Artists Inspired Blog Circle: June | Turquoise

Thalassophile (n.):  A lover of the sea; someone who loves the sea, ocean.  THAT’S ME!  It’s possible that I love the ocean more than I love pizza (which is a LOT).  There are loads (loads!!!!) of articles online about the psychology of color (feel free to Google it, AFTER you read my blog). But, I don’t need to read any of them to know how this month’s color, our final color in the Artists Inspired Blog Circle Color Series, affects my mood. Turquoise makes me calm and happy all in one fell swoop. It’s the color of my favorite parts of the ocean, it’s the color that comforts my soul when we live too far from the sea.  It’s summertime, it’s vacation, it’s a mental-escape.  Turquoise represents communication, clarity of thought, balance & harmony, calmness, idealism, creativity, compassion, healing & self-sufficiency.   In fact, if a soul can be defined in color, mine is the same color as the Caribbean, the tropical Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico.  My soul is turquoise.

Rather than going on and on and on (and on and on and on) about how much I love this color, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite images and quotes instead and a heart-felt thank you for reading this series each month!  We’ll pick this blog circle back up in the fall with a new inspiration theme!

PS. All images were taken on Anna Maria Island, a glorious little hide-away located just south of Tampa, FL.


“The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure.” ~Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
“The ocean is everything I want to be.  Beautiful, wild, mysterious and free.”  ~Unknown
“I just want to live happily ever after, every now and then.”  ~Jimmy Buffett
“I go to the ocean to calm down, to reconnect with the creator, to just be happy.” ~Nnedi Okorafor
“It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad”  ~Jimmy Buffett
“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.” ~Jeanne Moreau


Now that you’ve finished reading my take on this month’s theme, click here to make your way to Elizabeth Willson’s blog to see her interpretation of the color Turquoise.  Once you’re done, continue around the circle to see how other artists’ have been inspired by this color!

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The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.


Artists Inspired Blog Circle April | Black

There’s a simple black fence surrounding the perimeter of the backyard at my new house.  At first glance, it’s nothing special–just a tool to keep the children & pets corralled in one space where they can play and run a little more freely than they were used to.   Truly, when we knew we were going to move into this house, it’s the only consideration I gave this fence.

As it turns out, there’s a lot more to that simple black fence.  A. LOT.  In the chaos of moving in, we were far too busy to pay much attention to the backyard, other than to acknowledge that it was certainly larger than what we’d previously had (to call our former yard “small” would be deeply generous).  But, once all the boxes were unpacked and all the furniture was arranged, our backyard beckoned and we answered the call.  Soccer balls were spread out for the girls to run and kick, tennis balls tossed around for the pups to play fetch, sprinklers and bubble machines set out for everyone.  A picnic table for family dinners on the patio was set up and pots and pots of flowers, that would hopefully entice bees & butterflies, were planted.  Spring was returning to Northeast Florida and, with it, a feathered friend here and there would land on that boring black fence that was meant to contain children and pets.  Their visits didn’t go unnoticed and, soon, at the urging of my children, up went a bird feeder and with it, more and more and MORE birds came.

I never really intended to become a bird watcher; while I enjoy nature, birds never really piqued my interest until we lived in this house, with it’s, as it turns out, not-so-boring black fence.  To my great surprise, it’s equal parts calming and entertaining.  I have no idea what species of bird I’m looking at most of the time (save for the obvious bluebirds, cardinals and, yes, ducks who squeeze their plump bodies through the fence to rest in my grass), and they don’t need me to know what they are, either.  They’re not here for me.  They’re there for each other and for themselves (and for the food).  They’re there to chatter, to eat, to fight, to sing, to mate, to rest, to play.  And, as much as I’m enjoying watching the cacophony of activity, my children and pets are enjoying it even more and watching them watch it gives me the biggest thrill.  My cat, who has absolutely no use for the outdoors what-so-ever, watches the backyard with a newfound and laser-focused interest.  My eldest comes home from school and eagerly checks to see if the feeder has plenty of food for our evening visitors.  My youngest rushes to the fence-line in the mornings to check on the ducks, egrets, herons and cormorants in the pond just behind the fence, as her ever-loyal pup follows by her side.  My husband lingers on the patio, checking to see what kind of activity is happening at any given time along the fence and I, armed with my camera, sneak out into the yard and hope that they all ignore me and my constant click-click-clicking as I document it all.  And, whether we’re home or not, throughout the day, that black fence serves as a meeting place, or a resting spot, for which ever feathered friend stops by for a visit.

Not too long ago, someone mentioned to me that my new interest in birds made me weird.  But, truth be told, it all seems pretty normal to me.  A normal that I never really knew existed before since we’ve never really had this kind of access to nature, but a normal that I would sorely miss now.  What’s really happened is that, in the middle of a busy life, we’ve slowed down and looked around.  This plain, boring black fence is the backdrop for something wonderful and beautiful and fun.  My backyard is alive with nature now, and every single person in my house benefits from that and my heart is happy as a result.

The sun rising over our simple black fence.
Morning ritual.  Off to check on the birds, and maybe telling a story or two on the way.
I *do* know what kind of bird this is.  And I’m thrilled with his visits!
Ok, so we didn’t expect ducks.  But, nonetheless, they’re welcome.
No idea what this is.  But, it’s cute!  And, more importantly, it tolerated me and my camera.
A sweet little bluebird, hard at work preparing for a new family.
My eldest, making her afternoon trip to the bird feeder to make sure it’s fully stocked.


PS.  Should I decide to dress up as an old lady, adopt a British accent, make my way into the backyard with a bag of seed and start to sing “Feed the birds” from Mary Poppins, we can happily revisit the discussion of what may or may not be weird where birds are concerned.

Now that you’ve finished reading my take on this month’s theme, click here to make your way to Elizabeth Willson’s blog to see her interpretation of the color Black.  Once you’re done, continue around the circle to see how other artists’ have been inspired by this color!

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The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

I Love To Tell The Story

Sigh. There’s just no way around it any longer.  Change is happening here at Nikki Smith Photography.  Actually, it’s been trying to happen for a while now and I’ve been trying my Olympic-level best to ignore it.  I’ve been brushing off that persistent whisper in the back of my mind, thinking it would just go away if I didn’t pay attention to it……but, it hasn’t.  Quite the opposite, actually.

Lately, it’s become very obvious to me that I might be something other than a photographer.  Yeah, I have a camera and Photoshop.  Yeah, I know my gear.  Yeah, I love taking pictures.  But, I’m actually not just taking pictures.   I’m collecting memories.  I’m telling the stories around me.  I felt it when I wrote my blog about why I need to take pictures.  I’ve felt it over the past several weeks, sifting through my late grandmother’s picture boxes, reminiscing over the stories I knew, wondering about the ones I didn’t, mending my shattered heart with the past.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the enormous privilege of documenting not one, but two military deployment homecomings.  While capturing those moments and then editing those galleries, I really, really felt it.  The pull I’d been resisting for longer than I care to acknowledge was stronger than it’d ever been before.   My need to tell stories is a living, breathing part of me and I cannot ignore it any longer and I have to do something about it.

Which leads me to this change that I’m making. I believe SO strongly in this change, so strongly in how important it is to tell all the stories, that I’m going to do something crazy (it makes me get a little pit-sweaty when I say it out loud, truth be told). Ready?  Here it is. Now that my 2016 session calendar has officially closed for bookings, I will no longer be offering posed family sessions.  Holy crap, I said it.  Well, wrote, it, but whatever.  It’s official.  Nikki Smith Photography is going in a new direction.

Don’t get me wrong.  Posed family sessions are wonderful.  I’m not knocking them at all.  They are important and beautiful and have their place in the family album.  But, can I tell you something?  I have to force my own family to do them.  There it is, the truth.  Once a year, just in time for Christmas cards, family photos are forced in my house.  There are families who LOVE posed photography.  My family isn’t one of them.  My kids drag their feet about it, my husband huffs and puffs and rolls his eyes and smiles (kind of) but, only after I threaten to nag him for all of eternity if he doesn’t.  We collectively smile, through clenched teeth while telling each other to smile, for the camera, but no one really wants to be there (except for me, because I’m the mom who WANTS the pictures to be made).  Sound familiar?  Maybe just a little bit?  If you’re sitting here reading this, nodding along because my family sounds like your family—you’re my people!   We get one another.  We want family photos.  But getting them by way of threats is exhausting.  Instead, we want them to reflect who we really are.   We want the kind of photos that immediately spark a story that starts with, “Remember that time….”  We want MEMORIES!   It’s what I want for my family and it’s what I want for your family, too.

So, if I’m no longer offering posed family sessions, what exactly am I offering?  Well, I’m so glad you asked.  Starting in 2017, I’m beyond excited to introduce Family Story Sessions, where, together, we will tell the story of you.  What is YOUR story?  What do you love to do?  What makes your family’s heart sing?  Who is important to you?  Where is your heart the happiest?  Let’s go on an adventure or just hang out in your driveway for a family game of basketball.  Grand or small, let’s capture the memories that, one day, will be your family legacy!  Let’s tell your story. 

Ahhhh, if only it were as easy as that, right?  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “I’ve got a camera on my phone.  I already take my own photos of us doing that stuff when we go do it.  Why do I need to hire someone?”  True, but……can I ask you a question?  How often are YOU in those photos with your family?  Letting someone else take control of the camera means you’re free to have fun, too!  And, wanna know a secret?  That person with the camera (ME!!!) sees things you don’t.  I can see the moments that make the memories while you’re busy making them.

For years I’ve only included posed photos for my own Christmas cards.  Here is just a glimpse of the things we’ll be including this year, because this is who we are.  We’re beach lovers who do family story-time, we love ice cream treats and jump on hotel beds, we learn to ride tricycles and play airplane-ballerina in the driveway on summer evenings and we’re the people who ride through Target in our Iron Man mask.  We’re those people and these are the memories that tell our story.


Of course, with a new direction comes a re-branding.  Introducing my new logo.  Nikki Smith, photographer | storyteller.  It just feels a little more…


Brace yourselves, because there’s more (what?!).  To celebrate my new Family Story Sessions, I will be hosting an open model call after the first of the year.  ANYONE in my local area (St. Johns, St. Augustine, Greater Jacksonville) or, anyone who wants to travel to my local area, can apply.  All you’ll need to do is tell me what YOUR family loves to do together!  So, put your thinking caps on and keep an eye on my Facebook page (here) for the announcement.

If you’re sitting there thinking that THIS is the type of family session you’ve been waiting for but you aren’t quite sure what you’d like to go do, message me!  I’m keeping a list of great memory-making activities that I’m updating almost daily.  PS.  While I will no longer be offering posed family sessions of any kind, sessions for children, toddlers and high-school seniors are still available for booking (just a little more relaxed now).  But, couples??? Let’s go tell your story, too, in a Couples Story Session!



Give Me The Gold of the Setting Sun–Artists Inspired Blog Circle

Our blog circle theme for the month of September is Gold.  I’m not gonna lie, inspiration didn’t exactly wash over me.  It didn’t even trickle over me.  I had to wait.  And think.  And wait (and wait and wait and wait) some more.  “What. The. CRAP. am I gonna write about and how am I going to tie that to the color gold?” is basically what kept running through my mind.  (Incidentally, the possibility of running out of things to talk about is exactly why I was hesitant to start a blog to begin with.  And, look at me, writer’s block just 3 entries into it.  Impressive.)  So, I pushed this theme and project aside.  I got up from my computer (since it was being an uninspiring jerk, anyway) and I played with my kids.  I read a book, I watched some trashy TV, I went for a run (that I am definitely not in good enough shape to do), I decided to never go for another run again, I played with my kids some more and I watched some sunsets, which is just about my favorite way to end the day.  Hoooooo-leeeeeeeeeeee Crap.  The sunset is GOLD!  The angels sang & inspiration finally arrived!  I LOVE SUNSETS.  I am so fully mesmerized by the things that happen at sunset; the way the day eases it’s way into night, they way people on a beach, busy with everything, become silently captivated, the way backyards become more inviting, the way the neighbors meander out into their driveways so the kids can play, the way the neighborhood comes alive with conversation and laughter and fellowship….the way life becomes so, SO beautifully lit!  At the end of the day, give me the gold of the setting sun.


Give me the gold of the setting sun,

The sky on fire,

The horizon ablaze.

Give me the breathless moments,

The watching,

The waiting,

The anticipation of the day’s last gasp.

Give me the golden hours,

The golden days,

The golden moments,

The golden years that soon will pass.

And when it has finally set and gone,

Give me the glorious colors of the

Day that is done.

Give me the gold of the setting sun.


Click on any (or all!) of the images above to see full-sized versions and then, once you’re done, click here to see how the wonderfully talented Elizabeth Willson of It’s Still Life Photography has interpreted this month’s theme.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and this month’s theme was chosen specifically to support that initiative and if you continue far enough into this circle, you’ll see, through the eyes of a very brave Momma, what it’s like to watch your child fight through this battle.  Want to know more about ways you can help?  Click here.

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The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

A story about the color blue…..

I have a confession to make.  I am a brown-eyed girl.  Actually, not even brown.  It’s really more of an amber color.  In my younger years, I didn’t exactly love the color—at all!  And, as most brown-eyed girls are wont to do, I spent a good chunk of my adolescence wishing for blue eyes. In fact, I went through a spectacularly classy blue contact lens phase in the 90s.  It was……terrifying.  At the time, though, I truly believed I was living on the cutting edge of high fashion.  To my great dismay, pictures tell a MUCH different story.  The reality is, I was just meant to be an amber-eyed individual.  Truth be told, now, as an adult, I love my eye color.  It isn’t one that you often see, and I fully embrace the uniqueness of the color (even if a boy did once tell me that they were the color of diarrhea.  Hopefully he’s since improved his compliment game.).   I certainly didn’t arrive at this level of acceptance quickly, though.  In fact, I didn’t get over myself until I had a child of my own. Continue reading “A story about the color blue…..”

The Last Time

A long time ago, before he realized he should value his life more, my husband asked me, “Why are you always taking pictures?  Why can’t you just put the camera down and be IN the moment?”  And, then, I punched him in the throat and he never asked a dumb question again.  The End.  Just kidding.

Continue reading “The Last Time”