Have a Creepy-Crawly Halloween!

We are excited to share a recent shoot our photography teacher Nicole did for Kiwi Magazine! Pick up their October issue on newsstands now for how-tos on these cute crafts:

happy halloween!

mummy craft

rip craft

ghost craft

And don’t forget to sign up for Nicole’s Tabletop Photography class starting this Monday to learn how she gets great shots like this — and use our YEAREND30 discount code to save 30% through today, October 31st at midnight!

Three Days Left!

Our end of the year sale is still going! Quite a few of you have taken advantage of the 30% discount for November classes. If you haven’t and still want to, you still have until October 31st to register with promo code YEAREND30. There are still spots in our Photo 101 and Tabletop Photography courses. A class makes a great gift to yourself or a loved one, so we hope to see you around one of these courses soon!

Be on the lookout for our 2013 schedule and happy Monday!

End of the Week Student Work

It’s Friday again, and time to show you all what our students have been up to this week!

Daria Penta, who was also featured on our blog over here, put together this fun Oktoberfest postcard. If the block letters and bright colors don’t win you over, then the pretzel letter ‘o’ will. We love it, Daria!Work by Daria Penta

Nicky Berry is in our Babies, Toddlers, & Kids class. She snapped this adorable shot of her two-year-old snacking on some ice cream. We love the close-up detail and how she managed to capture such a sweet, simple moment. What did Nicky have to say about it? “”I am so grateful to Nicole’s Classes for giving me the skills to take the photo. I just love having this shot of her!” Work by Nicky Berry

And last, but not least, some invites from Stacy Olson. She created some wonderful graphics with bold, wintry colors and we love the banner details. Great job, Stacy!

End of Year Sale!

We’ll be releasing our 2013 Nicole’s Classes schedule in the coming weeks (so stay tuned for that exciting announcement!), but we wanted to say goodbye to 2012 with a last chance sale on all November classes and textbooks. Our instructors take December off from teaching, which leaves limited spots to learn with us this year, so stop by and take advantage of 30% off with code YEAREND30!

Jo Totes!

My family and I just finished a fun-filled weekend at Disneyland. We are hard core Disney fans and Evie was a trouper, spending 14+ hrs in the park two days in a row. Disneyland is such a magical place for me and I was so excited to share it all with Evie. She melted when she saw the princesses, “Hold you!” and yelled, “Snap! The job’s a game!” to Mary Poppins as she rode by in the parade.

As a professional photographer, I’m not the best “momtographer” because shooting is a job for me. I rarely get my big dog camera out for every day occasions because I get tired of lugging it around. But, I really wanted to capture Evie’s magical Disney moments the right way. Jo Totes sent me one of my favorite bags of theirs to try out, Georgia Nautical, and I have to tell you how perfect it was for this trip. The design is darling and it doesn’t scream come-steal-my-expensive-camera bag! It fits a camera with a lens + an extra lens + has sleeves for an iPad and pockets for extra batteries and cards. For us, It was loaded with a camera with a lens on it, an extra battery and card, an Aurora figurine, 6 diapers, wipes, baby powder, sunglasses, lipstick, and I was set. It was my camera bag + diaper bag and it was perrrrrfect. The wide strap also made it very comfortable to carry around. Two enthusiastic thumbs up, Jo Totes! Check out their full line here.

All photos © 2012 Nicole Hill Gerulat, All Rights Reserved. Jo Totes supplied camera bag for review and I’m endorsing it here because I love it!

October Work from Our Students

We’re half way through our October classes, and our students have created some really great work this week! Here’s a few we found to share with all of you:

This water park shot was captured by Dawn Andersson in our Photo 101 class. We love the expression she captured, the bright colors and the overall composition. It’s refreshing to see a picture like this when the weather is getting colder! Beautiful work, Dawn.

Robin Weir shot these delicious cookies in Tabletop Photography. We love the up-close texture she captured, the different angles, and the bit of color added by the red and white string.

6 Tips For Better Smartphone Photos

There is no question that our phones have at many times replaced our cameras. For some of us, they are our only cameras.  Yet, so often we hate the results because of the camera phone’s limitations. So how do we improve these images until technology perfects them for us? Here are my 6 tips that will help you yield better smartphone photographs.


Help your images appear sharper and more crisp by using front or side light. This means the light (sun or household bulbs) is directly in front or to the side of your subject. Your photograph will also have nice highlights, mid-tones and shadows, making a richer image.

Image of a Farm at Sunset


Generally, backlighting for smartphones isn’t ideal because the photograph is often underexposed. But the dreamy look of backlight would be too sad to avoid. If your smartphone allows you to pick your exposure point, touch the shadows to help immediately brighten the exposure.


Smartphones have a wide angle lens and many have the ability to zoom in. Avoid, avoid! The quality is far worse zooming in on the phone than if you were to walk closer to the subject (for a closer composition), or crop in an editing program later.


The flash certainly has its place, but consider shooting without it when the ambient (available) light can help create a more realistic and dramatic mood.


Window light, household bulbs and the sun all have different color temperatures which means that when used together, it can create a messy mix of blues and oranges. When indoor and window light is available, turn off the indoor lights and move towards the window. It will also help you control the shadows, making them look more natural when only coming from one light source. (Window light and shade give gorgeous light!)


Take time to make a thoughtful composition instead of a random snapshot. Explore different angles and perspectives and let color, texture and shapes help you make interesting compositions.

All images photographed by me with my iPhone 4. Want to learn more? Check out my online classes: Photo 101, Tabletop Photography, Babies, Toddlers & Kids and Photo Workflow.

More of What Our Students Think

Last week we shared a little feedback from a couple of our students. Here’s a little more of what past students have had to say about Nicole’s Classes.

“You cannot imagine how much I am loving the course!! I am a biologist in a big pharmaceutical company and my job has nothing to do with creativity. But I am exploring my creative side lately and am very happy. I already made the Illustrator 101 and Pattern courses and loved them so much. I am becoming addicted to Illustrator… Until now I was not able to distinguish a good typeface from a bad one — not that I am now the expert or anything, but everything makes much more sense now and I cannot stop looking at typefaces everywhere!!!”
-Silvia C.

“I suspected that I didn’t know what I was doing and now I know that I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve been a graphic designer for about twelve years but I haven’t been doing much with it for the past five. I want to reopen my business with a fresh portfolio in June so I’m feeling the pressure to get some learning in! Thank you for your excellent class!”

-Heather B.

I’ve always been obsessed with patterns-but now! It’s ridiculous how much I love them ever more! You have a wonderful manner of teaching. . .always filling us in with what you’re doing and what short cut is being used (so helpful). . .I even liked how you made the occasional “oops” because it just made it even that more relaxed. I had a basic background of Illustrator, but I was all so disjointed-now I know how to utilize all these different components together to make things I”ve actually wanted to do! I also liked how you were aware of common errors and knew what to do when in those situations. Illustrator is AWESOME.” 

-Joni T.

Another big thanks to each one of our students (past, present, and future!)  this week!

Friday Student Designs

This week, we had some amazing student work! Here’s a sampling of what our Illustrator students have been up to during this new month of classes.  Enjoy!

Andrea Istwan created this incredible black-and-yellow bike — the work is clean and simple while still including great detail.Student Work
In Illustrator 101, Shuqiao Song made two typographic posters that we liked.  Not only were the messages inspirational, but their simplistic use of typefaces and font size made them very compelling.  Good work!
Erin Lund also created a typographic poster for Illustrator 101. We love the uneven white border and the mix of cursive and print. Make sure you check out Erin’s incredible blog over here–we loved getting a sneak peak into her creativity!
Student Work
And our last two posters were created by Madaline Meatte. The fall theme and colors she used are perfect for this time of year, and her the graphics she created really made them incredible! If you’d like to see these as a printable, stop by over here.

What Our Students Have to Say

Here at Nicole’s Classes, we’ve come to love working and interacting with our students. It’s a privilege to share a little bit of our knowledge, and it’s fun, too! If you haven’t taken a class from us already, you can take a peek at the variety we offer over here. And if you have taken a class, we’d love to have you back for another! This is what three of our past students have had to say about us:

“Just wanted to let you know that even though I am starting a bit late in this class – I am totally enjoying it! Things that I could not even think of how to do a month ago – I can now do – like clipping masks. Not sure why I tried to read a description and played with the process for two days and still couldn’t figure it out – I got it in this class in literally 30 seconds. Thank you for making that so simple!!”

—La Toya M. Jackson-Wilson

“I would like you to know how much I appreciate your class. I have been reading all of the comments you write about each of the students homework assignments. I love reading your feedback and the suggestions you will make. Doing the homework assignments really helps in reinforcing the knowledge learned for the week.I am learning a lot in a short amount of time. I am so thankful for your instruction on the pen tool which allowed me to let go of my intimidation for it. Your instructions were so clear and I am actually excited to be able to use this tool in the future. I am planning on registering for your other classes you are offering.”

-Christine Czarkowski

Thank you also for your feedback on my cards…Now THAT is valuable. It’s the one thing I think that is missing from this uber supportive, virtual community of creatives (Etsy, Flickr, Pinterest, Blogging etc.). Actual,honest, thoughtful, critical feedback is hard to find and many of us are self taught so it’s crucial to our development…Thanks again for everything. I adore your voice on those clips of instructional video. I find your explanations really well rounded in their thoroughness and complexity (not too difficult to understand and not so shallow as to be of little use to those of use with some Adobe experience). Oh, and quick copy has changed my life!!! The keyboard short cuts too! Those have been wonderful. Now I have to learn them for Photoshop.”

Rachel Haynes

We appreciate the feedback and want to give a big thank you to all of our students!

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