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.

Jen  – (December 12, 2009 at 6:25 PM)  

You are such a talented photographer. We just had new pictures of my kids done this week, and while I love them, I don't want to replace the ones you took for me last year because you really captured who my kids are.

On a side note, we had LL lunch today, and your sisters sang the snuggie song for us that they made up, and Kim and I agree that snuggie means the same to us, so you are not crazy.

Melissa E Photography  – (December 12, 2009 at 6:56 PM)  

Thanks for backing me up, Jen! A snuggie is sibling torture method.. not a blanket. :)

Kyle and Lesley  – (December 13, 2009 at 6:58 AM)  

I love this post. I think every photographer goes through this, and I did just a few months ago. I think it's really important to shoot for yourself. The pics you posted are amazing and you can definitely tell when you are capturing something in way that is meaningful to you... because those images sing!


Katie Aldrich  – (December 17, 2009 at 8:54 AM)  

I love this, and I was just thinking the same thing about decorating my house. And I LOVE that picture of us, I just wish I had remembered to take my stupid shoes off! Is there such thing as a feet swap?:)

Geoff Steurer  – (December 18, 2009 at 8:27 PM)  

Melissa.... Thank you for listening to your own voice! What inspires me most about your work is that I know it's YOUR work! It comes from your hilarious and authentic self. You've inspired me to trust myself. I only check two photography blogs (yours and Tara's) because the photography is so real. Can't wait to see what you capture in 2010!

Holly O.  – (December 20, 2009 at 6:01 PM)  

You got it, woman! Thanks for this reminder.

hannah  – (December 21, 2009 at 9:50 AM)  

you are so fabulous, mel! I love your style. wish you lived closer. i'd hire you to shoot our family pictures with our newest addition.

Steve & Jenny  – (December 30, 2009 at 5:56 PM)  

I feel so honored to have made your post!! :) Don't worry - you will definitely have a lot of Preece business in 2010 and on. I love your style - seriously, you are such a gifted artist! Let's get together next week now that the holidays are almost over and real life will begin again. :/

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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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