10 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

10 years ago today I was scared for my life watching tornadoes break through the trees a few acres away.  My best friend, ​along with her family and I, huddled around a radio transmitter praying that we, and our hometown of New Orleans, would survive Hurricane Katrina.   New Orleans was beaten down, raped, and left for death.  But it did survive, barely.

Today I planned on writing out and sharing my story of Hurricane Katrina, as I’ve really only shared it verbally and through pictures.  But I find it not only hard and depressing to transcribe to text, but almost impossible as I have so many stories I could tell.  Stories of heartbreak and discovering true love.  Stories of destruction and resurrection.  Stories of depression and  humor.   So for now these photos will have to be my stories, be sure to read the captions for further details.  Or ask me about my experiences next time we talk, as some stories are just better left passed on from my heart and my words, then through my writing.

In honor of the fascinating resilient New Orleans, the strangely unique city that will always be my first home,  I wanted to share my collection of New Orleans fine art prints.  So do me a favor.  Don’t just look at these sad stories below of New Orleans, as I only share these to remember our history.  But also look at the uplifting and beautiful pictures of New Orleans showcased in my New Orleans photography collection.  This online gallery also has many photographs of Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, some fun Saints pictures, and for those that want it- Hurricane Katrina.

Anything ordered now and through Monday will be 25% off along with another 25% of the sale will be donated to the Gulf Restoration Network, a non-profit whose mission is “committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf Region.”

As much as I love my new home of Denver, it always broke my heart to no longer be in New Orleans following the storm, and to have not been a part of the ground troop of locals rebuilding the city.  So the best way I always found to help from afar was through my photography and my stories.  Please feel free to also leave your story or just a simple comment below, and thank you for remembering Hurricane Katrina.

photo of water up to rooftops, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

Water to Rooftops, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

 

picture of New Orleans local entering home for the first time after the storm- one month later when the water finally drained from the city- check out the watermark around the house

Entering my home for the first time after the storm- one month later when the water finally drained from the city- check out the watermark around the house that shows how high the water was. And yes the face mask was necessary, the whole city stunk like sewage, rotten bodies, and mold.

 

disaster on The bottom floor of our house in New Orleans

The bottom floor of our house in New Orleans

 

new orleans resident shows house after Katrina, the top floor of our home, covered in mold and stench.

The sky had come crumbling down…the top floor of our home, covered in mold and stench.

 

destroyed home in Gulfport, MS, nothing left but their concrete steps and a teddy bear.

Our friends in Gulfport, MS had it the worse, nothing left but their concrete steps and a teddy bear.

 

photo showing 4 months after Katrina the French Quarter is still empty

Normally bustling with artists and tourists, Jackson Square pedestrian mall had never looked so empty and desolate, 4 months after the storm

 

picture of fridge on front lawn in New Orleans

For months after the storm refrigerators lined the streets, tied up to keep the stench or rotten food from escaping, just waiting to be picked up and carried away

 

photo of Trash piled up the streets after Hurricane Katrina

Trash piled up the streets as residents returned home and began the process of clearing out their destroyed belongings

For more pictures from Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath around New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast, watch the slideshow below, or check out my New Orleans photography collection.

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Denver Wedding Photographer: Janine’s Bridal Portraits at Dickens Opera House

Yea, as of Saturday Janine is officially married!  Now that everyone has seen her wedding dress I can share these pre-wedding bridal portraits!  About a month before the wedding Janine and I went to Dickens Opera House in Longmont, Colorado to take some fun sexy bridal portraits.  Thankfully we were able to do our pictures incorporating the amazing interior of the Opera House, not only for its unique style, but also because it ended up raining all evening and keeping your wedding dress clean and dry before the wedding day is kind of important.  It was also a great opportunity for Janine to do a hair & makeup trial run, as well as for her to have a chance to see how her wedding dress photographed in case she wanted to make any more alterations.  And speaking of alterations, big thanks to Donna Beth Creations for customizing her wedding dress to make it unique and a perfect fit!     And also thanks to Fleur Decor for providing the awesome and very unique bridal bouquet, full of succulents and green all over.

bride portraits on vintage stairs at Dickens Opera House

in love with these vintage stairs at Dickens Opera House

wedding pictures with dramatic b&w lighting at  Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO

dramatic b&w lighting at Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO

bride stands In the spotlight on the stage of the Opera House & a beautiful window shot

In the spotlight on the stage of the Opera House & a beautiful window shot

bride takes pictures with the pool balls and wedding date at Dickens Opera House

08-15 – the wedding date!

bride takes pictures with the pool table

Janine loves to play pool, so of course we had to do some pictures with the pool table.

 

Kristi Pohly Fleur Decor

Amazing unique succulent wedding bouquet by Fleur Decor and a fun reflection in the mirror

fun wall murals bridal portrait photo session at Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO

fun vintage wall murals at Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO

bridal portrait photo session at Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO

fun with the dramatic stage lighting

Janine and I had a great time doing these bridal portraits, and got distracted talking so much about the wedding during the ride to Dickens Opera House that we even passed up the venue, whoops!  I wish more brides would do a bridal photo session before their wedding.  It used to be a much more popular trend about 30-40 years ago, and still is somewhat common in the South, but in my 10 years of being a wedding photographer this was actually the first one I have ever done! Now that I’ve done one I would totally recommend to any bride that wants to do a trial “dress rehearsal” before their wedding day, or just wants more relaxed time (which is hard to find on the wedding day) to capture diverse and beautiful bridal portraits.

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Lynn - These photos are amazing great job Nicole!
You really captured the amazing beauty of the Opera House.August 17, 2015 – 9:56 pm

Denver Wedding Photographer: Church Ranch Event Center

Sarah & Michael’s Wedding Picture Preview: A Little Color, a  Little Chemistry, and a Whole Lot of LOVE!

unique picture of wedding couple

the bride & groom at Chuch Ranch Event Center

Sarah & Michael recently held their wedding at the Church Ranch Event Center in Westminster, Colorado. It was a beautiful wedding with lots of unique elements added in, literally.  Since Michael is a self-proclaimed science nerd they named all of the guest tables after elements of the periodic table.  You had to find your name on the element table to know whether you were sitting at the Helium or Hydrogen table.  And my favorite part-  for their ceremony instead of lighting candles or pouring sand, they joined chemicals together!  Don’t ask me what chemicals they used (I always had trouble remembering those names in Science class), but one was blue and one was green and when they poured them together they exploded…just like their hearts when they fell in love…awww…such a fun unique wedding!  Scroll down to see samples of their chemistry.

Picture of wedding chemistry beakers & element labeled guest tables.

Science themed wedding complete with chemistry beakers & element labeled tables.

While the guys got dressed and ready at The Westin, Sarah along with her mom and 8 bridesmaids all met up at the Church Ranch Event Center to get prepared for the wedding.  Sarah wore a gorgeous lace dress she found at the Bridal Collection.  Samantha Madrid from Serendipity Salon & Spa did her hair and makeup.  And Sarah’s mom was there to give lots of support and hugs.

Mother and daughter share a moment before the wedding

Mother and daughter share a moment before the wedding

portrati of a beautiful bride in CO

Sarah was a beautiful glowing bride

With such a big wedding party and lots of family to photograph, Sarah & Michael decided to do a first sight before their ceremony to allow more time for pictures.  And I was so glad they did because there are lots of amazing pictures we wouldn’t have had time to capture otherwise.  Not only does a first sight let  you get more pictures out of the way before the ceremony, but it relieves a lot of tension for couples when instead of hiding from each other they can have a romantic moment to themselves to see each other before the ceremony.  Just for fun I set up my second camera to do a time-lapse of their first sight.  Check it out below.

romantic moment at Church Ranch Event Center

A romantic moment at Church Ranch Event Center

picture documenting the wedding party at Church Ranch Event Center

documenting the wedding party having fun at Church Ranch Event Center

Their friend Bret performed their ceremony which added a personal and unique touch.  I used my ninja skills to shoot through the trees to capture the picture below.  It was a very hot and sunny day, but with all the rain we’ve had in Denver this year we were just thankful they were able to hold their wedding outside.

14Denver-Wedding-Photographer

Using my ninja skills to photograph the wedding while hiding behind some trees

unique denver wedding ceremony

What makes a unique Colorado wedding ceremony? Blowing up chemicals in the name of love!

bride and groom dip and kiss during their wedding ceremony at Church Ranch Event Center

A perfect kiss & dip!

Fun family formals

Fun family formals

There are so many benefits to having two photographers for your wedding day.  One of my favorites reasons is that as the lead photographer people are often looking straight at my camera and paying more attention to me.  So while I’m directing the family or the bride and groom on where to stand and look, my second photographer is off to the side going unnoticed with her long telephoto lens to capture more candid up close and personal shots.  Such as the one above and the stunning black and white below.

20Denver-Wedding-Photographer-Church-Ranch

Benefits of 2 photographers- 2 angles and totally different looks from the same pose

picture of wedding couple in black and white

Sarah & Michael share a romantic moment alone

picture of bride & groom at Church Ranch Event Center

One last quick portrait before being announced in as husband and wife

picture of wedding invitation with wedding rings

wedding invitation with wedding rings

picture of classic teal and yellow wedding cake

teal and yellow wedding details and cake

Azucar Bakery created their unique wedding cake to match their bright wedding colors of light teal and, grey ,and yellow.  Newberry Brothers designed all of the bouquets and flowers.  Another unique element I loved of their wedding was that the bride did a special dance with her grandfather and the groom danced with his grandmother.  It was such a sweet touching moment and they are so blessed that their grandparents were able to be there and share the day with them.  You can tell by the expression on their faces how much it meant to them.

picture of bride dancing with her grandfather

a unique bride & grandfather dance

a unique grandmother dance with the groom

a unique grandmother dance with the groom

DJ Brian with Dance Trax Productions was amazing!  He didn’t just play one song after the next, he cut and combined songs which kept the energy high and everyone on their toes.  I can’t remember the last time I saw such a crowded dance floor at a wedding!

fun dancing pictures

The dance floor stayed full all night long

fun dancing pictures by Denver wedding photographer Nicole Nichols

fun on the dance floor

Before we knew it the last song was playing and it was time for the party to end.  The guests were having such a blast on the dance floor that if given the option I’m pretty sure they could have danced till sunrise .  But they had one last event of the night- their bubble send-off.  The DJ and I  helped coordinate getting everyone lined up outside to give them a fun and memorable goodbye.

picture of bride and groom bubble send off  at end of night

A fun bubble send off at the end of the night

I  loved being a part of Sarah & Michael’s fun and unique wedding!  And by the smiles on everyone’s faces, and the fact that hardly anyone (even the non-dancers!) left the party early, it was evident everyone truly enjoyed themselves.  Best wishes Sarah & Michael to many happy years of chemistry together.

 

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Jennie - I love the science twist!! That freakin rocks :) August 7, 2015 – 11:23 am

Melissa - Nicole! These are amazing! Such a beautiful wedding!August 7, 2015 – 11:07 am

Erica - Really beautiful. Love the colors and that cake, wow!August 7, 2015 – 9:55 am

Monet - What a fabulous wedding! So many fun and different details!August 6, 2015 – 10:15 pm

Chris Loring - Beautiful work!!!August 6, 2015 – 5:10 pm

Sarah Ferreyros - I love all of the pictures! Thank you so much Nicole for capturing such great memories of our wedding day. We will remember it forever!August 6, 2015 – 2:38 pm

Julie - What a sweet little location for a beautiful day!August 6, 2015 – 2:21 pm

Rayna - I love the Church Ranch Event Center and you did such a great job capturing it! And that cake… <3August 6, 2015 – 12:43 pm

Jennie - I love all the personal touches in their wedding! the chemical joining is prob one of the best takes on the unity candle I’ve seen yet!August 6, 2015 – 12:21 pm

Corey - I love the infusion of all the chemistry into their wedding! It looks like it was a really fun and fantastic wedding!August 6, 2015 – 11:49 am

Deziree Dufresne - I love love love the unique details of this wedding! Great job capturing all the fun that was had!August 6, 2015 – 11:36 am

Taylor Fisher - WOW! Beautiful images, perfect first kiss, and your party photos are such a blast!August 6, 2015 – 11:21 am

Elizabeth - ahhh, these are so gorgeous! Love all the beautiful emotion you captured!August 6, 2015 – 11:13 am

MARY SCHLENER - The action dancing shots are so fun!August 6, 2015 – 10:39 am

Melissa Mullins - Wow, I love the pictures and the combining chemicals idea is too cool!August 6, 2015 – 10:35 am

Denver Engagement Photographer: Eddie & Matt at Red Rocks

 

unique same sex engagement pictures at Red Rocks by Denver wedding photographer

Unique Engagement Picture at Red Rocks

Eddie & Matt both came to Colorado for school.  They met working together on a theater production of Secret Garden and have been inseparable ever since.   They are waiting to finish school to plan their wedding, so they are unsure for now where or when their wedding will take place, but do know it will also have the Secret Garden theme, how cool is that?!  For their engagement session we met at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO.  When we first scheduled their photo shoot they both told me how much they love the rain and would not want to cancel their engagement session if it rained.  Well, they got their wish!  When we first got to Red Rocks it was pouring.  So much so that I was extremely thankful I brought along an assistant with me to hold an umbrella over my head to help keep my equipment safe and dry.  We took a few fun pictures in the rain and then as fast as it came down it  dried up.  Anyone who spends time with these two can tell they are obviously meant for each other.   They are opposites that keep each other balanced, but with enough in common to keep their relationship going strong.  Scroll down to see lots more pictures from their engagement session.

unique same sex male engagement pictures in the rain

fun & unique engagement pictures in the rain

same-sex-engagement pictures in Denver

Love at Red Rocks

I also took Eddie & Matt to downtown Morrison where they have this amazing metal bridge.  I have never seen the water as high as it was that day.

unique same sex engagement pictures at Red Rocks by Denver glbt photographer

engagement pictures in Morrison

gay engagement pictures in Colorado

loving the color of their outfits among the bright greenery

unique same sex engagement pictures on a bridge by Denver wedding photographer in Morrison, CO

Rainy day embrace on a bridge in Morrison, CO

Downtown there is also this unique wall full of licence plates from all over the country.  It made a fun backdrop for pictures, especially for Eddie & Matt whom love to travel, but also love Colorado, where most of these plates came from.

gay engagement pictures in Colorado by Denver glbt photographer

same sex engagement pictures

 

same sex engagement pictures by Denver wedding photographer

fun colorful engagement pictures

gay engagement pictures in Colorado by Denver  glbt photographer

same sex wedding bands by engagement pictures at Red Rocks by Denver wedding photographer

Unique same-sex wedding bands

gay couple take engagement pictures in Morrison, CO

well-coordinated couple and gotta love the rings and the shoes!

After a change of outfits and few more pictures around downtown Morrison we went back into Red Rocks park to finish their engagement pictures.

gay engagement pictures in Colorado

Hanging out in Red Rocks park

gay engagement pictures in Colorado by Denver  glbt photographer

as the fog rolls in

 

black & white unique same sex engagement pictures at Red Rocks by Denver wedding photographer

hand in hand

Eddie & Matt’s love for each other was so real and natural that it made photographing them easy.  Well that and experience being in front of an audience in theater certainly helps too!   I had a lot of fun with these two guys and can’t wait to hear where they decide to get married.

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Nicole Nichols Photography - It’s in downtown Morrison. Sorry I don’t know the name of the street but if you are driving out of Red Rocks into downtown it will be on the left. The town only consists of a few blocks so if you drive around I’m sure you can find it!July 24, 2015 – 1:40 pm

Devorah Roldan - I love it, so cool that you are shooting same sex engagement and weddings!July 23, 2015 – 8:20 pm

Taylor Fisher - What a fun shoot! Those umbrella photos are awesome and I just LOVE their emotion!July 23, 2015 – 5:08 pm

Rayna - That first shot is amazing! Also, I love their rings!!July 23, 2015 – 3:51 pm

Elizabeth - ohhhh the licence plate wall for the win! Amazing pics…love the umbrella shots and the black and white by the license plate wall…you can really see his emotion in that one.July 23, 2015 – 3:29 pm

Jamie Kraus - Their love so each other is so clear in these photos. And I love that licence plate wall! Where is it?July 23, 2015 – 3:25 pm

Denver Wedding Photographer: Denver Athletic Club & Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Melissa & Chris’ Wedding Picture Preview

wedding party having fun at the DAC

bride and groom portrait at the DAC

One thing I always try to remember to tell my couples is that no matter how well you plan out your wedding day, something will go wrong.  But no matter what happens laugh it off and and make the most of your wedding day.  Well, thankfully Melissa & Chris were really good at doing just that.  Their wedding day was full of unexpected moments where a lot didn’t go as planned…a table full of drinks crashing down, a dancing injury, a limo driver bad with directions, and lots of stormy weather.  Yet they kept a positive spirit and still had an amazing wedding day that they and their guests will never forget.  And they may have some stories to tell, but the feeling they had when they first saw each other that day, or when they saw all their loved ones gathered for them, is what they will remember most.

The bride and groom got dressed and ready at the Denver Athletic Club in downtown Denver.   Her romantic and unique wedding bouquet and all the flower arrangements were designed and created by Kristi Polhy of Fleur Decor.   And her gorgeous wedding dress was found at the Bridal Collection (this place is suddenly hot, the past 3 of my brides all got their dresses from here!). And Beauty On Location By Liz did  hair and makeup.  The girls got ready in a very simple meeting room, but as long as there is a nice window, mirror, and space for everyone to move around, that’s really all we need to capture these timeless moments below.

denver wedding bouquet & dress hang dramatically in the DAC window

wedding bouquet & dress hang dramatically in the DAC window

candid moment at the Denver Athletic Club

Emotional but happy moment between the bride and her family

fun wedding portraits of the bride at the Denver Athletic Club

fun portraits of the bride at the Denver Athletic Club

The guys spent their time hanging out in the billiards room and took some fun pictures on the rooftop of the DAC.

documentary wedding photography in downtown Denver

groomsmen have a celebratory drink before the wedding

the guys strike a pose on the DAC rooftop

the guys strike a pose on the DAC rooftop in downtown Denver

Melissa & Chris did a 1st sight  which allowed us to capture a lot of pictures of them and the wedding party before the wedding, as well as more time for them to enjoy their cocktail hour later.  One thing that worked out well for their wedding day was timing!  Everyone was ready on time, if not even a little early, and we got to capture these pictures below right before a storm blew through.  With the crazy Colorado weather you never know how things will turn out on your wedding day, so extra time for dodging storms is nice to have in your timeline.

documentary wedding photography in downtown Denver

wedding party having fun at the Denver Athletic Club

documentary wedding photography in downtown Denver

documenting those in-between moments at DAC

wedding party having fun at the DAC

wedding party having fun at the DAC

Melissa & Chris held a traditional Greek wedding ceremony at Assumption Greek Orthodox Metropolis Cathedral of Denver. The bright gold dome of this cathedral is hard to miss when driving around town.  And the inside of this cathedral is even more stunning, check out the pictures below.

bride & groom portrait at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Denver

bride & groom portrait at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Denver

 

the crowning ceremony during their wedding at the Greek Orhtodox Cathedral

the crowning ceremony during their wedding at the Greek Orhtodox Cathedral

bride & groom portrait at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Denver

one last kiss…but the first of many more to come

documentary wedding photography in downtown Denver

a fun exit with bubbles and streamers

It poured heavily during their wedding ceremony, but then thankfully cleared up again in time for more outdoor pictures.

wedding party having fun at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral

wedding party having fun at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral

bride & groom portrait at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Denver

having fun with the bride’s handmade crocheted veil

After a few more pictures at the cathedral we took off for their cocktail hour and reception back at the Denver Athletic Club.  They created a lot of the decor themselves, such as recycling wine bottles for vases and table card holders.  Das Meyer created their wedding cake which was topped by a beautiful ceramic cake topper.

wedding details at Denver Athletic Club

wedding details

documentary wedding photography in downtown Denver

capturing reactions to the toasts

Another wind storm blew through, but once again timing worked out.  Everyone was first able to enjoy cocktails and admire the city views from the rooftop before the storm came.  And luckily everyone was already seated under the tent for dinner when all the flaps had to be closed to avoid broken wine glasses, or wind-blown hair.  Below the bride and groom enjoy their first dance as husband and wife under the tented rooftop patio at DAC.

wedding 1st dance at the Denver Athletic Club in downtown Denver

1st dance at the Denver Athletic Club in downtown Denver

sunset wedding pictures at the Denver Athletic Club

sunset wedding pictures at the Denver Athletic Club

After some fun sunset wedding pictures on the DAC rooftop their DJ, DJ West, turned on his colored lights and got the dance floor hopping.  I love to see the parents having a good time on the dance floor…especially after sustaining a shoulder injury at the beginning of the evening.

wedding dancing at the downtown Denver Athletic Club

the groom’s parents enjoying a dance

wedding dancing at the downtown Denver Athletic Club

the bride’s mom having fun on the dancefloor

Just one of the best parts of documenting weddings is capturing those candid moments- the mom cutting it loose on the dance floor, or the new parents cradling their baby boy.

 family love by wedding photographer Nicole Nichols Photography

family love

dramatic wedding ring shot by my amazing 2nd photographer

dramatic wedding ring shot by my amazing 2nd photographer

wedding dancing at the downtown Denver Athletic Club

wedding dancing at the downtown Denver Athletic Club

I am so glad I had the privilege of documenting Melissa & Chris’ wedding day.  If you read my blog regularly you may remember this couple from their engagement session on South Broadway.  They live just a few blocks from me, so I was super excited to do their pictures around our neighborhood, as well as photograph their downtown wedding.  And hopefully I’ll see you two around the neighborhood!

 

 

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Melissa - We loved having you as a part of our day!July 3, 2015 – 9:57 am