My Inspiration

A few years ago, when I decided to start taking my photography seriously, I started subscribing to every photography blog I stumbled upon. 6 months (and 120 subscriptions later), I was inundated with new ideas and inspiration on a daily basis.

My main goal was to please my client. If they liked funky, I could do funky. If they wanted backdrops and props, I was all over it. Because a happy client is always a good thing, right?

I wanted to shoot families in a classic, commercial Audrey Woulard style,

with Blue Lilly spunk and color pop,

and Tara Whitney charm.

Newborns were going to be shot like Baby as Art. Hanging from trees and squished up into little baskets.

I planned on taking the best parts from every photographer and squeezing them into the Melissa E brand--all while pleasing my clients' tastes.

You know what? I was wrong.

Instead of inspiring me, my giant list of "inspirations" made me second guess the most important part of being an artist--my instincts. I felt overwhelmed and my style became watered down.

I didn't realize that focusing on pleasing other people would lead to uninspired work. My work lost its soul, and my images didn't come from an honest place. And it showed. I got bored and burned out. I knew that in order for me to be happy as a photographer, something had to change.

The first thing I needed to change was my goal. Though I still wanted to please my clients, I only shot that which inspired me. I pushed, changed, and redirected until I felt myself swooning through my viewfinder. I started to trust my style and I trusted my heart. Though I realized this would alienate some clients, I started to be okay with that. It actually felt really good to say things like "if you love Walmart portraits, you're probably not going to like me." My work became more about the art and less about the money. Consequently, I started feeling inspired again.

Over the past year, I have approached my work differently. I realize now that the images I capture are a reflection of myself; that photography is (or should be) deeply personal.

Last week I deleted over 100 subscriptions from my reader.

From now on, it's me, my camera, my life as a wife and mom and my clients to inspire me.

And I can't wait.

The following pictures are personal to me. Obviously they tell a story about the subject, but what most people don't realize is that they tell a story about me too.

Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for letting me into your lives, and letting me be inspired by you and your family.

2010 is going to be a really great year.


Baby Preece (Durham Newborn Photographer)

I was able to take pics of sweet baby Matthew last weekend. He was only 2 1/2 days old. He was perfect, and Jenny rocked it. (To my future mommy clients... don't you dare cringe when I tell you I want a few shots of you with your baby. They always end up being my favorite shots!)


Foot-in-mouth (Durham Family Photographer)

Disclaimer: During our session I will most likely say something that either embarrasses you or embarrasses me. (Hey- don't judge. I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.) The good news is that the result almost always leads to genuine laughter which makes for great photos.

I told myself I wasn't going to edit today, but I uploaded these babies and couldn't help myself.
It's a good thing Cody and Marissa are my friends, because I made some really awesome jokes that embarrassed both of us. :)


What I saw today...


Shhhh! (Durham family photographer)

I am the worst secret keeper. The WORST! Every single time I have bought a present for Aaron that is supposed to be a surprise, I crack on day one.

Imagine my dismay when Kellie called me and explained that she wanted to kid nap her neices and nephew, do a photo shoot, and surprise her sister (Darcy) with the pics on Christmas. Christmas! Do you realize how far away that is?

Well, I loved the idea and we started planning. I figured I would be able to keep a secret for once in my life, since I had never met Darcy.

Guess who I sat next to during my book club last week? Guess who I chatted with for an hour? Darcy! Well, you know me and secret keeping. Every single thing we were talking about led to a conversation in my head about my impending top secret photo shoot.

"Oh, you lived in Germany?" (I bet you got some awesome pictures there. Speaking of pictures...)
"Don't you love living by your sister now?" (Well, I happen to know that your sister loves that you live here too.. in fact she just bought you a photosession-with ME!)

Man-oh-man I was a mess. But I didn't crack. Kellie I owe you one. I think I just had a breakthrough!

Also, I owe you for bringing these umbrellas.
The best jumping picture I have ever taken

Merry Christmas!
(And to all of you who know Darcy.. SSHHHHH! If I can keep a secret, you can too!)


The Hales (Cary Family Photographer)

I was able to shoot my first session in Cary, NC last weekend. It was BEAUTIFUL! As so was this family.

I love doing family pictures at clients' homes. I love it even more when they have beautiful yards!

I helped this little man snap a few pictures, and I think this one is so cute. Can't you tell how much his parents and grandparents love him?
Thanks guys!

Aaron is on Fall break this week (Can I get an hallelujah?) so we are taking a mini trip to DC. I will return E-mail when I get back next week. Have a good weekend!


Hello, Butner (North Carolina Family Photographer)

Today I was able to shoot some family pictures in Butner, NC. (Unfortunate name, pretty place!)

Chris and Sarah were some of the first people we met here. They made us feel right at home and helped us not feel like such nerdy Utahns. (Which is pretty remarkable, considering that is exactly who we are.)

Sarah, I told you I couldn't help but start working on these!


Giveaway! (Nominations needed)

Fact #1: Aaron and I are living the good 'ol grad school life. (Which means we have the privilege of living off of good 'ol grad school loans. blah.)

Fact #2: We really want to do something special for a family for Christmas this year.

Do you see how these facts work against each other?

Aaron and I have decided to give away a couple of sessions to some families who could not otherwise afford pictures. This includes a full session, a disk of the full resolution images, and a mounted enlargment.

This is where you come in.

I am hoping that some of you are aware of some families in need this year. As you know, we are new here. And I don't feel like I can find really deserving families all by my lonesome. We need some help!

I will be gathering nominations until November 1st. E-mail your stories to or list them in the comments. Please tell us about the nominated family, and why you feel like they are deserving of a free session. And we would really appreciate it if you could help us spread the word!

Nominees can be anywhere in North Carolina, Washington DC, Utah and some cities in Virginia.

Please e-mail me at if you have any questions. I can't WAIT to hear your stories.

Thank you!


Button Take Two

Oh, how I hate HTML. I could swear right now, but instead I think I will calmly make you aware of the fact that the button thing should be working now. (Thanks for the e-mails letting me know it was jacked up.)

Now if you'll excuse me.. I'm going to pound my head against the wall. :)



If you'd like to add my button go to page elements and add a gadget. Add the html/javascript gadget and copy the code below. Tada! Button added. Easy as pie.

melissa e photography

Thanks, and good day. :)


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All images by Melissa E Photography are protected under copyright law. Reproductions of any kind are strictly prohibited. Melissa E Photography reserves the right to use images for display, publication and promotional purposes of its business. All images remain the property of Melissa E Photography.

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