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Conversations with Nichole Kolb

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nichole Kolb.

Hi Nichole, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Before going into photography, I was a paralegal for 20 years. After having my youngest son, I began studying photography and quickly became obsessed. It didn’t take long for me to think about doing photography as a career. I loved learning! I began doing modeling sessions for family and friends out of my home. After about two years, my customer base had grown and I decided it was time to move the business out of my home and into a commercial space.

At the time, I was scared to take on the financial commitment required to have a commercial space. I sought out other options, possibly sharing the space with another photographer. Ultimately, we ended up partnering as. Willow & Moss Photography. We had a successful three year run in our commercial studio. While the partnership went great, my partner’s life was heading in a different direction and she was unable to continue with photography as a career. I was uncertain whether to continue the business on my own or to seek a new partner. Ultimately ended up partnering with another local photographer, Heather Mohr and we rebranded as Willow & Mohr Photography and opened a brand new studio in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely hiccups on the way. Determining how to handle the partnership can be tricky at times. After investing three years into my business as Willow & Moss Photography, my partner wasn’t able to continue with the photography business. Thank goodness our relationship was great so the splitting of the partnership went smoothly. I had to make decisions on whether to continue the business on my own or find another suitable business partner. I personally find the photography industry to be lonely and enjoy working with someone. I did find a suitable new partner, Heather Mohr. It was challenging deciding how to handle our new brand.

We both came from successful businesses so there was a lot involved. Not wanting to lose our individual success or brand awareness while branching into a brand new partnership. To complicate things, our partnership was entered into just prior to COVID. We had just signed on to a brand new commercial space which was a heavy commitment for both of us. Because of COVID, it quickly went from exciting to scary. COVID did take a lot of the fun and enjoyment out of the promoting and opening of the new business. Fortunately, we survived through COVID and the business is continuing to grow by the day!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
While I photograph many genres, I specialize in newborns. I am most proud of my newborn and baby work. I enjoy photographing a baby’s first year entirely. Sharing this time with the families, documenting the growth of their baby’s first year is truly amazing! I have adult children, twins, who are turning 30, so I appreciate how quickly the time goes… our children are grown before we know it! I think a few things set me apart from others, most importantly my passion for what I do. I truly enjoy every moment of photographing a baby. I also think my attention to detail and my style draw me apart. I want all the focus to be on the baby, which is why my images are mostly neutrals and don’t incorporate a lot of distracting patterns, props, etc.

I am most proud of deciding to leave a successful career as a paralegal after 20 years to pursue a new dream, photography. While I had a lot of support from family and friends, there were also a lot of unfavorable reactions. Many were surprised by my decision. I can definitely see why there was so much uncertainty. I’m still surprised at times by my actions that I went for it. I think when you feel so drawn to something, you feel it pulling at you and it doesn’t leave your mind… you have to just go for it! Based on circumstances in my family at that time, I knew this was my window of opportunity; if I was going to go for it, it was now or never.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
To not get in your own way. We can so easily let our negative thoughts or excuses prevent us from following our dreams. Really think about what you want, visualize yourself doing so successfully and go for it. When you make mistakes (and you will) don’t be too hard on yourself, learn from them. Perfection is not possible! Again, perfection is not possible! This is a hard lesson for me. I get in my own way striving for perfection, which can prevent me from moving forward. Sometimes it’s best to just keep moving forward. As long as you strive to do your best and put your heart into it, your journey will be a positive one.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All Images are by Nichole Kolb with Willow & Mohr Photography except for headshot image of myself which is by Manda Renee Photography.

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