Featured Photographer: Melanie Nashan
November 7, 2011
Melanie Nashan has been shooting weddings for almost two decades and her passion for photography is what drives and motivates her. Melanie is really great at capturing emotion and portraying beauty in her work as you can see by the photos below. Her style is elegant and fresh and you can tell she wants each and every client of hers to have beautiful images to preserve the feeling and celebration of their special day.
Melanie and her associates are based out of Montana, California and Florida, though they travel to many destinations around the U.S. from Charleston to San Francisco but also throughout the world to shoot weddings. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful words and gorgeous images with us.
Take a look at some of Melanie’s beautiful images and to be inspired some more, visit her site!
How did you get started in Photography?
I always knew I wanted to be a photographer. As a young girl I flipped through the pages of National Geographic and imagined myself traveling the world and working for the publication. Instead, I have had the opportunity to travel the world photographing weddings.
I earned my BFA in photography from California State University Long Beach and moved to Montana where there are more cows than people. Not a great way to start a career in photography, but I started working with another photographer shooting weddings. She began to focus on more editorial work and I kept shooting weddings because I loved being a part of one of the most memorable days in people’s lives. That was over 20 years ago and I still am as passionate about my job as I was then. When people ask me what else would I like to do, I tell them this is what I love. Eventually when our children are no longer at home I would like to do more travel photography.
What has contributed to your success?
There are several things that have helped me be successful. First off I always tell everyone to pursue their passion because for me all I want to do is to take photographs. It is the skill that is intuitive to me and I believe that you can only be successful if you are spending your time doing what brings you joy. The next personal quality that is important is persistence. There are thousands of wedding photographers out there and the only way you can stand out is to be persistent with your vision.
When I talk about vision I am talking about your style and about where you want to bring your career. For me I wanted to published in magazines. So 10 years ago, for the first time ever, I submitted a wedding portfolio to Martha Stewart Weddings. As luck would have it, they were looking for a wedding that was shot in Montana so my original thought of it being difficult to make a go of wedding photography in Montana became one of the reasons I was chosen to be included in the publication. Two weeks after I submitted the portfolio, their photo editor called me and told me they would like to publish the wedding! It was the first time one of my images was going to be in a national publication and it was going to be a SIX-page spread!!! So from there, persistence came into play again and I started introducing myself to every other national wedding publication and have been published in many of them over the last decade.
Then another stroke of luck happened when PDN was publishing their first wedding issue in July 2003. Their editor called me and said they had chosen me as one of America’s top 15 wedding photographers and asked if it would be alright to be included in the publication! I have an incredible respect for PDN and couldn’t believe they were going to include me in their issue! When I asked the editor how they found me he couldn’t tell me exactly because he didn’t know. One of the editors had seen my web site and liked my work.
What is the most important thing for your continued success?
The most important thing for my continued success is to stay inspired. I constantly look at what my peers are doing and try to keep my work fresh. I think it takes years for you to develop a style and once your style is intuitive I think you have to make a concerted effort to keep things fresh.
I also think we do a very good job keeping our clients happy. The best advertising is word of mouth and many of my clients are referred to me by previous clients or vendors.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
The best photographic advice I ever received was from Neil Chapman, one of my professors of photography at CSULB. He told me I had to master my craft and learn how to replicate an outcome without having to think about it. He said once you have mastered your craft, you will develop your style. He was absolutely correct.
One of the best pieces of business advice came from my father. I grew up in a family-owned business and he always said your organizational system should be set up so that you are not reliant on any one person. If someone leaves the company another person should be able to step in and do their work without loosing much ground. Today I have how to’s written for almost everything we do in the office for that very reason. I can’t tell you how many times it has saved me.
What is most important in your photography?
Emotion and beauty. I love capturing the wide range of emotions people experience at their weddings in a beautiful way. Some of the venues I shoot at aren’t spectacular, and some couples aren’t models, but each of them wants to remember their wedding in the most beautiful light. I feel I do a very good depicting my clients in beautiful compositions that get to the essence of their emotions and celebration.
Read more about Nashan Photography at the blog or on Facebook. Plus, she will be teaching a Master Class at WPPI in Las Vegas on Feb. 21 titled “Weddings From Start to Finish,” which will cover everything you need to know to shoot a wedding. Check it out.