You don’t need a fancy digital camera to get a good photograph. It’s always nice to have a good camera but one of the biggest misconceptions is that you can’t take good photos with your smartphone. You can! Smartphones have come a LONG way in regards to photography, so master what you have. If it’s a digital camera, great. If it’s your phone, great! You can take beautiful photos with whatever you have access to.
As a part of my series about “5 Strategies To Take Stunning Photos” I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Koehler.
Melissa Koehler is a Small Business Strategist who is passionate about helping women build a business they can be proud of! What started as a career as a professional photographer has blossomed into the creation of several brands and businesses and a passion to teach others how to get started without feeling alone and overwhelmed. She has found the “easy button” for building a business with the creation of The Blush Pages, where entrepreneurs can join in community, find joy in running their business, and access the help and education they need to build an unstoppable brand. You can find her online at Here.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In high school, I took a photography class and fell in love. Admittedly, I wasn’t the best student that class had ever seen, but it introduced me to a love of art and I wanted to learn more. I took my grandfather’s Canon AE-1 and learned everything I could. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I decided to get serious and dove headfirst into a career as a photographer. As I was learning and practicing, I had friends ask me to take their photos and one thing led to another. I photographed a wedding and started second shooting for more seasoned photographers and with that, my business was born. I was a professional photographer for over ten years and had the pleasure of photographing incredible clients, including NFL football players and their families. It was my dream job and I never could have imagined then that my very first business would lead me to where I am today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I was hired to photograph an upscale wedding in Los Angeles at a really swanky, hip venue. This was about four years into my career as a photographer and I was both excited and nervous because this was one of the first times this particular venue was hosting a wedding. It was gorgeous. Decorated to the nines. A photographer’s dream, with stunning backdrops at every turn! After the ceremony and into the cocktail hour, I was documenting guests mingling and enjoying the event. As I was walking around, I noticed that one of the guests was an actor from one of my favorite shows, “The Office”! I was so star struck but didn’t want to seem like a crazy person, so I played it cool and quietly geeked out inside all night long. I’ll never forget that night and I am forever grateful that I didn’t make a fool of myself!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Looking back on it now it is really funny, but at the time I was mortified! I was a few months into my new business and was so excited to have a client book me at full price! I was building my portfolio and was photographing people at a discount to build up my experience, but this client was the first to pay retail price. I was so excited, and of course, nervous! When I got to the photoshoot location, I realized that I had only packed an older memory card that didn’t have much room on it. I had left all my other ones at home! Are you kidding me? I was freaking out inside but never let my client know. I played it off like I was really trying to master the shots and not overshoot things. One-shot, one kill. LOL. Moral of the story; always triple check your equipment before you head out the door. As stressful as it felt in the moment, it did help me become a more purposeful photographer with clients, so for that, I am very grateful. 🙂
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I took pride in the fact that I got to know each of my clients to a degree that made them feel comfortable to open up to me and relax in front of the camera. It’s amazing to have photos of yourself looking at the camera, but when someone can capture those ‘in-between’ moments… that’s where the magic happens.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Know your craft and don’t try to do it all. It’s easy to say yes to everything but you need to focus on what you love and learn to create boundaries. Discovering your ability to say no when it’s necessary will change your entire life. You simply can’t, nor should you, try to do everything and understanding that will help you continue to love your craft long into the future.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Yes! Audrey Woulard. I absolutely love her work and had the opportunity to be mentored by her when I was first starting out. She is incredibly talented and kind and I don’t think I would be where I am today without her photographic influence in my life.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, I am! Throughout my career as a photographer, I realized just how much I love helping women build successful businesses. It’s taken a few years, but I finally launched The Blush Pages that gives female entrepreneurs access to online education, community, and resources they need to grow their business. It’s been a huge passion project for me and I’m loving watching the success it has created for women already!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I hope that the memories I helped to capture allow families to remember the love they have for each other. Beyond that, my husband and I are able to give back to organizations that are near and dear to our hearts and it brings us so much joy to have that opportunity!
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.
- You don’t need a fancy digital camera to get a good photograph. It’s always nice to have a good camera but one of the biggest misconceptions is that you can’t take good photos with your smartphone. You can! Smartphones have come a LONG way in regards to photography, so master what you have. If it’s a digital camera, great. If it’s your phone, great! You can take beautiful photos with whatever you have access to.
- Find the best light. Light is one of the most important components of a good photograph. If you need to move around to get even lighting on your subject, don’t be afraid to do that. It’s the difference between a good photo and a really great photo.
- Focus. Make sure that your image is in focus. There’s nothing worse than a fantastic photo that is out of focus. Practice with your preferred device and really try to nail the focus.
- Background. Make sure your background isn’t distracting to your subject. Make sure that your background either compliments your subject or is a blank space. You don’t want people looking at your photo and wondering what the main subject matter is. Make sure your background adds to your subject, not takes away from it.
- Editing. There are tons of editing programs out there. I love to use Photoshop and Lightroom on my desktop when I use my digital camera. I use the free Lightroom app on my smartphone and use presets that I created to make editing images super easy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I simply want people to be kind and supportive of each other. We need more of this in the world. 🙂
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!