutely ridiculous shines through behind the camera! So many of my sessions end with my client saying they had fun, and to me that is the highest compliment. I really strive to make every session as individual as the client, so while my editing style remains consistent I can honestly say no two galleries look alike just as no two families look alike!
This year one of my goals has been to be bold-just put myself out there and not worry if it is perfect or technically correct. If my art speaks to even just a single person then I have done my job. I entered the Shoot & Share photo competition, which is a worldwide competition, with no expectations whatsoever. One of my photos placed 95th out of over 19,000 photos submitted worldwide in the Documentary/Lifestyle category. To say I was blown away is an understatement. And with every success I experience, I have a deeper desire to share what I have learned and lift up those around me trying to do the same. It has taken nearly 40 years, but I finally have found my purpose and gift in life!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
As I have built Nikki Miller Photography I have discovered a love for the business side of things. I am currently working on creating and launching photography packages for small businesses. Branding is key to a successful business, and often as a small business YOU are the brand. I want to help other “mama-praneurs” define and refine what their brand is, what makes them unique, and then provide them with high quality photographs for their social media and website accounts. Look for those special packages this fall!
- Family, Lifestyle Newborn, Maternity, and Engagement/Couples Sessions start at $550.00
- Senior Portrait Sessions start at $600
- Website: www.nikkimillerphotos.com
- Phone: 972-895-2733
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/nikkimillerphotos
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikkimillerphotos/
- Other: Newsletter signup: bit.ly/NMPsignup
Headshot credit: Michael Castleberry of Castleberry Haven Photography
All other photos: Nikki Miller Photography