Click Away…. (Post 1)

Look at me… about to get super wordy again.  Two blog posts in a row!! How do I sum up my 5 day experience at Click Away? It’s taken me a week to fully think through this experience and put it into words.  Finally, after years of growing, learning and working with the amazing women of Clickin Moms I came to meet the very same girls that I interact with on a daily basis.  We’ve shared more than photography – we share our lives and this forum is a safe place… a haven.  I was a bundle of nerves.  Leaving my babies in their first few weeks of school, handing my responsibilities over to, luckily, trusting and loving grandparents.  My husband was so very busy at work and was only able to help take on the chauffeuring, grooming, loving and feeding responsibilities sparatically.  To say I’m thankful for a family that will allow me to go off on an adventure with the peace of mind that the kids are ok, is an understatement.

So I show up at Click Away and immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY begin hugging people like we have met a million times in the past.  There’s simply a warm love between us that required zero ‘warming-up’.  It was a run and hug type of event that lasted through the entire five days in Salt Lake City.  I would eye someone that I ‘knew’ from across the room only to RUN and hug like long lost friends.  Multiple times per day.  I worked the registration desk – voluntarily – we had ‘staffing’ times, but when I was free I hurried to that desk as my own sort of mecca to chat, talk, interact and connect.  Connect I did.  I came home with new friends.  Most everyone was enormously friendly and opening.  I ate dinner with a new group of ladies every single evening and laughed until my sides hurt each evening.  I was even whisked away on a college-esque adventure the last evening.

Here are a couple of iPhone shots…

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I was also pushed.  Pushed out of my comfort zone, nudged, thrown… if you will.  I’m a teacher by nature, I’m comfortable speaking in front of people – but filming me… with visual proof to remember my every move… yikes.  I’m not going to lie I almost didn’t leave my hotel room on Thursday morning for the body wrenching fear I was experiencing.  The filming was coming and what if I have no idea what I’m doing…. what if I fall… what if no one shows… what if… what if… what the flip if…. I was scared.  I picked myself up – got dressed and headed out the door.  I did it.  I did not let my deep seated fear hold me back (with a few phone calls to my husband and mom in between).

Here are some images from my filmed sessions, “When the Golden Hour Isn’t Practical“.  (This is available for purchasing and watching by clicking the link!) We shot around the convention center  starting at 1:45pm in the afternoon.  Finding light that will work in mid-day sun is a challenge, for sure!  In true Melissa fashion, I was so busy chatting with the 50 participants following me around about the light that in some shots I, ahem, didn’t watch or warn my subjects that I was taking a shot all of the time ;).  My mind wasn’t 100% behind the camera like it is at a regular shoot (without an audience!) – my nerves wore off quickly, but my head was focused on the filming and the participants.  It was quite the juggling act.  I’m going to show all of these images with a brief explanation of what my ‘goal’ was with the light… but know these are far from ‘perfect’ or ideal;)

Below is an example of when I needed my stool that I always have… I would have been more above them and shooting down avoiding any bright light.  This is what I got while making it work at 5 feet 1 inches tall;) _MSP4281-Edit

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Ordinarily, there wouldn’t be 50 people in the reflection!!!_MSP4285-Edit

This shot, below, ended up as a happy accident.  Behind them is a wall – and I was showing how it wouldn’t work because their skin is so much darker than the wall.  Turns out, it acted much more like a bright window and I was able to completely blow out the background, isolating them! _MSP4286-Edit

I spy a member of the film crew!_MSP4292-Edit_MSP4298-Edit_MSP4305-Edit_MSP4300-Edit_MSP4308-Edit_MSP4311-Edit_MSP4312-Edit_MSP4318-Edit

Here is another example of a shot that I desperately needed my stool to get up above them and cut out the bright spots behind when using this small patch of light!_MSP4319-Edit_MSP4326-Edit_MSP4333-Edit_MSP4336-Edit

One of the big lessons I learned is that while I’m a photographer… I’m so much more of a ‘connector’.  I had a hard time shooting throughout this whole trip.  At first, I was so sad I wasn’t coming up with amazing images of the locations and people in the evening, during the golden hour, etc.  However, when I thought further, I was having an amazing time connecting, chatting, LAUGHING.  I photograph to show connections between people, but only when I am quiet and an observer.  I didn’t want to observe here, I wanted to connect.  And connect I did.  I made a LOT of time to take some posed selfies with amazing women!

I went on a selfie rampage during my ‘connecting’ and forced myself to take some shot with just some of the amazing women I had the opportunity to meet and chat with!

SELFIES

Oh… and I’m still not done.  In an effort to keep this short, I’ll wrap up for now!

September 25, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Jodi - These are great! I just watched your class last night and was so impressed with your poise. I don’t think I could have done that. I also love the realization you made about deciding to connect with others instead of focusing on observing and shooting. I can’t wait to read part two of your experience!

a new season…

Oh, this is going to get wordy… Some shifts have been taking place in my thinking, my photography, my family…  These words have been in my heart for some time and it’s time to be honest and share them.

Clients have been my primary focus for over 5 years now.  The journey has lead me to opportunities I didn’t know existed, allowed me to interact with dynamic and beautiful families while learning more about myself than I knew I could.  My business face has gone through changes, my focus has realigned a few times and, heck, my pricing even changed significantly since the summer of 2009.  Lately, I have been feeling a bit stagnant in my client photography journey.  What once set a fire in my heart is now leaving me feeling repetitive. I want my work to feel compelling and unique to each individual family- to tell your story.  I desperately need to do more with my photography, give you a better story through my images.  However, each of my quiet moments is overflowing with ‘to-do’ items and the time to sit, ponder and think about what that “more” is, is less and less as my children grow.  My family images are quite different than my client work and I’m working to find a way to makes the two interchangeable.  To put the heart that my family images contain into your images, as well.  To get to my new place, for the fall of 2014 at least, I will be taking a step back from photographing clients – for me and for you.  I will be focusing on some new areas, educating myself further, and daydreaming.  Predicting what this will lead to in 2015 is impossible, but hopefully I will be refreshed, excited and ready to shoot your family with a new focus.

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While I will be on a short break from new client sessions, I certainly won’t be quiet.  Finding teaching within the photography community has nestled into a loving place in my heart.  My background is in teaching and to combine that with photography makes my heart just about burst.  Showing a mom how to use her camera and watching as a light bulb shines for YOU is enough to make me show you more.  For you to photograph the daily adventures and growth of your babies is just as meaningful to me.  Providing a guide to shoot your children in a meaningful way and preserve your memories in your daily adventures feels so much more important to me, in this season, than one session of my images can provide.

What I will be doing this fall:
ONLINE COURSE: On Monday, November 24th the second run of my online photography class,Photographing Your Family’s Everyday, Extraordinary Day, and Everything in Between begins.  This class is the perfect opportunity to photograph your holiday season.  It couldn’t be planned for a better time of year!   Sign ups begin in October.

IN-PERSON TEACHING: I will be available for small group and/or individual “Learning Your Camera” workshops.  Contact me if you are interested for yourself or for a group of you and a few friends.  They are about 2 hours long – include a workbook and time for shooting – as well as access to ask me questions for a few weeks after the class is over.

PERSONAL PROJECTS: There are a few projects that have been put on hold or unshared throughout the last year.  I will be diving further into these with joy… printing out my final product of my letter project, continuing to shoot my kiddos art projects while creating more spaces to display their artwork throughout my home, returning to blogging more often, and shooting my everyday even more consistently.

VOLUNTEERING: I can be found at the local elementary school helping out;) This doesn’t help you, but I’m making it a priority!

With that said, if you were a newborn client within the last year, I will be taking 6 month and 1 year sessions for your sweet little one – how can I not peek in on their growth?!

Here are some highlights from our summer that I haven’t shared…

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letters to our daughters – may

This is my eighth month writing letters to Abby…
My wonderful friends and I  are writing letters — letters to express our love, talk through our struggles, and create a memory for our daughters.

Check out previous month’s letters

Please visit my friend, Sarah, next, and read her May letter to her sweet daughter


Time is moving at an alarming rate.  April and May have been so incredibly busy and I have found myself going through an entire day without sitting to just spend time with you.  That’s something I’m forcing from this day on – no matter how many projects I have going on, to just simply be with you.  This is your last week of preschool and I’m not quite sure how we are here already.  Your ‘final’ bulletin board went up outside your classroom, announcing your school for next year.  I got teared up and even telling Daddy about it, tears came to my eyes.  You are scared, you’ve told me.  You haven’t said it in those words, but you’ve mentioned that you’d rather not “learn to read” and to stay at school with your teachers and friends… there were a few tears involved.   However, it’s time for the next step.  Just a few short months away and you will begin Kindergarten.  A little fish in a big school.  I’m going to have to pull out my bravest face because I will most certainly be an emotional mama.  You are ready, sweetiepie.  Completely ready.

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May 14, 2014 - 2:45 am

Letters to my Daughter | May » Fresh Modern Photography - […] continue on to Melissa’s letter to her daughter, and all the way through the […]

May 15, 2014 - 9:07 am

Nancy LaCroix - My sweet Melissa, As I read this it brought back all my memories of getting ready to send you off to Kindergarten. As my tears flow I can tell you that it is not easy sending your first child out from under your wings. I know you feel that the world is scary out there and it can be but believe in yourself that you have done everything you can to prepare both of you for this moment. Yes, time goes fast but to watch them grow and become more than you could ever imagine is the best and most rewarding gift of all. I am extremely proud of you and your accomplishments! Abby and Owen couldn’t ask for a better mother. I watch you with them and can only say how proud I am of you. You my dear are a wonderful Mom!!
Love you baby,
Your Momma

May 16, 2014 - 6:52 am

Sue Stottmann - Melissa, I agree wholeheartedly with your mom! One thing I did with the boys (back when we all only took a few;-), was taking a picture of them on the way out the door their first day of kindergarten and the last day of school as a senior in high school! Enjoy every precious moment as you know, it will fly by! So proud of the job you and Ryan are doing raising such sweet kiddos!

May 31, 2014 - 6:00 pm

Sarah Vaughn - Sooo beautiful! I adore these images and your sentiments. My girl is the same age – what a big milestone it is. For your girl and for you.

September 16, 2014 - 7:34 am

Claudette Gross - Really love your letters Melissa… and your photos. It reminds me how fast is a way of living today and what we probably miss with our closest… thanks for sharing this inspiring content.

letters to our daughters – april

This is my seventh month writing letters to Abby…
My wonderful friends and I  are writing letters — letters to express our love, talk through our struggles, and create a memory for our daughters.

Check out previous month’s letters

Please visit my friend, Kellie, next, and read her April letter to her sweet daughter


Every single month you are growing and changing at an enormous rate.  This month, you have decided that you would like to dress yourself.  On Saturday morning you came rushing in, completely dressed, announcing that “TODAY IS A YELLOW DAY!”  The ‘pattern’ day was one of your more interesting ones, for sure.  You claim that you feel like “such a big girl” when you do this.

Slowly, you are becoming a kid instead of a small child.  There are many days that you sit on the couch and draw for hours.  The drawings are so incredibly intricate and every detail is just so.  My pens have been disappearing at an alarming rate and we have come across piles of them in your baskets.  Pen, marker, paint and glue are constantly covering your hands and there is typically some sort of color on your cheek or nose from a marker that got loose.

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April 9, 2014 - 4:53 pm

Kellie - Oh, she is a girl after my own heart! I often spent my days covered in paint/marker/glue/glitter. And, as an art teacher of kindergarteners and first graders, not much has changed…haha! She is so so sweet and I am sure that when she becomes a terrific artist someday she will cherish these images <3

April 10, 2014 - 11:56 am

caroline - Aw!!! She is so adorable! I love this series. I love the way her hair is blowing in the last image–so pretty!!

April 15, 2014 - 5:31 pm

Mickie - Awe such a sweet letter for a sweet girl! This age is so fun! I just adore that last image!

April 28, 2014 - 11:26 pm

Sarah Vaughn - Oh these are so precious. I just love how you capture your sweet girl and daily life. My Sofie loves art so much as well.