Britten Nicole is a maternity photographer in Rochester NY
I’ve compiled nine of my favorite portraits from the year, presented in chronological order. I’m proud of each of these images for varying reasons. Being a “technically perfect” photo wasn’t a requirement to make the top nine for the year. These images represent growth in different ways… for me as an artist, a human, and as a business owner.
Read on for reflections from a photographer in Rochester NY on creativity, running a business, and finding purpose.
TL;DR Life is a constant process of shedding & becoming.
It was this maternity session in January 2023 that ultimately led me down the path of becoming a specialized maternity photographer and further down the path of finding my creative voice.
The photos from the session were of private moments, and that’s the story I aimed to tell. I’m witnessing a quiet, intimate side of pregnancy. I want to tell the story about a transitory period in time when it was just the two of you, tethered by a sacred bond.
Fast forward 2-3 weeks to early February and I went to a transformational business workshop for photographers led by Ben Hartley. The workshop is called Abundance (10/10 recommend). It was there I received the confidence & the clarity to move forward & build a sustainable business. And part of that was dedicated to refining my creative voice and inclination towards intimate maternity storytelling.
“If you want a hard life, do easy things. If you want an easy life, do hard things”
First, this sweet moment between a Mama and her baby stopped me in my tracks when I played back the images which is why it’s one of my favorites. It reiterates what I knew to be true…that your humanity is what makes a portrait ‘successful’.
This was one of the first floral arrangements that I designed and created all on my own for a maternity session. The floral colorful arrangement adds to an already joyful moment, doesn’t it? I remember feeling proud afterwards because I was able to visualize a picture in my mind of what kind of portrait I wanted to create, and that vision became a reality through intentional planning, design, and styling (even hand-painting the backdrop!).
After this, I decided to incorporate ‘floral maternity portraiture’ into my repertoire and creating a client experience centered around fresh flowers. But first, I needed to experiment and build a portfolio!
The month of May was an absolute whirlwind of a month in the most amazing way! I was busy building a portfolio of floral maternity portraits to show potential clients what a fully designed and styled floral session could look like. There were many sessions and many flowers! Dreaming up all of the concepts, the color schemes, and designs was very fun and I love this tree installation at a local park in Rochester in particular!
All throughout, I sourced all of the flowers in my designs from local Finger Lakes flower farms, especially Flowerwell. Flowerwell is passionate about locally grown flowers, and so am I! I’ll say, it was pretty great making the trip every week to their farm in Brockport to pick up buckets and buckets of beautiful flowers. This job is cool! 🙂
Jumping into floral portraiture and taking on the task of designing, sourcing, and arranging flowers for my own photo sessions was one of the biggest risks I took in my business this year. Not to mention, a TON of work. But I learned so much and don’t regret a thing. Investing the time, money, and physical labor (hauling flowers through parks and attaching them to a tree isn’t light work!) gave me insight into how I want to improve & expand this offering for my clients in 2024.
This photo is a definite contender for my absolute favorite of the entire year (top 3 for sure). Did you know this photo was my hero image on my website almost all year? That’s how much I love it. The light, the composition, the setting, and most of all this relaxed couple! Just perfect in my eyes.
It’s the epitome of organic and natural. Up until this point in the year, I was grappling with my branding. Am I a “floral portrait artist” or am I under a somewhat wider umbrella of “nature-inspired photographer?”
This photo was an “a-ha” moment for me: I can be both at the same time. A ‘floral portrait’ doesn’t have to be designed by my hands. Mother Nature does a fine job all by herself.
So I put it my evolution out to the Universe…..
“I am a nature-inspired photographer in Rochester NY. I create artful and intimate photographs for down-to-earth people who value documenting sentimental memories”
I also hired a 1:1 business mentor to help me get where I wanted to go.
By the end of May, I was so tired but still buzzing about all the progress I’d made so far this year. I was building a beautiful portfolio of floral portraits, including this top 9. I restructured my business and pricing structure to reflect a completely updated studio experience, and I curated & launched an Wall Art and Heirloom collection I’m really proud of.
“If you want a hard life, do easy things. If you want an easy life, do hard things”
And my husband and I were about to meet our dream home for the first time, and that’s when the year got a lot more hectic for us. A move wasn’t something we were prepared to do in 2023 but the Universe had other plans for us, I guess!
I’m writing this blog post on 12/30/23, the early onset of the coldest winter months here in Rochester NY. But doesn’t this photo just feel like the Sun and the long, warm days of Summer? This is part of my top 9 because it’s just a very organic moment between a Mama and her unborn baby. The golden light of sunset outlining her beautiful belly makes it all the more compelling.
This session in particular gave me the itch to photograph more maternity near water. Something about the qualities of H20 perfectly complement photos of pregnancy. Both so natural, ephemeral, always changing.
This was also right around this time that we found our dream home with 2 acres just outside of Rochester NY. We weren’t planning to move in 2023 and so it all came as a surprise and turned into a lot of extra unexpected work for the Summer months. It was a curveball, for sure, but it also a gift from the Universe!
My word that I chose to guide me for the year 2023 was “flow”
“Flow” meant that I wanted to trust that the right people, the right situations, opportunities, and lessons would present themselves just at the moment I needed them. As long as I allowed my intuition and instinct guide me, the Universe would give me exactly what I needed. No more, no less.
And if there’s one photograph that encapsulates what “flow” meant to me this year, it’s this one. It was another step in understanding who I am meant to serve and how, aka ‘my ideal client’. This session was for a couple that is super down-to-earth, loves nature, and who valued authenticity in their photos. I felt so much trust and the photos turned out incredible. We got an UNREAL sunset after a very stormy day! The water was still rough but we all went for it. We got pretty soaked but it was fun!
The experience gave me clarity about what my clients value and what I can offer to them. It’s a surprisingly hard question to answer when you want to make everybody happy! Finding ‘your people’ who you understand, and who understand YOU is hard but makes a difference.
Another maternity portrait near water made it to my top 9. I love this image for it’s perspective and it’s simplicity. To me, it shows a first-time Mama-to-Be expanding. Expanding her capacity for love and strength and compassion. And I also see a gratitude and a feeling of peace in her birthing body.
If there’s one gift that I want your maternity photographs to give you, it’s gratitude. Pregnancy is hard and weird and wonderful all at once. And once your transition is complete and you’ve passed through the portal to Motherhood, maternity photographs can help you look back with profound gratitude for everything you didn’t know your body was capable of.
This was my final maternity session of the year and one of my favorites. This Mama reached out wanting maternity photographs that ‘felt like home’ and that’s exactly what we created together. Her vision came to reality and it was another testament that my dream clients DO exist and we’re finding each other! It’s a really, really a good feeling! <3
This has been my first full year in business and my first full year as a maternity photographer. I’m finding my voice but the growth & expansion during the past year has been pretty exciting and overwhelming at times. There’s always more where that comes from, get ready! Expanding floral portraits in a sustainable and fulfilling way, improving client experience and workflow, and learning to treat my imposter syndrome with a little more TLC. Those are a few of my intentions for 2024. What about you?