I am back, just like that itchy rash you can’t seem to get rid of. Back from a small hiatus that was the product of many things life decided to throw at me. I almost did not come back. I had a long list of reasons not to, but, in the end, they were not nearly as compelling as my list of reasons to continue. One of the reasons on my “give up the whole photography thing” list, was an insidious and destructive thing that I think that almost everyone has experienced at one time or another…..Doubt. Just your normal, run of the mill, “am I good enough?” self-doubt. The only way to overcome that doubt, is to find out who you really are, and whether that is someone you can be proud of. In the time I have taken off, I worked through that for myself.
Hi. I am Melodee, and I love photography. I did not go to school for photography, or study under an expert with years of experience. I am a girl that has always loved the idea of a camera and what it could do. I am a girl that was raised by a single mom, which meant money was tight. There were no fancy cameras in my growing up….but there was an old 110 camera…and then a Kodak disc camera….remember those? I organized a whole “fashion shoot” with two friends and that crappy disc camera. Then, when the disc camera was broken, and I could not afford a new one, there were countless disposable cameras…many of which never got developed. But there were many of them that did….and there were stacks and stacks of images….faces….friends….family…smiling…laughing…goofing around…..posing, and not posing. If there were pictures taken at Christmas or another get together, they were probably taken by me…with a little cardboard disposable, waiting for the light to tell me the flash was ready.
After my son was born, I took him back to Pennsylvania, to visit family. My grandfather, who was deep into his battle with Alzheimer’s, wanted to hold my son, who was eight months old at the time. I snapped away with my little disposable camera, knowing that this may be the only time I ever saw them together. It was getting dark, and the flash was not ready fast enough for all of the clicking I was doing, and I was sure that I would have nothing to show for it. When I got that film developed, there was a shot of my son and my grandfather, looking right into each others’ eyes. The only time they would ever do so. It was looking at that image that I really understood the power of photography.
When my daughter was born, we got a REAL camera! A fancy camera. A camera that DID things. You could control things! And it was digital! Instant gratification and no paying for developing film! Oooh, the power! I posed and posed and posed my newborn daughter. My images were…..well, not exactly fantastic. But then, I caught an image of my husband holding my daughter up in the air and smiling at her…and as soon as I saw it on the screen, I felt it again.
When I had pushed my semi-fancy Sony and my point and shoot to its limits, but was still craving more control, and wanted to take even better pictures, I was lucky enough to get my first DSLR. So exciting. That camera was in my hands non-stop. No person, or animal, or flower, or blade of grass, or pair of shoes was safe from its lens. I put more hours into that camera than I had devoted to anything in a long time. I read the manual, cover to cover. I scoured the internet for tutorials, and articles, and classes. I took pictures of anyone that would let me. I looked at photography blog after photography blog, sometimes until 4 am. Then, I found this website, and spent the night pouring over it. After working with the elderly, and losing both of my grandfathers, it immediately grabbed me. Very soon after that, my step father died, after being very ill for a long time. I heard my mother wishing that she had gotten some sort of images of him to have from their last year….images of their hands together….the details. I realized again how amazingly powerful an image can be. My mother and I started working together to provide photo sessions for people on hospice and their families. As I was doing this, I began to have people ask if I would take pictures of their kids or their family. I agreed, but made sure to caution them that it was just a hobby. About a zillion digital files, and a whole lot of encouragement later, I took my first paid session. That was over two years ago.
In those two years, I have had friends that have become clients, and clients that have become friends. I have photographed a baby crawling for the very first time, a first kiss as husband and wife, and a dad that had been deployed, meeting his baby girl for the first time. In the world of photography, I would be considered by some to be a just a MWAC….a Mom With A Camera, and that is considered to be a bad thing. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to prove myself as something more…..then I realized that there was no need to be more. I don’t need to be more than who I am. I do not choose to pick up my camera to get the approval of some photographers that may have taken a very different road to this business than I have. I pick up my camera because I love photography. I pick up my camera because I love seeing my clients enjoying the images we have taken in our sessions. And even with external hard drives full of images, I still come across images that take my breath away…and not because of my fancy camera or my knowledge of aperture and shutter speed….but because of the moment that was captured. (And holy crap, I hate using cheesy words like “capturing moments”…but sometimes there is just no other way to say it.) …and that is a rush like nothing else. It is what I love….and no crabby photographers…..and no self-doubt…and no meaningless acronyms, like MWAC….will ever change that for me again.
I am so thankful for all of the clients that have given this girl and her camera a chance to be a part of their story. Here are a few images of moments that remind me why I love what I do….