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Nikki Tran Blog | Designer. Artist. Photographer bio picture
  • Hello Friend…

    and welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves the romantic things in life. Tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, old and worn books, slow-dancing to records, painting by candelight, lakeside walks with Rusty, and starry-night picnics with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just the two of us - I hope it brings you smiles and happiness as you snuggle in with your cup of tea and begin reading. Enjoy, friends! (Latest posts on the right!) --->

Wine is in hand, Rusty is snuggled in his blankets, Harry is meeting Sally on the TV, and I cannot believe this post is here and done!! Five years, friends!! It all happened five years ago – first client booked, first engagement session, first business card printed, first tiny steps of a blog was created…I feel like I was such a baby starting out. I feel so old now and that the past five years was from another life! But here we are and I’m about to show you my absolute favorites from the years’ engagement photos. You may be able to tell that as the years went on, my style became more consistent and let’s be honest, the photo quality definitely improved. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when we first met with Nate & Carly or Emily & Dan all those years ago. But they trusted me and they gave me the first leaps of faith in this business and I am incredibly grateful for them. They didn’t have to book a photographer with zero experience and a tiny portfolio consisting of photos of my nephew and some flowers. But they did. They gave me my head start. I still remember getting the email from Tegan after she had seen photos of Nate and Carly’s session. I remember being on the edge of my seat waiting to hear back to see if they would want to meet with me. I remember getting the phone call from Hannah’s mom, asking about photos for Sean and Hannah as a wedding gift. I remember being completely shocked and thrilled that clients who barely knew me wanted to have drinks and celebrate my graduation after their engagement session (Clayton and Kristi – xoxoo!!).

(And now I find myself still watching Harry meet Sally (they’re dancing on NYE – sigh) and tiny tears are filling my eyes. So I’ll halt for now on the emotional side of this post. Just for you and my poor eyeballs. :))

Just a disclaimer before you begin: there are some engagement sessions that have more favorites than others. Of course this is nothing personal (please don’t think that!! You’re all the bee’s knees!!) – some sessions the light was an absolute dream, or some sessions my posing was just spot on, or some sessions the outfits and the colors just all tied together so nicely, or some photos just have a really good memory behind it. For any of those reasons and more, these are the photos where I see them and think YES!!! I probably squealed when I took these photos, did a happy dance, and find my eyeballs drawn to them whenever I look through photos.

I hope you enjoy going through this visual timeline of my little business – soon I’ll post the weddings and that blog post will be quite emotional (on my part, maybe yours, but for sure mine). So I’ll save the rest of the mushy good stuff for that post and I’ll let you enjoy these beautiful people and their beautiful photos right meow! Enjoy my dearest friends!! :) xoxoxo

First session. EVER.

This is still one of my favorite sessions. The experience alone of wandering around Taylor’s Falls was such a great memory, let alone these two.

Friends from college put their faith in me, too. And now these two have a baby!! (As do many of my wonderful couples! Love seeing them all in these different stages of life.)

Loved the idea of a camping theme to their session. And I loved shooting in this park, but now it’s there no more. :(

STILL one of my all-time favorites.

And this one. I felt like I hit the jackpot after going through their photos that night. :)

Oh I love these two!! We did my dream engagement session during Christmastime in Rice Park. And then had drinks for graduation celebration. :)

Our first sunrise session!!

Another great memory, riding around on Kyle’s family farm chasing the sunset. As I keep looking through these, it still amazes me how far these couples have gone in life. So happy for them all!

My first proposal!! Also, this needs to be cleared up: this is Paul’s beautiful photo and it was the one published in The Knot!! He rarely gets credit for his work so I’m putting it out there. :) Also, another photo is being published in Minnesota Bride this fall from Tom & Dana’s wedding – his photo again. (I should have changed it to Paul Tran Photography…:))

These two trusted me with my odd idea of going to a pumpkin patch, and it’s still one of my favorite sessions. (And they’re expecting their first baby soon!! So excited for them!! :))

Even a classmate from way back in Kindergarten had me photograph his wedding!! I’m still so honored. :)

Oh my goodness. I don’t think we’ve ever had dreamier lighting. Seriously. Ever. We went waaaaaay over an hour for this session and really, can you blame me?! Ahh! Love these two!!

This was my first session after my surgery and these two were such troopers for me. They even got in the water with me (freezing by the way) and let me walk slow and take rests.  Love these two. :)

This session is a close second to Kailee and Kerby’s with that gorgeous sun. Photographers: go to Afton State Park!! Follow the sun!


Ahhh!!! That light! Those colors!!

Such an important day for me (and them, of course :)). I found the rolling hills I had been dying to find for years.

Our second proposal!! My flash was supposed to go off right behind them to give them a glow, but because of the below freezing temperatures the batteries died within the time I tested it to them walking out on the path (about 3 minutes). Thank goodness for twinkle lights. :)

My dream session on Summit Avenue!!!

Nikki Tran

Our second sunrise session!!

Mixed in with a coffee shop session – something I’d always wanted to do!

Oh I love these two. Seriously.

The colors!! The giggling!! Ahh!!

And the twinkle lights!! And ruby red lipstick!!

My last engagement session (which I never posted – so surprise!!!). Our wonderful friends, Diller and Kristin who are GETTING MARRIED SATURDAY!! In California!! :) :) :) xoxoxo

And that is a WRAP. Did you smile? Laugh? Feel nostalgic? Me too. :) Happy Monday, friends. xoxo

  • NanaJune 20, 2017 - 9:07 pm

    Beautiful pictures sweetieReplyCancel

Finding Your People | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comWant to hang out under the twinkle lights tonight with me, friends? Okay, let’s go. Grab your drink (you can have one of my Mike’s if you’d like) and let’s go chat on the deck. I’ll even give you the whole couch to yourself. Ready? Comfortable? Let’s dive in, shall we? (Rusty might try to snuggle with you, hope that’s okay.)

I finally got a much-needed day at my cousin’s house and that’s really all I can think about. You see, I’ve forgotten how incredibly lonesome working from home can be (and I’ve only been back at it a whole 3 days since summer vacation started).

When I was working from home after college graduation and up until just a year ago, I didn’t really have anybody to talk to. Of course Paul was around after he came home from work, but really, he didn’t completely understand everything I was doing and wanting to talk on and on about. Talking about Instagram growth for an hour or what this really cool photographer was doing halfway across the country was not something he was particularly interested in (and I don’t blame him!). He had his work (which frankly, I don’t understand half the time either so we’re even) and I had mine. That’s not to say he wasn’t (and isn’t) supportive. He’s my rock, hands down. He’s my bff, support team, critic, cheerleader, financial backer, etc. But unless we were actually shooting, he really wasn’t my co-worker. And now that I’ve begun this other journey with another creative business, he’s definitely no longer that little bit of a co-worker (he’s just everything else to me – lucky me. :))

Which brings me to my well-spent and needed day today.

My dear cousin has been on this crazy entrepreneurial roller-coaster with me since basically, day 1. She’s gone from being a freelance editor to a content strategist/wonder-woman (she now has two kids in tow + her business – she’s amazing) and she is dang good at it. She’s my go-to when I need encouragement, ideas, or just someone to vent to about the latest fake craze that I seem to typically fall for. She makes me feel sane, like I’m not the only one upset about analytics or doubting my worth on a constant basis. She reflects what I feel and together we solve each other’s problems over delicious chili queso dip and chips from Chili’s (it’s a delicacy). I can feel her frustration and I get ecstatic for her when she has good news. She reminds me of my talents when I forget I have any, and roots for me from the sidelines.

I know I’m going to need her during this next little adventure of mine. We all need someone to jump into the ring with, to wade with in the deep end, and to fly with when life makes you soar.

Who’s your support crew, friends? Maybe it’s your spouse, maybe it’s your dearest mother, or maybe it’s your girlfriends on Instagram (hi girlies!!) – whoever it is, lean on them when you need it. ‘Tis a bumpy ride and we all could use a little help along the way. xoxo (PS – I’m here if you need it. We got this, friends!)

(You can visit her beautiful website here – she’s amazing.)

Watercolor Basics | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello friends! Happy Monday, what a beautiful (and stormy!!) day, and all that jazz! :)

One of my main goals for this blog waaaaaay back in 2012, was to be able to help people with photography by educating. I wrote a few posts here and there, giving insight and tips to photographers, as well as brides, on the wedding day. I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked to, and if I’m being completely honest with you, it was because I was scared.

Scared?! Yes. I thought that if I helped too many people I would lose clients. I know I’m not the only on out there that has felt like that because also back then, very few people were willing to help me. I remember asking a photographer, whose photos I found while searching for Eden Prairie engagement session locations, where one of her engagement sessions took place. I contacted her because she had a beautiful engagement session with these gorgeous bluffs that made you feel like you were in the English countryside. Well, unfortunately she was one of those who refused to help me out – she wouldn’t reveal the location to me because she had found it herself. It really felt like a dog-eat-dog world out there. I didn’t give up on that spot, however. Paul and I drove around Eden Prairie until I held one of her photos up to the location and BAM! Found it! Did a happy dance! And then vowed never to turn away someone who needed help. (See Ellen and Andre’s engagement session if you’re curious about these dreamy bluffs.)

So, although I tried to help out as much as I could, I still felt that insecurity feeling of not wanting to lose clients.

If it sounds stupid, that’s because it is stupid. And it’s not happening anymore.

Which brings me to the focus of this post. :) For any of you wanting to learn how to watercolor, I’ve put together this cheat sheet of my art supplies. They’re nothing fancy, and they’re products I’ve come to love through much trial and error. As I’ve stated before, I am certainly no expert, but if I know something that you may not know, I want to share it with you. We’re all friends here! Pretend we’re chatting having coffee and tea, and you just asked me,

“Nikki, I’ve been meaning to ask you – I want to start painting with watercolors and I don’t really know where to start. Got any ideas?”

Yes ma’am (or mister) I do!! Here is exactly what I use and what I’ll continue to use until I find something better (it’s a constant game of learning, is it not?):

(I buy everything at Michaels – lots of people shop at Dick Blick but Michaels does the job for me and is much closer to our house.)

Watercolor Basics - Art Supplies | Nikki Tran Art & Design |

  1. BrushesGrumbacher Round Watercolor Brushes, sizes 000 (my favorite), 0, 3, & 5. 
  2. Paints Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours (Individual tubes – my favorite colors so far: Cerulean Blue, Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Turquoise, Dioxazine Purple, & Spa Green)
  3. Paints Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours (12-color palette – I also use a generic 28-color palette that probably cost me $5 – nothing fancy but it works, too, although the Winsor & Newton colors are definitely richer than the generic palette)
  4. Paper Strathmore Watercolor 6″ x 9″ Sketch Pad, 15 sheets, 140lb, cold-pressed & acid free & heavy weight (I take this when we travel or when I just feel lazy and don’t want to carry the big pad around. :))
  5. Paper – Artist’s Loft Watercolor 9″ x 12″ Pad, 24 sheets, 140lb, cold-pressed & acid free & heavy weight
  6. Ink Micron Archival Ink Pen – sizes .25mm, .35mm, .45mm (I just bought this brand and have yet to try it, but I’m assuming it works just like my other pen, #7 – we shall see. :))
  7. Ink Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, size XS (The ink is running low so I thought I would try something different, hence #6.)
  8. Eraser Staedtler (I use mechanical pencils when I draw – nothing fancy, just the ones you can buy in a pack at Target – and I use this as my eraser.)

I hope this gives those of you who are interested, a running start at figuring out what you want to use in your studio, even if your studio is your dining room table. :) And if you have any questions or would like me to post certain blog posts, you just let me know! We’re a team, don’t forget. :)

And now I must get to my own paintings – I’m creating a few gifts for you, dear readers, and I’d like to get them on the blog soon! Stay tuned!! :) Have a wonderful rest of your Monday!! xoxo

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote | Nikki Tran Art & Design |

(How true, Laura.)

  • Patricia PowersJune 13, 2017 - 9:35 am

    Thank you for this info. Very helpful as I plan on trying my hand at watercolor and had no idea on where to begin. I have done oils in the last but far too much stuff and expense to carry everywhere. Too much prep time as I don’t have a set place to paint. I appreciate the help.ReplyCancel

    • NikkiJune 20, 2017 - 8:51 am

      Hi Patricia! I’m so glad this was helpful to you! I’ve always wanted to try oils – I think oil paintings are absolutely beautiful. Most of the art in my house is oil paintings. Enjoy learning watercolors! :)ReplyCancel