Photographers Who Inspire | Melissa Wells

We wrap up our 2012 Photographers Who Inspire series with an interview with Melissa Wells.  Melissa is truly a grass roots success story; she got in to photography just for fun and now has been successfully running her business for four years.  Please welcome, newborn photographer, Melissa Wells!


Who or what was your original inspiration when you started your business? Who inspires you now?

Besides of course my children :) Carrie Sandoval!! Before she was Baby as Art. Her work was and is still amazing but what really got me when I was first starting out and I was awful, she took the time to actually respond to my emails and help me out… little ole me. I would sit and stare at her images all night in awe!
Carrie still inspires me to this day but most recently the person who inspires me most is Kristen from SonKissed Photography. I have never met her in person but her work alone is just stunning and always perfect! I just love her and would really love to meet her! There is so much negativity is this industry but I have never heard one bad thing about her! She is so sweet and so willing to help and share!

What was the hardest part of starting your own business? What do you wish you would have known?

oh!! so many things! FIrst of all just learning the whole business side of things! It looks so easy.. just take pictures.. NO think again! So much more goes into taxes etc etc. Once I got all of that down it was so much better. I wish I would have know all of the rules before hand!

You specialize in photographing newborns. What has been the biggest challenge in capturing beautiful newborn images?

I think if I didn’t do this job I would want to be a labor and delivery nurse. There is something so special about being a part of the most special time in someones life! The start of your family… a new beginning and I am lucky enough to freeze that moment in time so my clients have that forever! How cool is that??
In my opinion everyone can’t photograph newborns! It takes so much time and patience! It really has to be perfect! There is no re do.. they are only a tiny newborn for so long!
The biggest challenge is making every session perfect! Making every baby look happy and peaceful. ALso I am big on making sure the babys face is showing and not squished up, and getting those fingers straight :)


Have you attended workshops in the past (which ones), and do you still attend workshops? Why are workshops so valuable?

I think attenting workshops are a great way to get hands on experience and see behind the scences. I think with newborns workshops and even more important! There is so much to learn about posing and keeping this little cuites safe at all times! I do think its very important to choose a workshop that fit you though! Someone you can continue to have a relationship with :)

I do offer one on one newborn mentoring! I think its a great way to learn!

What was your original gear and when did you start upgrading your equipment?

I am a Nikon girl, started with a D90, then a D700, and now have the new D800.
I would suggest a full frame camera… even if you are just starting out!! So many moms have DSLR’s now and you don’t want to show up at a session and the mom have the same camera you have.

Photoshop or Lightroom? Or both? How long does it take you to get your proofs to your clients?

Both! I use LR to import and export and also just to keep my photos organized. I do all editing in Photoshop though!
I tell my clients 2 weeks to view proofs.

How do you break the ice in the beginning of a session?

I try to make the parents as comfortable as possible in the studio then rock the baby into sleepyland and begin working.

How many photos do you typically take in a full session? How many do you edit, and do you ever show your un-edits to clients?

It depends if its just newborn or newborn and parent shots, when I do parent shots I shoot way more just to make sure I am covered and mom looks great! If I am shooting just a newborn I shoot around 100 images and show the parents around 30-35. and NO never show unedited to clients :)

Who helps you behind the scenes? Do you have an assistant or a famliy member?

I work solo! I hope one day to get an assistant :)

With the demand for digital images on the rise, do you offer them as part of your packages for your clients?

I do offer prints or digital files to clients!

How do you handle family and close friends who want to hire you? Do you offer any discounts?

Oh this was my biggest struggle for a while! I never had as many friends as I did when I became a photographer. I wanted to do all of my friends pictures for free or for discount but I quickly found out they weren’t my real friend : ( So now I have 3 friends that get pictures for free and that’s it. I have to set limits, otherwise people take advantage of me too much and no one wants to work for free!!

Name one person you would love to photograph.

Of course any celebrity’s newborn :) :)

What is on your “Bucket List”?

Mostly travel. I would love to spend a few weeks in Europe and also go to Hawaii.

Name two photographers you would like to see IMB interview.

As stated above Kristen from Sonkissed Photography and Carrie Sandoval.



I am 30 years old, married to the man of my dreams and have 3 amazing children. I started photography for fun, just to see and it quickly spiraled into more than I could have ever imagined! I have been in business for almost 4 years and I love every second of it! I feel like the luckiest girl alive to be living my dream!

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