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Have you given up on goals? You might not be crazy. Out of the roughly 40% of people who set goals at the beginning of the year, only 8% actually achieve them.  That’s saaaaad. A smart person would definitely start to ask: are goals even worth setting?

But I have a better question for you. Are you WORKING your goals the right way? I mean, in a way that actually keeps them front-of-mind and leads you skipping to the finish line? Maybe the problem isn’t setting goals – Maybe the problem is simply the faulty workflow you have for achieving them. 

I mean, it’s February already – if you set goals, how are you doing on yours so far!? Be honest! ;-)

I know the extreme frustration and disappointment of having this bright vibrant vision for the year ahead:  and then getting to the end and thinking “What happened? Where’d the time go?”

Trust me, I’ve been there. So becoming more intentional and strategic about my goal setting has become an obsession over the years. As much as I love making big crazy goals, I LOVVVE checking them off even more! 

So from experience here’s my current favorite way to of both setting and, more important, sticking with your goals all year long!!

What kind of year could this be for you if you could take what sounds so cool at the beginning of it, and actually do it. Make it a reality. CRUSH it.

You’ve got a lot to give this year. Don’t hold back. Try something different. Less things. Smaller time frames. More action.

>>> DOWNLOAD <<< the free companion workbook & get started right away! Let’s crush this #GOALPROBLEM and make this the BEST YEAR EVER.


Curious what to buy a certain photographer in your life? Or perhaps you just want inspiration for what goodies to sprinkle into your own holiday wish-list (’cause baby you’ve been good this year!) Either way, I’ve got you covered!

Here’s two photographer gift guides that will work with a variety of budgets: Under $60 (+ Stocking Stuffers!) & the ULTIMATE Gift Ideas for that extra-special someone. Each has been curated with the stylish, modern photographer in mind. You wont find any of the typical cheesy photographer gifts that almost immediately end up in the re-gift or donate piles. These are gifts the photographer in your life will love & appreciate!

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Stocking Stuffers: 1234 | 5 | 6


****DISCLAIMER: Nothing in these videos or gift guides are sponsored – It’s all stuff I truly love! :) ****


  1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera ($60)
    Check out the GIVEAWAY >> Two ways to enter: Instagram // YouTube
  2. SOOC tee or tank ($29)
    These shirts are both fun and stylish, with the tees fitting slouchy (great for a loose off-the-shoulder style) and the tanks with a cute racerback silhouette. I own two & love them!
  3. Art Books:
    Art books are always a fantastic gift! Here’s a few of my personal favorites:
    – STOPPERS: Photographs from My Life at Vogue ($48)
    For the person that loves both fashion and photography, look no further! This is an incredible, inspiring book featuring extrordinary editorials and images from legendary photographers: Anton Corbijn, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Klein, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Mario Testino, Tim Walker, and Bruce Weber.
    Richard Avedon Portraits, or Similar: Richard Avedon Photographs ($53)
  4. Black Widow Spider Holster ($60)
    15% Discout Code: CHELSEANICOLE
    I love Spider’s camera belt system (great for getting gear off your shoulders!) I use a Spider Pro ($135) that I use with my Nikon D4, but we also own a Black Widow which is a great option for the SonyA7S, smaller bodies & personal cameras.
  5. Pinch Provisions Minimergency Kit ($18)
    This adorable emergency kit is chock-full of 21 little essentials, from breath freshener to hair spray toa  sewing kit (anything you might need!) I keep one of these in my camera bag for wedding days in case any little hiccups pop up, and it’s also handy for the photographer that travels a lot!
  6. Editing Day Coffee Mug – $17
    Because editing + caffeine go hand in hand! These mugs from Click & Blossom come in a variety of cute designs that I think would be the perfect gift for photographers.
  7. Customized Gifts
    If you want to go that extra mile, doing something custom is a great option! Here’s a couple ideas based on my FAVORITE gifts gifted to me from couples (yes, my couples are the BEST!) 

    • Hand-painted Ceramic Ornament, painted at the Pottery Shop in Las Vegas (similar HERE $20)
    • Hand-stamped metal bracelet (similar available HERE $55).

TIP: Customize it with a tagline, quote or anything that you think would make it special for the recipient! These were customized with ‘Vibrant Hearts Unite’ (my company tagline). Simple, yet so lovely, thoughtful and impactful. I’ve had them for years and every time I look at them they make me happy. :)


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  1. Styling Boards: Heirloom Bindery ($139+)
    Fabric styling boards for lay-flats or editorial-style detail images. (Great for wedding photographers!)
    Discount Code: GIFT10 – 10% off anything in the styling board collection
  2. Holdfast Money Maker ($230+)
    Great for two-camera swingers, these camera straps are both stylish and functional and come in several colors, choice of thick or thin strap & different leather options.
  3. Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones ($200)
    These headphones are fantastic for editing or when you really need to get in the zone and get lots done. I own the rose gold (naturally!) but they are also available in a wide range of colors. Also great for destination photographers or a person who travels a lot!
  4. Polaroid Originals Land Camera SX-70 ($380)
    For those that area a fan of both film & vintage, this is just an all around fun and iconic camera and is available refurbished from Polaroid Originals
  5. Spider Holster Pro ($135)
    I’ve used the Spider Holster for years and it’s saved my back at countless weddings & long shooting days. It’s designed to take the weight of your gear off your upper body and put it at your hips (the most ergonomic place to carry heavy gear) when not shooting.  For those that suffer from back and shoulder pain post-wedding, I can’t recommend this enough!
    Discount Code: CHELSEANICOLE for 15% anything at
  6. Apple Watch Series 3 ($360)
    No more paper timelines or missed texts – Apple Watch is a great way to keep organized & time on a wedding day! In addition your save save inspiration to your watch and have it remind you throughout key parts of the day. There’s so many great uses for photographers!
  7. Bose Soundlink Mini ($180)
  8. Think Tank International Camera Bag  ($400)
    This has been my main roller bag for several years. It holds a ton, but is also wonderful for travel!
  9. Creative Cloud Photography Plan ($120)
    12-month membership to Lightroom and Photoshop CC
  10. Drone: Mavic Spark ($600), or Mavic Pro ($1088)

HAPPY SHOPPING!! :-) Anything I missed? Share your favorite gift ideas, or what’s topping your wishlist this season!

One of the biggest questions photographers have when first getting started is what gear is worth investing in?

If this is you: let me tell you, I’ve been there! I know what it’s like to lust after all the newest gorgeous cameras + lenses. Of course, we’d all love to be in the position to say TAKE MY $$$$, throw down 20k and call it a day. But in reality, when you’re just getting started, all you have is a dream, limited funds… and an ever-growing checklist of all things you feel you need just to begin. It can definitely be a little overwhelming.

So it’s no surprise that ‘What’s your favorite lens?’ and ‘What gear do you recommend?’ are two of the most frequently asked questions I get from other photographers.

I recently put together a video sharing the essential camera gear I take to every wedding I photograph – including a quick breakdown of each lens I use and why & the two lenses I’d recommend for beginner photographers starting out with a limited budget. To top it all off, I put together a free Inside My Camera Bag‘ PDF with links to the gear I use/recommend and a few extra essentials I bring with me for weddings! 

Click below to download the free ‘Inside My Camera Bag’ resource. Download it, and keep it handy for future reference!

Styled shoots are a photographers best friend! I’ve used them in my business to keep inspired & fresh, test out new ideas & techniques and to collaborate with other talented professionals. As creative entrepreneurs it’s important to constantly grow and push ourselves, and styled shoots are an awesome way to do just that! And it’s also one of the best ways to take your business to the next level, helping you book more of the work you love with your dream clients. :-) In short, they rock!

But maybe you’re feeling stumped on coming up with a unique enough idea? OR, you have an awesome idea you’re totally stoked about, but just aren’t sure where to start? I’ve been there too. With my first styled shoots there was a lot to figure out – as well as hiccups, stress, and pressure (though, each time, it was all totally worth it in the end!) But with time and experience I’ve refined my process for how to plan them and wanted to share it with you in hopes that some small tid-bit will help with your next shooting adventure!

In my latest YouTube video I talk about my method for organizing & plan a styled shoots. I’m also breaking everything down in this post and as a bonus sharing my personal Styled Shoot Checklist!


Have you already created styled shoots before but want to start taking a more active role in the planning and design process? Or do you want to plan your first and are unsure how to approach them. In either case I’ve got you covered! Here are my five TOP tips to help make the process a whole lot easier AND more fun!

1. Start with Intention

Before you do anything else: Set an intention so that you know exactly what you need to get out of this shoot to make it a success! So step 1 is answering the question: What’s my end goal?

Some of your goals might be:

  • Building your portfolio, or transitioning into a new market with your photography
  • Testing out a new technique(s) – Learn something new! New gear? New Lenses!?
  • Networking – Build new relationships with awesome people!
  • Getting featured – Get your work out there!
  • Refueling yourself creatively – Bring back those sparks!

Whatever your main goal(s) are, it’s important to define them early on since it will play a big role when planning for the shoot.

2. Decide Your Level of Involvement

While your level of involvement will differ from shoot to shoot in how you break up and share tasks and how complex or simple the shoot is, there are two general levels of involvement: 1. Show up and shoot, 2. Actively involved.

Show up & Shoot: In this scenario, you’re usually brought into the shoot by another professional (often the planner). You’re time commitment is usually limited to the day of the shoot & post-shoot (editing, delivering to the team and possibly sending out for submission.) While the commitment is less on the front end, you’re still going to be pouring a LOT of your time and creative energy into this shoot. So it’s important to make sure it fits the goals for your business & photography. Show up & Shoot scenarios are fantastic when your end goal is networking and building relationships with vendors that are in line with your company, or if you trust and love the vision of the people planning and styling the shoot. Preferably a combo of both of these! :)

Actively Involved: In this scenario, you’re often acting as the ‘Art Director’ of the shoot and taking an active role in the vision, planning and design. This is my favorite type of shoot since it allows for the most creative expression as an artist, and also enables you to have more control over the end result.

You can also be actively involved while sharing the Art Director role – starting with or bringing in another person early on in the process (often a planner or stylist) who you will work with closely and split tasks with. It’s important this be someone you trust and who shares a similar vision. When things sync up right, this scenario can be fantastic to bounce ideas off of each other and have two creative minds working together. :)

Pro tip: Don’t invite ‘too’ many cooks int0 the kitchen! A focused vision is always better!

“There’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

3. The Creative Process

To kickstart the creative process, you’ll want to start collecting inspiration. One of my favorite tools for this is Pinterest, but inspiration can be found everywhere. Photos, paintings, music, music videos, magazines, movies, poetry, locations, fashion… Basically anything that ignites your imagination.

Once you’ve collected your ideas, you can start to narrow in on an idea or concept to frame your shoot around. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a theme, it can also be based around a mood, style, location or something you find inspiring. 

Another way is taking two or more disparate concepts or themes and merging them to form something unique. Below is an example of inspiration I pulled for a Pinboard I put together with the contrasting concepts of Feminine and calm vs. BOLD and Alluring, inspired by the ebb & flow of the sea.

Many times the best shoots will include a story element to them. This adds depth to the shoot, giving something for everyone on the team to latch onto, get excited about and revolve around. This is also helpful to give model(s) a ‘character’ or vibe you’re going for. Don’t get too hung up on this – keeping it a bit rough allows for your collaborators to bring their own creativity and imagination to the shoot. 

Next I will put together a moodboard to convey the general mood and direction for the shoot. I use this to share the color palette and overall vibe for the shoot. I’ll share this when pitching the shoot idea to collaborators, and it also helps keep everyone on the same page. Having a visual guide allows everyone involved to express themselves creatively and do what they do best, while also ensuring everything comes together in a cohesive way. 

For the shoot in this example, I put together two moodboards: one for the overall style and color palette, and a second, more focused one to share the mood with the model.

4. Collaborators + Models

After you have your overall vision nailed down, you’ll start putting together your creative team of collaborators.

Depending on the scope of the shoot and your goals, this will vary. You can keep it super simple with just model, hair and makeup & attire. Remember complex doesn’t necessarily = better. I love simple shoots and find they really allow you to focus on your craft and trying out new techniques. If you’re new to photography, this may be your best option to get good work in your portfolio. 

From there you can scale up to create a shoot with more layers to it, or go all out with a full blown styled shoot. This might include a planner or event designer, florist, stylist – designer – or bridal shop, cake designer, invitation and stationary designer,  calligrapher, rentals company, and more. When choosing your team it’s important that you share similar goals. Since everyone is trading their time and resources, it needs to be mutually beneficial. And you should also share high resolution copies of the images once the shoot is done (or after the feature, if the magazine or blog wants exclusivity) for everyone to use on social media and in their portfolios.

One of your most important collaborators is your model(s) since they will have a major impact in the end images. There are many professional modeling agencies if you’re more established. However you can also find models at sites such as Model Mayhem, through social media, friends (or friends or friends).When searching for your perfect model, it’s good to have the vision and vibe for the shoot in mind since their ‘look’ will play a major role in the end images. For example: If going for an innocent look you might look for a model with large eyes, slightly rounder facial features, fairer skin, maybe even some freckles. If going for a lifestyle, carefree vibe I’ll usually stray away from models with a ‘high fashion’ look and pay attention to their smile and how they carry themselves. In the images above I was looking for someone with a feminine yet bold look: strong eyes, yet soft lips and an ability to move effortlessly. ‘Ebb and Flow’.

5. Location

Last, you’ll need a location for your shoot. Usually I’ll have an idea or two in mind by this point and even start my search early on in the Creative Process. For this shoot I knew I wanted a beach that would provide a rocky backdrop to play off of the blue and peach hues and add visual interest to the compositions. I started my search in Malibu, and ended up going with El Pescador Beach. It was fantastic, fairly easy to get to, and inspiring.

So that’s it! Combine those five steps together and you have the makin’s of a great Styled Shoot!

1. Start with Intention, 2. Decide Your Level of Involvement, 3. Rock the Creative Process, 4. Find Your Collaborators + Models, 5. Lock Your Location

Hope you found this helpful! I know that’s a bit to remember, so to help you out with your next styled shoot, I’m sharing my Styled Shoot Checklist. It’s everything you need to focus on, all collected nice and tidy on one simple sheet. I put it together years ago to help me stay organized & streamline the process of planning styled shoots. I use it for every shoot I put together because it helps me know exactly where I’m at in the process, making things more efficient and saving a ton of time!

If you want to know exactly what to do, click the big purple box below and keep it in a handy place!

Definitely drop a comment if you have any questions! I can’t wait to see the next awesome styled shoot you plan!

CREDITS for featured shoot: Planner: Festive Event Planning • Photography: Chelsea Nicole Photography • Hair and Makeup: Ting Makeup • Flowers: Emlily Floral • Bridal Shop: Solstice Bride • Dress Designer: Odlylyne the Ceremony • Headpieces: Naturae Design • Stationary: Cast Calligraphy • Model: Diana Bednarz