Nicole Chan, Photographer

I think I naturally see the best in people and can associate positive things about them very quickly. Then, it's just a matter of making them forget that there's a camera in between us.

Q: Some of our women are full-time professionals and running a side hustle (or at least feeding their creative appetite). When did you decide to transition fully from management consultant to photographer? How did you know it was the right time?

A: To all those women, I FEEL YOU. I was a full-time management consultant on a travel project while running my side hustle for over a year. I remember boarding planes to the client site, slumping into my seat, and being washed away by feelings of "there must be more than this.” I tricked myself into loving my job - the spreadsheets, the decks, and the corporate bullsh*t. I drank the Kool-Aid. Even when I didn't like the Kool-Aid, I convinced myself that staying in this company was the most logical decision because...well, 2008 recession. 

I don't think I knew it was "the right time." I received a lot of support from my then boyfriend, now husband. He saw how miserable I was, day in and day out. The logic behind my departure was that my side hustle was getting busier, and even though it wasn't matching the salary I was receiving, it was getting close. It wouldn't have been outrageously irresponsible of me to leave my full-time job and medical benefits because this side hustle was generating enough to cover my base life expenses. I gave a 6-week notice to my job.

Q: You mention you serve people who feel awkward in front of a camera. Can you share a little bit about this process and why you enjoy working with this constituency?

A: I used to feel very uncomfortable in certain social situations but always wanted to be part of the main action. Photography gave me a reason to be there, to talk to people, and to ask curious questions. Holding a camera makes me feel more comfortable; I guess you could call it my security blanket. 

I know how it feels to be out of your comfort zone. 99% of my clients say that they are awkward or unphotogenic. I believe that one of my superpowers is the ability to ask questions so that I can understand you on a different level: for wedding couples, it might be about things that only you and your partner know; for headshots, it might be about how you've never loved that funny vein on your head.

I think I naturally see the best in people and can associate positive things about them very quickly. Then, it's just a matter of making them forget that there's a camera in between us. Great conversation, wildly inappropriate jokes, and common ground are my keys to making awkwardness dissipate.

Q: How do you fuel your creativity? How do you continue to develop your craft?

A: I create a photograph every day. Sometimes, it's a portrait of a stranger or a quiet moment of my lazy Husky with my husband. I'm always practicing. I'm always reading. I watch a ridiculous amount of YouTube. I spend far too much time on Instagram. I love hanging out with my creative friends because we can talk about it for hours. It's the best obsession that I could ever wish for. 

Q: Humor is a big thing for you and your branding. Why?

A: I never thought I was funny (I still don't). Sometimes my husband says, "You're so funny... funny-looking!" I like being able to show humor through my website because it attracts clients to personality types like mine. 

When I create photographs and films, I try to show the world what I see. I see a lot of laughter and energy. I see the little moments, the ones that really matter. Often, I see the quirky in everyone.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NICOLE AT: www.nicolechanphotography.com/