CAREER FEATURE: The Unexpected Journey I Did Not Picture


Nicole Mondestin, of Nicole Mondestin Photography, is a wife, mother and career woman. She is driven and determined to live her best life every day. Her passion for photography and desire to capture indescribable moments sets her a part – she creates art that celebrates you, your family, wedding, brand or moments of pure un-choreographed bliss. Read her story below and check out her amazing work as well!



My name is Nicole Mondestin, I am the owner and principal photographer at Nicole Mondestin Photography. Being an entrepreneur is one of the best parts of my life and it has also been one of the hardest. My road to pursing my dreams is winding, filled with tons of pot holes and speed bumps along the way. The story literally starts like rerun episode of the ‘Golden Girls.’

Picture it: Sicily 1999. I was 16 years old and studying abroad in Italy. My parents gave me a camera so that I could make memories of my trip. I remember when my dad handed the camera to me; I thought to myself … I am going to Italy at 16 years old with no parents, the last thing I am going to do is take pictures! I took the camera anyway.

During that time, I studied art history and was obsessed with architecture. Italy was bursting with both art and beautiful architecture so I decided to use the camera to document them. I was immediately hooked and the camera was glued to my hands the entire trip. 

When I returned home, I showed my parents the pictures and their first question was “how much money did you spend on film?!?” I spent almost ALL my money on film. I barely had enough left to buy souvenirs. I would wake up extra early to beat everyone to breakfast in order to take extra bread rolls to save for later because I wanted to save my food money to buy more film! *insert shrug here.*  

At the time I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and I NEVER even considered that I could make a living being a photographer. My parents came from the adage that you go to school and get good grades so that you can get a good job with benefits. The same way their parents taught them (and there is nothing wrong with that). I did in fact graduate college, applied for law school, got accepted and then decided I did not want to be a lawyer. Lol!

That was the easy part, the hard part was telling my parents about my decision. Can you imagine how that conversation went?!? I did not know what I wanted to do initially but I knew I did not want to be a lawyer. I worked in the legal field as a paralegal and decided that being a lawyer was definitely not for me. I needed a creative outlet; and I picked up my camera with a new sense of purpose.

I purchased my first camera: a canon rebel t3i and I was in business. As a legal professional, I made sure my business was legally formed. My first backdrops were bed sheets that I bought from target. I would iron them prior to every session because I could not afford much and I used what was available. What was clear to me was that I was happy and working my way toward financial independence.

Five amazing years later and I am still successfully doing what I love. I have grown as a business owner and a photographer. Those five years were rough and I still experience struggles from time to time; but I did not give up. I found that one of my biggest obstacles as a business owner was determining my worth (i.e. price points and cost of service) in addition to marketing my business. This was a struggle for me because I did not value my skills like I should have. I was working with friends and family and many times it was expected of me to work with them either for free or next to nothing! (Which would be unsustainable for my business).

I believe in my work because it is great! At that time, I just did not believe in myself and the worth of my services. It was a sobering moment when I reevaluated my worth and did an accounting for my business. So I realized that in order to be a successful business owner and to have clients who will take my business seriously, I needed to be stern in my worth. 

So I matched my business value to my cost of services and began to market effectively on social media, online and in person. Anytime someone asked me what I did, I was able to tell them AND confidently show them.  In addition, I built a team of industry professionals that I trust because networking and building your sphere of influence is extremely important to business growth. We get together, network and bounce ideas among each other. I love to help fellow business owners grow as well because I want everyone on my team to grow and be successful!

My main advice to those who are unsure about their journey is to believe in yourself, invest in a website and quality pictures. You can tell people what you do all you want, but you have to be able to show them!


For more of Nicole’s work see her Social Medias:

Nicole Mondestin Photography Instagram

Nicole Mondestin Photography Facebook

Nicole Mondestin Photography Website

I hope Nicole’s story has inspired you to pursue your dreams!


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