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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