Normally SmugMug meetings discuss various elements and disciplines within photography; topics such as workflow, lighting, post processing, pricing structures and other topics that most photographers get excited over; while the rest of the world sees these individuals through comic-con glasses with weird pointed hats. However this past meeting was a little different; Nicole Wolf owner of Sota Dzine touched the SmugMug community on a much deeper level. She spoke primarily about self fulfillment and following your dreams to help others. Nicole broke her presentation to the SmugMug group down into three parts; how she started and her business, how to reinvigorate your passion and lastly about self fulfillment and giving back.
Nicole started her business in 2001 and quickly learned to be true to herself. Nicole forged a smoldering path within the wedding photography business based on her desires and vision. Nicole realized that she loved to push the envelope in terms of artistic creativity and wanted to find clients with the same vision. Although difficult at first, Nicole stressed the need to be true to yourself and ensure that there is always an end goal to push towards. Merging her vision with ideal clients took some time to accomplish however it was what separated her in a deep sea of wedding photographers. Her unique style and attitude towards photography distinguished her in the Washington DC market.
As her success and career grew, Nicole realized that she needed an additional creative outlet to grow both as an artist and as a person. In the weeks where she didn’t have weddings or commercial shoots booked; she would fly back home to be with her family. Her father was a commercial fisherman; a lifestyle she was accustomed to and a story she believed was not told. Through her trips back home and her love for commercial fishing; Nicole began to document the people, hardships and challenges of their daily lives. Through her various trips she accumulated a story that few have ever seen. This project took many years and many trips to compile; yet the creative process and her love for the sea allowed this creative outlet to compliment her current work. After culling through the images, hiring an editor and finalizing the images she wanted to present, Nicole shopped the fine art pieces at various exhibits, museums and studios. Recently Nicole had her work accepted in a fine art gallery in Maine.
The final part of her presentation discussed finding a deeper meaning through our work. Nicole like many photographers has been blessed with a gift to tell a visual story. Many use it to document sports, weddings, corporate events and a plethora of other items. Nicole wanted to use her gift to tell a story of heartache and pain in Haiti after the devastating earthquake less than a year ago. She was given the opportunity to volunteer in Haiti to capture images of the travesty and desperation; however in her time there she was able to connect with the people of Haiti, understand their tragedy and accurately tell their story. Through her imagery, her voice and heart she could share with others what is occurring in Haiti. But more so than simply document, she can make a difference. Nicole has started the Up From Under foundation (www.upfromunder.com). A foundation dedicated to building houses for those who have lost everything in the earthquake. Her organization to date has built two houses and is on the brink of building another four houses. Her message was simply that as artists we have a unique gift and a unique opportunity to help those around us; a gift that should not be squandered but cultivated.
There were approximately 25 SmugMug members who attended the meeting; after the meeting everyone headed over to the local watering hole.