Check Out Our Students!

By the time classes wrap up at the end of every month, we’ve always collected a lot of really great student work.  So much so that we decided we needed  to put together another round of pieces to showcase all of our students’ effort and talent!

The two images above were created by Kate Burgener, who you can find right over here.  Her elegant take on these wedding invites made us want to share them with all of you.

This invitation was designed by Elise Suter.  The varying text size makes for a dynamic invite!  If you want to see more of Elisa, pay her a visit here!

The next 3 pieces were created by Annie Preece of HairyShoeFairy.  She has an eye for color that caught our attention, and we love her creativity!

And from our Illustrator 101 class, Emily Stephenson designed this black-and-white quote.  The way she designed the text made for an eye-catching poster, and we love the addition of the arrow graphic at the bottom.  Find Emily over here!


Nicole’s Classes recently jumped on the bandwagon and joined the Instagram community. We’ve been snapping pictures of our office space and some of the things that have been keeping us busy lately. Take a look.

If you want to keep up-to-date with more behind-the-scenes photos of Nicole’s Classes, follow us, @Nicolesclasses!

Summer Student Work

Another week of classes has ended, and our students are still talented and fast learners.  Here’s the proof:


This photo was captured by Chi Feasey for Tabletop Photography.  The natural lighting and colors are incredible.  And if you liked this snippet of Chi, check out her blog!

Eleanor Long designed this quote in Illustrator 101. We like how the text so closely reflects the meaning behind the words.

Rose O’Donnel, who blogs over at Avocado Bravado, created this piece in Principles of Good Design.  And a good design, it is!  We especially love her clever use of the pyramid.

Kelly Slott’s talent is behind this print–an excellent example of fun colors and  polka dots done right in Illustrator 101 Pay Kelly a visit!

This blog belongs to Chariklia Zarris, as does this pretty piece of work!  This was done in Illustrator 101 as well, and we love the bunting design and attention to detail!

And to top it all off, Natalie Zempter created this Bon Iver poster in Principles of Good Design.  Even more than the great text choice, don’t you love the fish in the corner?  Stop by Natalie’s blog right here!

Student Spotlight: Heather Boissonneau

Today we wanted to feature one of our students, Heather Boissonneau!  In her free time, she says she likes working around her home. (She can frame walls and hang drywall!) But we wanted to know more about her interest in design, so we asked her a few questions, and this is what she had to say:

How did you hear about Nicole’s Classes?

I heard about Nicole’s Classes when Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely wrote a post about your Photography 101 class. I was trying to take good pictures with an ancient point-and-click, and failing miserably, so I decided to ask for a Canon DSLR for Christmas. I got it so naturally I needed a class to teach me how to use it. I am happy to report that thanks to Photo 101, I have never used any of the auto settings since I pulled it out of the box!

Which classes have you taken from Nicole’s Classes?

Let’s see, I’ve taken Photo 101, Tabletop PhotographyPhotoshop 101 and many more advanced design classes.

What got you interested in design?

I’ve always liked design, but a few (okay many) years ago, I was using Corel Draw to create line drawings of reverse osmosis machines for technical manuals, when a friend asked me to make a logo for her business. I discovered that making logos is a lot of fun! It was then that I realized that there was a whole world of design possibilities.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

Right now I’m inspired by ethnic textiles like Indian block prints and Suzani rugs. I’m also loving bright colors from all around the color wheel. It changes all the time though.  Pinterest is my friend, I have more than a few inspiration boards going.

Have you done anything further with skills learned in Nicole’s Classes?

I’ve been writing my blog, Home Again Jog, and using everything I’ve learned, from photography 101, and tabletop photography to Illustrator and Photoshop to design the blog and create the posts.  I’m also creating an identity for a friend and fellow blogger and I’m designing some items to sell on Etsy.  However my dream is to design a line of fabrics.

Heather also is taking clients over on her website! Look at a few samples of her work below!


Getting More Blur in Your Background

Some people think that “professional” photographs are the ones with blurry backgrounds. Not exactly, but most of us can all agree that those blurry background photos grab our attention quickest because we are forced to look at what is in focus.

In my Photo 101 class, the question of how to get those blurry background shots always comes up in the first few minutes of our chat session. So, here is my free download for you to keep with your camera to remind you of the three ways to get more background blur.

And what is bokeh, you ask? Let me tell you first, the term “bokeh” was never used in photography school… it’s more of a recent term to describe those blurry shapes in the background made by the camera’s aperture and the lens abberations, most visible by highlight areas. Notice the image on the right shows circles. While bokeh is desirable to most, it can sometimes become a distraction, so keep an eye out for that!!

Happy Shooting!

Summer Contest Winners!

It’s always a lot of fun to see all of the different entries we get during a contest, and we loved all of the beautiful photos and fun designs we received for our Summer Contest!  (You can check them all out over on our Facebook page.) The votes are in, and the winners of our three free classes are as follows:

Shannon Dietz Weight won for best photo.  We loved everything about this black-and-white shot from the theme and composition to the lighting and angle. Beautiful work, Shanon!

Best design went to Diána Gősi for this fun clothesline illustration.  It definitely got all of us in the mood for summer sun!  We loved it, Diána!

And since Shanon won best photo, our next most-liked photo on Facebook belonged to Kim Aldrich. She submitted this fun picture of some outdoors family time.  Congratulations, Kim!

Thank you to all who entered, and be on the lookout for our next contest!

Call for Nicole’s Classes Teachers!

Nicole’s Classes is ready to expand our course offerings, and we need YOU! Do you have some mad skills? Are you ready to share what you do with the world, to empower others with the skills and knowledge that you possess? Do you have a dynamic personality paired with proper professionalism?

We are looking to build our curriculum with a whole range of classes, and want to hear your ideas! What to you want to teach? What do you want to learn?

Email us and let us know what new skills you need in your life. And if you have skills to share, email us a quick video (1-4 minutes) that shows us your personality, your professionalism, and the subject matter that you’d like to teach! Your equipment and set up doesn’t need to be perfect. Just give us an idea of who you are and what you have to offer. And feel free to run your idea past us before making your video, if you like! Email us at!

Change Your Perspective!

A quick composition fix is changing your perspective. I can’t tell you how many times I remind my Photo 101 and Babies, Toddlers and Kids students how perspective can completely change the look of your photo.

When I photograph children, I like to be on their eye level, or if I can help it, even lower. That way, I get the most out of their faces and darling expressions… because I can see it!

Being at a subject’s eye level also helps remove the superior or inferior feeling the viewer may have when looking up or down at that subject in the photograph.

Take a look at your recent photos in general. Do they all seem to be taken at your eye level? Whatever common theme you notice in your images, try this week to do the complete opposite. You might be laying on the ground like me or scaling ladders (also like me), but either way, you’ll make your photographs more interesting as a whole when you change your perspectives.

Summer Contest

Summer school is in session, and now is the perfect time to practice your skills!  This week we are having a contest on the Nicole’s Classes Facebook page, with a free class going to the winners. Read the rules below to learn how to enter!

Like us on Facebook, and then upload a photo or design/illustration to our wall!

There will be three winners:

1) The best photo

2) The best design/illustration

3) The image that receives the most “likes” on Facebook.  Each photo should capture what you think the essence of “summer” is.  (It must be your own original work!)

The contest ends Friday, July 13th, at midnight PST.  The winners will all be announced next Monday.

Good luck, and we’re excited to see your entries!

We’re Back with Student Work!

Happy Friday, everyone! We’re back from our short break today with some student work.  We hope you enjoyed your holiday, and that you enjoy these pieces, too!

We love this delicate flower that Annie Preece designed. She added such great detail and that care really pays off!

Mary Wang went above and beyond by making this composite for Photoshop 101. Students typically create a composite with provided images, but Mary took her own images and did an amazing job. You can see that she has combined the top two photos, putting the subject on a background that best displays the bubbles. She obviously put a lot of work and effort into this as she paid attention to the very fine details.

Kathy Fernandez Sierra designed this fun quote and we really liked the way it turned out!

This colored spirograph was created by Helga Varadi in Illustrator 101 our class. Her impeccable execution created a design that we loved!

Sally Mae Meyer is one of our Babies Toddlers & Kids students. She captured this cute string of shots that we think perfectly capture this adorable child. Nice shooting, Sally!

Ashley Arnold designed this in our Illustrator 101 class.  Her floral illustration is lovely and her colors are exquisite!  We think it all pairs nicely with simple fonts and a nice touch of script.

These bridal shower invitations were designed by Jesette Vichot for Illustrator 101. She takes simple, strong elements and allows them to be the focus of the invitations. Her composition and use of color really sell these designs!

And lastly, we have a self-portrait drawn with the pen tool by Narya Marcille.  We’re blown away with the incredible amount of work that went into this and the attention to detail! Narya spent 36 hours completing this amazing design, and this is what she had to say about it: “It’s a picture from my wedding. I used images of my bridal bouquet for the flowers in my hair. I used different opacities for all the shading in the face and on the flowers. The freckles are three seperate layers (pattern swatches in varying in size, density and opacity). I used many different layers to create and keep everything organized.”  If you like this, go and look at her online portfolio!

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