Shegstad 'captures Minnesota' and more

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kimberly Hickey
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Capturing images of children is the spark that drives her photography, said aspiring professional photographer, Tech. Sgt. Nicolette Shegstad, the formal training non-commissioned officer in charge, 934th Airlift Wing Training here.

Her interest in photography began when she was a little girl, but she didn't receive her first digital single-lens reflex camera until well into adulthood, as a gift from her husband, James, she said. James Shegstad, Nicolette's husband since March of 2004, recognized his wife needed a more sophisticated camera to keep up with her technical and creative abilities, he said.

"Nicolette was taking a lot of photos with a little camera that did have very good resolution, and she seemed to be looking for shots that had a proper background and natural framing," he said. "I knew she needed a better camera." James gave his wife a new DSLR for Mother's Day in 2010, and her abilities began to thrive.

"That's kind of where my interest totally took off, but for probably about the last six years, I've submitted photos of my daughter for online photography contests," she said. In 2009, Parents Magazine published a thumbnail photo she shot of her daughter, Haley, in a pumpkin patch. Shegstad admits she enjoys capturing images of children most.

"During the school year, I gave Haley's teacher a copy of a disc of pictures that I took during a field trip to a farm, and four of those pictures were published in the Forest View Elementary 2011-12 yearbook," she said.

Lisa Ramlet, Nicolette's friend of seven years, describes Shegstad as her 'go to photographer' when it comes to capturing images of her children. "Nicolette has taken many adorable photos of my children, " she said. "In addition, she has done full-blown photo shoots for me and my line of bridal gowns." Shegstad likes to push her talent in many directions, and admits she is always searching for online photography contests to enter. In October of 2011, she found the Capture Minnesota Project online and became a member. She submitted 30 photographs she had taken in Minnesota for the online contest, hoping at least one of her photos would be selected for an upcoming, hardbound book.

"There was a submission process that lasted from July of 2011 through February 1, 2012," she said. "Amateur and professional photographers could enter."

The Capture Minnesota Project is sponsored and presented by the Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. and Medica. According to the Capture Minnesota website, the goal of the project is to capture the best of Minnesota in a hardbound, fine art Capture Book(™).

On April 21, 2012, one of Shegstad's photos was published in the first Capture Minnesota Book. When she received news that her color photo, titled "Patriot Guard", was chosen for publication, Shegstad became overcome with emotion. "I cried when I got the email," she said. "I was very emotional." She attended the book release party and signed the newly published at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Edina, Minn., and, she hasn't stopped there. She continues to search for techniques to capture those special images and moments, and improve her skills.

"I have a Facebook page, just for my photography, but I haven't done a lot with it, and a friend of mine created a website," she said. Shegstad also decided to pursue an online degree in photography. " I enrolled in a correspondence photography course through the New York Institute of Photography," she said. "They recently started accepting the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so I signed up for their Professional Photography Course."

Her dream is to have her own photography studio. "My husband is in the process of looking for retail space to rent so I could possibly have a gallery to display and sell my photos. I'm nervous and excited about the thought." Shegstad also received word that there will be a second Capture Minnesota Capture Book published later this year, and she is already gathering photos she plans to enter. Now the questions is, will Shegstad Capture Minnesota twice?

For more information about the Capture Minnesota, you may visit the project's website at or visit the Capture Minnesota page on Facebook.