Interview: Nicolesy on life adventuring and Shopify for photographers

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In a nutshell: Here’s my interview with Nicole Young (aka: Nicolesy) on life adventures, photographing in Asia, Shopify for photographers and other amazing nuggets of wisdom! (Including a funny side-intro from Nicole’s husband!)


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I really love your photography blog at and where you live, the Western part (of USA). You’ve got National Parks everywhere.

Nicole: Yes, this is why we moved out to Oregon. Because it’s just so beautiful out here.

You’re close to Seattle, it’s like the arts capital up North a little bit then you have Canada, Vancouver and other photographers nearby too (like David Duchemin)

Nicole: Yeah, makes for a good road tripping.

Good road tripping in the national parks, so, good photography around.

Nicole: Oh yes, definitely.

All right. Feel free to tell who you are and what you do:

Nicole: My name’s Nicole Young and I am a photographer and what I do now is that I create a lot of educational content for photographers. I started with stock photography and this is what led me into this career path.

I started making money with stock photography and realised I could do it as a full time job. After that, I started writing books and I grew to write e-books and that grew to having my own store online and that’s grown.

So now I do everything, I do workshops and mostly just create cool educational content for other photographers.

Fantastic. Is that little studio you are in, is that your little special sound studio?

Nicole: This is fairly new – it is our sound booth that we have in our house here. Brian Matiash is my husband, also a photographer and he does a lot of similar things that I do. So, we have started to create a lot more videos, screen-casting type of tutorials and we thought that it was about time to get a booth like this.

It’s funny because the actual quality of the audio is not that much different from where I was recording before in my office. It is subtly different – if you are an audio pro, you would know the difference.

But this is mostly for me to create my own little cozy environment. If the guy starts to mow the lawn next door, you don’t have to worry about it!

Exactly right.

Nicole: I can create a full tutorial – I am actually finishing up a very end of a tutorial that is going to go up on my website soon and I have been able to do the whole thing in this studio, so, it has been really nice to have a place for that.

Fantastic. And filming what you are looking at now, are you looking at your computer or a digital camera?

Nicole: Yes I have a computer. It’s like a mini-desk set-up. I can actually show you, so, here is my computer. There’s you, right there and I have got my microphone and just a little desk, a glass of water here, speakers and a clock.

nicolesy photography - shopify for photographersOne of Nicole’s black and white photographs

It’s beautiful. What sort of microphone is that one?

Nicole: Oh, this is the Yeti Blue.

That is fantastic. Just nice to see your set up.

Nicole: People are always curious because you hear people and you see what other people are creating and you’re always wondering what their working environment looks like.

It’s amazing – nowadays you can pretty much do everything in your own home:

Nicole: Oh yes. I love working from home. It is so nice.

You said “In order to be successful, photographers in general should photograph what they love and what they are good at.” This is really great. Can you expand on that?

Nicole: I think that is the best way to create a happy photography career. Sure, there are ways to make money. I am sure photographers do things because they make a lot of money and there is no shame in that at all but I think a lot of photographers who have photography as a career also tend to do side projects and the fun things and things that they love, the travel that they love.

Because photography is so integrated into life that it would be kind of soul-sucking to do it, just for money. I think it is important to do it, to photograph what you love.

A lot of photographers who have photography as a career also tend to do side projects and the fun things that they love.

Really nice. Because I read where you wrote about shooting all these stock photos and you seemed to be fighting with an urge to say ‘damn it, I am just going to photograph what I love.’

Nicole: It is kind of easy, in any type of photography career, to get sucked into doing the things that do well. I knew this would make more money but it is not what I enjoy doing. It’s always about trying to find that balance and right now I think that I have struck a pretty good balance with it.

When it comes to new photographers who want to travel and adventure and take photos and make some money, how do you think they could start?

Nicole: Well, if you are new to travelling in general, it is always kind of good to do it with a group to start out. Whether it is just a standard group, or something like a tropic travel I have done a group tour with them.

What I did was a really basic tour and that is how I went to Vietnam. That was really my first big trip out by myself.

But it is just getting me from point A to point B safely and it introducing me to the whole travel concept and it wasn’t a photography group. It was another group of travellers and so, I just did my own thing photographically speaking.

If you have a little extra to spend, it never hurts to do a workshop – even an overseas workshop. Because you get the best of both worlds that way – you get really cool travel experience plus you get to learn from a photographer and be with other photographers – it’s always great to have that community.

The making money part is always the tough one. I don’t really do travel photography per se, I mostly just travel and create photographs for the content that I am creating (educational or stock content).

[testimonials style=”10″ margin_top=”” margin_bottom=””][testimonial name=”Nicolesy” company=”” href=””]

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And when you were saying do a workshop, you mean go with photographers to another country, maybe?

Nicole: Yes, that’s correct and there’s so many (workshops) out there too. I work with The Giving Lens and have a workshop coming up pretty soon. I’m leading it and it’s in Thailand. So, that is one example. I am going to go out there.

Where is that workshop?

Nicole: In the northern part of Thailand. I’m going to Bangkok for a few days beforehand for my own personal travel because I have never been to Bangkok before but the actual workshop is up in Chiang Mai.

Fantastic. You have to tell me more about that because I used to live in Thailand, that is like my second home.

Nicole: Oh, awesome. You can tell me more.

Yeah. I love it in Thailand – I am thinking about doing workshops there myself, just because it’s so accessible for photographers in that country.

Nicole: And a lot more beautiful. I love South East Asia in general. I’ve hit most of the mainlands: Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. I still have to hit Laos and then Myanmar and I don’t know.

nicolesy store - shopify for photographers
Nicolesy’s (very groovy) Shopify store

I love Myanmar. You would love Burma, you would love it. It’s mind-blowing. Laos too. A whole different world. So, how useful and advantageous would you find Shopify to be and could photographers use something like this?

Nicole: Oh yeah. My store that I have online is hosted by Shopify and it’s an e-commerce platform and you create your own site. Kind like how WordPress is a place for bloggers, Shopify is a place for people who want to sell things online.

So, I use this primarily to sell e-books and presets and things like that. I think it would be great, anyone who wants to sell anything online.

I have had a lot of success and I have not had any problems and yes, check it out. It does cost, there is a monthly fee associated with it, so, if you think you are going to have a relatively good amount of traffic and sales to make up for it, then I think it’s worth the investment.

And is that

Nicole: Yes. It’s and if you go to my blog it’s linked there too.

When you travelled to Asia and you went to Vietnam (etc), what sort of work flow did you use? Do you plan it before or sort of go with the flow? How do you back it up?

Nicole: That’s a good question. I have these really small – it’s called a My Passport little travel hard drive and I bring my laptop too and so, typically what I do is I try to bring up cards so I don’t fill all them all up. If I run out of space, I will obviously just use another card. So, I try to get my photos in at least two or three places.

So if I have them on my card, that’s great. And when I import them into Lightroom, I also do a second back-up into that small hard drive so I have them in three places.

When I fly home, I try to split everything up into different bags just in case I lose, God forbid, if I lose my camera bag, then at least I still have them on the small hard drive that is in my checking bag or something like that.

It is always good to back your stuff up. You don’t always want to keep them on the card, you want to keep them in more than one place though. If you are spending all that money to travel, for me, I pretty much only come home with memories and photographs. And I don’t want to lose the photographs.

When you are doing that are you using like a cloud to back up? Or Dropbox? Or another method?

Nicole: I don’t really rely on cloud services when I am travelling to places like South East Asia especially, because you never know what your Internet situation is going to be like.

nicole young photographer
Nicole Young

However, it would be great to be able to do that. Sometimes, what I am photographing, I might put some of the finished products into a Dropbox folder so I can easily get them back later when I get back home. It’s really tough, WiFi and Internet is not reliable anywhere you travel really.

I live in the US and I could be in a hotel somewhere with really bad WiFi. So, I tend to not rely on that. Hopefully one day in the future, it will be like the most practical standard thing to do. But right now, I just can’t rely on that.

So, hard drives, right? Good quality hard drives:

Nicole: Yeah, hard drives. Still hard drives.

What’s your philosophy when it comes to photography and life in general? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Nicole: That is a really big question. Let’s see. My philosophy with photography, well, you know my career is photography and so it’s all – my husband is a photographer – we don’t have kids. Our whole life is pretty much photography.

I do not want to say that everything is photography but I also think that it is important to kind of step away from it from time to time.

I have other hobbies that I do that are very analogue hobbies: I like to knit, I like to do pottery at a ceramic studio and so I try to step away from it as much as possible just to let my mind rest.

Like when you work out, you want to take a day off to kind of relax, let the muscles rebuild and then go back to it the next day. That is one of the things that I try to do to keep me going and finding other ways to be inspired and then it ultimately finds its way back to my photography and my teachings.

And when you – hello.

Nicole: Oh, that’s my husband. My husband just walked into the room.

I am going to interview you soon. [Laughs]

Nicole: Do you want to say hi? [Inaudible]. I don’t know. I am recording right now, Brian. Can you please…? What is he doing?

He’s got something. What is it?

Nicole: His packs. He’s gone. Get out. Go. Go away [Laughs]. He just got back from the gym and he’s showing me his gym protein or something.


Nicole: Sorry for that.

That’s all right.

Nicole: I have got to edit this out. Seriously, can you please leave? Get out. Out. [Laughs].

Overseas workshops are the best of both worlds – really cool travel experience plus you get to learn from a photographer and be with other photographers which is like a community.

That’s fun. I like fun. What about when it comes to social media? (I’m loving Instagram more and more lately). When do you use it? Do you do it at a set time or randomly or how does that work for you?

Nicole: I don’t have a schedule. I wish I was that organised. It’s mostly when I have something to share, I share it. That’s kind of how I see it. I don’t want to over-share and I don’t want to bother people with the amount of traffic that’s coming though with things that aren’t important.

With Instagram in particular, I am really trying to make the photographs important beautiful photographs instead of sharing the stuff that happen in your life. I keep that more on Facebook.

Twitter is usually – I share articles, I share information, I retweet but yeah, it’s really just when I feel that I have something compelling or interesting to share with other people and I share it – but I try not to be too annoying.

All right. That’s great, anything else you feel like saying? Because that’s my questions covered, I mean I could talk about Asia all day but of course…

Nicole: Thanks for interview. I am glad we finally were able to connect. It took a little while, the difference in time zones never makes it easy.

Thank you so much. Anything I can do for you, let me know.

Nicole: Okay. All right, thanks.

See you on Instagram!

Nicole: Yeah. Take care. Bye.


So what are your thoughts on my interview with Nicole? What nuggets of wisdom did you take home?

Remember, if you are an artist, photographer or imagineer with potential products to sell you can try out Shopify free for 14 days – especially if you want to set up an online store that is much more than a blog!

Please leave your feedback and comments below!

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