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Meet Melissa Montoya

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

Melissa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Ever since I was little, I loved taking photos. My maternal grandfather, who passed away before I was born, used photography as his creative outlet. My mom would always take photos and so there was always a camera around me. When I was in college, I wanted to study photography and work as a photographer but my family said it wasn’t a good idea as you couldn’t make a good living out of it. So I went ahead and studied business but I always took a camera with me on trips in college, and then I started taking photos of an influencer childhood friend of mine back when blogging was starting out. Then she and I started a photography side business. Her blogging career took off and I wanted to continue taking photos so I changed our studio name to my name, Melissa Montoya Photography. I was still doing this on the side but knew that the only way to really get as much as I can get out of it, I needed to put as much as I could in. So I took the leap and went full time back in Sept 2018. It took a lot of years to finally have the courage to dedicate myself fully to it, you always have doubts that you will make it or if people will even like your work! Today I am a full-time lifestyle and wedding photographer. I feel photography is something you will never master, you continue to learn the craft. I think that is what makes it so special and keeps you hooked!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No road is smooth, I don’t think. In any career you pursue, you will encounter some obstacles or challenges that will inevitably teach you a lesson. You don’t become a full-time successful photographer overnight. You have to have patience and really be dedicated. People always think that when you work for yourself, you have all the time in the world and are free to do what you want, whenever you want. This might be true, but that won’t make you successful. My workdays are usually on weekends and sunset, so I had to be ok with giving up on social obligations. Now I am not saying that you have to be all work and no play, you must find a balance. This was something I still continue to learn because when it’s wedding season, you barely can come up for air and you have to be able to set some boundaries for yourself and mental self.

Once you experience it full time for a bit, you start to see what kind of work you really want to attract and what kind of work isn’t worth bending over backward. I have learned that I love focusing and shooting lifestyle and weddings. I like to interact with people and help them communicate their story visually. I think what sets me apart from others is my ability to connect with my clients and be able to channel that inner confidence that we all have. It takes special attention to bring out that vulnerable and side in someone. No matter how technical and great you are at working your camera, you have to be gifted at being able to establish that human connection with your subject.

Melissa Montoya Photography – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am lifestyle and wedding photographer. I love telling people’s story visually. I love creating images that have an emotional impact. Photography is more than just pushing a button. I feel that is what sets me apart. I am able to tap into people’s inner story and create a safe and comfortable environment is important for your subject to feel confident and trust you enough to bring it out of them is the art of photography. I call this the photo metamorphosis. I even give it a name, as some people do to their alter ego when I am able to channel and harness the person’s true personality. This helps to propel it even more and they get fully into character. It’s like when you are running track, the last lap of the race, and the spectators cheer you on, you somehow get a burst of energy that comes from deep inside you. I am here to cheer you on!

I also love the editing process as well! It’s my way of attempting to recreate the experience of the session. I would describe my aesthetic as moody but emotionally lit. Like the Maya Angelou quote that says you will never forget how people made you feel, that’s the impact that I want my images to have on people. When you see them, either for the first time or you are revisiting them, whether you are the subject or not, I want you to feel something. I want them to impact you in an emotional way. And your reaction to them might change, because you might be in a different state of mind. That’s what’s beautiful about photography, the photos stay the same, but the way you react to the changes or could change.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Going full time!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bio pic taken by Verina Olivari. All other images taken by me, Melissa Montoya Photography

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