When I was very young, I distinctly remember gazing out the window of our green Econoline van at the way the tips of the tall pines edging the highway tickled the clear blue sky. As the sunlight flickered across my face, I’d wonder if there was a way to capture the way this singular moment made me feel. Playing with my baby brother, I was awestruck at the way his pudgy cheeks would dimple and wish I could somehow tell someone, share it, express the way my heart seemed to explode every time he did something adorable. In my clumsy way, I’d try. I’d paint, draw, and sing, in celebration of the beauty that surrounded me.
As I grew, there were times I would stop in my tracks, agog at the way the light would fall onto the path in front of me, over the way someone would move their head a certain way and the shadows would settle into the delicate hollows of their cheek. I couldn’t begin to number the days I spent lying on my belly with my legs kicked up into the air, nose practically pressed between the pages of National Geographic and thinking to myself, I wonder how they do this magic? Because I certainly couldn’t figure out the knack of catching light landing on the edges of things with my little 110 camera.
It wasn’t until I found myself with my own baby on my hip that I discovered it is possible for someone like me to pick up a camera and capture those precious fleeting moments, and many more years still until I realized that I could embody my work with my own flair for making it impossible to miss feeling what I’m feeling when I’m seeing. And yes, it took many many hours to master my techniques with my camera, professional lenses and lighting equipment, I will tell you though, every bit of it has been worth it.
My name is Melissa, but most everyone calls me Mel, and I’m addicted to capturing the way people smile, the way they laugh, the way they tell me their story. I’m drawn to connections in light and shadow. There’s something particularly special about the way a parent holds their child in their arms and again some sort of secret in the way a child’s smile turns up at the corners and their eyes take on a glow when they’re looking at their parents. There’s an odd satisfaction when life, in all its messy glory, performs an act of art that is completely random and all at once beautiful.
For me, this will never be just a job, because it is a gift that goes beyond a single lifetime. It is us, captured the way we are in all of the minuscule ways that add up to make us who we are. I’m humbled when others share that little bit of themselves and their loved ones with me. When I work, I want my clients to feel free and uninhibited. And while it’s obvious I still have a passion for posing those brand new bundles of joy in my studio, I love to see people unposed and relaxed, because the magic happens in all those little moments between things when we aren’t thinking about anything but the soft, warm weight of the baby nestled in our arms, or our gut-bruising laughter while we swing our big kids around in circles.
And, much like the memories I have of sunny days spent cruising along with my mom and little brother in our beat up old Ford, it’s this rich backdrop of texture and detail that will stick with us, the experience of living. I wouldn’t want anybody to remember the pinch of their shoes or how uncomfortable they felt when trying, but failing, to hold still and falsely smiling for the camera while stuck in an itchy suit. No, way. I want everyone I spend time with to remember the fun of it, the sheer joy of playing and to know for always that the smiles we captured together are genuine. It’s the greatest gift I can give.