Vision Her Now Spotlight: Meet Nicole Mayes, a Photographer & Entrepreneur in Cincinnati, Ohio

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In our recent spotlight, we met up with  Nicole Mayes, a photographer in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nicole opens up about what inspired her to start her own business, how she provides her clients the best service, and what her future plans look like. We admire how Nicole turned a passion into her purpose. Keep reading to learn more about Nicole.

Tell us about yourself and why did you get into photography?

I’m a photographer, and mother of 2 little boys. I’ve always loved photo albums, and just looking at photographs. Photography made me feel connected to my family, and my history. When I adopted my sons, I started scrapbooking because I wanted them to see the many precious moments in their lives. I would take photos and notice that something was either missing or I could’ve done something different, or better.  So I began to learn more about photography, and the artistry behind it all. And that’s how I got started. I’ve been in business for 3 years, but I was learning photography at least two years before that.


What are your current services?

I’m a one stop shop for your photography needs. I do weddings, family portraits, and photography branding for small business owners, especially for women. I can capture lifestyle moments for your family but also your business. I see so many entrepreneurs taking photos with their cell phone, and I want to help them promote their business better. They are selling a product, and therefore need quality images to do that.  

In addition to my regular photography business, I also freelance for Women of Cincy. For me, it’s about putting more images of Black women out in the world. We have goals, we have businesses, and it’s time for people to see us.

You’re absolutely right. As a business owner, what has been your challenges, and how have you overcame them?

I’ve learned to be very intentional about what I do. My biggest challenge has been time management. I still work a full-time job. I’m raising two boys, and one has ADHD. I get tired, but I still have to manage my responsibilities at home, like cooking, cleaning, and making sure my sons have what they need, then I can focus on my business. So I map out my tasks and I’m intentional about how I spend my time. Sometimes I’m up very late, and very early so that I can get the job done, and also learn new things in photography. I love learning how I can improve my skills, it might be something in lightroom or photoshop that I’m working to master, always.


You are a mompreneur! Is there anyone who inspires you?

Photography wise, I’d say Kesha Lambourt, her work is simply glorius. I also really like Joy Photography, she offers similar services, but she’s a bit further along than I am. I am always inspired by these women, but I’m also inspired by my own work, and progress. It’s great to admire someone’s work, and learn from them, but you also must stay authentic to yourself.

Being authentic is key to growing your brand. How has your background helped prepare you for owning a business?

I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit. I like to do unconventional things, like helmet diving. When I was in college, I majored in Biology. And I thought to myself, could I really envision me doing this at 40? The answer was no. I did finish college, with a degree in African American Studies and Sociology. I worked at a university for about 10 years. During my time in academia, I catered to students, which is similar to working with clients. That experience really taught me, that I didn’t want to keep working a 9-5 forever. I wanted to be my own boss.

And now you are. What’s your favorite type of photoshoot and why?

I love family shoots. My family has been very supportive of my work, and that’s amazing. They are willing to pay for my photography because they respect what I do as a business owner and they constantly encourage me. I’m able to be free and experiment with them. I also have other clients that I’ve built a strong repore with, and I love working with them because I truly feel apart of the family. It takes time to build trust with clients, but I want everyone to feel comfortable with me. I have fun on set, I’m silly, easy going, and keep everyone laughing.

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That’s awesome. How do you prepare for a photoshoot?

I investigate the area prior to a shoot. I get there about 30-45 minutes ahead of time to scout out the area, and see what different angles I can try. Typically, people like the safe shoots, but I try to be a little different, but also stay true to the clients wants, so that I give them amazing results.


I’m sure your clients appreciate that. How do you promote your business?

I use social media, mostly Instagram to showcase my work. I also have a Facebook account, but I’m not on there as much anymore. I mostly get clients through word of mouth. I also partner with other photographers for more exposure. For me, it’s all about women collaborating and working together.

Collaboration over competition helps everyone. What’s the best advice you could give someone who is a new business owner?

Learn as much as you can, ask plenty of questions, and never stop. God gives us all gifts, and we must acknowledge what’s inside of us. When you have God and those 3 principles I mentioned, you will go far.


With 2019 right around the corner, what are your future plans?

One of my goals is to complete my website, which is almost finished. I will have a brand relaunch of my website in 2019. I also plan to do more next year. Last year I shot 3 weddings, and this year I shot 12, so next year I plan do to a lot more. I want to automate workflow processes as much as possible, to free up some of my time. I also want to take more risks with my photography, try new skills I’m learning. And long-term, I plan to launch a school for others to learn from my experience.


More with Nicole….

What’s playing in the background while you edit your work?

My Pandora playlist, I like listening to 80s and  90s R&B love songs.

What’s your favorite stress relief after a long day?

I have a couple of favorites. Candles and wine, while listening to R&B or reading a new book. I love to hang with my kids but I also enjoy me time. Whenever I can find time to take a nap during the day (normally in an eight-month time span, lol) that is wonderful! I also really enjoy camping. I’ll go by myself sometimes and create my own retreat.

If you could have lunch with any woman (past or present) who would it be, and why?

This is a hard one. I couldn’t pick just one, I have two women I’d love to meet. They are buddies, so I’m sure it could work. It’d be Michelle Obama and Oprah. They both have achieved so much, but still haven’t forgotten where they came from. I think it’s something so powerful being in the presence of those strong black women, who have literally taken care of the world.


To connect with Nicole Mayes, visit her business Instagram page (Love Photography Studios) or email her at nicolejmay@gmail.com

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Kristina ThomasComment