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

    Vintage Girl – DeRidder | Local Business Feature

    Drive into downtown DeRidder and you’re greeted with small town shops and a few small restaurants. It’s easy to drive along on your way out of town and miss all there is to offer. However, as I drove down the road one day I saw a lovely store sitting across from Cecil’s and beside the now Mama Nena’s Bakery. I noticed it because it stood out, it was different than the other shops around the area. The door was framed with beautiful vintage pieces and I quickly glanced  in the windows as I was forced to drive past promising myself to stop in soon.

    I contacted Claudia, one of the owners, to ask if I could come in and photograph her store. I was inspired by the plethora of goodies that surrounded me. Beautiful pieces are literally everywhere when you walk in and they left me feeling awed. Seriously, why didn’t I think to do that to an old window? Or, perhaps I should begin collecting old doors. The store is stunning.

    I’m thankful that Claudia welcomed me into Vintage Girl and gave me a bit of her time to answer my questions. I’m sharing this with all of you, because you must see the place and pay her a visit! Claudia is one of the sweetest people I’ve met here and she will help you find the perfect cottage chic pieces to add to your home or the perfect accents to add to your wedding day. Vintage Girl not only provides items for sale, they also provide a rental option.  Read on to find out more about the Vintage Girl shop and it’s owners.

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    How long have you been in business? How many people make up your company?

    Vintage Girl is made of 4….3 lifelong friends, Beth, Nanette, and Claudia and Claudia’s mom, Mary. We have been selling to the lover of vintage for close to 20 years. When we began, we were either raising our young children or working full time, so we sold from co-ops and weekend shows.

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    Is this what you’ve always wanted to do? If not, what was your original plan?

    Up until January of 2013, we only dreamed and talked about the “day we might have our own shop”. February of 2013, God blessed us with the opportunity to see our dream become a reality in the old Irvine’s drugstore downtown DeRidder. With the opening of our own shop, Vintage Girl, we have also been able to offer vintage rentals for weddings and events as well as sell antiques and vintage items.

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    What do you like best about your job?

    I personally (Claudia) enjoy every aspect of running and owning our own shop….decorating and re-decorating; seeing what customers enjoy most about the shop and what they are searching for; and being a part of other’s special event or day with our rentals….all very rewarding.

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    If you weren’t a co-owner of Vintage Girl, what would you be doing?

    With 4 co-owners, the answer would vary I am sure….Beth sold a well-loved café before we opened up, Claudia took time off from teaching school, Mary is a retired office administrator, and Nanette continues to work full time for Representative James Armes.

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    What sets your shop apart from the others in town?

    Our sister shops in antiques have been very welcoming and encouraging to us. I think what makes us “specialized” would be our vintage wedding or event rentals. We have rented wedding items like peely-paint columns, old doors, arches, signs, and chandeliers for weddings in Lafayette, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Toledo Bend, Leesville, Many, and at many of our local venues as well. It is a blessing to meet these new friends and be a part of their special day!

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    Do you have any strange or funny stories in your years of experience?

    In the antique business, you don’t always know all the stories and history connected to your items you find, clean up, and learn to love before they go on to their new home and many times you don’t know where they even end up or what purpose or re-purpose they play in someone’s home. But a few times we have sold with other dealers to movie sets like the Brad Pitt movie in New Orleans and another time Hillary Swank shopped at a show we were selling from when she was making a movie nearby.

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    What services do you offer?

    Vintage Girl sells to the lover of “cottage chic”…. peely, chippy painted architecture, soft, well-loved paints and colors….garden flavored and cottage styled. We are pleased to also offer vintage rentals for weddings and events.

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    What has been the scariest/most difficult thing for you as a small business owner?

    With 4 of us, I am sure we have and had different fears about our venture and commitment to running our own business but I would think we all had the anxiety of being able to be successful enough to stay in business.

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    On a personal note: guilty pleasures?

    Guilty pleasures, hmmmmm……probably eating out would describe a weakness in all 4 of us!

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    Overall, Claudia and the other fabulous ladies of Vintage Girl wish to share their Mission, which states:

    We believe God loves you and your home. He as our Creator gives us a creative spirit and a nest to make our own. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity and making us each so special that you sent your beloved son, Jesus, to die and live for each of us.

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    I’m so thankful that Vintage Girl caught my eye while driving and that I had the chance to chat with one of the four owners. Each of the ladies has their own special touch that makes the whole business run beautifully. Be sure to check out their Facebook page to keep up with the latest goodies they have in the store or better yet, swing by and peruse everything in person. They are open every Thursday and Friday from 10-5 and Saturdays from 10-4.

    Happy shopping!

    ~Melissa

    Paul + Courtney | Wedding

    Planning a wedding is no simple task or any large event for that matter. It’s even more challenging when you live many states away! Paul and Courtney did just that all the way from Philadelphia, PA. They decided to marry at her father’s home in DeRidder; a lovely place settled on a beautiful piece of land. With the location decided upon, they depended on many of the details to be organized by Ashlee of Magnolia Life Events and it all came together fabulously. I met Paul and Courtney in person the Monday before their wedding. Instantly I felt completely comfortable with not only them, but the many family members and friends that were already present. We spent a bit of time discussing the schedule for their wedding day and also some of the special touches that they were adding to make the day more meaningful. Special things stood out throughout the whole wedding from the wine ceremony in place of the traditional unity candle or sand mixing to the memory table that held photographs of loved ones that will always be cherished, but sadly could not be present. The personalized touches continued with the wine bottles containing images of the bride and groom, their travels, and their friends that could be viewed during the cocktail hour beside the pool. Another fun aspect was the mason jars with chalkboard labels upon which guests could write their names and hold on to for the evening. One of the neatest things, however, was that the ceremony was officiated by Courtney’s mother. The big day was full of all the fabulous rituals of getting ready and sharing these moments with incredible friends and faithful family. Here is a small peek into Paul and Courtney’s wedding day.DeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-Photo

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    The incredible flowers were arranged compliments of America’s Finest Flowers.

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    DeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoDeRidder-Outdoor-Wedding-PhotoI’m so very honored to have been a part of your day and the start of your lives together. I wish y’all all the happiness complete with tons of laughter. Hugs, ~Melissa

    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

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