My parents always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. I love my parents but they wanted me to choose a career that would be sustainable like an accountant or a doctor. They would say “Melinda, choose something that makes you some money.” I began my college career as a Computer Science Major and after one class of C++, I realized this is not what I wanted to do with my life. So, I changed my major multiple times and landed on being an English major. But my parents’ words continued to haunt me...After four years of college, what would I do with an English degree? So I enrolled in a Master’s Program and decided to become a teacher.
One day, after I’d been teaching for 5 years, on a whim, I went out and bought a Canon DSLR camera, a Canon Rebel T3. It was the first DSLR camera I owned and I would go out and take pictures of anything that caught my eye. I was the Advisor for the School Newspaper and heavily involved in coaching sports. I would take pictures at different events, and even class pictures. The pictures I captured at the beginning of the school year and at the end of the school year were so different. Students who would stand absolutely straight with their hands down to their sides at the beginning of the year had their arms wrapped around their new best friends and funny faces at the end of the year. I would have these "feel good" moments when I would experience that with my students.
Exploring nature and taking photos wherever I happened to be was when I first realized I loved photography. Some of my very first photos were when I went on vacation to Puerto Rico. I was in Old San Juan near the old castles. I captured a picture of the shoreline overlooking the beach and took pictures from the top of El Yunque. It was on vacation in Puerto Rico that I discovered photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and when I discovered Instagram, I saw that there was a community of people who loved images as much as I did. I loved the idea of not having to write lengthy posts and being able to post a pic with or without a caption. A picture truly is worth a thousand words! And each image, like art, is open to interpretation by the viewer. It was magic. That’s when I knew I had to explore photography further. I owed it to myself. I signed up for a webinar and I was off!
After two weeks of diving into Jenna Kutcher’s marketing course, I booked my first gig. It was a Great Gatsby themed 40th birthday party. I was so excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time. I took photography seriously, and with no formal training, I’ve taught myself everything I know. From workshops to online tutorials, to books- I learned what was needed to get started as a photographer.
After the Great Gatsby Party, I delivered the photos and received positive feedback from my clients. “Wow,” I thought, “I can really do this!” I decided to throw all of my energy into nurturing this creative part of my life. I quit the Higher Education Leadership Doctoral Program I’d been enrolled in. I was ABD, All But Dissertation, but I truly felt that I’d finally found my calling. Whatever I wasn’t passionate about, I needed to let go. So, with the encouragement of close friends and family, I did, and I haven’t looked back.
I am a wedding and lifestyle photographer. I enjoy capturing joyous moments in people’s lives. I enjoy weddings the most, followed by portraits. I love to shoot people's emotions and give clients a glimpse of how I see them through my lens.
Photography is my passion and, at 34, I have finally figured that out! It’s never too late to pursue your dreams! As C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”