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Fine art and portrait photographer Brandi Nicole knew from an early age that she wanted to be an artist. As a child, she was always painting and drawing- even on her bedroom walls- with her mom’s permission. But it wasn’t until high school that she discovered photography after taking a darkroom class and soon developed paying clientele as a junior, photographing her classmates’ senior portraits and teachers’ weddings.

It’s no surprise then, that Kansas City native graduated Cum Laude from the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelors of Science in Photography. It was during this time that she began exploring the work of portrait and fashion photographers she admired such as Annie Leibovitz and Patrick Demarchelier. An active member of the local ASMP chapter, Brandi voiced her interest in becoming a fashion photographer. “Well, you have to move to New York City,” she was told. And she did—”Four years ago, right after graduation I drove out with my father to NYC to move despite never visiting before. . . I have not looked back. . . .It was the best decision I ever made.” The excitement of moving to NYC overcame any fears she had, although in retrospect, Brandi says, “I probably should have been scared.”

© Brandi Nicole

Currently based in Brooklyn, Brandi’s style has evolved over the years and while she still does a lot of commercial work and weddings, she loves photographing people and considers herself, first and foremost, a fine art and portrait photographer. “I used to experiment a lot with my style, trying to find my voice and where I fit in the photography world. When you’re in school, you gravitate toward certain photographers for their style; what makes them recognizable. I started to think about who and what inspires me-- paintings, fashion, nature. . . and try to morph my photography to fit that aesthetic.”

© Brandi Nicole

Brandi has “honed in on a very feminine, whimsical style,” explaining that, “I feel that it speaks my truth. It represents ideals I believe in; embracing femininity, expressing inner beauty, and empowering the subject while also expressing myself creatively as an artist.”

Although she’s sometimes asked whether it’s limiting to stick to a certain style, Brandi feels that keeping with her aesthetic is “freeing.” She says “it’s much easier to plan out a shoot because I often know exactly how it’s going to look. I’ll see a prop in a store and I’m even more excited to create because I can pre-visualize what [the image] is going to look like.”

Brandi may go into a shoot prepared with different ideas, as she did recently with a ballerina. “But ultimately, when I’m in the studio, I’m getting inspiration from [the model’s] energy, how their outfits flow, the props they gravitate towards,” she says. “It’s very collaborative.”

Although she has worked totally solo and with large teams before, Nicole prefers to style her own shoots because it’s a challenge to find a team whose vision fits with hers. “I find people are more focused on being published in a magazine,” she explains, adding that, “My style is more whimsical and fine art; not editorial.” And, she adds, with a large team on set, “there are so many distractions that it’s sometimes hard to get really evocative moments.”

© Brandi Nicole
© Brandi Nicole

On any given day, you’ll find this creative photographer scouting locations, costumes and props. “I’m always on the lookout,” Brandi says, “If I’m in a store and a dress catches my eye and I think, ‘This will photograph gorgeous, I need to get it.’” But her shopping expeditions — which are often on a budget--are more creative than just buying something off the rack. “Two days ago, I went to buy a few yards of tulle to make a beautiful, long gown. I wound up in a dollar store and saw $2 sheer curtains, I bought them and MacGyvered a long, flowing gown for the shoot.” Combined with flowers from the local bodega and her collection of props, she was ready for her shoot.

While you can find just about anything you need in New York City, the one commodity that’s always challenging is space; Brandi shoots in her apartment’s tiny bedroom, living rooms, or rents a studio. Despite the small size of her home studio, it’s always there. “Usually when I get inspired I have to shoot right then. I once got gifted a ton of flowers from a wedding and spent the next day photographing self portraits for hours--changing makeup, props, and lighting.” (The images you see here were all captured in home studio set-ups.)

In addition to the Nikon D850, Nicole prefers to shoot with the NIKKOR 24-70 f/2.8, the 85m f/1.4D, and a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. A Fujifilm Instax Wide Instant camera is also never too far away, which allows her to grab quick prints of a shoot (and give a copy to the model). She often adds textures and grain to her images in post-processing.

© Brandi Nicole
© Brandi Nicole

For lighting, Brandi shoots with the compact Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit—a two head kit that’s ideal for the small spaces she shoots in. She discovered the ELB 500 TTL while looking for a lighting kit to use for a commercial shoot. Contracted for an ongoing job with a large tech company she was “tasked with photographing professional headshots and needed something I could easily carry from my apartment in Brooklyn to Manhattan.” The ELB 500 TTL fit the bill—the entire kit can fit in her Tenba backpack or in a wheeler bag with her computer, camera and lenses. “The kit is so small,” she says, “it blows my mind.” After that job, Brandi took some time to do some personal shoots with the ELB 500 and has been using it ever since. A 3-foot Rotalux Octa is her modifier of choice and she will usually attach one ELB 500 head to a boom arm for overhead lighting. “The ELB 500 is so small and light, sometimes you don’t even need a counterbalance—it’s not going anywhere,” says Brandi.





While compact size and portability were key to her decision (“Their size and weight was a major factor in purchasing the lights”), Brandi also appreciates the kit’s ease of use and the Skyport control to remotely change individual power settings. She usually shoots wide open so the ELB 500 is generally set to low power and are exceedingly fast with almost non-existent recycling time. Yet she pushed herself to do something a little different during a recent shoot by using the ELB 500 at full power to backlight a subject noting that “I can get a variety of different types of lighting with this one little kit.”

© Brandi Nicole
© Brandi Nicole

And the inspiration to go to new places with the ELB 500 TTL doesn’t stop there. Brandi hasn’t yet shot with the lights outdoors but given their portability and rugged build to protect the pack against the elements, she has a long list of photos that she would like to capture. “I’m dying to shoot a ballerina in a wooded area or a meadow—or even near the water—and these are perfect to take on location. I can even shoot self-portraits on location now which was never possible with other kits because they were too cumbersome.” But those self-portraits may have to wait; she’s currently planning her outdoor ballerina shoot.

To see more of Brandi Nicole’s work, go to:

Instagram: @brandinicolephoto

  • ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit

    $2,124.95More infoAdd to cart

    ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit


    The Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit is supplied with two flash heads. This kit is the ideal way to take full advantage of the ELB 500 TTL's fully asymmetric power distribution. Other features include High Speed Sync, Active Charging, and built-in Skyport compatibility.

    The Power and Performance of 500 ws in an incredibly portable package.

    The ELB 500 TTL is powerful enough to overpower the sun, delivers 400 full power flashes on a single charge and has a fast recycling time of 2 seconds at max power. All in a package that weighs just 8 Lbs including the battery and head.

    Add to cart

  • Rotalux Octabox 100 cm (39")

    $219.95More infoAdd to cart

    Rotalux Octabox 100 cm (39")


    This is the smallest Rotalux Octa.

    Very popular among beauty and fashion photographers, as they prefer the round catch light given by this softbox. It's a great folding beauty dish when removing the front and inner diffusers and adding one of the optional deflectors. The Elinchrom Rotalux 39" Mini Octa Softbox when used with the various Elinchrom speedring mounts, has a rotating ring that assists to provide exact angle positioning. This box, is easy to setup, uses durable snap fasteners to quickly attach the inner diffuser and provides a very beautiful soft light when used with the outer diffusion.The 39" (100 cm) Octa shape features a large surface area which renders a "wrap-around" light quality especially when used at close range. It is ideal portraiture.


    The 39" (100 cm) Octa shape is ideal for head-and-shoulders portraiture, as a hairlight for groups or for reflective products and glassware.

    Quick Setup, Breakdown

    Lightweight, dedicated speedrings utilize knurled, spring-action sockets to connect the 8 stainless rods which form the frame of the box.


    Fits assembled but de-tensioned in the included case, ready to set up again in seconds.

    Add to cart

  • Elinchrom Skyport Transmitter Pro for Nikon

    $249.95More infoAdd to cart

    Elinchrom Skyport Transmitter Pro for Nikon


    The Elinchrom Skyport Transmitter Pro for Nikon represents the latest evolution in Elinchrom's venerable wireless ecosystem. It combines compatibility with three generations of transceivers and flash heads with cutting edge features like Hi-Sync flash sync speeds up to 1/8000 sec two way visual feedback and TTL with Manual Lock.

    Two Way Visual Feedback Interface
    The large LCD display of the Skyport HS features two-way control via a Visual Feedback Interface that lets you see the exact power of every light in your setup right on the transmitter. The individual strobes show up automatically on the screen, and users can control each light's power level and modeling lamp settings directly from the Skyport transmitter or on the strobe itself, which instantly shows the updated power settings.

    Hi-Sync and HSS
    Go beyond the X-Sync of your camera with two different flash synchronisation technologies; Hi-Synch and HSS. Hi-Sync is optimised for power and while HSS is easier to use and more consistent. The Transmitter Pro uniquely integrates both Hi-Sync and HSS so photographers can simply access sync speeds up to 1/8000s to freeze motion, overpower the sun, darken backgrounds, or use a wider aperture for a shallow depth of field.

    Hi-Sync is only achievable with Hi-Sync enabled flash heads and the Transmitter Pro must be used in manual mode while HSS only works with TTL enabled units with the Transmitter pro in either manual or TTL mode.
    Note: both technologies may be used simultaneously when the Transmitter Pro is in manual mode. (ex. ELB 1200 with Hi-Sync + ELB 500 TTL with HSS)

    Impressive Wireless Range
    The Skyport Transmitter Pro has 20 channels and 4 groups that can be used for either Normal or Speed mode, and a wireless range of 656' outdoors and 196' indoors. Users can instantly distinguish what sync mode they are in since the backlit display glows green for normal sync mode, and red for speed sync mode.

    The Skyport Transmitter Pro is compatible with previous generations of Elinchrom flash units including the EL- Skyport Transceiver RX module for Style RX, Digital RX, and Ranger RX systems and the integrated EL-Skyport modules for the BRX, D-Lite RX, ELC Pro HD, and ELB series. The Skyport Transmitter Pro adds synchronization capability and two-way control functionality to all Elinchrom lights with EL-Skyport capability.

    User Updatable Firmware
    Designed to be a future proof, users can update the firmware of the Transmitter Pro via included mini usb cable. Current Skyport Plus HS owners can update to full Pro functionality via a free firmware update on

    Add to cart

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