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Bonjour! My name is Melissa and I'm a wedding and portrait photographer in the Pacific Northwest. This blog is where I want to tell you the beautiful stories of my clients, share their weddings, and give you a behind the scenes peek of this crazy business that I love. Grab a glass of champagne, snuggle up, and get lost in love stories... xoxo

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I wasn’t born to be perfect. I was born to be me.

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This post has been a long time coming. Every time I sat down to write it, the words never came. How can you even begin to explain an experience that you can’t even wrap your whole head around? But here it is, ready or not.

The last month has been NUTS. I’ve been a mess. I’ve dug deeper and pushed harder then I ever have before. I thought I was just going to reSTARt my business- little did I know, I would be restarting myself. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, reread the last few blog posts). I’ve cried more in the last few weeks then I have in the last few years. put together. times one thousand. But it’s not sad tears. They are tears of exhaustion, tears of joy, tears of frustration, tears of overcoming. I’ve been forced to take a step back and look at myself. Who am I? Do I like who I am? Where am I going with my life? Where do I WANT to go? These are SUPER tough questions to find answers to, and there has been many loads of laundry not folded because of it (yes, I am too busy self-reflecting to do menial chores).

My first day of reSTARt was crazy and surreal. It started with breakfast. Ya know, just chillin’ with J* and JD, eating oatmeal together like NBD. And seriously that’s how it was- we talked about family and life, and who stalked who’s blog more. It felt… normal. The rest of the day was spent pre-taping for the live broadcast and <cough> a surprise wedding consult <cough>. While I wasn’t prepared for THAT, I went into this whole experience ready to give it my all, show the scary cobwebs, and learn as much as I physically can. It was amazing, and to sit on a couch and look up and see my photography idol behind a lens photographing ME, well, there are no words.

photo credit: Jasmine Star

I felt ready for the first day of live taping. I met most of the audience members the night before, and felt like I was looking out amongst friends. I felt the permission to be myself. The whole morning was fabulous and I was learning so much, to the point where my brain might explode. And then after lunch, things came crashing down… <<insert favorite Finding Nemo quote: “Good feelings gone.” >>

THE PHOTO SHOOT. Shooting in front of thousands of people was terrifying. I was given 10 minutes to come up with one money shot, and my brain was frozen under pressure. I couldn’t visualize the posing I wanted, I couldn’t think of actions to give the models. I was barely holding myself together. And when my 10 minutes were up, I felt like a failure. I felt like I didn’t represent who I was and I certainly didn’t like my pictures. I was exhausted, like I had just ran a marathon. And all of a sudden the shear enormity of the realization that thousands of professionals (most of whom are possibly “better” then I am), just watched me TANK IT, weighed on my shoulders.

We regrouped on the couch to recap the day and then she asked the question. The dreaded question that no one wants to be asked when you’re on the verge of losing it…

“Melissa, how are you feeling?”

Then the flood gates opened. All of my fears of being a failure, my fear of not being good enough to do what I love, came out in big, fat, hot tears. Let me tell you, crying in front of thousands of people is embarrassing. But what happened after this blew my mind. ย People in the audience stood and talked about their struggles. I came home to 65 emails and FB messages of people POURING their hearts out. People who told me they cried with me, that they watched me struggle and were cheering me on. People told me they were holding my hand. I came home and cried my heart out as I read each message. I woke up to more messages and proceeded to cry more (for reals, I was/am a basket case). I have never felt so supported in my whole life. This has been an experience like none other, and I am so grateful for it. I’m grateful to be able to show ME in all of my imperfect glory, and learn from those imperfections.

My Mom raised me to never care what people thought of me. Of course, this resulted in crazy outfits, a half-shaved head, and an eyebrow piercing at one time or another. But it has also allowed me to dance in empty gyms, meet amazing people, and live life to it’s crazy-fullest. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Tune in toย CreativeLIVEย again on February 13th as we continue on this journey together.

comments +

  1. Kat

    February 1st, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I absolutely admire your honesty. It is so incredibly easy to just bs your way through life, through relationships, your work, anything really. It takes incredible guts, courage and strength to do what you did to put it all out there.

    You remind me a lot of the story J* told at last year’s creative live when she was beginning to start 2nd shooting and the principal photographer gave her 10 minutes to do portraits with the couple … upon which she froze and just went with “just dip her”. We’ve all been there where our brain just froze and we simply didn’t do our best. As much as it feels like you just want to crawl underneath a rock and never, ever come out [except for maybe some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy] … those of us who are serious continue to learn, to improve, to get back onto that horse until we actually ride that thing into the sunset.

    Bow boring would life be if there were no challenges. You embraced it and will come out a better & stronger person and photographer. I believe great things are in store for you.


  2. Julia Beckmann

    February 1st, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    So inspiring.. great post! Can’t wait for the next restart episode!

  3. Lyndsey Fagerlund

    February 1st, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    You are too funny-I didn’t feel at all like I was watching you tank it! ๐Ÿ™‚ But I would have felt the same way under that pressure! You just made me cry again reminding me of the tears I shed that day. I’ve been on quite the restart myself and it turns out the changes I’m making are working for my biz. I am a mom too and it is just so hard sometimes, but I’m determined to not give up! Thanks for being an inspiration!

  4. Berit

    February 1st, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Very sweet post- love it! It’s amazing how you are able to talk about these things so honestly!

  5. Whitney Lane

    February 1st, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I am so glad your pushing so hard and I think so many ppl relate to exactly how you feel. There is no way that I would have not teared up in your position and I doubt I would have gotten as beautiful of an image as you did under that pressure. Love you to bits and I’m so glad I get to share in this ReSTARt experience with you ๐Ÿ™‚ See ya later alligator

  6. Amber

    February 1st, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Great post! Thank you so much for sharing your struggles. I’ve been feeling so down about myself & my new business. You are an awesome inspiration! Thank you for being so open <3 I'm looking forward to Feb 13th ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Lia Stefanidis

    February 1st, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    “All of my fears of being a failure, my fear of not being good enough to do what I love, came out in big, fat, hot tears.”

    Oh my God! You speak the words I think. I watched you struggle with the shoot. Every step you took I thought of weddings past, the nervous feeling of what am I going to do next. How am I going to pose them. Did I get the shot? I often don’t want to see my pictures because I feel that I failed them and I failed me. Then they are happy and grateful for the memories I provided and a few months later I see my photos again and realize it wasn’t bad and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

    You are sweet and funny and have more guts than many of us who didn’t even try to be there fearing the what if….
    We are all cheering for you. You can show us it is possible. Hang in there.

  8. Candace Prokopets

    February 1st, 2013 at 6:55 pm


    I was one of those people who watched and wanted to cry for you. To scream, RUN! I was mortified for you. I cannot imagine how difficult the entire process must have been. The surprise client mtg to the 10 min photoshoot. I was overwhelmed just watching you.

    But even though my hurt broke for you, it was also filled with a tremendous amount of admiration as well. It took guts to do what you did. I honestly don’t think I could have handled it. And 99.9% of the people who were watching couldn’t either. You are a minority. Unique. Special.

    Great job! Keep it up! We’re watching…with smiles on our faces.


  9. Tina Wright

    February 1st, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    KUDOS to you, for putting yourself out there! and like so many have said above… Your honesty and your connection with “real folks”, like ME, is truly inspiring! I can’t wait for February 13th! Let’s keep climbing this mountain, ALL TOGETHER!! … ๐Ÿ™‚ …

  10. Cherree

    February 1st, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I LOVE your honesty Melissa! I haven’t had time to finish watching the whole first day yet, so I didn’t know that you cried until I read this, but I just CRIED haha… it feels so good that all this is happening, and the amount of awesome photographers out there willing to pat each other on the back and say “job well done” even when we don’t think we have!

  11. LeSha Brewer

    February 1st, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    This is so awesome! You are such an inspiration and I look forward to seeing you grow ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Tanja

    February 1st, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    You were incredibly brave to take on the challenge. I literally told my hubby I was glad I wasn’t chosen when I watched the episode, because of the live shooting. I can’t imagine what must have gone through you when you did it.
    Thank you so much for sharing and I can’t wait to see your further progress.

  13. Liesbeth Parlevliet

    February 2nd, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Melissa {{{BIG HUG}}}, I just watched this part this morning… I thought you were fantastic out there. You know, you don’t have to feel embarrassed at ALL. I think you were so brave, for doing what you did: being yourself. I admire you so much for doing that and I cried right along with you. Please be proud of what you did, and will be doing. You have all the reason to be very proud of yourself. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Jasmine Star

    February 2nd, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Lah-Lah-Love you!!!! SO proud of how far you’ve come! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Stephanie Dyane

    February 2nd, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I love it Melissa! I teared up just reading your blog post. You are so awesome and I just love who you are and what you stand for. You’re makin’ in happen. I can’t wait to see your work unfold in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Rhema Peterson

    February 3rd, 2013 at 8:42 am

    You are great! That is all ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Sabrina Fields

    February 3rd, 2013 at 9:57 am

    You are brave, you are talented, you are special, and so very beautiful… Inside and out. I know it didn’t feel like it, but you rocked that live shoot. Omg, I would have just fallen on my face and broken my camera! Thank you for being so real and so OPEN to this process. I’m so excited for where it’s taking all of us and I’m thankful you’re putting yourself out there and being real about what this process is like. Love you, girl. Can’t wait to hug your neck soon!!!

  18. Tresha Reed

    February 13th, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Melissa! EEKS! This is such a great post. Love watching your journey and so excited to see how all this deep down digging takes you! And by the way your imperfections are “PERFECT” you are perfectly imperfect!! You are so real and have so much passion and you are going to soar. I just love seeing you have the bravery to go through this metamorphisis (sp?) in front of the world. You are my new SUPER HERO and your growth is so exciting its making me giddy with glee;)


  19. Melanie

    February 14th, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I bawled with you!! Love how you are turning all this around. You are an inspiration to all us Moms with cameras. <3

  20. Rachel

    March 6th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Oh gee, I just cried reading this. I miss you.

  21. nancypantsgirl

    March 6th, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    You are so talented and have such a wonderful attitude and spirit. I’m so happy for you. ๐Ÿ™‚ You did great. I can’t imagine anyone feeling cool under those circumstances. I think you did fabulously.

  22. mara

    March 7th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Melissa, as a mom of three just living just over the bridge in Olympia, WA, I so loved following you on ReStart! I admired your honesty and it was so FUN watching how far your brand and business have come in three short months! Love the new site & blog and all the glitz and glam. Congrats, I am most happy for you. If you happen to have a referral for a family photographer we totally appreciate the recommendation!

  23. Khaled

    March 20th, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Oh MY Goodness!!INSPIRING!!INFLUENTIAL!!BRILLIANT!!A TRUE ARTIST!!I have to say I feel completely horneod and I am in aw. I get to witness someones journey through life, through their art. The words you wrote remind me why I am an artist in the first place. U make me look at portraits with more meaning and depth, and that they serve a bigger purpose than just the superficial. You show the true meaning in that moment. You are definitely one of m favorite photographers. Not only that, but one of my favorite artists. You are always one to watch! xoxoThank you! that I knew I always did feel about Photography.

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