Capturing LGBTQ+ and their love stories is what inspires Robyn Nicole Film and Photo. This Portland based photographer is an artist at heart, and has a creative way about capturing love authentically.
Who is Robyn Nicole Film and Photo?
I am a Taurus sun, Cancer moon, cat mom, and breakfast food aficionado. I’m also an enthusiastic parent to many plants and a beautiful, green, velvet couch. I cry easily during movies (and in general) and work well under pressure, and I love the podcast My Favorite Murder, and I’m only mildly worried about how that comes off to people who are not familiar with it. I self-identify as queer, a term that my mother, bless her heart, still does not understand. And, I love making people laugh, enjoy roller skating, and can appreciate a really good disco ball.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a photographer.
My journey to becoming a photographer is one that I’ve been ongoing for a very long time, and one that I’ve been on for a relatively short time, depending on how you look at it. In a way, I was born a photographer. I’ve always been preoccupied with the desire to make time move slower. I’m a get-up-early-stay-up-late kind of person. I was always the friend, the sister, and the cousin with the camera. I got my paws on my first hand-me-down Minolta on a trip to Niagra Falls when I was probably 13. There’s a really ridiculous photo of me curled up with it while napping, in case that paints a more colorful and slightly obsessive picture.
I found photography in a professional capacity after leaving my first career and wracking my brains for what marketable skills I felt I could make a more impassioned life out of. I started very, very small while juggling many other jobs, and I’m now in a position where I can work more pointedly in the service of my LGBTQ+ community and other underserved communities. It brings me a huge amount of pride and joy.
Any advice for couples looking for a photographer?
There are a LOT of us. From the outside, it might seem like photographers are all the same, but we have incredibly varied skills, styles, and personalities. Surprise! We’re human. Before you overwhelm yourself with a HUGE amount of google search results, take some time and really think about what you want in a person who is going to be following you around all day on one of the most exciting days of your life. Do you want someone up in your business, who knows exactly where your hands should go to get the perfect shot? Do you want someone super hands-free who you hardly realize is there? Are there qualities in a human being that make you more comfortable around them?
Make a list of attributes. Look for those. Think of it as a weird kind of dating. Then, do your homework.
Most photographers have a bio somewhere on their site. If you like the style of their photos, read through what they have to say about themselves. If you like what you read, reach out. When people initially contact me, the thing that makes me the most excited is when it’s apparent that they took the time to look through the information and images that are up on my website, and they felt a kinship to my style and approach. When people email me because they don’t know what they want and I’m one of 30 shots in the dark for them, it’s less exciting.
What makes you get up out of bed every day and do what you do?
Many, MANY alarms. The promise of coffee. Haha. Honestly, doing something that I’m excited about gets me up. It doesn’t hurt that I don’t have a boss, and my artistic director is a 16-year-old forever-kitten that will howl profusely if I don’t rouse myself for her breakfast routine. I like making people happy, and I love gift-giving. I think freezing time for people is a really remarkable way to satisfy both of those interests.
You attend so many weddings, what’s your favorite part of the wedding day?
My favorite part of a wedding day often coincides with witnessing a couple include details, traditions, or some kind of a twist that I haven’t seen before. Queer couples, especially, seem to have a knack for planning a party around their love in ways that are honest and original in thought. I think, as members of the LGBT+ community, we are used to being true to ourselves and making decisions in the interest of our own joy and preservation before that of critics, and that comes out in many ways that I really enjoy at a wedding.
I love seeing people completely comfortable with themselves and attune to who they are. At wedding celebrations that include a ceremony, I also love photographing the moments right after an official union when couples are often extra energetic, in-the-moment, and over-the-moon happy.
Reception photos at a safe point between the dance floor opening up and your best friend sweating through his second change of clothes are also a favorite of mine. Everyone between the ages of 25 and 35 singing along to “Bye, Bye, Bye?” What’s not to love?
If you weren’t photographing couples what would you be doing and why?
For a living? I’d like to think I could make it as some other kind of visual artist. I do some drawing and digital art on the side. My degree is in secondary education, so I suppose I could see myself as an instructor of some kind again, though maybe in a more artistic or per diem capacity.
Wedding or elopement?
I really don’t have strong opinions about large-scale weddings versus smaller elopements. The style of my photography leans toward the client-led, photojournalistic end of things, which prepares me for whatever magnitude of celebration comes my way. Both are lovely for different reasons. Larger weddings have SO much going on. I feel great having all kinds of different subjects and circumstances to photograph in those situations. Elopements are usually intimate and calm, typically including a lot of space for me to really experiment and push myself to document in ways I haven’t before. As long as the style of the day makes my clients happy, I’m happy.
What are your ‘words I live by’?
I just put one of those super trendy/kinda tacky marquee boards up by my desk. How did you know? Should I take it down? Am I being watched? The phrase that’s on it right now reads, “do what you can with what you have.” It’s part of a phrase attributed to Teddy Roosevelt. The full phrase includes an additional “where you are.” It’s a grounding thought when I feel like I’m facing a large amount of adversity or anxiety, and a subtle reminder that I have all the tools I need.
Photos by Robyn Nicole Film and Photo