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Conversations with Melissa Charles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Charles.

Hi Melissa, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I began shooting after my mother gifted me a camera Christmas of 06’. It was a Canon Rebel, light-weight and everything my 17-year-old self desired. I unpacked it and began shooting any and everything… family, my dog Louis, plants in our backyard. I was everywhere! My interest in photography led me to an artist space rental office in my hometown Lynn, MA. I inquired about what was available and its cost! $250/month later, this high school senior began running my her own photography business. I served my community up until 2015 where I closed shop for an opportunity to travel the country regularly. Although I wasn’t shooting full-time, my now upgraded camera was in my travel bag at all times!

It wasn’t until about seven years into my photography career when I discovered my happy place – thee happy place. The time I shot my first newborn (Baby Sade). After that session, I decided I was only going to spend my time shooting what made me smile most and that was human life at its earliest stage. In 2017, a few gear shifts later, I rebranded my business as a traveling newborn baby photographer serving the Maryland, Washington DC and Northern Virginia area. And what a journey it has been!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Reestablishing myself in a new city was most challenging. Like every new business, I had to quickly establish credibility and trust in order to achieve long-term success. I began by putting myself in the consumer’s shoes and asking questions like After giving birth, would I rather drive to a photographer’s studio or have the studio come to my home? Can I book the newborn session online? Do I have to bring props or does the photographer supply them? For hours, I thought like a new parent who had even the slightest interest in photographing their newborn. I wrote a list of what set me apart from the competition and I made sure that those differentiators were front and center when consumers were searching for newborn photography services. I rebranded with the intent that I would be the DMV’s newborn photographer that new parents desire to book with.

Then there was 2018 – the year I had my camera bag stolen from my car and my goodness was I heartbroken. Couldn’t count how many slow tears I released that day while I was in a bubble. I sat there wishing they’d just take my car and left my camera bag on the floor or somewhere (and yes, everything in my camera bag was worth more than my car at the time). Fortunately, it was hurdles like this which completely boosted my motivation and reminded me of my purpose.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
When photographing newborns, I aim to take the simplified and clean approach. I try not to over-prop or filter an image and allow just the newborn to be introduced to the world. Seeing my Google ratings stick at 5-stars review after review brings me satisfying joy. It reflects on my professionalism, artistry, and client service skills. While I emphasize my focus on delivering what is written on contract, there’s a transparent obligation I have with my clients and that’s providing an exciting and seamless experience from the start of inquiry to product delivery.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I truly wouldn’t still be shooting if I didn’t have such a phenomenal support group. My sisters – Ludgy and Fabiola, both of which have devoted their time and energy towards my business from their aid in scouting studio locations, assisting me hands-on during sessions to guiding me as I make important business decisions. My husband, Julius – his words of encouragement, hands-on support and after-session debriefs amount to so much. I credit for my parents, close friends, cheerleaders who have spoken highly of me along the way. WPE – International Awards and NPC – Newborn Photographer Community, LLC; two communities that I’ve been honored to be a member of.

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