Interview with a photographer and web designer

Since she was a young girl, Nicole Avagliano has always loved taking photographs. She never dreamed that taking random photos of everything would lead to a career.

Nicole grew up in the suburbs of Western Sydney, where she attended public schools which allowed her to take photography as a subject in her high school years. “I took photography classes in High School which I learned more things I didn’t know.” After leaving Jamison High School in 2010, she kept at her photography, receiving praise from people who admired and loved her work. This led to Nicole thinking about her future and wanting to make a career out of her photo taking.

In recent times, Nicole has begun web designing. “I had wanted to make a portfolio for my photographs and looked around on free websites and just started designing.” Once she started, she couldn’t stop and web designing wasn’t enough. Nicole wanted to learn to make someone’s website by scratch/coding so she studied to do a Diploma of Web Development. From here Leigh’s Web Design was born.

Apart from an obvious interest and love in photography and, later, web design, Nicole loves being able to help others which both allow her to do. “Even if it was something as simple as taking a photograph of someone to see their smile, that when they saw the photo they instantly loved it, is a great feeling inside. With Web design, not only are you getting to help others and their companies, you get to become familiar with someone new and make friends which is always great,” Nicole tells me.

All photographers have a favourite style of photography and for Nicole it is landscape images. “I’ll take a quick snap of wherever I seem to be at the time whether it be because the sky has a few different colours in it or the place just looks lovely.”

In fact, Nicole’s favourite place to take photographs is at a place called The Entrance on the New South Wales Central Coast, a place she frequently holidays with her family. “Most of my landscape photographs are from there. I’ve spent a lot of time there since I was kid. They have amazing photography spots that are a must go-to”.  High places such as look-outs are also high on places Nicole likes to photograph from.

One of Nicole’s personal favourite from her many captured photographs is one she shot at the North Entrance Bridge. What draws Nicole, and many others that view the picture, are the cloud formations and the colours that are throughout the photograph. The light captured within the photograph is simply wow.

leighs photography.jpg

Nicole established her business Leigh’s Web Design in 2015. Initially, the web site was just for web and logo designs but given that Nicole is a talented photographer, photography services quickly became a part of the company. Since then, she has added GFX (Graphic) Design, Marketing Materials and Editing Videos/Photographs.

The first website that Nicole ever created was for State Steel Treatment- Abrasive Blasting and Protective Coating. “With it being my first official web design site I got to do, I had quite a few different drafts up quite quickly on how I wanted it to look, what we would put on it etc. When I went to show them what I had they loved it. We discussed some things we could add and what they wanted to add so we had to go over which photo’s to use,” Nicole says of the experience.

Another website that Nicole created was for All Things Mystical. The already had an outdated website     so required Nicole to revamp and redesign it. “The client wanted to keep to the same colours as what she had so once I had the drafts done I started redesigning it.” She got to fiddle around with a few things in order to make the website work and reflect the nature of the website. The end result was a company logo and tabs that looked like they were floating in the clouds.

For now, Nicole continues to create websites and capture special moments in time on camera as Leigh’s Web Design grows and is loving every moment of it. “I’ve met new people, found old friends and there’s nothing that would make me quit what I do now.”



Interview with A Florist

Do you remember what it was like for you to go out into the garden with your grandma and admire natures beauty? Do you remember picking flowers from this very garden and making them into a bouquet for your mother? Well for Holly Wright, aged 20, this memory led her to her passion and occupation- floristry.

Holly grew up in Newcastle and always loved being in the garden with her grandparents, helping out as much as she could. Her father also worked at a nursery for several years. So when it came time to decide what she wanted to do for school work experience, going to a florist was a no-brainer. She travelled to the New South Wales Central Coast to do work experience and instantly loved it. It is here that her future was decided. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with school,” Holly told me. Once she had completed Year 10, Holly decided to withdraw from school and pursue her passion for floristry. “I really like meeting new people and putting a smile on someone’s face. I also have listening ears and like making a difference in people’s lives, no matter how small”.

“I enrolled in TAFE for 2 years. I did Certificate II and Certificate III in floristry,” Certificate II meant that Holly could be an assistant to a florist and know the basics of being a florist, but this, of course, was not enough for the talented young lady. This led Holly to Certificate III where she would learn about floristry design and construction. During her time of study, Holly landed a position at Amaranthine Flowers in Charlestown, a suburb of Newcastle.

Floristry is more than about putting pretty flower pieces together. “With my job, it’s really hard which a lot of people don’t understand,” Holly says with a smile. I listen as she tells me just how physical the job is with a lot of lifting and cleaning. But it is all worth it at the end of the day to see the happiness on customers faces.

One of the pieces created by Holly

Many of the flower displays that Holly puts together for customers tells a story or means something to them. “It’s really special when people come in and get flowers that remind them of their grandma. Flowers make people happy and bring back memories or remind them of their favourite person”.  Interacting with customers frequently means that there are many stories to be had and flowers to reflect these. “Once you hear a story, you want to do something to go with it or highlight it,” Holly adds. She even tells me of her own memory with flowers. There is a particular flower that reminds her of a lady’s perfume from her very first time working at the store and of course flowers that remind her of her grandma.

Other than the busy occasion of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day where the team work together to create floral masterpieces, Holly really enjoys doing funeral work. “Doing a final tribute for someone is amazing and I like it to be special”. The first funeral piece that Holly ever created was for her grandfather when he passed away a few years ago. “I wanted to do something beautiful for him. I was very proud of it. We did wreaths and individual flowers. I used a lot of flowers that he had in his garden, a lot of natives. For me to do that as a last tribute was really special.”

With so many flowers out there, it is hard to choose just one as a favourite for someone who works with them every day. For Holly, her favourite flowers include Fresias, in particular the orange ones. She also enjoys Anemones which are an ocean flower. “Gum nuts are beautiful. Anything with texture or different colours I really like. It depends on what time of year it is as to what flowers I like. Sweet peas in Winter are beautiful, but they really only blossom well for three weeks”.

Sweet Peas

Whilst most florists prefer traditional, Holly finds herself with a more modern personality when it comes to flowers. She likes to do things a little different and a little unusual which is slowly becoming more popular. With modern arrangements, things can be done differently using lots of colours with greenery instead of masses of flowers. But of course a florist cannot always do what they like as it depends on the customer they are tailoring to. However, at Amaranthine Flowers they encourage each other to do their own style and express themselves how they wish, something which greatly inspires Holly.

One of Holly’s favourite modern pieces that she did was for a customer who mostly wanted greenery. “I loved it. It was so beautiful! It had lotus pods in it which grow to be absolutely gorgeous; gum nuts, viburnum and twisted willow. It looked incredible. That’s the first time I looked at something and went ‘that’s beautiful’”.

Modern displays can also be seen throughout the vibrant Amaranthine store. Displays are creative by using handbags, shoes and teacups. “It gives customers something beautiful but high impact that they don’t see every day,” Holly adds.

One of the shoe displays at Amaranthine

Holly is striving to improve in her work as the business she works for grows. Amaranthine have newly opened a second store in Blackbutt, ten minutes from their first store in Charlestown. And Holly herself has found improvement in her work in the last year. “I competed in the Sydney Royal Easter Show for Intaflora’s Rising Star.” Intaflora is a major relay network they use to send flowers interstate. “The feedback I got was so valuable to my work and has improved it majorly since last year.”

Holly Wright is a rare breed. Talented, smart, friendly and immensely creative. As her work as a florist continues, Holly stresses that although she works with flowers, she isn’t much of a gardener herself but she will see how her garden grows!

To view some of Holly’s flowers and to see more of ‘Amaranthine flowers by design’ visit their website:


Scrapbooking 101

Like most people, you probably have thousands of photographs laying around the house in boring old photo albums or on your digital device. There is of course nothing wrong with this but if you are wanting to make those special moments even more special, you might decide to venture into scrapbooking. Not only do scrapbooks show off the images, they add personal touches to the photos and tell a story.

So where does one begin scrapbooking?

Firstly you have to pick out the album that’s just right for you. The standard size for most scrapbooks are 8 inches by 8 inches, but you may decide to go for one larger or smaller depending on the occasion and how many photos you want on each page. Most scrap books come with 20 empty sleeves and space for extra fill-ins.

Now you’ve chosen the colour and size of your album, you need to choose the paper that you will use for the pages. Make sure these are the same size as the album but for a more effective look, also choose some a bit smaller to use as borders. Most art and craft shops sell books of cardstock at a reasonable price with many different colours, designs, textures and patterns. You can also buy individual cardstock but this is more costly in the long run.

The fun part begins where you get to choose the embellishments to dress your pages with. There are endless types of embellishments including: letters/numbers; paper flowers; butterflies; lace borders; diamantes; inspiring sayings and many more. There’s virtually an embellishment for every possible theme. The cost of embellishments is pretty cheap depending on where you source your items from. They also go a long way when scrapbooking and creating cards.

Aside from all the pretty stuff, you will also need to invest in practical things to. Double-sided tape is a must for making pictures ‘pop out’ of the page. ‘Snail’ or glue tape is also good for sticking photos down. You will also need good-quality scissors and a guillotine.

So now that you have everything, you can begin to scrapbook your beautiful pages. There is no wrong or right when it comes to scrapbooking; just let your creative mind do the work. Do, however, follow these simple tips to make your scrapbooking a success:

  • Lay-out your page: Make sure that before you permanently glue anything down, you lay down the images you wish to use and the embellishments  directly where you wish for them to be on the page. Stand back and look at the page from different angles. Are you happy with it?
  • Less is more: Don’t overcrowd a page with embellishments and take away from the image or images you want to shine.
  • Use cardstock to mount your pictures: Create a border for your salient image by using a colour and pattern of cardstock different to the background. This will make your page interesting and your photo stand-out more.
  • Use headings: Give a name to the page and the moment by using letter stickers anywhere on the page. Try to use various types of letters throughout the scrapbook to make the album interesting. Don’t be afraid to hand-write some headings on pages as well
  • Find your theme: Having a theme to each page or the whole album will help the scrapbook to tell a story about the events.

Congratulations, you are now ready to begin scrapbooking! Good luck!