Nikki Sherouse-Smith is a Florida based photographer, mom to a teenager and a threenager, military spouse of 18 years, who has to up and move house every couple of years and start her family life and business in a new location each time. Nikki knows her stuff when it comes to organising her days and getting stuff done. So she was the natural choice to guide our first "Rock" course, "Get Your Sh*t Together".
We wanted to find out more about Nikki, so asked her a few questions. The answers might surprise you.
RPS: What is your most treasured image from your childhood?
Nikki: All of them, really! We have a lot of family photographs that are missing thanks to a hurricane that destroyed my father’s home several years ago. So, any time I come across a collection of photos that have been tucked away in my mother’s house, I get a little thrill (and then try to find a way to take them home with me, even though we’re really at our limit for what we can store and move).
Anything with one of my grandmothers in it holds a special place in my heart and I really
love finding photographs of myself with both of my brothers. Believe it or not, I even like
the photos from my awkward early-teen years—everyone needs to see where they’ve
been to know how far they’ve come! It was just a different time back then—no posing, life
as it comes, people developing their film and diligently putting the photographs into
albums, storing the negatives away so copies could be made. All of that is quickly
becoming a lost art.
RPS: What are your earliest memories of creating art/making photography?
Nikki: I remember getting a Polaroid camera for Christmas when I was 8 or 9 and I was SO excited about it, I blew through the film in about 10 minutes. There was something so thrilling about having the camera spit an image out immediately and I was so intoxicated, I took pictures of
everything. It’s likely that’s when the photography seed was planted, even though it took a
bit for it to take root and grow.
RPS: Why do you make documentary images?
Nikki: I feel very strongly about moms. Moms are the cornerstone of the family—working hard to make sure everything is running smoothly and making sure everyone is happy and healthy and making sure things are documented, most likely with the camera on her phone. They’re so busy being the bedrock of the home, they, either by circumstance or choice, aren’t in most of the photos and they deserve to be in the frame, too! One day, their kids will be grown with families of their own and those kids and grandkids will remember the times that their mom was participating with them and will treasure those photographs. And, really, they’re not just photographs to pass
down—photographs are a family’s legacy and they’re a visual roadmap to our history. For myself, I do it because my kids are only this age for a short amount of time and I love everything about watching them grow up. They’re comedians and clowns—these are the years my husband and I will look back on one day, and I want to be able to relive the moments as much as I can. So, essentially, I’m creating a roadmap for us to have one day, too.
RPS: We all have different strengths in the art & business of documentary family photography—what are yours?
Nikki: I honestly believe that my real strength, in photography and in life, is relatability. I’m not in the habit of pretending my life is something it’s not—what you see is what you get with me and I love keeping it real—the good, bad and messy—and, honestly, I don’t want to waste my time on trying to be perfect, or appear perfect. I want people to be comfortable with me and the best way I can do that is to live my life as it comes without worrying about what other people think.
RPS: If you could take any course in the Rock, Paper, Scissors programme which one would it be and why?
Nikki: On the flipside of my strength, I can honestly say that my weakness is Google Analytics and SEO. Jenna & Rachel’s class, Play the Google Game, would be wildly useful for me as I’m a fish out of water when it comes to those two things (it’s almost like a foreign language to me!). I also love anything funny and always look to find the humor in our daily lives, so I would love to take Anna-Liisa Nixon's crash course Dead Funny – Humor & Composition Among the Chaos.
RPS: What surprises people about you?
Nikki: I have a fairly naughty/wicked sense of humor. For some reason, people just don’t expect that from me, but once they hang out with me for a bit, they quickly realize it’s there.
RPS: What makes you laugh and how do you make others laugh?
Nikki: I’m an equal opportunity laugher. I love a razor-sharp wit, but my husband can also get me rolling with a crude joke.
And my kids are particularly funny—they’re constantly saying hilarious things.
RPS: Any party tricks we should know about?
Nikki: I’m told I tell good stories, as I’ve led a fairly odd
life. And, I can say the alphabet backwards in less than 5 seconds—usually in 3—and I have
no good reason why I know how to do it. I just do.
RPS: Cat, dog or neither?
Nikki: BOTH! All! I love animals. We move too often to have too many, otherwise, I’d have a farm. My furry family feels complete right now, though, with 2 dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Lab/Pointer mix, and 1 cat, a Maine Coon mix.
RPS: What would your dream superpower be and why?
Nikki:I love traveling and history, so I think the ability to Time Travel would be pretty cool! Practically speaking, I’d like some good, old-fashioned, x-ray vision so I’d never buy another bad avocado again.
Nikki is guiding RPS's first "Rock" course (the ones that help you sort your life out), all about getting balance in your life and organising your days to avoid distractions and achieve your goals. You can enrol to Get Your Sh*t Together here, but be quick, as enrolment closes this Wednesday, 9th August!
Enrol for Nikki's 4 week mentored workshop and be in with the chance to win a Semester Pass to the entire Fall/Winter 2017 Semester of workshops and crash courses at Rock Paper Scissors. More Information right here!