Blog > Framing the Future: A Photographer’s First Year After College 

Framing the Future: A Photographer’s First Year After College 

Alumni Feature

CAT Professional Photography grad, Nikki Fosbery talks about her first year after graduation

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Professional Photography graduate, Nikki Fosbery. We have featured Nikki before, but since it’s been a little more than a year since Nikki graduated, we thought now might be a great time to do a deep dive and find out how life has unfolded for her. Check out our interview with her below! 

A Little Balance Goes a Long Way

Q: CAT programs are intensive, how did you “find your balance” again after graduation? 

A: I tried my best to stick to the same routine by creating time and space to reflect on the courses I had taken at CAT. I also did what I could to commit to editing photographs and taking photographs that I was passionate about, outside of work.  

There were other ways I maintained balance and kept myself on track. Things like setting an alarm in my phone to remind me that being successful also means checking my email! Looking at new and interesting ideas and techniques of other photographers is a part of my weekly routine. I’ve also reached out to a photographer that I felt would be inspiring and influential to how I want to build and shape my own career. We’ve got a portfolio building session coming up in the glacial mountains of Revelstoke possibly this July! I’m so excited!  

I’ve also kept all my notes from CAT classes in case I need a refresher of anything. Or perhaps I have a moment where I feel creatively stuck then I can look back at all the influential things I’ve written on the pages. Or the names of great photographers that I put in the back of my books when my instructors would introduce them in conversation or class.   

“We didn’t come this far to only come this far.” – Unknown

Q: What were some of your first career goals after graduation?   

A: Well, I knew that my career would continue to grow and unfold as long as I was actively working on it. Through my courses at CAT, I learned that my career would grow as I put my name out there, expanding with each passion year…and it is! Also, I committed to putting half of my earnings back into my business as part of my original business plan. And I’m happy to say I’ve stuck to that and now I have a wonderful kit to travel with so I can take my services anywhere! 

A couple embracing in a snow-covered forest, with the man kissing the woman's forehead and the woman in a red dress caressing her pregnant belly.

A shoulder to lean on is a gift few treasures surpass.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how your first year after graduation unfolded? (Opportunities, lessons, highlights, we want to hear it!) 

A: Staying connected with CAT after graduation definitely helped secure my success. CAT has had my back! I really value the job opportunity emails sent from Student Services; they truly are a gift! And Randal, definitely staying in touch with Randal and the SS team helped a lot! Randal is amazing to bounce ideas off of! 

One of the highlights of the year was having the opportunity to work with the I Am Woman publication. This opportunity came through word of mouth, and they’ve called me back again this year! In addition to that, they’ve also hired me to photograph for the Faces of the Okanagan issue! 

Being a YES person was my motto out of school as I feared what work would come (or wouldn’t come). So, I took it all. Getting out of my comfort zone. Reminding myself that I can do this was huge for me in my first year. There were a lot of pep talks to myself and my husband also played a huge role in my success that first year. He’d always be just a phone call away for a quick motivational chat.  

I also continue to remind myself to always walk with confidence. Your client may be just as uncomfortable as you are, and the best way through it is to smile and just have fun together! 

For actual work I’ve completed, I’ve had a handful of family sessions in my first year blossom into more family sessions and wedding sessions in the next. Also in my first year I took pictures of rocks and sand for a webpage. I wasn’t going to limit myself out of ANY opportunity.  

My advice? Be a YES person as jobs may turn into something so much more.  

Toddler girl in a floral skirt and white sweater clapping hands among yellow flowers in a grassy field.

“Work to live, don’t live to work.” – Unknown

Q: How are you managing work/life balance? 

Some nights I’m up until 1 or 2 am editing because I have a family and home to run, livestock to feed and demanding pets, so I have to slot work in when I can. One morning specifically I was thinking what’s that sound? Birds?! Oh my! The sun is coming up and that means my family will be up soon and my husband will be off to work. Better set the coffee pot and get a couple hours sleep. Sacrifice! …maybe I can get a nap later. Who am I kidding … I don’t nap. Even my dogs give up on me and go off to bed without me on an editing night. However, being my own boss means I can set my own schedule and take off any time I need.  

Week to week, being your own boss is always an adventure! One week can be tough where I’m reminding myself to take a coffee break or even eat, then the next can be leisurely. I do give myself timelines and deadlines to maintain a semblance of balance. Sometimes, I get so involved in my editing processes that time flies by and dinner is late. That happens a lot. Working on a hobby farm with 6 dogs, some Texas longhorns, ducks, chickens, sheep and a horse means I get my morning coffee and a chance to read my emails after they eat. Then I’m Running kids to school. Life is busy but rewarding. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

I’m not one to sit and watch tv. I’d rather be photographing life. Plants, pets, and sunsets. It nourishes my soul and energizes me. I need to create and capture. I thrive this way. 

Close-up of a young girl in black and white, wearing a plaid shirt, looking thoughtfully towards the camera.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch

Q: What are some of the lessons you gained from your time at CAT that you think about frequently now that you’ve graduated? 

A: I have my instructor’s voices on repeat in my mind with such phrases as:  

“Never leave home without your camera or you will miss your shot”. I never leave home without it. As the few times I have… I missed the shot! 

“Keep a scrapbook to collect future ideas and past work. Keep records of what has worked and what needs work.”  

“Carry a notebook with you to record your creative thoughts and ideas.”  

“Walk in with confidence. They hired you for a reason.” 

“Trust your work and stand by it.”  

“Emulating a work of art is the highest form of flattery.” 

“Photographers can work together and create great things. There’s no need to be in competition. We’re all unique.”  

Lastly, a few of my teachers said I would never see “light” the same way again. It’s true! Daily!  

A close-up of frost-covered plant stalks against a blurred blue background.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Q: Give us a recap of the type of jobs you’ve landed this past year and what’s on the horizon for you! 

A: This past year I’ve provided photography services for Sensisyusten Elementary, Westbank First Nation, and the BC Aboriginal Diabetes Conference- I love event photography.  

What’s coming up? I have a couple weddings coming up and a portfolio building session in the Revelstoke mountains with an influential photographer I’ve become connected with. I also am looking forward to a few upcoming family, baby and maternity sessions.  

I’ve also entered bids to photograph soccer players with OMHSA -100 Mile House Soccer Association as well as the graduation ceremony at Peter Skene Ogden High School in 100 Mile House.  

Lastly, I’m collaborating with a local ranch in the Cariboo and I’m now featured on their website for guests to book with while enjoying their stay on the ranch. I hope that much of this work will solidify my schedule for repeat clients next year! 

I look forward to how this year will unfold and am excited to see what next year brings. 

Thank you CAT! 

A woman with long black hair wearing a denim jacket smiles slightly, leaning against a wooden wall in a wooded area.

Thank you for sharing with us Nikki, we’re certainly behind you every step of the way and we can’t wait to see where your career takes you!  You can check out more of Nikki’s photography work on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.