“Finger painting has become something that we do regularly… Dash and Sunny love it so much.”
Can you introduce me to your family?
Nicole: Yes, of course. My name is Nicole Christensen, I have two boys, Dash and Finn (but we call him Sunny). I love photography, and most of what I do with photography is now for the blog Small Fry, but I will still take some clients; photography really is a passion of mine. I love to take photos of my kids… I’m not so sure if they like it (laughs). As a family, we really love being outside. We love picnics, hikes, and spending time at the lake. And even if we’re not adventuring outside, we try to have adventures in the home, as you can see with the animal masks.
Why do you think it’s important to have adventures with your children?
Nicole: I want my kids to learn how beautiful the world is, because it really is so beautiful. Being outside and exploring new things really helps open up the world to children. I grew up having lots of adventures, even if it was a simple one like going on a family drive. Those adventures molded me into the person I am today, and I hope that I can carry that on with my kids.
What is it that you love about photography?
Nicole: Well I started out with film… Because, yes, I am that old (laughs). When I first started studying photography, everything was film. I remember developing my own photos in dark rooms, and that sparked my love for photography. But after my first few wedding shoots, I bought my first digital camera. Sometimes I feel a little sad looking back, because shooting with film was so incredible, and the technique was so captivating. But I’ve always been a little obsessed with the characteristic of love, so I really wanted to continue with weddings. Then as I had Dash and Sonny, my passion turned from photographing weddings to photographing my kids.
What type of photography do you like to do?
Nicole: When I graduated high school, I started photographing weddings. I continued that for about seven years. Wow… Has it really been that long (laughs)? I enjoy going into homes and doing newborn shoots. I’m not into doing studio backdrops or things like that, but I love going into someone’s home and playing with and using what is already there. I love lifestyle photography. I also really enjoy styling and shooting product.
Have your kids become used to life in front of a camera?
Nicole: Yeah, I think so. And what I’ve learned with Small Fry is to be cooperative with the kids. If they don’t want to pose for our photos, then we don’t make them. We can photograph a shirt hanging on a hanger if our kids don’t want to put the shirt on and model it for us. We try to do it that way because we don’t want our kids to feel like they are just an object to be photographed and blogged about. But, to answer your question, since starting Small Fry, they definitely have become more used to being in front of a camera, but they have also learned how to be themselves in front of the camera, and that leads to better pictures and happy children.
Has your blog helped you appreciate your children more?
Nicole: Totally, and that’s one of the reasons we started it. We also wanted other mothers to come on the blog and find ways to just indulge in motherhood and childhood, but through that process of allowing other mothers to get ideas about motherhood, we have learned so much ourselves. So all that knowledge that we’ve learned through helping others has made our relationships with our children so much more enriching.
Do you have any family traditions?
Nicole: Finger painting has become something that we do regularly. It actually started as a Small Fry idea, and now Dash and Sunny love it so much. So now they just want to finger paint every day. So back to your last question, that’s one example of how the blog has helped my relationship with my children. What started out as an idea for the blog has now turned into a regular family activity that my children and I love to do together.
Why is it important for you to have traditions?
Nicole: My kids feel so comfortable when they know what to expect. It gives them this confidence and a feeling of belonging in my home; and more than anything, I want my children to feel like they belong here in my home.
So if you could teach your children one lesson during their time at home, what would that lesson be?
Nicole: I’ve been seeing a lot of news about bullying lately, and it would break my heart if I ever found out that my kids were bullies. I want my children to learn to be kind to everyone. Contrary to what a lot of others might believe, I think that kindness gets people so much further in life than pushiness or bossiness or rudeness, etc. And I know that if Sunny and Dash are kind, they will be so much happier and more successful than if they were rude and mean.
Maybe Dash’s obsession with superheroes will turn into a real life thing. You know, always sticking up for the underdog kind of thing?
Nicole: Oh, wouldn’t that be so cool? I agree. I think that Dash does learn a lot of good values from superheroes. I mean, sure, superheroes kick and punch, but they’re always kicking and punching the bad guys in order to help the good guys who get picked on. I guess Dash just needs to learn who the bad guys are (laughs). Sunny needs to start becoming obsessed with superheroes. He’s a little sassier and more demanding than Dash is (laughs).
Can you share any funny stories about your children?
Nicole: Sunny has this new scooter helmet that is polka-dotted and goofy, but he loves it. The other night he just did not want to take the helmet off, so he wore it to a church activity and everyone was like, “Since when did this kid start wearing a helmet everywhere?” Is that funny? Oh, that’s probably not funny to anyone except me (laughs). Oh shoot… That was so lame!
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to raising a happy family?
Nicole: Just the whole world outside. How else do I put that? The world is just crazy! Do you want me to get into stuff? Because I can get into stuff.
You can feel free to say whatever you think is a big obstacle.
Nicole: My family is dealing with a big obstacle right now because my husband is struggling with a drug addiction. So he is in rehab, and it is awful. We are learning firsthand that the world can be a very ugly place, and it is really hard to keep my family healthy and whole. That’s why I have such a passion to show my kids the beautiful parts of life and the world, because I know that one day they are probably going to see the ugly parts. I want them to understand that when they see those ugly parts that there are still beautiful parts that they can return to. So yeah, the world. That whole ugly part of it is just trying to stop families from being happy.
What is the biggest joy that you have found from trying to be a good mother?
Nicole: My capacity to love people has grown so much. When I first had Dash, I loved him so much. I had never loved anyone the same way. So when I was pregnant with Sunny, I was thinking, “How am I ever going to love this kid as much as I love Dash? There’s no more room!” And then when Sunny came my ability to love increased, and I had the same love for Sunny that I did for Dash. When I had kids, I experienced a type of love that I have never felt towards another person, and that has brought so much joy into my life.
*To hear more stories and see some AWESOME photography swing by Small Fry Blog!