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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!) --->

I am so excited to announce that Nikki Tran Photography is officially being featured at the local ice-cream parlor! My canvases are hung up on the walls for customers to enjoy throughout the entire month of February and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Paul and I have loved visiting the Frost & Steam since before we even moved nearby almost 8 months ago. I remember the first time we came here; we were checking out the town before we were to move in our house. It was during the late spring and the town was alive with people walking, rollerblading, biking, sitting on their front porches, and walking to the nearby  movie theater. Paul and I had ventured inside for an ice-cream cone and I fell in love with it instantly. If you don’t already know, I love all things that are old; houses, furniture, books, songs, movies, etc. The Frost & Steam looks as if it were built in the early 1900’s with it’s gorgeous natural woodwork and textured ceilings. The ice-cream was amazing, too! We quickly decided that Zanzibar Chocolate was our favorite. While we waited for our ice-cream cones, I decided to explore the old building. I noticed the different artwork on the walls, the cozy corners of comfy chairs and magazines, locally knitted scarves from Alpaca fur displayed in an old dresser, and a back room with an old gorgeous piano for people to play and enjoy while viewing Lake Waconia from the window. Before we left with our Zanzibar Chocolate ice-cream cones, two young children came in on roller blades and sat up at the bar enjoying complimentary water from an old pitcher sitting on the counter. They rested, drank their water, and went right back out rollerblading down the sidewalk, weaving in and out of leisurely walking people.

It was sunset when Paul and I left the Frost & Steam and so we decided to take our ice-cream cones and walk through the neighborhoods on the shore of Lake Waconia. I enjoyed everything about this walk; the old houses, the lake, the yachts on the lake, the ice-cream, the fact that we were walking on a sidewalk and not the street, and of course spending time with Paul. After our evening stroll, Paul and I drove the two blocks – yes, we could have walked, don’t judge – to the local movie theater. We parked on the street about half a block away, in front of my favorite antique store, and walked the couple steps to the front doors of the theater. It seemed like everyone was in the mood for a movie because it literally felt like the whole town was there! I loved it! People were leaving their front porches and walking from their houses to get in line for the 8 o’clock movie where they greeted old friends who had also just joined the line. When we left the movie, everyone parted ways either walking to their house, to the nearby pub, or to their car for the short drive home. It felt like being a part of an old 1930’s movie and I loved every minute of it. That’s when Paul and I knew we could never move away from this place and we’ve loved calling it home ever since.

Paul and I had just finished hanging up my canvases in the front room.An old-fashioned clock! Love it!They have so many flavors! I loved the colors of these even though I’m a chocolate fan.I love old looking Coke bottles. :)You can see the door to the back room in this photo, however, I didn’t take a photo of it because there were people back there and I didn’t want to creep them out! Next time!Tea and coffee station.

I thought the duck was pretty cute. How gorgeous is the woodwork?? Someday, Paul, that will be in our house. :)

I can’t wait until summer when I can show you what the town looks like when its alive! I hope you enjoyed these of the Frost & Steam! :)

  • Toni LundahlFebruary 6, 2013 - 1:36 am

    These are awesome! You need to start charging more for your work. Some of the best photos I have ever seen! Good job honey!ReplyCancel

  • ToniFebruary 5, 2013 - 3:11 pm

    I am so proud of you. You are doing a great job with your business Nikki. And have I mentioned, excellent writing skills! I love reading your blogs.ReplyCancel

Have no fear! This will not be a blog post where I answer 20 random questions and you sit there wondering to yourself, “Why the heck does Nikki think I care about what was the last thing she ate today?” (It was chocolate chip pancakes in case you really were interested.)

No, it will not be 20 questions, but I would like you all to get to know me on a personal level. That is one of the main reasons that I started this blog. I’m a photographer. I work with  people; people I don’t even know most of the time. Don’t you agree that it would be such a better experience if you got to actually KNOW your photographer before your wedding day or photo session in general? Take Clayton and Kristi for example. After our amazing engagement session in Downtown St. Paul, we decided to celebrate and get some food and drinks at one of the restaurants nearby. I LOVED that! I loved getting to know them and what their relationship was like, what their family was like, how they interacted with each other, sharing stories with each other, etc. I’m so excited for their wedding in June because I truly feel like I’m photographing a good friend’s wedding instead of a client’s.

So, we’ll start with the basics. I’m assuming you all know about my adorable little munchkin of a furball, Rusty? If not, I’ll be brief because I’ve talked about him a lot and I’m sure you’re all sick of it. He’s a yorki-poo who is going to be 11 months old tomorrow! He’s brown and black, hence the name Rusty. He is my second shadow and will not chew on a toy or bone unless I am in clear sight of him. He lays outside the bathroom door when I’m putting on make-up or doing my hair – I like to say it’s to protect me but who knows? He gets jealous of the laptop getting more attention than him so he feels the need to sit on my lap and lay his head on my keyboard to prevent my hands from typing and instead I resort to massaging his paws – he’s weird and really enjoys us massaging his hands and feet – spoiled!

You all know how amazing my husband is, and if you don’t I’ll just tell you; he’s amazing. I had a checklist of what I wanted in a guy, I gave it to God, and He sent me Paul. The rest is history. He co-shoots with me and is my business partner and we couldn’t work better together. I still consider us newlyweds even though it’s been over a year since we got hitched. After getting married we did what the American Dream says: bought a starter house and a puppy. Children will come when the time is right. I used to say I wanted to have enough children to make a baseball team – as of right now, who knows? In my family, we had three children. When one of us was gone (usually my brother – he was in the Army) it felt like something was missing in our house. So naturally I never want that to happen so I’ll just have 9 kids. Makes sense, right? (For those of you freaking out, I’m kidding…or maybe not!)

This leads me to my family. You can’t write a personal blog post and not incorporate your family. I am the youngest child of three; my  brother is the oldest and lives all the way in New York, and my sister is clearly the second oldest and she lives all the way an hour away from me. Basically, Paul and I moved out to the boonies. We grew up in St. Paul but have now ventured away and surprisingly, we love it out here.

Back to Richie and Toni. I used to say that if you knew all of us you would never know we were raised by the same parents. Rich loves football, basketball, and baseball (he used to be an amazing pitcher, just saying), Toni loves knitting and baking (she’s awesome at both – especially making truffles and knitting me scarves), and until recently my only hobbies were reading and playing the piano. However, as we’ve gotten older it’s clear that we are all old-fashioned, black-and-white-movie-loving, Christmas-carol-singing, Spaghetti-dinner-on-Sunday-eating, spitting images of our mom and dad. As we’ve moved away from each other it becomes more apparent. Paul will see me laughing in my chair as I receive a text from my brother or sister quoting an old movie we used to watch when we were little. Or Paul will see me taking a photo of the TV screen when I’m watching an old cartoon and then watch me excitedly send it to my brother and sister. This usually goes on for a while because we like to “one-up” each other in the “Who’s watching the best old movie/Christmas or Halloween cartoon?” The bottom line is, us kids feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful childhood together and let’s face it, we miss each other. I haven’t seen my brother in 6 months and my sister in a month!

Since you know a little about what my brother and sister are like, I’ll give you an idea about my parents. Mom loves her bird and animal watching – I once asked her if she could have a magic power, what would it be. She responded with “I’d love to talk to animals.” She is the reason us kids LOVE Christmas. She has an entire built-in book case dedicated to Christmas books; Christmas cook books, decorating books, storybooks, song books, poem books, etc. (I’m even named after St. Nick!) My dad loves everything about health and wellness and positivity. His famous saying to us kids when we complain is, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Inspiration for the day! He loves baseball and took me to my first Twins game when I was 9. I almost cried when I found out the grass at the Metrodome was not real grass. It still affects me today. When I was little until the time I said “Yes” to Paul when he asked me to marry him, I used to tell Dad that I was going to marry someone just like him. :)

As you can see, I’ve written a short novel so I’ll end it with some lovely photos of my lovely family.

Can you tell which one is me?? Hint: I’m the loud looking one.My brother, Richie, and I during our visit to New York in the summer.My beautiful sister, Toni, during her maternity shoot we did this past summer.My lovely momma!My amazing daddy. How blessed are we to have such wonderful parents??I hope you enjoyed a little peeking into my life! See how much fun getting to know the photographer can be? :) I hope you enjoyed the photos – have a wonderful day!

  • momFebruary 9, 2013 - 3:24 pm

    I sure enjoyed reading this. I’m a lucky mom, thanks.ReplyCancel

  • DanaFebruary 1, 2013 - 2:49 pm

    I love reading your blogs… even though we are far away it makes me feel a little closer… lolReplyCancel

I know I’ve said this before, but if anyone were to tell me 14 months ago that I was going to be a photographer, I would have said they were crazy. That was not a part of Nikki Tran’s (previously Eckert) Life Plan. Yes, I had a list of what was going to happen in my life, probably since I was in middle school. I am personality Type A. Type A is defined on Wikipedia(reliable, I know) as:

ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management; Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence

I bet Paul is laughing right now as he reads this because he knows it’s so true. But anyways! Back to my Life Plan. The two biggest things in my Life Plan was when and who I was going to marry, and what I was going to do for my job. I’m assuming those are high priorities on everyone’s Life Plan (unless of course you’re Type B and you don’t need one because luckily, you are care free and stress free – lucky you). I knew I was going to be married by the time I was 23. Most people laughed in my face when I told them this or otherwise were very concerned for my well-being. Getting married too young is a risk factor for failure. Lucky for me, I met the perfect guy at 19 and knew I was going to marry him a month after dating. He knew it, too – I didn’t drag him down the aisle. :) I was married when I was 22 1/2 years old – checked off Getting Married By Age 23.

My next big thing was work. I knew when I was younger that I wanted to work from home. I mostly wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (like my momma) but I also wanted to have my own work in my own house. For a long time I wanted to be like my aunt and become a hair stylist in my home. She works out of her basement and for years that was my goal. I also knew I loved writing, so naturally I started college with a degree in journalism in mind. However, my main goal with writing was to write a memoir type of book. Did I have to go for journalism in order to write a book? Probably not. So, I was stuck in limbo and didn’t know what to do with my life. I could go for cosmetology, but my heart wasn’t completely  in it. By the time I was in college I wasn’t interested in doing hair anymore – I loved make-up but did I have to go to school to learn how to put it on? Probably not.

I was dating Paul at the time when I was stuck in limbo. One night we were discussing what I could possibly major in and it was Paul that turned the light bulb on in my head. He said, “You’re great with kids. Why don’t you think about teaching?” Holy moly. Again, something I had NEVER considered my entire life. I was literally shocked when he said that and then shocked at how much I actually wanted to teach. Throughout my entire life, my sister Toni was the one that loved teaching. She had an old school desk, an old chalkboard, and old textbooks. That was her “playing” and when I was little, I thought she was crazy. However, my passion for teaching grew with each class I took and it seemed like everything was on the right track for my Life Plan – except the whole working from home thing. Back then, which was only a year or two ago, I would think, “Nobody REALLY gets to work from home. The people that do that are the lucky ones. It’s just not possible for anyone.” So, I basically gave up on that dream, which also made me give up on the dream of being a stay-at-home mom. Talk about distorting the Life Plan!

Type A people don’t do well with change and I’m no exception. I was married and I had a career I was passionate about and working towards. Two months after we were married, fate stepped in. Remember when I said that when Paul brought up teaching a light bulb went off in my head? Well, when photography became an option, it was as if there was a fire. I became obsessed and wanted to know everything I could about photography, other photographers, editing, running a business, etc. I spent countless hours studying, researching, photographing random things, editing, and learning. The Life Plan was back in action. I worked hard to create my business even when I was a full-time student. I spent freetime in between classes to edit photos, look for new poses, respond to emails, and build my website because I knew I would have homework or lesson plans to create that night. I graduated from college with an Elementary Education degree and unlike others in my class, I do not intend to use it as I once did so only 14 months ago. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED teaching. I loved my students and of course, my cooperating teacher. :)

So, what is the point of this post you might ask? Well, basically I’m telling you that if you have dreams or a Life Plan or a Check List or whatever, who is to say that you can’t have them fulfilled? I have been picturing my Life Plan for a loooooong time. True, I didn’t picture photography, but I did picture me staying at home and working. True, I love writing and wanted to write a memoir book, but now I’m sharing my life via blogging. True, I didn’t picture that the man I hated for many years would be the guy I married at age 22 1/2 (long story – maybe for another post…ha!), but I had a plan and I envisioned that plan to happen. God knows when the right time for things to happen. He picked me finding my passion for photography when I was almost graduated with a 4-year degree in something totally different. He knows and it’s funny how things turn out.

Now that Work From Home is checked off, what’s next for the Life Plan? A white picket fence. :)