Lauren Smith Ford
CJ and Jennifer Nichols love story is just as sweet as those of the many couples’ weddings they have captured over the years. They met and fell in love while working at a summer camp for kids near Yosemite National Park (their oldest of two daughters just attended as a camper last summer). Both of them had a background in photography so they started hanging out and taking photos together. “We spent our first date taking long-exposure night photos, so we've been taking photos together since the very beginning,” Jennifer says. “We feel really fortunate that we've been able to build a business doing something that we love.” The sought after wedding photographer duo shoots about 30 weddings a year, and have captured everything from a beach wedding in Grand Cayman and nuptials in the mountains of British Columbia to a New York wedding in Central Park and a chic desert affair in West Texas. “Wedding photography has been the perfect fit for us. We get to work together, be creative, and document some really special moments in people's lives,” she says. “It’s a privilege that we don't take for granted.”
I was a Journalism major in college and was required to take a photography course. As soon as I developed my first photo in the darkroom, I was hooked and immediately changed my major to fine art photography. CJ became interested in photography when a family friend gave him a film camera in 6th grade. He studied photography in Philadelphia and San Francisco.
We were living in a tiny town in the Sierra Nevada mountains when our oldest daughter was born. We wanted to be closer to our family in Texas, and Austin seemed like the perfect place to raise our kids. It's been such a great city for our family and our business. Austin has an awesome community of photographers that really supports each other, which we're thankful for.
Being a married photography team is a great dynamic for shooting weddings. I'll spend time with the girls getting ready and CJ will be with the guys, then we'll come together once the festivities get started.
We've been married almost 11 years and have been shooting weddings together for 8 years, and have become a really efficient team. Weddings are fast-paced events and there's a lot of pressure to capture these fleeting moments, so it's really comforting to be able to rely on each other and to be able to anticipate each other's next moves.
The father/daughter dance always gets me, because I'll imagine CJ dancing with our daughters one day. I always get teary eyed at weddings!
At one of our favorite weddings out in the Hill Country, the bride and groom had tents brought in so that their friends and family could camp out together after the wedding. One of our couples commissioned a neon sign from CJ, who has been a neon glass bender for 12 years, that they used as the centerpiece of their ceremony site. It read ad vitam, in bright pink, which means "for life" in Latin. Now, they have the sign displayed in their home. At a recent wedding, the bride and groom had a barbershop available for any guests who wanted to drop by for a haircut or shave.
We enjoy traveling with our daughters, especially heading out west. We love spending time in the West Texas desert and the California mountains. We're a musical family and have a room at home full of musical instruments. Maggie, our 10-year old, plays piano, guitar, and drums. CJ and I both play guitar, bass, and drums, and we're hoping Georgia, our 4-year old, will become our vocalist, then we can have a full-on family band!
On the rare date night, we like to catch a movie at The Alamo Drafthouse or grab some Mexican food at Maudie's or Curras, then head over to the Horseshoe Lounge to shoot pool and play the jukebox. When we go out with the kids, we grab pizza at Home Slice, then head over to Big Top candy store. And, I like to pop into Uncommon Objects to browse around and check out all their odds and ends.
In California, we lived in what used to be a market back in the 1950's. The hand-painted letters were still on the front windows, and the weather was always so nice that we frequently had the front door propped open. Since we lived about 10 minutes from a lake resort, we'd often have people walk right in our door expecting a market. It happened so often that we eventually put a "closed" sign in our front window. We always joked about starting a business since we already had the customers!
Photography by Maggie Nichols
by Joanna Steblay
As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.
For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.more
The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...more
by James Ruiz
Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.more
Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.
Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?
From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...more
by James Ruiz
As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.
Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...more