Pretty Fabulous at 40

I’m not a model.

I don’t even play one on Facebook. Normally, when the camera comes out, I tend to stiffen up and turn to stone. Despite my guilty pleasure of watching more seasons of America’s Next Top Model than I care to admit, I never seem to know how to stand, what to do with my hands or how to find the best angle for my face. And, I always forget to suck my stomach in until after I’ve already heard that fateful click. So, when the opportunity arose to experience a glAMOUR shoot with Micaela Malmi, I was both petrified and exhilarated. For weeks leading up to the shoot, I tried to counter my growing anxiety with visualization, picturing myself having fun and killing it, and literally giving myself mental “I can do this” pep talks.

I needn’t have worried. From the moment I stepped into the Lemongrass Salon & SPA, I was a model in the making. Makeup artist extraordinaire Sarah did unbelievable job of keeping my make up in line with who I really am – a woman whose idea of makeup is mascara and lip balm – while also making me camera ready. The colors she choose for me were so spot on, I couldn’t help but purchase the lipstick, which I have since found is perfect for both every day and dress up use.

Primped, primed and ready to go, I made my way over to Micaela’s gorgeous ocean view studio in Cardiff with a suitcase full of my favorite outfits. Soft, natural light was flooding in through arched windows, bouncing beautifully off the hard wood floors and expertly placed backdrops, illuminating the beautiful Amanda, whose shoot was already in progress. I was greeted with champagne, strawberries, and Pharell Williams tunes, and was instantly at ease.

Soon it was my turn. First up, Micaela wrapped me in chiffon and had me posing on a couch. Not what I had expected, but trusting her vision 100 percent, I relaxed into the moment and pretended I was looking at my husband, rather than the camera. Micaela gave me the perfect cues on how to work my body and my face without ever making me feel self-conscious. As Amanda and I alternated turns throughout the day, our looks varied from fun and flirty to sexy and sophisticated. I found out that modelling is hard work – I had more sore muscles after that photo shoot than after any of my yoga practices – but we had such a blast that I left feeling elated, alive and empowered in my own self.

When the photos arrived, I confess that my first viewing was with my hands partially covering my eyes and I’m sure that I was beet red. But as I looked at them again and again, I slowly felt my insecurities melting away, as I saw that Micaela had captured so many different sides of who I am. Now, I am blessed to have an amazing set of photos that I can use for professional profile pictures, for more casual social media posts, for future gifts from my husband (so glad I mustered the courage for that set of boudoir shots!) and just to remind myself that I was, indeed, pretty fabulous at 40.

Nikki Dean


Yoga Teacher~Mother~Manifestor

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When a photographer forgets to hire a photographer


A while back I put some images of my dream space for a natural light studio on my vision board. I wanted to find a space with lots of natural light, high ceilings and hardwood floors. In north county San Diego. Preferably in Encinitas or Cardiff. No, this is not Europe and it is hard to find anything even remotely like this in downtown San Diego, but I knew the power of a vision board.

Yesterday I had my official opening of my photography business Micaela Malmi Photography- Express Your Divine re|SOUL|ution and yes, it was in a space, very much exactly what I was looking for. In Cardiff. The oldest building in town to be exact. I am now fortunate enough to have an office in this building with access to an incredible room where I do my natural light portraits. Ah, the power of manifestation!

30+ amazing, inspiring and fabulous women came to my event that was catered by Healthy Creations, decorated with amazing flowers by Floral Design by Ari ,sponsored by  Suja juice and Lemongrass AVEDA concept Salon & SPA. It was such an incredible feeling to be surrounded by so many supportive and positive women.

I haven’t stood infront of people in years (since highschool) but decided to do a small presentation (thank you Kat Cowley, my promotional Guru) on; guess what theme? The Magic of photography and how it relates to real life as well as the power of the word Resolution, the word from which I created my tagline. I did manage to throw in some fun exercises and helped guide my audience to find their re|SOUL|ution; that ONE word that defines who they are and what drives them. It was both scary and exciting to stand infront of people WIHOUT my camera. So thrilling in fact, that I completely forgot to take any shots of the whole event ( I believe this has never happened since I became a photographer). Sigh.

In my presentation I talked a bit about how easy it is to get caught up in how many likes a post/image gets on FaceBook or on Instagram, but what really matters is real connection, moments shared with loved ones, friends or a stranger. When secrets are shared. That’s the magic of life- real interaction. So, I guess I will just have to walk my talk and give up the fact that there isn’t much captured, in photos, of this event.

October 19th was a big deal on so many levels. New Beginnings, dreams coming true and adventures unfolding. I finally, at age 36, am taking the leap to start something by myself. I have finally reached the point in my life where I have the courage to take the leap into the unknown, to believe in myself.

Although I don’t have many images to tell this story, I will remember it for a very long time; the official opening of my very own photography business that didn’t get photographed. It’s pretty funny actually. And a little sad. But mostly funny. And it reminded me of how important it is to document life’s big events, to exist in photographs. And I fell in love with my job all over again.

Deep gratitude to my Ultimate man, Josh Bonas, that has been there for me, Always. Coaching me, inspiring me and holding my hand.

Peace, Love & Magic


PS attached are a few shots by Amanda Kriebel that luckily snapped some images with her phone. Thank you darling!

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Turning a weakness into strength

All my life I have have been small. Short. Vertically challenged. Mini. Tiny. Call it whatever you want. I have had people come up to me in a crowd going -“OMG, you are SO SHORT, how tall are you?” or -“what’s wrong with you, why aren’t you taller?”, -“grow up”, -“didn’t your parents feed you when you were a kid?”. The fact is that I grew up in one of the richest countries in the word; Sweden and yes, my parents did feed me. It’s just that around age 11, I decided to stop eating. Or if I did eat, I immediately went and threw up. By the tender age of 12 I ended up in the hospital along with other kids that had mental problems (there wasn’t any eating disorder departments for anyone that young back then).

The road back to recovery was long and difficult, but my family was there for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better support system around me. Anyway, that isn’t what this blog is about, just some background to why I’m so darn short. I stopped growing around 11 years old. I’m 155cm if you need to know btw, that’s about 5 feet tall.

There isn’t really ANY advantages to be short. Concerts suck, random people often feel an urge to simply pick you up and swing you around, you need a pillow to sit on to drive most cars, clothes are not made for shorties like me. The only time I can thank the Universe for my size is when I travel as I fit everywhere and I always get the stinky eye when I can stretch my legs out all the way on an airplane. In coach.

But something magical happened yesterday; I was at the ClickAway Photo Conference in Salt Lake City watching Sue Bryce speak. Now, I have followed Sue for a couple of years and she has been one of the biggest inspirations and influences in my professional career. She’s my true north in photography and I was beside myself to see her in person. She was teaching posing and asked for volunteers. Now a person of my size typically isn’t ever a part of anything that has to do with modeling or posing but when I heard that she needed someone around 5 feet I raised my hand and for one of the VERY few times in my life, my height was to my advantage. I not only got to listen to her teach, I got to feel what it was like to be posed by the master poser herself. I have never learned so much in an hour and a half. Thank you Sue for including ALL women of ALL sizes!

Even though I was the compact-small example, I was somebody. And for the record, I do like to be called petite.

With Grace & Gratitude

~The Petite Swedish Vagabond~

I’m the little red one…..



Follow your Dreams

For centuries women have gathered in circles to share stories, wisdom and encouragement. Tia Walker, author, coach, speaker and business consultant wanted to bring that sense of community to a printed format. Walker teamed up with multitalented Ani Yufe, interior designer and executive director for Inspirique, to create more connectedness instead of competition, among ambitious professional female entrepreneurs.

Insperique is a new magazine that shares stories of inspiring and powerful business women in the San Diego area. The goal with the magazine is to create infinite possibilities for the community trough authenticity and real-life success stories . What a fabulous concept!

Ani called me up and asked if I was interested in contributing, and how can one say no to such an incredible opportunity? What an honor!

To be featured in Inspirique has truly showed me that I am on the right path and that I should keep following my dreams. I feel so incredibly fortunate to make a living doing what I absolutely LOVE to do- to empower women trough my photography!

I attended the soft launch party at the Marina Cortez this weekend. Such a beautiful evening with kind and interesting women who shared stories and genuinely connected.

I believe Tia and Ani have succeeded perfectly with Inspirique’s mission and wish the all the best on their new endeavor~

A special thank you to Laena Ray with the Liquid Lens Photography, who captured my portrait




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the Bare Truth


Have you ever had the feeling of “not being good enough”? From the moment we wake up we are literarily bombarded with ads in magazines, commercials on TV, in the media and in music that tells us what we should eat, how we should act and how we should look. Biologically we are wired to believe what we see is real but how does that work in a world of photoshop and digital body manipulation?

You might think that you aren’t effected by advertising but the truth is that we are on average exposed to 3000 ads a day. Yes, 3000 ads A DAY! They are impossible to ignore and the only way to get a way form the feeling of “I’m not skinny enough” and “I’m not pretty enough” is to have a healthy understanding of reality and how to relate to what are unreal measurements. Advertising is ALWAYS about money and/or control.

In todays society 98% of girls feel there is an immense pressure from external sources to look a certain way. Those numbers show that there is an outcry for help and education in this matter. The way we perceive our appearance and relate to our bodies can impact everything from our self-esteem to our relationships to the way we live and lead.

I photographed 10 lovely young women (see images below) from the incredible organization Heart of Leadership in San Diego earlier this year. The purpose was to show the girls how incredibly beautiful each and everyone of them are just the way they are. Without photoshopping. The images came out fantastic and will be displayed along with an essay from each girl on the topic of Body Image at the Heart of Leadership Speaker Series Event.

What: Interactive panel discussions addressing real teen-relevant body image topics for middle and high school women and the adults who support them.

When: Wednesday May 28th 6pm-8.30pm

Where:  the Great Hall, UC San Diego

Cost: $15 advanced purchase, $20 at the door For more info and registration please visit:

I invite you to join us in supporting wholehearted lives for  young women, where they can grow and thrive- Just the way they are.

In Grace & Gratitude


PS, I highly recommend Jean Kilbourne’s DVD “Killing us softly” and Jackson Katz’s DVD “Tough Guise; Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity” on the topic of the impacts of today’s media and the fabulous book “The gifts of imperfection” by Brené Brown.HOL_portraits_

A Reflective Re|SOUL|ution: Why Pride is Misleading

We hear the word “pride” and automatically retreat into our subtle shells.  No one wants to be considered vain in our society.  But a short visit to Webster’s Dictionary shows that vanity is defined as:  an excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements. Note the keyword here is excessive

A healthy dose of each PRIDE quality listed is actually necessary to embody a fulfilled sense of self – as a woman, and as anybody.

Compare it to “rain” versus “flood”.  One is healthy nourishment; the other is detrimental excess.  The same goes with the amount of PRIDE we possess.  Without a healthy dose of rain or PRIDE, our zest for life is sure to wilt. 

A thought to think on: How do we react when we see babies admire their reflection?  We think it is cute!  We even encourage them to keep doing it; complimenting them on how “pretty” or “handsome” they are.  When does this display of self-admiration take such a harsh paradoxical turn?  When women are in a shared bathroom now, we hardly even glance at the mirror – OR if we are looking at the mirror, the second we hear a stall open or another woman approach, we are heads down and out of there.  Somewhere along the line, it became socially unacceptable to be “caught” admiring your appearance.  We even call any piece of furniture containing a mirror, a “vanity”.  My my, the irony of it all.

What we’ve seen more than ever in this day and age is the need for healthy female role models.  And part of that healthy algorithm is a healthy dose of PRIDE in one’s self. 

How do you embody and portray your PRIDE?

When was the last time you strutted your stuff confidentially? When did you last pay yourself a genuine compliment? And when was the last time you looked in the mirror and admired yourself?

Those are questions every woman should ask herself.  And it is my mission to capture the PRIDE within each of you.  Before even stepping in front of a lens, I want you to answer those very questions. 

It’s time to shift our stigma on PRIDE. 

PRIDE is rain to the soul.  It is appreciation for your very creation.  It’s a celebration of originality, life, YOU! 

How will you share your PRIDE today?