Fresh Faces :: Shalyn Nelson (Part I)

This month’s Fresh Faces might be a little later than normal, but I promise it’s worth the wait.

The first time I was introduced to this awesome gal was more than one year ago at the Texas Style Council’s Blogger Conference – unfortunately, she seemed wayyyy more awesome than me, and I was too scared to introduce myself so I followed her work from afar for the next 365 days before I braved up enough to send her an email introducing myself.

Here’s the thing, this month’s feature, Shalyn Nelson, is just as awesome as I thought she was, but she’s also so stinkin’ sweet. She has an amazing outlook on life – one that you can’t help but want to embrace right along with her. And even if you haven’t had the chance to meet Shalyn personally, her welcoming and personable nature on Instagram and her blog make you feel as if she’s your lifelong friend. Oh, and by the way, she’s also an amazing photographer, and runs a stellar wedding photography business with her hubby, Drew.

I was luckily enough to chat with Shalyn about her business, Love, The Nelsons, finding your passion, and what it’s like to be a photographer. See what she had to say in this month’s Fresh Faces.

Fresh Faces, Shalyn Nelson Love The Nelsons

When and why did you decide to create Love, The Nelsons?
My sweet mom swears I came out of her womb with a Crayola in my hand. I was that little girl who would fall asleep with one thumb in my mouth, two fingers wrapped around the pony tail on her head, and face planted in a coloring book with scribbles all around me. Oddly enough, I’ve always been drawn to capturing moments and life around me. I was obsessed with scrapbooking, journaling my life in books, and taking pictures with anything I could get my hands on. I always invited friends over to give them “makeovers” and would take my disposable camera and snap photos of them afterwards. I took pictures of leaves, bugs, trees, my toes, my cat, mac and cheese…anything that was in my path, I took pictures of. It never really dawned on my that I was so passionate about photography because it was just a natural, effortless hobby that I loved.

I was working in the corporate world for a marketing company in Austin when this whole photography business started. I was still secretly wanting to be a wedding planner on the side, but not really knowing where to start. So, I started blogging in hopes of figuring out life, share my life, and used it as a creative outlet. Naturally, I took pictures of what Drew and I were doing, what we were eating, where we went on the weekends, the trips we took, and slowly but surely, started to share my dreams and passions with the Internet. Aside from my marketing job, I also had a second part time job on the side where I would coordinate weddings at a venue on Saturdays. After a few months of this, I quickly realized that my personality wasn’t quiiite fit for the job. My passion was in weddings, but not coordinating them. During all of this self discovery (aka “what the heck am I going to do with my life” moments), my niece called and asked me to take her senior photos. I didn’t even question it – I was happy to help her out. When I got to the shoot, something happened. I started snapping away, and BOOM. This explosion of happiness inside of me went off; a light was sparked; everything clicked (pun intended). When we left the shoot, Drew and I sat in the car in silence for a moment. I looked over at him and he had this huge smile on my face – we just kind of knew at that moment that I found my calling. It’s been there all along, but I never thought for a minute that I could make a living doing something that I’ve loved so much my whole life. A quote I’ll never forget: “Babe. I don’t even know what to think or what to say right now, but seeing you out there just now…I’m so impressed. You were a natural, and it was sexy!” From that moment on I never looked back.

Love, The Nelsons was born one day when I was sitting in my office still operating under “Shalyn Nelson Photography.” I was writing a letter and signed “Love, The Nelsons” and I immediately froze. My eyes got wide and I said, “THAT’S IT!” I texted Drew, “LOVE, THE NELSONS BABE!!! It’s PERFECT!” and he responded, “Yeah I like that. But we might need to take the word “Babe” off the end.”

What is your favorite part about wedding photography?
I absolutely love watching the priceless reaction that the father of the bride has on his face when he walks into the bridal suite before the ceremony and sees his daughter all dressed up. It’s such a special moment and gives me a lump in my throat every. single. time. I would also say that my favorite part is documenting real, honest, life-long love. The meaning of marriage is so important to me. When I photograph a wedding with my husband, I always feel like it’s a constant reminder for us, and even takes us back to the moment we were saying our vows. I love looking across at him during the ceremony and making eye contact during those important vows and smiling at each other. Sometimes we will mouth “I do” to each other and it just really is the best, I’ll tell ya that! Photographing love fills my heart and soul with so much joy. Knowing that I get to document these love stories while telling their story through my eye and providing them with images that they can cherish for a lifetime is the most beautiful gift I can ever think of giving. It fires me up yo! :)

Was this what you thought you’d be doing when you were 10 years old? If not, what was your plan?
You’re going to laugh…but when I was 10, I wanted to be a Medical Research Scientist. And if that didn’t work out, I wanted to be an actress. Gooooooood times! #atleastiwasambitious?

Imagine this is 2024 – will you still be running Love, The Nelsons?
Ya know? I really have no idea. I would hope so, but the Lord might have different plans. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us, but as long as I’m still creating, snuggling up to my husband and his hot pants, loving others, and serving the Lord the best way I know how, I will be one happy lady. Stay tuned! Dun dun dun.

What is it like to work with your husband?
UGH! It’s the WORST EVER!!! 😉 I’m totally kidding. Honestly, it’s a blast in a glass. Some people may think it’s crazy to work with your husband…and ya know, it’s probably not for everyone, but it works for us. He does have his own career, so it’s  not like we work together in the same room 8-5 every day. I run the business during the week and he’s my invoice handler/super hot accountant, hot pants wearin’ second shooter, so the role he plays in the business is just perfect. I feel extremely grateful that he supports this passion of mine, and enjoys it as much as I do. We have so much fun together, bust a move on the dance floor almost always, and really balance each other out. I’m an excited person by nature, a little too hyper at times, very energetic, I talk too fast (my brain goes faster than my mouth can keep up with), and sometimes, I can get stressed out really easily (female POWAHHH!); but he’s my yang. He somehow has found a way (with lots of practice) to keep me calm, collected, organized, focused, and grounded when I need it. I’d say we’re a pretty great team!

What is your camera of choice?
I’ve been shooting with a Canon 5D Mark ii for the last two years (LOVE this camera), but recently upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark iii. I’ve only shot with it for one wedding, so the verdict is still out on that one! I’m also playing around with my Contax 645 (film camera) and I’m loving it so much. I can totally see what all the fuss is about. Basically, I love Canon and Contax…and pretty much anything that clicks and captures love and life! How generic, I know.

Fresh Faces, Love The Nelsons

Fresh Faces Love The Nelsons

If you can believe it, that’s not all Shalyn had to say! Stay tuned for Part II of October Fresh Faces for more of her great spirit and advice…

Words, Photographs and Competition.

I’ve got a way with words. Be it putting pen to paper or verbally stringing sentences together, I’ve always seemed to have a natural affinity for the art of storytelling.  So it makes sense that I would be drawn to blogging – a hobby that lends itself to weaving the tale of my interests, dreams and opinions.  And maybe it’s just my personal bias, but I feel as if I have the writing part down. Although as every blogger (and avid blog reader knows), there is much more to blogging than words.  Photography plays a large part in blogs (many of my favorite blogs have photos heavily integrated into their design).

I’ve always included photographs in my blog posts, although up to this point, my focus has been on writing compelling content. But to have the kind of blog that I’m working towards, I need pictures that do more than just complement my words – I need pictures that take your breath away. And try as I may, I just haven’t been able to achieve that make-you-gasp-and-drop-your-jaw photo with my iPhone camera. So I’ve decided that it’s time to make an investment in my blog and myself – and I bought a camera. Say hello to my new baby:

The Canon Powershot SX40 HS

My new Canon Powershot SX40 HS.

While still a point-and-shoot camera, the Canon Powershot SX40 provides many of the features of a professional grade DSLR, while still catering to a semi-pro like myself. The low light performance and high-sensitivity Megapixel sensor allow for stunning image quality and the 35x optical zoom makes it possible for me to take even the closest shots with ease. Probably my favorite part about my new Canon is its 2.7-inch multi-angle LCD screen, which will allow me the flexibility to capture any shot regardless of the angle. I can’t wait to take my camera with me everywhere and really learn the art of making art.

This camera purchase really comes at an ideal time, and not just for the expansion of my blogging capabilities.  In order to stay jinx-free, I’ve been keeping this on the hush-hush, but I recently applied to a blogging competition put on by ProBlogger and Tourism Queensland where 10 lucky bloggers can win an all-expenses paid trip to Australia!  Not only has traveling to Australia always been on my bucket list, but the opportunity to spend time with (and learn from) Darren Rowse, one of the web’s premiere bloggers, is an absolutely priceless experience for an up-and-coming blogger like myself.  But I digress. If (or should I think positive thoughts and say when?) I win one of those 10 coveted spots, my new camera and foray into photography will be essential for capturing the beauty of such an amazing country.

The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Australia

The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

I promise every one of you readers that if given the opportunity to go to Australia, my point-and-shoot will bring that country to life on the page.  Readers, it’ll be like you were right there with me, so keep those fingers crossed! But until that day comes (if and when), I’ll be busy building up my skills at home.

Stunning snapshots, here I come!