Keith Urban

My name is Nikki and I am a Keith Urban fan.

If you know anything about me either knowing me personally, through my posts on facebook or twitter or reading my bio on my website, one might think I am a little crazy for Keith Urban.  People I am not crazy. I truly just enjoy good music.  I am a huge lover of music and if you are too, I am sure there is that one person that just mesh's with you and everything they put out just can turn a frown upside down.  That is the very reason why I heart his music.  We mesh well together.  He would tell you the same.

 I have never missed a show that he has played in Kansas City, at least I better not have.  He had me at the very first concert oh so many years ago at the Beaumont Club.  He had me when I walked down to front row at Sandstone and he sang to me no, he really did :) barefoot on his little carpet.  I haven't missed a show that he has played in Kansas City and then have sprinkled in a few shows here and there around the good ole US of A.  See, it is not so bad I am depriving my four children and hubby.  It is, what has been the past few years, an indulgence that I treat my sister to for her birthday.  No, it doesn't matter when her birthday is, if his tour is coming WE ARE GOING no matter what the month.  I have her hooked.  After the first few shows where I didn't care who went I just had to go, turned into I had to share my love with somebody and get them hooked on the Keith Urban drug as was I.  Let's not also mention the fact I have attempted and failed 18 times with Backstage Experiences.  (gasp)  God help me if I win one to Australia  or Canada.  I might have some splaining to do to  Mr. Gravatt.  lol.

Friday night was no exception, except that this time I actually convinced my friend Ali to join us so she could also experience what I wish everyone would experience with me and we took my 9 year old niece, Emma.  Just what is this "experience" that I speak of?  Well, let me tell you...........

It is happiness.  It is melodic beauty coming into your ears.  It is rock and roll.  It is country.  It is confetti in the air.  It is passion.  It is a living thing that gets in your soul and stays there floating.  It is a euphoric high that you don't come off of for days.  It is a feeling you want to follow him to the next city because you know it is in driving distance.  It is magical.

Yes, I was standing at the front of the stage, but I have stood in all areas of arenas to watch him and it is the same experience every time.  He draws you in from the first second and you can't help but explode with wanting to let loose and just be uninhibited at a concert.  He is heartfelt, he is welcoming, he shows his love.  I mean, first off, who stands there and tells everyone that security isn't going to be bothering anybody because this is his fans night to have a good time.  He wants you to stand on chairs and be as obnoxious as you want.  Those are his words!  Also, who takes ten minutes out of a concert to read fan's posters they have made and then bring someone on stage who at the very least thought they were going to be making a sign to show their love and then in a whirlwind has that adorableness hugging you on stage?!  This tour is all about his fans.  His stage is a ramp.  A ramp......don't think I didn't want to go all 80's rock on him and rush the stage and tackle him.  But the two concerts this year I have been to it hasn't happened.  He walks well actually he kind of is a fast jaunt through the crowd to another stage to get closer to the fans who aren't in front.  He is mauled, clawed and practically molested but he still does it.  He goes not once, but twice!  The second time he goes usually further out on the side or the back of the arena and stands on a chair sings and then gives his guitar to someone!  His guitar.  Now It truly is something you have to be a part of.

Can I give his band some love?  Every single one of them had a small solo and I heart them too.  They can sing their asses off.  We got a little bit of U2, Tom Petty and frickin ACDC!  And then a little Paul McCartney was also thrown in there.  Do I have you wanting some yet? LOL!

Oh, Keith Urban.  Your music makes me happy.  Your music makes me more productive when I am editing 750 pictures from a senior session.  Your concerts make me dance.  Your concerts leave my voice gone the next day.  Your concerts make me smile reminiscing with my 16 year old daughter of all the moments he smiled at us or we sang to each other.  I sang You're Gonna Fly with him and he smiled and nodded his head at me.  Ahhhhhhh.  Or let's reminisce when he patted his heart and opened his arms up to my 9 year old niece.    She cried.  She hasn't stopped talking yet about it.  Your concerts make me want to write a 1000 word essay on my love of Keith Urban and his "experience".

So until next time Mr. Urban, I say to you, these are the days I will remember.........  

Oh and I can't leave without sharing my love, love, love of this new video.

Or a couple pics from the concert :)

Taylor {Piper High School}

Meet Miss Taylor!  She is a 2012 Senior Model and she rocked her session out!  Taylor wanted a little bit of country mixed with some city, so we did just that.  I love a session when we head to the country and the evening turns into the most perfect sunset with the most perfect light.  Taylor got exactly that.  Isn't she lovely?!

Kelsey {St. Thomas Aquinas}

Up today on the blog is Kelsey!  She is from St. Thomas Aquinas and was such a delight to photograph.  She is a 2012 Senior Model and I couldn't be happier for her to represent Nicole Renee!  We stomped around the west bottoms and she is a beauty.  Be sure if you see her to ask her for a rep card because there are some special discounts she has to pass along!!!

Bradley {2012 Senior}

Meet Bradley.  He will be a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas this year and he was my first 2012 senior of the season!  I think he did me proud.  He is hoping to attend Kansas State (boooooooo).  Just kidding.  (not really)

We started down town, but we plan to finish up his shoot soon at a pond or lake, because that is where his passion lies.  He loves to hunt and fish and also loves sports.  He is on the Cross Country team and also on the baseball team at Aquinas.  He is quite the runner.

We had so much fun on our shoot tromping through the west bottoms, with the exception of him telling me he was meeting me on the North side of a haunted house when in fact he was on the South side.  But after figuring that out we set out.  He also brought his dog, Barkley along of which I kept referring to "Berkley".  Past senior experience lol!  I think Barkley did awesome.  I won't embarrass Bradley by telling the story of me asking him to come down to Barkley's level for a picture ........  oh wait, yes I will.  ;)

ME:  Bradley come down next to Barkley so I can get more of a close up picture.
BRADLEY:  Okay.  at this point he proceeds to move over the top of Barkley and squat.
ME:  Um, noooooo that doesn't look like what I was going for.   at this point he realizes what he was doing and we break out into laughter.  Where is a photographer when you need one!!

Oh wait...... at the bottom is my illustration of this fine senior moment.  Enjoy!!

Here's to you Bradley and your upcoming senior year!  You were awesome and can't wait to see what happens when we fish!

Baby B {Children}

I know, I have blogged like three times this week and just pick yourself up off the ground.  Ha ha you are very funny.  I am on a roll so just humor me in me actually trying to blog more.   I am going to make a very good effort of launching this blog on a consistent basis so you can see all the latest things that the studio is doing.

This little sweet thing melts my heart.

Shelby {Senior Class of 2011}

Wow!  I have so much to say about Miss Shelby.  I have known her since she was 7.  Her younger sister was friends with my Kylie and then a family friendship developed from there.  Her family used to be very very close family friends.  And then a very very cool thing happend.  After a bout of heartache in the family my momma and her daddy GOT MARRIED!!  Yup that happened.  So now, technically, my sweet Shelby is my niece.  And I will claim her any day of the year.  I love her like she is my own.  We bond over Forever 21 costume jewelry.  We're cool like that.

Did I mention her laugh?  I love her laugh.  She has this giggle that makes me giggle every time she giggles.  Did I mention she is ripped?  She doesn't necessarily believe it but the. girl. is. ripped.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  And did I mention she is smart?  No, not smart.  The girl is like Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe smart.  Okay don't get all wierded out and think she thinks the government is out to get her and has a room full of newspaper clippings hung everywhere.  I don't really know how else to say it besides the girl is smart.  Okay, sorry if I embarrassed you Shelbz.  Had to brag.

Aside from the obvious in being beautiful, she is loving, sweet, loyal, funny  and she radiates a sparkle to those around her.

And I had to add --  I just asked Ellie Bean what her favorite thing about Shelby was and her answer was "her pool because she teaches me to swim."  So, did I mention she gives swimming lessons?  LOL!

 In August, Shelby will be leaving this fine town we call Piper and heading to San Antonio, Texas to attend Trinity University.  We will all miss her deeply but are so excited to watch her spread her wings.

Shelby we love you and will miss you.  We wish you so many blessings on your journey in this wonderful thing we life.  You are a bright spot in this world and can't wait to see the sparkle you give it in this new adventure!!

Michael John (he's gonna be a rock star)

I really love babies. I am at that point in my life where I have enough in my home so I don't need anymore here with me, but I fall in love every single time I photograph one. So keep bringing the babies because that is my fix for a couple hours and then they get to go home and I get to sleep. ;)

This little guy is gonna be a rock star. Why? Because he already has the name, right! He was a gem when he came and his big brother was such a cutie. I have previously shot this little man because his mamma and daddy got married last year and I fell in love with his curls then. So I hope you all enjoy the rock star and show some love to the curls.

Drew {Collegiate}

I don't even know where to begin with this post.  The past couple months have completely changed me as a person and as a photographer.  It has made me take a step back and actually look at my life and my career  and start to rethink things.  One of the reasons I have taken a step back with my photography is the subjects I have taken recently.  Three specific life stories have humbled me, changed me and will forever be a part of me.

This is Drew's story.

I won't get into the details of how I met Drew because it is actually one of those stories where you talk about one thing which leads to another story which leads to a whole other story sort of story.  Because I knew Drew before I even knew Drew.  So I will tell the story in a round about sort of way.

I was the girl in high school who as a freshman was on the varsity basketball team.  Did I play, not so much, but I lettered when I was a freshman.  yyyyeeeeeaaaahhhh.  I was scared to death because these girls were HUGE.  Well, not really but perspective as a freshman is well, perspective as a freshman.  I wasn't really the most loved person coming on the team because you know, I had game.  I am just cracking myself up!  Anywho, there were two people that were seniors that kind of took me under their wing and became my mentors.  Diane Frost and one Wendee (badass) Kost.  Diane was this sweet and gentle teacher and Wendee, well I was scared to look her way because she was gonna kick my ask.  But nonetheless she seemed to like me and I went with it.  ;)  Diane and Wendee graduated that year and left Piper, but I always remembered them as being those people that made me feel like I belonged there.

Fast forward 15 years later.  Haley's junior year the basketball team goes to State.  I, of course, being the huge basketball fan that I am couldn't miss her cheer for this and watch a little State bball action.  We stayed at the same hotel a lot of the other people from the community were staying in.  I saw Wendee earlier that day and through out Haley being in high school had seen her a few times at games and stuff and would always smile at her or wave but I wasn't going to be the girl that was like Wendee!  Hey it's me Nikki Payne in the butt, you know the one from when I was a freshman and you were nice to me on the basketball team!!!!  And then have her be like yeah right, I don't remember your face at all.  So I just smiled and would be on my way.  I saw her at the hotel as she was sitting with her family in a chair by the ping pong tables and she hollered my name across the room.  I was like wait, what?  Wendee Kost is yelling at me?  Oh my God, what have I done.  Did I look at her wrong or not smile right?  I walked over to her and she asked me if I still played softball.  Yes, softball, because I was just an all-american athlete.  See, cracking myself up again.  So I was like um, yeah.  And she ASKED ME TO BE ON HER AND HER HUSBAND'S TEAM.  At this point inside my little body I was doing like a little arm action happy dance.  Yadi yada yada and I said yes, and am still playing ball with her.  Geesh.

Soooooo in between that time yes, I had seen Drew around but just didn't know who his parents were.  Wendee and Kent were Drew's parents.  So you see, I knew him before I even knew him!  

I know this is Drew's story, but I just have to go out on a little side story that Wendee has become one of my cherished friends.  Her husband, Kent and her have not one child, but two children with muscular dystrophy.  They are the bravest, srongest and most kind people you will ever meet.  I heart them and can't say enough about them.

So let's talk about Drew.  Drew has muscular dystrophy.  Drew graduated May 21 from the University of Kansas.  He is graduated from the School of Journalism.  WOW.  Well, you say why wow?  Well, I will tell you why wow.  When Wendee and I talked about taking some pictures at the KU campus for his senior year I was more than on board.  I was so happy to do it because Drew and I have this relationship where we both enjoy the side of our personalities that can be a complete smart ask. ;)  So I met them in Lawrence to begin our photographic journey.  I knew I wanted to do something different because well, Drew's life is the same as every other college student, but Drew's life is also different.  I wanted to be able to photograph what he wanted but I also wanted to represent his life.

We set out to photograph him first at the journalism department.  So yeah, we set out.  We drove to a parking lot and his sweet, dear mom unloaded his scooter, put it together and Drew got on and we went a walkin!  You see, as we are climbing the hill along the sidewalk and Drew is climbing along the sidewalk too it hit me.  His mom is not there every single day to drive him to a parking lot and load and unload his scooter.  Hmm.  "Drew, so when it is 5 degrees outside you are climbing all these hills from your dorm?"  Yup, he does.  He has to bear down and just push through whatever weather is thrown his way.  Can he ride the bus?  Sure, but it really isn't as simple as you would think.

We walked around the campus for an hour up sidewalks, down sidewalks, around sidewalks.  I wanted a picture of him in front of the Tower at Campinelli Hill.  Yeah, right.  After walking for 20 minutes around a building looking for a way to get there we gave up.  We stood on a walkway with it in the background and dealt.

The two hours I spent with Drew will forever change me.  My little Ellie Bean complains when she has to walk into Target.  Really?  I complain because I don't like the cold and then drive in my warm car to where I need to go to get out and have to walk for 20 seconds into somewhere.  Really?

Drew you are an inspiration.  You have faced adversity and you are kicking it in it's face.  You are my hero and you are just awesome.  Congratulations on graduating the University of Kansas.  God Bless you and God Bless your future endeavors.


2012 Senior time is here!!!  Book your session for this summer anytime in June and you get 48 free wallets!  Post this picture on your facebook wall and tag five friends and you get 16 more wallets FOR FREE!!!!!  Now how can you pass that up!!

Email or call the studio 913.638.0225

Being Happy for Others and Birthday Lasagna

So I have been working really hard lately on getting everything just so for the new website, blog, product guide, specials and just plain awesome stuff that my life seems to be flying by. But I promise that once it is all over and done, Nicole Renee Fotographie will be everything I always wanted my business to be and more. More? Yes, more. You see I had goals. I set them and even though I haven't met every single one YET, I still work on them. It is a constant process and let me tell you there wouldn't be one goal met without my determination and the support from my husband and a few family and friends who have helped push me and want more.

Why am I talking about this? Well, the other day I got a message on facebook. It was from a young photographer who had a couple questions and so I asked her when she would be free and I could call her. We ended up chatting for quite awhile and I answered any questions she had and I could tell she was quite excited just to be talking to someone else who had the same passion as her. Later that evening I had a ding on my phone and looked and someone posted on my facebook wall. I hope she doesn't mind but here is what she posted "Dear Nicole - I can't thank you enough for all the advice you just gave me over the phone! You put so much more confidence in me than I ever thought I could have. I have so much respect for you as a photographer. I look forward to going to some of your shoots with you and learning even more! Xoxo" I find it unsettling that it probably crossed her mind that she was writing to someone who may not give her the time of day. I help people as much as I can. I am always willing to share my knowledge with others, but I also know that there is so much for me to learn. As is with life. I mean if you already know everything where is there for your life to go but where you are. Learning is beautiful because your wings get streched and there always is room for improvement and more furry little feathers right? I mean, I am hoping that mine will eventually having diamonds or something because I like sparkle. LOL!

My point to all this is coming, I promise. Like, riiiiggggt now.

Recently there have been some things that I have seen and heard and just been around that made me go hmmmmmmmmmm. Why is it that we as human beings are so willing to accept people when they are hurting or failing and reach a hand out to them because you feel sorry for them, but it is so hard to accept the ones who are having successes, starting new ventures and soaring in their life? I don't quite understand this concept. I try to be the person when someone is starting something new to offer my help. I try to be the person when someone is down to give encouragement. I don't really think it is a hard concept. But it seems lately with it being so easy to access other people's lives through all the social networks, my little bubble that I used to live in has expanded quite a bit and opened my eyes to such negativity in this world. People are mean. People are so willing to try to knock others down just because they are so afraid of someone else becoming more successful in their eyes. Why not just be happy and encouraging of others in this human race. Why not try to lift others up because I promise when you do there is going to be someone right there lifting you too. Just a little thought. And I don't mean to let others walk all over you who constantly try to. But this is about encouragement. Making people a priority who only treat you as an option will be a discussion for another day. LOL!

So in closing I just want to say to encourage, lift, and be happy for others. I promise you will be a happier and more fulfilled person.

And I couldn't blog without a handsome hubby on his birthday with candles in his lasagna. We're cool like that.

And I don't want to end this without a little love to my studio mates, Josh and Jenny Solar from Solar Photoraphers. I learned about their super duper new business venture on the plane to Las Vegas when they hadn't told the world yet. I can't tell you enough how awesome I think this movement they are bringing to this crazy world is. I encourage you to take a look and show them some love........

Senior Special!!!

Hey there Seniors!!  You still have time to do your senior pictures!!!!  Why not take advantage of two for one!!  Book your session and bring a friend and you can split the session!!  Also, tag 10 of your friends who have not had their pictures taken on facebook and you get 16 free wallets with your paid session fee!  You can't go wrong with that!!  Email nicole@nicolereneephotography to book your session today!

Happy Birthday My Love

Dear Michael ~

Today, as we are in our life, in our marriage, in our existence together, I thought would be a good day to write you a thank you love note.  I mean, it is your birthday and I thought I would celebrate it by celebrating you.  

I celebrate and thank you ........

......... for being the father you are.  
......... for being my friend.
......... for all the roses you buy just because.
......... for allowing my wings to fly this year in my business.
......... for compromising even when you don't want to.
......... for washing the dishes without a word being said.
......... for going to work every single day because you want the best for us.
......... for building my firepit 30 minutes after suggesting we have one.
......... for talking to me not at me.
......... for loving God like you do.
......... for being as onery as you are even when it makes me crazy.
......... for loving me for all my me.
......... for always letting me know your love for me.
......... for your joy of other children besides ours.

I love you and I hope your birthday is filled with many blessings.

Happy New Year 2011!!!!!

Well It has been awhile since I have blogged.  But I really do have good reason this time.  2010 has been one heck of a year.  I am not sure if any of you read my New Year's resolutions but if you have been waiting a year now to see how I did (I know you have been checking on me day and night since January 1- LOL!) but drumroll please........ I am happy to say I am 6/12s a better person!  I am sure you are like What?  What is that exclamation point for.  That girl is craaazy.  She only made half her goals.  Well I am here to tell you that 12 goals are really hard!  I mean, in reality to think that only one month to become a gourmet chef was going to fly and then start working on another goal was JUST RIDICULOUS!!  But I am proud of the goals I did accomplish.  I set 12 goals and at least worked on half of them!  That is a win to me! I am closer to Michael.  Maybe not because we made it on so many dates, but because I listened more and the times we did make time for ourselves we made sure it was about us.  That's all I'll say about that.  I am 15 pounds lighter.  Woo hoo!  I won't discuss the muscle mass I lost once winter came but am slowly working on it ;)  I learned how to play Farkle, joined a Bunco group, play Apples to Apples and am pretty mean on the Wii.  I am often also a student in Bella and Ellie's Gravatt Elementary School.  And Sometimes I have to even be the principal.  Ellie always has to be the student yadi yada yada!  I attended a couple basketball games with my older girls (that's play to me ;)  And this year, in honor of my studio mates, The Solars, we are going to have some fun fests.  What is fun fest you say?  Well, it is just awesome fun with your kids.  Take a gander if you would like to, but I warn you, I cried.  Solar Family Fun Fest
I also took a big step on the business side........which can I say incorporated March goals and organization goals ;)

For those of you who don't know, I am co-studio mates with 4 other fabulous photographers.  The are awesome people and this has truly been a life changing decision.  I can't say enough about each and every single one of them .  Josh, Jenny, Kelley and Ali are four photographers who are friends, mentors, rockstars of photography, and I am blessed to have had them walk in my life when they did.  Each came in at different times, but I am a better person for it.

Since the start of the my joining the studio, all I can say is wow!  I hung on tight and enjoyed the ride.  I empoyed a Studio Manager/Assistant, Jacob Tarwater, who I can't say enough about and what he has brought to Nicole Renee.  Thank you.

2011 is going to be a great year at Nicole Renee.  I already am in the throws of a special promotion Burlesque that is quite the hit and in February am heading the Vegas with thousands of other photographers for WPPI.  It is going to be a blast.  All of us at The Studio are going with the exception of Kelley, because she is working on bringing a little baby dino into the world.  :)  Soon I will be working on a new website and fun stuff like that.  It is maddening to think of all that needs to be done!!

I hope that 2011 brings to everyone what they want out of it.  Set some goals.  They can't be reached if you don't set them!  Dream a little.  Play a little.  Laugh a lot!  I know I am going to!

Peace and Blessings!