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Only two things scare me. Losing my friends and losing my wonder.
Over the past year I have been digging deep and asking myself the hard question of what do you really like to photograph? What drives you, what do you go to bed thinking about, and what stuns you?
I ask myself these kind of questions:
-What are the top 10 things I enjoy consuming in my life?
-What was the best thing I did that day?
-What do my friends say are my strengths?
-What does Nicole say?
-Call my best friend and see if I am being delusional?
Manifesto, GO DO THOSE THINGS!
The bigger point to make here is I had no idea what the answer was or where I was going to end up with my work so I decided to not wait for myself to get started. I just wanted to make shit.
So I have been doing those things.
I have been photographing women. Shooting fashion and beauty. Challenging myself to capture the things I look at in awe and disturb my pattern of comfort ease. I have discovered that energy and I am not letting go.
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Hair/ Makeup: Ashli Danielle
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When you are best friends with someone for 22 years you sure have been through a lot together. I know her first loves, seen her get her braces off, gone to more dances together than I can count, get into loads of trouble and fun shenanigans, go to college, live in a new cities, get married… and now having her first little bundle. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have experienced so much life and celebration with Crystal.
Crystal was out in Palm Springs last week for my wedding so we thought it would be perfect timing to do a little mini photo shoot of that baby bump. We headed out on the 111 chasing the light, got a little lost, and pulled off the side of the road for a few minutes to discover pure white sand in the desert. More than Perfect.
We are all anxious to meet our little blondie girl in a couple months. Congrats Crys and Justin!
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Working with Cassie from Coco + Kelley you know there will be some sort of fun and creative high involved. Last February she set off for Southern Africa and brought home some gems she wanted to share. Lucky for me she decided to create a tabletop theme and of course pair it with a gorgeous ensemble to compliment it all. How gorgeous is her tabletop? And those dresses by Lublu by Kira Plastinina I am seriously still debating purchasing that long silk colorful one. It is gorgeous on and looks like something you could live in everyday.
Have a look!
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Showing me what a real chocolate croissant was all about.
Women smelling irresistible.
Saying bonjour madame, bonsoir, and merci beaucoup endlessly.
Tasting nectar of the gods some call fruit.
The FASHION! Understated? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.
For a self realization. But not while I was there as I expected!
The comfort of a â€œbiseâ€ cheek kiss.
Men aged 15 to 89 years old giving lingering looks at women in adoration.
Busy streets of fading french passing by.
Did I mention the shoes?!
Your pharmacies are a conversation starter. Beauty products to die for.
Every door being like a modern version of the secret garden.
Referencing things as a box in english.
Being stimulated by the mystery of Paris.
The quietness of Parisians. Americans are kinda loud people.
The crimes I committed indulging in french salted butter and decadent pastries daily.
No reason at all to drink champagne!
Children riding scooters through the city with their scarfs wafting in the wind as if they were just born this way!
Sugar packaged as â€œsucre en poudreâ€ translation â€œsugar daddyâ€ I love you for that.
I felt right at home in Paris.
â€œWhat did you think?â€ and â€œHow was it?â€
I keep trying to find the word. The perfect way to express three weeks of constant sensory overload.
Neither Nate nor I speak much french. We carried our way with the basics and learned very quickly how to charm our way around as humble eager travelers.
Itâ€™s been a week since we left France and I am still ruminating on â€œoh, remember that nutella crepe I devoured on the way to the Seine, the sugary smell of that dark brunette with a fabulous black hat, or walking side by side with my love both intoxicated with what we were seeing and re-learning parts of each other!â€
We were in France a couple days shy of 3 weeks and lucky enough to be in Paris for 8 nights. We rented two apartments in different arrondissements and pretty much walked the entire city while we were there. Some days 8 to 10 miles.
We had a few suggestions of what to see and experience while we were there. Naturally, most of it was what to eat and where to shop. This time we didnâ€™t go into one museum or monument. (next up on the kids trip) We both wanted to stay clear of lines and hours of waiting. For us it was about the culture and soaking in the city.
So basically we ate our way through the city, shopped, people watched to no end, wandered, and enjoyed beautiful visits with Parisian and American ex-pat friends.
Side note: the french were lovely and very gracious to us.
I love recommendations when I travel so I thought I would offer some for you my friends:
Cafe de Flore Oh so charming art-deco and nostalgia for days. CafÃ© de Flore has been the stomping grounds for many an intellectual from Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to Pablo Picasso and Albert Camus. Steep prices but super chic. Tops for people watching here. Dining patrons and passersby’s alike.
Les Deux Magots Same same as Cafe de Flore with an alternative view a few doors down.
Cafe Charlot On a nice day you will wait for a table. The French darlings arenâ€™t shy about sticking around for a while.
Le Perle We were recommended this place by one of our friends. Itâ€™s hip, dress code is unreal and you never know who you will see there. Drinks were a bargain as they werenâ€™t $25 for A cocktail. Yay!
Cafe Pinson Is charming and reminded me of a Seattle cafe with French decor.
Ble Sucre This deserves it’s own category as I have never tasted something so decadent in my entire life. Game changer.
Claus Was our agreed upon best proper breakfast experience. The whole experience was top shelf. The food and presentation was equally on par with the decor and atmosphere.
Broken Arm Relaxed and hip artsy shop with a cafe inside. All boutique French designers. Very friendly and eager to chat. Not really my taste in style but has a cool vibe about it.
Bonton Best childrens store I have ever stepped into. Imagine a sweet delicate nursery with a whimsical spell over it. Itâ€™s everything you imagine as an adult what your childhood dreams are about. They carry clothing, books and toys. Really wonderful.
Merci A favorite among places to see in Paris. This little haven has a bit for all. Mens, womens, householdry, parfumerie and jewelry. French/ Japanese design, genius concept, and hip selection. More enjoyable is the cafe and bookstore downstairs. Comparable to a library coffee shop. Tres cool.
Le 29 Photo design dream paradise.
Nose Spectacular parfumerie that carries mostly French perfume. Only ze best.
Pierre Herme A better macroon. Rises above the rest. Trust me.
I couldnâ€™t leave out some vintage goodness as well now could I? So…
Pretty Box Carries a variety of gems. Many high end designers. So high end some I have never heard of. Mixed in with some unknown french designers. All a great selection.
Things to see even if you donâ€™t want to go on tours/
Le Comptoir General/ Ghetto Museum This place is real special. Itâ€™s a secret to most travelers but known by the locals. Itâ€™s near Canal St Martin. Walking in you feel like you transported in time to 1976 Berlin boho chic.
Canal St Martin A nice escape from the tourist scene. On a warm day in Paris all the lovers and friends are out picnicking along the canal. Perfect postcard view.
Gardens and parks are endless. I enjoyed the hiding ones you stumbled across while walking in the different arrondissements.
There are many places I still have on my list we werenâ€™t able to see. Timing is a huge thing in Paris. Donâ€™t forget they are real serious about lunch time and days off. Usually Sundays, Mondays and possibly Tuesdays.
My best advice is invest in some sturdy shoes you love (no sneakers, ever) (or three as I did) and get out there and lose your mind wandering in the city of dreams.
If you are curious to see more candids from our travels on instagram. Find me here nicolejfirestone
Up next my favorite St Tropez…
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I received an email from a friend about Anna and her diagnosis about a week before I actually shot her. Her diagnosis was a time sensitive one so we booked the shoot in the following days. I met Anna that day at the studio not knowing much about her other than hearing her sweet voice over the phone and knowing she was 29 years old and had just been diagnosed with cancer. Honesty it was an exhilarating moment seeing her walk into the studio at about 6 feet tall with the most incredible ginger hair I have ever seen. As you can imagine my mind was going in a million directions.
I wouldn’t do Anna or her diagnosis of cancer any justice so I am going to let her tell you a bit about her story here:
In February I my world was shaken when I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The weeks that have passed since that infamous day have been filled with hard blows and tough decisions as my full diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options unfolded. Additionally, I learned that I have a breast cancer gene which means aggressive treatment is needed.
In days I will be undergoing a double mastectomy and then will need a course of chemotherapy. In the meantime I am making decisions about freezing eggs, saying goodbye to my breasts, shaving my head of hair for a wig, and making significant diet and lifestyle changes.
I went over to Anna’s house this Tuesday and let me inform you Anna is the hero! She’s up, cheerful, and estatic to be cancer free. She has a tough road ahead of her this year full of chemo therapy and surgeries but remains hopeful and will most certainly do it all with style and grace.
Our plan to document Anna’s journey all this year and how very fortunate I feel to know her. After I left her house Tuesday, I became verklempt in my own emotions knowing the very reason I met Anna. These are the stories I live for and why I love to photograph humans. Not for the story of cancer but the real human stories we share intimately with one another.
Here is a look at a few images I took of Anna days before her double mastectomy.
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