Melissa Ann Photography bio picture
  • Hello!

    I believe that photos tell a story and hold on to special meaning that would otherwise be forgotten. Honestly, who knows where I'd be without my camera seeing as how I have a terrible memory anyway!

    This blog will house not only sneak peeks from my sessions, but I will also post personal things. I think it's important to share some personal moments so that my current clients can get to know me better, and my future clients will feel like they already know me.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and be sure to spread the word!


    National Association of Professional Child Photographers


    Professional Photographers of America

    7 Tips for Photo Sessions with Kids

    So, you’ve booked your first…or fifteenth family session. You have exactly 1 child under the age of 5, or you have 3 under the age of 5! Whatever your numbers and ages, the point is you’ve booked a photo session with high hopes of those magazine style images…

    Yep, let that sink in for a moment…did you just consider canceling your session? Well, now settle down, that’s just about as extreme as expecting those posh magazine images where everything is, well, staged. You know, like the pottery barn images where the playroom is larger than half of your house and the kids are not only fully dressed, but they also match and have their hair fixed. Just today one of my twins was running around in the backyard in undies and his collared shirt on backwards. Try as I might to convince him that it was  backwards and that he should consider pants, I was told that his shirt was not backwards and basically that pants are just not necessary (in his own words, of course). I digress, the point is the magazines are not reality, the kids may completely surprise you during your session with angelic behavior and perfect pose-able moments, hey, they may even wear pants, but it’s best to plan your session around the littles.

    It sounds a bit taxing and you may say, well, what does that involve, really?  Here’s the deal, I believe it’s similar to taking the kiddos out to eat at a nice restaurant. You do it sporadically, and you plan ahead. Below are some tips on making your session with young kiddos run smoothly:)

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    No matter how much planning you put into your session, expect the unexpected. Things are bound to go differently than anticipated. Embrace the crazy, embrace this special time of life with your children, and take a moment to step back and smile, savor the moments, play with them in that open field, let them feel how much you love them. After all, these little beings are only little for so long. They have a way of stealing our hearts every single day, let that shine through your family portraits! Let the crazy, most amazing moments live on!

    ~Melissa

    The Tinker Family

    This sweet family of four has increased by one since the last time I photographed them. Jacob certainly joined a family that is full of love and fun. He will no doubt have an endless supply of squeezers from his ever so awesome older brother and sister. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to photograph these guys again. I’ve said it before, there’s something so incredible about watching people you went to school with begin and continue to grow their families. I love that we can still be a part of their world:)

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    Enjoy, friends!

    With love,

    ~Melissa

    To The North Pole Of Course | Polar Express Party

    Shortly before Christmas I was perusing Pinterest and came across a few Polar Express activities and party ideas. It sounded like so much fun and I wanted to create a version for ourselves. I love things like this to help make holidays more festive.

    It began with the idea of having kiddos over in their pj’s, of course and offering hot cocoa as we read the book, then watched the movie. I wanted to also create tickets and a way for the kids to turn them in, however, I ended up running out of time and had to let that one go, at least for this year. My neighbors brought down the hot cocoa to serve with marshmallows:)We also enjoyed some cookies and popcorn.

    A few moments before the party began, I went to get something out of my closet and a bag of fake snow fell by my feet. Yes, I keep fake snow on hand for emergencies. Just kidding, I intended to use it for Christmas photo sessions, but never ended up pulling it out for them. Instead, I opened up two bags and started pouring it on my floor. Crazy, right?! Here’s the deal, it’s made of little bits of plastic and since my house is mostly tile it was so easy to clean up and ever so much fun!

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    A couple days before the party we were making paper snowflakes just for fun and I suddenly had the idea to hang them throughout the house. I sent messages to my neighbors inviting their kiddos to make snowflakes that we’d hang up, too. The result was fabulous! I think I will have to do this every year. After my husband returned home the night before the party, he joined in the snowflake making festivities with Drew and they hung the rest of them up for me. I came home to snowflakes everywhere!DeRidder-Polar Express-Party-PhotoDeRidder-Polar Express-Party-Photo

    We also had our snowballs for our indoor snowball fight. I bought the white pom poms at Hobby Lobby last year and on Christmas Eve we had a snowball fight. It was so fun and this was a perfect opportunity to do it again. I told each participant to grab a hand full and I set the timer for a few minutes. The fight continued until the timer went off and then everyone had to freeze. I gave them all a bonus minute and all the kids helped to clean it up before starting our story. DeRidder-Polar Express-Party-Photo

    We slowed down by reading our book and then went on to snacks and the movie. It was so fun, truly. I think I’ll have to do this party annually.

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    After a while the kids began to get antsy just sitting for the movie and they slowly started playing with the snow again. At first I tried to stop it, but then just let it go. They were having such fun and how often do you get to play with snow inside?

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    Overall, it was great. I think next year I’ll work on those tickets to pass out, too. The kiddos all left with a bell on a red ribbon as the first gift of Christmas and to hold on to the spirit of Christmas. The Polar Express is one of my favorite stories and they did a great job with the movie, too. Thanks to everyone who came and helped out. So, whose up for making more snowflakes for next year?:)

    ~Melissa

    The Pekala Family

    I met this fantastic family for their mini session and was so excited the moment they hopped out of the truck. These guys certainly were styling! Mom is just beautiful and her boots were fabulous, the boys looked like mini GQ models, and that little lady though not your typical girly-girl could have fooled me! It was a quick session, but yet another one that I kept saying, “Just one more shot, one more and you’re done” followed by me convincing them that I needed another. Joelle, you have a beautiful family. I’m looking forward to our next session with all the members:)

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    ~Melissa

     

    Artifact Uprising | Product Review

    I have three cameras including my phone. Well, there’s one more dslr, but I haven’t used it in years, and that’s neither here nor there. I use all three and two of them I use professionally for my work, but also for my own personal photos. Out of those three cameras I have thousands and thousands of photos…all stuck on the stupid machines! I just backed up my phone the other day, which somehow held almost 2,000…again. In the years since my business has grown and become successful, my own personal family photos have been pushed further and further down the list. In the last three years and out of probably tens of thousands of photos, I’ve printed perhaps 50? That may even be a stretch. It’s becoming a nagging feeling along with my fear of deleting any photo ever, I clearly have a problem. I made myself a promise to take some time each month to go through personal photos and do something with them. I want them to be seen and held. I want them off of my computer!

    Well, as if the photo gods had heard my silent plea for help, I came across an ad in the Click magazine the other day for a company called Artifact Uprising. It offered a free app in which you could load your smart phone photos and Instagram images to create a photo book starting at $16.99! Well, well, well, it’s like it was created just for me…except you can get it, too!!! Isn’t this exciting?! So, I tried it out. I decided to start a book using my Instagram photos only because the only thing I’ve ever done with those is create the sticky gram magnets. The book offered in the ad is a soft cover 5.5″x5.5″ book containing up to 40 pages. It was extremely easy to load my photos and the program walks you through each step beautifully. They have you first choose a cover and you can add text if you choose to do so. Then, you choose your photos, which they count and number the order for you as you tap. I quickly exceeded my 40 images and opted for the full 100 photos. I figured if I was finally doing this I was going to make it worth my while AND I was not going to worry about a theme or putting them in a special order, I just needed to print something…ANYTHING! After choosing your photos you are guided to organize them however you see fit. You simply tap a photo and drag it wherever you’d like it to sit. You’re then shown the whole order and you can make any changes necessary. I added my payment info, hit save for my future orders, and hit the purchase button.

    Well, that was so incredibly easy that I had to try out their prints, as well. For slightly over $20 you receive 25 5×5 prints of your choice. Follow the steps for ordering prints, tap your 25, and purchase! Choose your shipping method and you’re done! Amazing, right?! I was giddy I tell you!

    Well, I received my goodies within the last couple of days and thought I’d share my findings with you. The book arrived today and on the inside of the box was this lovely reminder. I think it is going to be my motto for this year. I desperately need new habits for my own photos. I thought it might get you moving, too!

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    So, here it is. My first soft cover book. They do offer hard cover books and other items, as well through their website if you’re interested.

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    Overall, the quality seems good. While it’s a softcover book, the paper is good quality. This company only uses recycled paper for all of their products and it’s not flimsy. I was very happy with the colors and the overall quality, especially since most of the photos are Instagram images. As you are choosing your photos for your book, you will occasionally get a notice about an image not having a high resolution and that it would need to be printed smaller. In that situation, I opted for the small photo which is shown on the left page of the book below. Most of the images that I had made into collages fell into this category. I was curious how it would print even if it were made smaller, but it looks great!

    Now, while these are not high end, professional level books in my opinion, I am pleasantly surprised with the quality, but more importantly, I’m so very happy to have something to hold in my hands! I have flipped through this sucker at least a dozen times already and I am so happy I ordered it. I ordered a second book from them today containing images from our last road trip.

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    The other product I ordered via the app was the prints. These I like, I’m glad to have them, but again they are not the high quality, professional prints I’m used to ordering. I had to remind myself several times that is not the purpose of these. Some images ordered were a little messed up. A couple of them the heads were cut off of the people and I don’t know if that was an error on my part, not paying attention to the cropping (I think I must have missed that completely if that was the issue) or if it was an error on their part. Overall, I’m pleased with the colors and quality of the images, especially the landscapes.

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    The paper used for these is also the recycled paper and it is quite thick. It feels to me like a heavy card stock and the image is printed directly onto it without any sort of finish to it. I like them, I will certainly order from them again in the future.

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    They also offer images on wood blocks via the app. I haven’t tried those, but perhaps that will be my next experiment:)So, there you go! Check them out and order something, anything, get those images off of your devices and like they said, “into your life.”

    ~Melissa

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