Shooting from the heart: Behind the photographer
The drive to create
To begin with, my mom and my dad’s father have always had an affinity for photography. My mom is a creative artist in every sense of the word and studied photojournalism as a teenager; my grandfather has always been the one we relied on to document family get-togethers. The artist gene is in my DNA. Beyond that, I have felt the drive to create all my life – and capturing heartfelt moments through photography allows me to create in the most personal and authentic way.
My mother had an old Pentax (or maybe it was Olympus?) film camera I grew up shooting with. I studied photojournalism in junior high and high school and loved learning how to develop film in a dark room – the smell of the dark room is something I will never forget! (Of course) I joined the yearbook staff as soon as I could and was responsible for taking pictures from the sidelines at football games and of senior superlatives.
I bought my first DSLR in 2005. It was a white Pentax K-x. I loved it – and thought it was really slick! I took pictures of every friend, family member and dog who would allow it. This is when I really started to learn all about natural light.
In 2009, I booked my first paying client and began shooting professionally.
In 2012, I upgraded to a Nikon D7000 and quickly added a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8. The window of opportunity further opened up. It was still a crop-sensor camera, but with the boost in quality and new glass, my images were on point. By this time, I had been working in Photoshop and Lightroom long enough that my editing had also come a long way. Shortly after I purchased the new camera and lenses, I had the (paid!) opportunity to take pictures at the Texas Stars Hockey Games – that was really cool! As time went on, I steadily grew my clientele and continued to cultivate my craft. I took advantage of countless Clickin Moms breakout sessions and was able to learn from some of my favorite photographers who seriously inspire me!
In 2015, I decided to go through yoga teacher training and became a certified yoga teacher. In addition to being a highly spiritual journey, it directly affected my work as a photographer. All of a sudden, I understood shape and movement of the human body so much better. I learned how to articulate and cue motion in a way that is very simple for my clients to understand. Moreover, I learned the importance of being present bringing mindfulness to every session. The positive effects of the training I received are priceless. It truly changed my life and the way I approach every challenge – opportunity.
A new perspective
In 2017, I knew I had maxed out with the crop-sensor camera. With 8 years of professional experience under my belt, I was creating the best images I could given my limitations. If I wanted to join the “big leagues” I needed to upgrade my gear. That led me to the Nikon D800. An incredible FX (full frame format) camera body that boasts 36.3 MP and incredible low-light performance (eeeeeek… nerd alert)! Of course I had to add some new glass. My first new lens was the Tamron 35mm f/1.8. This has been an amazing lens that I mostly use indoors, but works incredibly well outside as well. Not long after, I splurged – big time. I added an 85mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens (straight drool-worthy). It’s by far my favorite lens. It creates the creamiest backgrounds and produces a gorgeous bokeh. The images I take with this lens are the ones people love the most!
After I upgraded my gear, I was ready to kick my business into overdrive. I put everything I knew about marketing to work. I went through a total brand transformation. I had a new logo created and launched a completely redesigned website. I implemented a strategy and standards for social media marketing. I began using a really neat service (17Hats) to help me organize my business. But all of those things weren’t the biggest change – I changed the way I shoot entirely. I went from shooting the way I thought everyone else wanted me to shoot to the way I wanted to shoot. I switched from posed to prompted, from traditional to lifestyle photography. I shifted my perspective and now aim to capture heartfelt moments – human connection. And it has made all the difference. And it gives me all the feels.
I still consider myself in a business growth phase, and I am still humbled when a new client chooses me to tell their story through photographs. I have had several clients tell me that when they viewed the images we created, they saw something they never noticed before – they saw themselves or their family in a whole new light. I can’t put into words what that means to me.
Photography is my passion, a means of creation, my dreams coming to life in a tangible way and it is my hope that it will become my legacy – it’s my way of leaving the world a more beautiful place than I found it.
I love following your work!! You are a delight, my friend! ❤️
Mel you blow me away. There is nothing you won’t tackle and you always do a great job.
I’m proud of you and all that you do.