The Good Life

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Of all of the places I thought I might move to, my home state of Nebraska was not on the list. As a photographer who thoroughly enjoys landscapes, and fell in love with the waterfalls and cool climate surrounding Portland, Oregon, I always expected to be as close to national parks, mountains, and the ocean as I could be. But circumstances change, and so do people, and this week Brian and I moved into a beautiful new home, smack-dab in the middle of the US, and about as far from the coast as we could put ourselves.

Those of you who know me or have followed my photography for the past several years might be aware that I tend to move around quite a bit. Since separating from the Navy ten years ago I have lived in six different homes in four different states, and during my eight+ years while serving in the Navy I averaged moving between states (and countries) every 1.5 years. Now, as a self-employed photographer, I am lucky that my job allows me mobility and the flexibility of not having to stay in any one location. It’s a blessing, but also a curse, because in many ways I fear that I will never be happy living in one place for too long. I’m hoping that this move grounds me enough to stick around for the long haul.

We chose to move to Nebraska because it’s not far from family. Fifteen-minutes, to be exact. It also has a much lower cost of living. And we chose to leave Portland for many reasons, the biggest being the cost. With my business and Brian’s full-time job we had no problem living in a beautiful home in a great location, but over time Brian became unhappy with his job and it was beginning to wear at him (and eventually at me). While we could have afforded to stay in Portland on my income alone, we would have been stretched it would have only replaced one stress for another. So together we made a leap and landed half-way across the country.

(I would encourage you to head over to Brian’s blog and read his thoughts on this move — click here to read his post.)

Overall a much lower cost of living and a life with less stress is going to be a welcome change, and we are so excited to be able to spend more time with family. But we’ll miss the beauty and quirkiness of Portland, as aesthetically it is a wonderful location to live as a landscape photographer. Nebraska will be a challenge photographically, but we expect to make up for that by traveling as often as possible.

I’ll miss my friends, the beauty of Oregon, and the benefits that a progressive city like Portland offers. However my day-to-day work will not change; in fact, I expect to have the time and freedom to expand and build my business even more. The things I photograph will likely shift to include more food and stock photography, and I also expect I will explore the small towns and landscapes surrounding the city. I’m looking forward to experiencing my home state in a way I never thought possible when I lived here nearly 20 years back.

This is a move I never thought I would make, especially after living on the West coast for so long. It’s also something I never thought I would want. I find it interesting how desires can change when you start to reassess your priorities. A productive, stress-free, and fulfilling life, both as a family and as business owners, is at the top of my list, and when that became clear was when we realized this move as a possibility.

We’re both very excited for this change, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.


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By | 2017-07-11T11:10:27+00:00 July 11th, 2017|36 Comments

About the Author:

My name is Nicole and I'm a photographer, author, & educator living in Portland, Oregon, USA. When I'm not making photos I'm writing books and tutorials for my online store, Learn more about me and my story here.

36 Comments

  1. Colby Brown July 11, 2017 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Happy for you both! Living in rural parts of the US is the “cool” thing to do now days ;) I now live in the Boonies of Eastern PA, about 1.5 hrs away from NYC and couldn’t be happier as I stare out of my office/studio window at the acres and acers of woods that are my back yard.

    You guys will find your peace :)

    • Nicole S. Young July 11, 2017 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Colby! It will be nice to “slow down” a little bit. We’re not completely rural, but not far from it. However we do have a large view of the sky off our back patio. :)

  2. Kenny July 11, 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Much luck Nicole. We are considering something similar so all those thoughts ring true.

  3. Rob Follett July 11, 2017 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Nice post, Nicole! Seems like solid,rational thought, Best of luck there!

  4. Peter Adams July 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Looking forward to seeing you both unfold this exciting new chapter.

  5. Dawn Hester July 11, 2017 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Congratulations and best of luck “getting to know your home state again”. You be surprised what our home states have and how much we took things for granted. Can’t wait to see how you capture Nebraska.

  6. Nicola Charlotte Stratford July 12, 2017 at 1:46 am - Reply

    Perhaps Nebraska will be become more progressive by virtue of people such as you and Brian having moved there? :-) Portland on the prairies?

    • Nicole S. Young July 12, 2017 at 5:43 am - Reply

      I think they are already calling this area the “Silicon Prairie” :) Nothing to do with us, of course ;)

  7. Carol Johnson July 12, 2017 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Best of wishes for both of you in this next segment of your journey through life.

  8. Stephen Uhlman July 12, 2017 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Hi, I follow both of you. Nice update and best of luck! My first thought is, You are in the perfect spot for next months total eclipse! (8/21/17).

    • Nicole S. Young July 12, 2017 at 5:44 am - Reply

      I know!!! We are already making our arrangements; we’ll be scouting for a location soon, too.

  9. James Brandon July 12, 2017 at 7:30 am - Reply

    Congrats on the move Nicole! I get asked often if it’s tough being a landscape photographer living in Fort Worth and the answer is “yes, absolutely.” It’s flat, super hot most of the year, not a mountain in sight. We could move somewhere beautiful easily enough, but 90% of both sides of our families are right here and over the years I’ve discovered that family is what matters most. We live in a very affordable place, our expenses are more than reasonable, and that allows us to travel. So essentially, we’re in the same boat and it’s worked out just great. Sure, I’d love to have waterfalls and beaches and mountains in my back yard, but not if it meant we’d only see our family once or twice a year. Excited for you both and hope to visit soon!

  10. Liana Lehua July 13, 2017 at 6:48 am - Reply

    Congrats to you and Brian! Home is where the heart is. :D

  11. Scott Stuart July 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Time to shoot that Cornhusker/Buckeyes game this fall!

    • Nicole S. Young July 14, 2017 at 8:18 am - Reply

      That would be awesome! :) And I just picked up a Fujifilm 100–400; if I found a way on the field at least I’ll have the right gear. ;)

  12. Marty Turner July 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    All the best on your move. But you will miss the coast/ocean. I grew up in St Louis, Mo. and then relocated and spent 30 years in Silicon Valley and now live in Sydney, Australia. I can tell you I’d not be able to cope with being land-locked ever again (albeit St Louis is at the confluence of three rivers; rivers are not even close to being next to the ocean). Good luck though; I know your and Brian’s photography will prevail!

    • Nicole S. Young July 14, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

      I grew up land-locked, and even while living in Portland we didn’t venture to the coast very frequently. I will miss it, but it won’t be too bad. Plus I’m sure we’ll be able to make our way to the coast as often as possible.

  13. ulrich tutsch July 14, 2017 at 9:31 am - Reply

    I grew up in the Alps, so mountains are in my blood. For 2 years we lived north of North Platte in the middle of nowhere. We heard to coyotes sing every night, which was rather beautiful, watched the tall grasses sway in the constant wind, and were amazed by the starry sky without any light pollution. Yes, there were some nice things to photograph, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the mountains of WA. I perfectly well understand that family is probably the most important part for relocation. Anyway,I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your latest exploits.

  14. John Mattson July 14, 2017 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Welcome back, there is a great deal to shoot here in NE. Check out the Platte and the sandhill cranes. I thought I would never be a “flat lander”, but it is a great place to live.

  15. Ron Hoeltge July 14, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Hello, and welcome back to The Middle. Like you, I traveled extensively both during and post-military, til I stumbled into my soul-mate and have settled back in the “hometown of my youth” near Kansas City for the last 28 years… quite literally the last place I thought I’d ever come back to again. Having spent a few years in Colorado, I miss being near the mountains, but we find ways to get there, especially now that we’re both semi-retired and can head out for a few weeks at a time in our tiny 4WC truck camper. Surprisingly, you’re now the second person I “know” to leave the Portland area in the last couple weeks… the other is an Army friend who gave up on it (he was in Sandy, OR) and headed east to make his new home in North Carolina.

    One gent I follow on Facebook is Eric Johnson, a photographer who’s also based in Lincoln. He has captured some rather spectacular landscape images from your state; you may wish to give his page a look both for inspiration and places to go shoot. You can find him at:

    https://www.facebook.com/ErikJohnsonPhotographyNE/

    In the interest of of possible collaboration, noted photog and ON1 contributing fellow Blake Rudis is based in Parkville, MO, just north of Kansas City, only a few hours away. Maybe you two can pair up for a feature or shoot. He’s currently taking reservations for a multi-day group shoot in Oregon… one of those featuring the pair of you might be a good fit for those really seeking to up their skills in the future.

    Best of luck to you and Brian. Life is where you make it happen… the folks who snark on “flyover country” usually have never set foot in our space, and often come away pleasantly surprised when they discover there actually is intelligent life here.

  16. sheldonboles July 14, 2017 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Best wishes in settling back in some familiar surroundings.

  17. Timothy Grady July 14, 2017 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Nebraska. Not bad. Wyoming, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, Chicago and even the Mighty Mississippi. All within a days drive (or so). Nothing wrong there. Not much ocean so you guys will need to hop a plane. Sounds like fun all around.

  18. Ron Lawrence July 14, 2017 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Lincoln is a nice big city and Nebraska is a fun state with salt of the earth type people. While not as photographic as Oregon, the change in type of people and attitudes must be refreshing.

  19. Stephanie Skiff July 14, 2017 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Nicole, good luck on your move and new adventure. It sounds like you guys are doing it for all of the right reasons. My mom and grandparents lived in Lincoln years and years ago. I heard stories about the area as a kid but I have never been there. I look forward to seeing it through your eyes. All the best going forward.

  20. Paula Porter July 14, 2017 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Enjoy being home! Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Colorado are easy drives from Lincoln and as a native Iowan, you are going to love the weather and wonderful opportunities! I wish you all the best!

  21. Michael Watts July 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Enjoy the fowl and the storms. A lot of people have no idea how lucky you are. And you still get the eclipse. Not that I don’t like Oregon…

  22. Louise July 14, 2017 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I wish you and Brian best of luck. Being an ex- military,Canadian Air Force,for 20 years I totally sympathize with the “moving on a regular basis” thing. I have been fallowing you and Brian for quite some times and I am learning a lot. We are also contemplating the same kind of move although in Quebec. Oh where does the future might take us all?😊

  23. Steve McIlree July 14, 2017 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Having been an avid landscape and wildlife photographer living in Nebraska for most of my life, I can tell you that once you adjust your outlook you will find plenty of opportunity without ever having to leave the state. As someone already mentioned here the sandhills crane migration can fill many a memory card. And the Sandhills themselves offer landforms you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

    Most people who only see Nebraska from Interstate 80 believe the state to be flat as a pancake, but once you get 20 miles out of the Platte flood plain you will find plenty at which to point your cameras, from unique landscapes to the nostalgic small towns that dot the back roads. Now that I have left there for southern New Mexico I envy you the discoveries which lie in store for you and you future photography.

  24. Faith Berven July 14, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Nicole, I know you and Brian are both photographers and just wanted to suggest if you are interested, you should contact Midwest Living Magazine. They are a regional magazine based in Des Moines, Ia. They hire a lot of free lance photographers. If you are interested, I can get you some contact information…

  25. Patricia Davidson July 14, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    I wish you and Brian all the best in your new move! Looking forward to seeing what’s next for you guys.

  26. Abrianna July 14, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Good for you. I wish we could move back to the midwest. Most people have no idea how nice it is to live there until they have done it. I am now in the deep south and dislike the climate intensely. Give me the furnace over the sauna any day!

  27. Brad July 16, 2017 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Welcome back to the heartland. It is true, life is just better here.
    -Brad, Topeka, Kansas

  28. Tom R. July 16, 2017 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Good for you both. While I am in Calif, my family is from Nebraska and we have lots still there that we miss (Grand Island). This will allow you to explore and discover many other places of inspiration. Your spirit of photography and the outdoors will fit you well wherever you are.

  29. Anthony Nunn July 17, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Welcome back to Nebraska! I came here (Omaha) in 1988 from my home state of Texas as a job move. Only planned to be here 3 years, well I have been retired 23 years and never went back. Hope everything works as well for you on your move. Perhaps you can do some workshops or something as nothing much going on here photographically .

  30. Marcia Geiger July 24, 2017 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    I am a native Nebraskan too, and have learned more about the geography of my state reading Nebraska Life, than when I was growing up there (I left when I was 19 in 1983). If you explore beyond Lancaster and Douglas counties, I think you will be surprised at the diverse country-side that the state has to offer, including waterfalls! I am glad the state welcome sign still touts “The Good Life”, and not the new slogan “It’s Nice”. And I hope they never spend a dime erecting a fancier one.

  31. A Woodcock July 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    My wife grew up just across the western line in Torrington Wyo and I fell in love with that country around Scott’s Bluff and beyond. There are a lot of stories to tell out there photographically and with all those savings you can travel more. Best of luck and looking forward to continuing to follow your life path.

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