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Fabulous 40 Over 40!

Meet Nancy O’Brien

“You gotta meet my friend Nancy!!!”, Tina said excitingly! “She is a photographer and she would absolutely enjoy this experience with you!” Well, Tina, you referred to us one of the sweetest and professional ladies ever! Thank you for the intro and being a side-kick during Nancy’s photo experience! Nancy, you are such an inspiration, we absolutely love your story and what you shared below:
What is your background?
“I am true to the core Detroit girl! I lived in Detroit than the suburbs in a multi-generational house with lots of time spent at the family farm in West Virginia. I was and still am at heart a city girl who loves to can vegetables and dig in the dirt. Our school system provided choices not typically found in public schools in the 70s. With the car factories being some of the biggest employers, not many kids even considered college. But depending on the track, you took you could graduate and be prepared for several licensing positions from medical to childcare to cosmetology, mechanic, etc. I needed an extra class, so I ended up in photography in middle school. I always loved cameras, and it amazed me how they worked. Mrs. Duke was my English teacher, and she suggested I talk with her husband. So I did. Mr. Duke took this only girl (at least for the first round of classes) in his class and opened a world for me that I can’t imagine not being part of now. I still hear his advice while I am behind the camera. He taught me to tell a story without words. My first assignment was a “how-to” project where I had to teach how to raise and lower a flag on a flag pole in photos. As a side note, when I got my flagpole for my front yard a few years back, I repeated that assignment to see if I could!

I spent the rest of school in a dark room and shooting for the newspaper and other school functions. Mr. Bradford picked up where Mr. Duke left off, and although at the time I loved portraits and action shots, it was the landscapes and architecture that stole my heart and passion. I also still hear his advice in my head. I often wonder what they would have thought of the digital age of photography. I still love film and love to be in the darkroom. I saw myself continuing with architectural photography and doing landscapes and people for fun.

Then my family moved 900+ miles to South Georgia! My world turned all around, but I stepped in the school as one of the photographers so I continued to stay behind the camera. I got married, had three kids, and photography took the back seat. As the kids got older, I would do a little here and there as well as restoring old photos (which I still do and love). About 12 years ago, I was photographing nature for an upcoming Springtime Tallahassee event and was struck by the sunlight on a path; that vision has stayed with me even on the “cloudy” days of life.

I am single now, with seven grandsons, a growing business of 10+ years, and such joy with doing what I love. It’s hard, it’s frustrating at times, it’s long hours, it’s fun, it’s interesting, there is always something new to learn, but at the end of it all, it’s me. The tag line I use is what I feel God showed me on a walk so many years ago, and it has proven to be true for me many times over. “Sunlight may light your path, but God will always light the journey.”

If you could find the Old You, describe who that person is and what is important to her? “The old me? Oh boy! She was a person who did not believe in herself, and it was important, no matter the cost, to make sure she pleased everyone — a tough lesson to learn.”

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What are three words that define you now?

“Faith, Courage and Stubbornness. This year as I approach my 60s, I think it’s Faith, Courage, and Discipline, but the stubbornness in me seems to beat the discipline every time.”

What advice would you give to your eighteen-year-old self?

“To stay true to who you are. Don’t lose yourself but pause and think ‘outside the box'”

Who are the most influential and meaningful people in your life, and why?

“So many! I was blessed to have had strong working women in my life. My great grandmothers, grandmothers, and a mom who is still the strongest female I know. Grandfathers who showed me unconditional love and father who is still my best guy and my biggest fan. My teachers Mr. Duke and Mr. Bradford, for thinking this girl could make her life with her camera.”

What is your profession and your achievements that you would like to share?

“I am an Architectural and Real Estate Photographer. We captured over 1300 properties last year, and I ended the year as 11 out of 2600 photographers nationwide with one of the leading virtual tour companies.”

What are your hobbies and passions?

“Flowers, plants, and books!”

What message would you send to other women going through a major life change?

“Don’t think you can’t ask for help. This change will not define you, but it will be part of the journey, so don’t hide from it. Reach out when you need to. Being strong does not mean going it alone; it means having the courage and strength to allow someone to help.”

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What would you like your legacy to be?

“That I did the best I could and that what I capture today will ultimately be history tomorrow. I hope it inspires someone else along the way.”

What have you enjoyed most about your Fabulous 40 over 40 Experience?

“Getting in front of the camera. It took some time for me to relax, but the whole experience with Alena reminded me I like where I am and who I am. Bring on the 60s; the best is yet to come!”

Nancy, we enjoyed having you in the studio, and thank you for sharing your story! We love that you were able to see yourself from a different perspective and this is our hope for all women who participate that they will see their beauty that others already see!

Would you like to participate in our Fabulous 40 over 40 special promotion and have the opportunity to share your story? We would love for you to join us!! Click here to contact us!! Fabulous 40 over 40 Experience