Hi there! My name is Nikkolas Nguyen and I'm the owner of Nikk Nguyen Photo. I've been a photographer for about 4 years now but only professional for about 2!
Where it All Started
If we are being honest, it was never a dream of mine to become a photographer. Coming from a traditional Asian household it was either become a doctor or lawyer, nothing less. When I moved to Austin from Dallas for college I quickly realized these career choices were nowhere near what I wanted to do, so I eventually dropped out of school and worked aimlessly at restaurants for about 3-4 years.
My photography journey all started one day when I was riding my motorcycle. That morning I was on my way to grab breakfast when a driver pulled out in front of me causing me to t-bone their car and fly off my motorcycle. I was unconscious and got transported to the ER.
I only spent a day in the hospital but as soon as I got home there was this deep depression that hit...I was wondering to myself, what am I doing with my life? If I had died, what would anyone have remembered me for?
With that mindset, I quickly tried my best to explore many different hobbies during my recovery until my friend who works at a local camera shop suggested that I pick up a camera. I quickly spent $150 on a used Sony RXIII and started going out every day with it for about 6 months. That’s when I realized this was the passion I was going to chase.
Turning Passion in a Career
After those 6 months, I convinced myself to buy my first full-frame camera—a Canon 6D. I then tried many avenues of photography—everything from lifestyle/brand work, portrait photography and even Instagram influencer hopes. I immediately realized none of these niches really tugged at my heartstrings.
One day, my old manager from a restaurant saw me on the street and told me he had been following me on Instagram and that he was getting married in a couple of weeks and asked if I would shoot his wedding. The thought of doing wedding photography was immediately so daunting. He saw my hesitation and quickly reassured me that he would only be able to pay me with food. A smile developed on my face and I quickly accepted.
Two weeks later and I remember leaving that wedding with my face hurting from smiling and laughing nonstop since arriving. I quickly returned home and told my girlfriend that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Getting Business Done
The most challenging aspect of my business is finding ideal clients. It’s hard to find clients, but it’s even harder to find the right clients that not only love your work but also align with what your work stands for.
I am very particular with clients before they book me. I'll set up consultations that serve as an interview to get a sense if we’re the right fit for each other. I’m fortunate to be working with the best couples and clients that I love.
I stand out from the competition by being myself. From using obnoxious amounts of exclamation points in emails to texting couples emojis, I never try to be like someone I'm not. Why does this make me stand out? It allows couples to be comfortable with me and show me their true selves. Which resonates heavily in my work and my testimonials I receive from my couples.
Additionally, I have very aggressive marketing and advertising techniques that make sure that my unique work is seen by couples. Since launching my new site a year ago, my Google presence has skyrocketed with these methods:
1. Start for Free
I always shot for free in hopes of building my portfolio. This is the classic “grind until you make it” tactic. A few ways to get portfolio work done that you’ll actually like are styled shoots, workshops, and second shooting weddings.
2. Research Marketing & Advertising
Marketing and advertising is the backbone of my business. Without it, my business, or any business, would be dead. If I would've jumped on this sooner who knows where my business would be!
3. Don't compare to others work
This is the number one killer of inspiration. I used to compare myself so much to people that had 20 times the followers on Instagram as me. Sometimes this would lead to a depression and void in my work that was very noticeable. I would even close myself off for a few days because I wasn't where I wanted to be. PLEASE don't ever do this! You will feel so much better about your work, business, and most importantly yourself.
The Best Part
The most fulfilling part of my career? Knowing I've made such an impact on the couple and their families. I mean capturing someone on the happiest day of their life sort of explains itself, you know?
I’m now at a point where I can offer workshops to other aspiring photographers that want to learn from my successes and failures without having to put in the time. I like to share some of the key areas that contributed to my success, such as how to define and attract their ideal client, how to honestly and sufficiently price their work, and how to find the elements that distinguish them from other photographers in their space. I also teach them how to grow their exposure through SEO and advertising. Additionally, I talk about the techniques I’ve both developed and adapted to produce eye-catching photography and tips I use to create a relaxing and enjoyable experience with my clients.
One of the greatest things about these workshops is they are also styled shoots where the attendees get to shoot alongside me as I give them hands-on training. all while getting to capture great photography that can be used to build their portfolio and attract clients down the road.
Nikkolas's level-headedness and professionalism allow him to prosper in the wedding environment. To Nikkolas, wedding photography does not require a single skill, it requires a broad spectrum of all genres of Photography meshed into one. This is where Nikkolas comes in and contributes his creative skill and produces beautiful wedding photos that will last for generations.
When he’s not slaving away on the computer or out shooting, you can find him cuddling with the doggies, skating around the neighborhood, or hanging out on the couch with his girlfriend. While Nikkolas is based in Austin, TX, he is willing to travel worldwide.
You can visit Nikkolas's website here and follow him on Instagram here.