Featured Photographer: Amber Nichols

The Northland is picturesque and all the world knows because a small army of gifted photographers fill our social streams and local galleries with their art. We thought you’d like to get to know these intrepid early rising, cold-intolerant people through this occasional new series.

Our first is Amber Nichols of Amber’s Impressions Photography 

 Maybe Amber is drawn to outdoor photography because she grew up, for a time, off the grid. Or perhaps it’s that she interned for the local newspaper in high school, shooting pictures of fires and accidents. “It made sense because I was there. I was a volunteer firefighter at the age of 16,” says Amber. 

water leading to a stone bridge with backlighting
Stone Arch Bridge at Glensheen Mansion


Lines of light emanating from a figure on the frozen, rocky beach
Light Painting at Brighton Beach, Duluth

 But she also recalls the joy of taking photos on family activities and trips, and wanting to improve. That led to checking out local photography groups and within a year she was the admin of the Frozen Photographers on Facebook. “I tend to throw myself into things,” And stay in, that was eight years ago. Now she’s also actively involved with Destination Duluth (featured contributor), Duluth Superior Camera club (vice-president), and North Central Camera Club Council Convention (chairwoman) 

Woman jumping horse over colorful jump fence
Horse jumper, Serena Ferriere, during around 2021

“Joining photography clubs is when I started making the jump from light hobby  to, ‘oh I really enjoy this and maybe I could do more with it than I thought.’”  She explained that to “stamp your card” with Frozen Photographers, one has to go shoot in sub-zero temps. “Up to that point I hated winter, but after I dragged myself out, I found this passion for cold weather shooting.” 


Snowy rocks with water, lift bridge and light house in the distance at sunrise
Cold winter sunrise in Canal Park

Then Amber took community ed classes and made the crucial leap from shooting in auto to manual on her camera “It’s a whole new world.” And while it wasn’t easy, she had a goal: to shoot great shots at an upcoming family trip to Alaska.  This trip also propelled her love of shooting wildlife and landscapes.  

And the learning paid off. She put some of those photos online and, “Honestly, it was a real adrenaline rush to see people respond to my work.” That was 2014 and she hasn’t stopped taking photos or acquiring newer, better gear.  “Getting good lenses is expensive, but it gives sharp, clear and crisp shots.”   

lake with ice chucks with mountains in the distance
Results of Amber’s trip to Alaska

Now she’s branched out to photojournalism shooting for the Pine Knot paper in Cloquet, being an official photographer for dog sled races, Grandma’s Marathon, and Catalyst Film Festival. She also has photographed the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival and is a contributing photographer for their field guide.  She won second place with the Minnesota Newspaper Association for her coverage of the Beargrease Sled Dog Race in 2019. 

People cheering, arms up, for passing dog sled team
Award-winning dog sled photo


While having her work admired feels good, Amber says that photography fulfills her love of nature and people.  “My camera has shown what I really like for others to see,” which includes waterfalls, winter, the Sax Zim Bog, birds of prey and wildlife, night photography, light painting, and her daughter’s horse shows. This idea of impressions was the inspiration behind her business name, Amber’s Impressions Photography.

Great Grey Owl flying down dramatically in bare tree branches
Great Grey Owl of Sax Zim Bog
Waterfall in North woods
Goose Berry Falls

 And it seems we, her eager audience, all benefit from that love.  You can find her work on Facebook, Instagram, and she is completing the work on her new website where she will be selling prints. 


This blog was written and researched by Lucie Amundsen. Lucie is the communication director at the DECC. You can reach her at hello@decc.org