Melanie Renee Photography | Starting From Near Scratch

Starting From Near Scratch

March 20, 2016  •  2 Comments


I moved to Montana because I knew it held stories.  I was excited about the dramatic landscape, the famously rustic and fiesty people, and all that the place had to offer me.  Now, here, in Wisconsin, I have to admit that I feel a little bit lost.  I became accustomed to the small town feel of Livingston, where getting to know the town and the people was relatively easy.  Now that I am back in civilization, what used to call to me in my former life (the city, crowds, architecture) holds no appeal for me.  I find myself yearning in the other direction, toward the open fields, the farms, and the people and animals who live, eat, breathe and die, still, by the seasons.  

I have been trying to sell myself as a pet and family photographer, but without much luck.  The truth of the matter is that the family, natural-light portraiture market is saturated.  It is everywhere, and, while I still think I can make some inroads as I get to know people, I have to come to terms with the fact that this might not be the only direction for me, and for my career.  I have found myself trying to think of stories of the people who live here, and how I can relate to them and capture them.  I have long been interested in women who are strong, capable, and empowered, and in working with them to make images that will prove a source of inspiration, both for me and for my fellow struggling woman trying to find her place.  I think I might try to resurrect my BITCHES project, documenting women and their rescue dogs, and I have started doing research on female farmers in the area.  I need to get back to my roots of strong portraits and bold subjects.  

But when you haven't made a session sale in a long time, money is a source of stress.  I was hoping to work as a more lighthearted portrait photographer, to make money to sustain my work in other fields, but I'm not really a lighthearted person, and it shows in my work.  The only things that brings me that lightness and joy, really, are dogs, hence the attempt at billing myself as a pet photographer. I might try something like Patreon, or, if I can build up to a larger project, a Kickstarter campaign, but the fact remains that all projects need money.  Grants are another possibility, but since I have no proven track record yet, the ones I can qualify for will be small, and barely enough to cover half of the ailing equipment I must replace. 

I have lately been scrolling back through old work, searching through my portraits of strong women making a go of it, and it has been this that has kept me going and positive. I can do this. Money and work will come, and everything will be okay.


Great post Melanie!
Traci Isaly(non-registered)
Hang in there takes a bit of time to get dusted off and settled in after such a transition! Be strong in your thoughts and try to avoid the self doubt talk that rattles around in the head. Take pictures...lots of will all even out soon!

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