November 30, 2011
I will likely never claim to be an expert in necessary and useful gifts for a new momma, daddy or the littlest of new family members but with 6 babies born to friends in the last 15 days, I’d like to think I can claim some version of legitimacy in downright adorable gifts for the pint size people in your life. Auntie Melissa to the rescue?
You be the judge.
For the Little Reader : Restoration Hardware Bunny Bookends | $69
I’m a big fan of gifting books for children & adults and these Bunny Bookends seem like the perfect (and chic) way to keep those gifts in line.
For the One Afraid of the Dark : Jonathan Adler Elephant Nightlight | $48
Call me crazy but I’m tempted to order one for our no-children household. #loveelephants
For the Cutiepants : Serena & Lily 3 Sprouts Hooded Towel | $38
This is quickly making its way to the top of my list as my new favorite newborn gift of choice. Adorable.
For the Mini-Photographer : Personalized Toy Camera | $34
This goes without saying but LOVE. LOVE.
For the Smartiepants : The Land of Nod Dominoes | $21.95
Yet another children’s item I want in my own home.
For the One Who Loves Pets : The Land of Nod What a Croc | $89
As a kid, I remember pulling around a little telephone on a string. Imagine a little Melissa with a little crocodile; much better, right?
For the Newborn : Jellycat Bashful Bunny | $19.95
I posted this as a newborn item but, this past Spring, every time I purchased for friends as a newborn gift Gunnar would steal this bunny out of the bag and claim it as his own toy. I blame it on the exceptionally soft fur. Bonus points for shopping locally at Pacifier online or at their Northeast or Downtown locations!
For the One You Love : J.Crew Ouef I Heart Baby Jumper | $88
For the most special of little ones. I heart Baby.
For the Make Believer : The Land of Nod Kid’s Cannot Live on Bread Alone | $19.95
Almost pretty enough to eat and even better to make believe with.
For the Child Who Gives Back : Feed My Starving Children
This locally headquartered organization makes my “must donate” list. Dedicated to, at the basic level, feeding starving children in body and spirit.
i’m yours, melissa
November 29, 2011
While yesterday was all about the ladies, today we focus on the iPad loving, microbrew drinking, joke-throw-downing men in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I find that my husband, dad, dad-in-law, brother, brother-in-law and closest guy friends are the hardest people in the world to shop for. They either have everything they need, don’t know what they need or (more often than not) buy whatever they need when they need it. (You follow?)
So this year, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and figure out the mystery of men, I’m going to try the “find their very favorite thing in the world and upgrade it” gifting method. I’ll let you know how this works out.
For the Traveler : Cavalier Original Leather Duffle | $1,695
The amazing creator of the Melissa Oholendt brand, Taylor Pemberton, has struck pure gold in his gorgeous and brilliant Cavalier brand. Be sure to check out all the offerings from Cavalier, including the Online Flea. Tay, I am amazed by your talent but also the man you are. Love you for reals.
For the Business Guy : Everlane Raw Cotton Gingham Tie | $35
If you are not already a part of the Everlane Club, I suggest you get on that before another month goes by!
For the Satorialist : Cedarville Twin-tube Shoe Tree | $24.99
A friend of mine turned me on to these beauties and (after he explained their men’s dress shoe necessity) they became a staple in my men’s gifting traditions.
For the Tech Guy : J.Crew Solid iPad Case | $39.50
I’ve been on the hunt for a new iPad case for a while now and this fits my need to be stylish along with my husband’s need to not be “super girly”. Well done Crew. Well done.
For the Comedian : Jack Spade Nice Parking Cards | $20
You are joking if you think these aren’t in the “to-buy” category for a certain someone on my Christmas list.
For the Microbrew Lover : Beer of the Month Rare Beer Club | $31.95/month to $68.95/month
According to Matt Oholendt this was the BEST GIFT EVER. I think that says it all.
For the Party Guy : J.Crew Leather Flask | $42.50
What man in your life doesn’t need a great leather flask? I thought so.
For the Green Guy : Jack Spade Damon Alarm Clock | $50
Gorgeous. And green.
For the Graphic Designer : Muhs Home Brass Bottle Opener | $65
As a girl who can appreciate a gorgeous masculine design? I want (to give).
For the Guy Who Gives Back : Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis
In tribute to my attorney husband, I give you a brilliant organization that is dedicated to bring justice for those senior, low-income resident and children who cannot otherwise afford legal aid & care.
To View the Holiday Gift Guide Series:
Holiday Gift Guide (for the women in your life)
i’m yours, melissa
November 28, 2011
Well, friends, the day has finally come where I can openly listen to Christmas music without shame, switch my iPhone ringtone to “Carol of the Bells” and post loving, thankful and giddy-on-apple-cider posts on Facebook and Twitter and blame it on the Christmas spirit. I can now say with all authority granted to me; it is officially the Holiday Season.
And this girl? Is a major gift giver. If you are at all familiar with the Love Languages books, my strongest language is gifts so it should come as no surprise that I spend the majority of the year saving links until my favorites folder is filled to capacity just so I can remember that one gift that I saved that one time that would have been perfect for that one person. So, this year - just for you – I raked through my favorites folder to find the very best, sometimes unique, sometimes hilarious, sometimes just plain pretty gifts on the web (and locally too!) for each person in your life.
Today’s feature concentrates on the women in your life; that special mom, daughter, wife, sister, best friend, boss or maybe your sister from another mister. Tomorrow, we give the men their spotlight.
For the Chef : Let Them Eat Cake prints by Paul Ferney | $39
This was my gift of choice for some very fabulous women in my life last year and the general consensus was that this was a gorgeous and fabulous gift. The one displayed in my office says that they are right.
For the Southern Girl : Monogramed Throw Pillow | $75
I don’t know a single Southern girl who doesn’t love a great monogram. I also don’t know a single non-Southern girl who doesn’t love a great monogram.
For the One Who Always Loses Her Earrings : Tilly Maison Lucite Tray | $34
This would make a wonderful addition to a bathroom, bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen…I think you get the point.
For the Girly Girl : Jill Rosenwald Links Peony Vase | $58
Dear Anyone (and Everyone) in my Life. This is amazing and if you wanted to give me the most amazing Christmas gift – this would be it. Love, Me.
For the Minnesota Girl : J.Crew Aubergine Earmuffs | $39.50
Negative 40 in February. Enough said.
For the Fashionista : Anne M. Cramer’s Flynn Skirt | $160
This was – hands down – my very favorite buy of 2011. And bonus points for buying local – Anne is a stellar Minneapolis designer!
For the Girl Who Has Everything : Minnetonka Moccasin 2 Fringe Boots | $60 (or shop locally at Parc Boutique for $56!)
I actually just purchased myself a pair (Happy Black Friday to me!) and haven’t wanted to take them off my feet since. With Minnetonka Moccasins being a local business and at such a wonderful price-point, just do the lady in your life a favor and purchase her a pair!
For the Sentimental One : Locality 16×20 Custom Digital Print | $128
Customize each canvas to say words, dates and phrases that have meaning to this special woman. So beautiful. Pretty sure my canvas would say things like “Chipotle Mondays”, “Gun-Bun-Bunnies” and “August 13, 2005″. Yet another local-to-Minneapolis artist! Shop local.
For the Hilarious One : Kate Spade Hi 5 Mittens | $65
Let’s just say if these don’t end up under my tree this year, they will most certainly be a January gift to myself.
For the Girl Who Gives Back : Tubman
A local Minneapolis organization dedicated to women, children and families struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse and mental health.
i’m yours, melissa
November 24, 2011
Four days ago marked the 6 month anniversary of the day I claimed photography as my full-time, be my one and only boss, life and the fact that, even just one short year ago, I never in a million, trillion years thought that day would ever come is proof that I have so, so much to be thankful for this year. I look at that self-doubting girl who was a completely different, less inspired person and I wonder how much goodness and life and whole-hearted gratefulness for renewal and change can one person feel at one moment in time? The honest to goodness truth is that I never want to stop feeling this way. Utterly grateful. Utterly humbled. And utterly grounded.
This is a tiny, tiny piece of my Thankfulness.
i’m yours, melissa
November 15, 2011
I have to say that this has to be one of the more random places my work has been published (remember that one time in Glamour Magazine?) but it is truly an honor to see my name in print no matter the publication! Huge, sparkly-sequined thanks is owed to the fabulous Amy Tan who’s beauty, talent and scrapbooking skills landed her gorgeous layout in Creative Keepsakes: Scrapbooking with Fabric & Notions.
i’m yours, melissa
November 14, 2011
I spent the first 6 months of my photography career pretending I was the photographer who had everything in control – always – and had everything and everyone that ever lived figured out and it was exhausting and certainly not who I am or who I want to be. Over the years I’ve fought really hard to find processes, methods and equipment that work for me as a photographer and I have zero qualms in admitting it’s not always perfect but everything I do in my business is authentically me. I could tell you what I do, exactly how I do it and what has worked for me but the responsibility should be to take the information and find something that is true to who you are. You will not find a single photographer that has followed the exact same path and there is a reason for that; in a business that is so much about who we are and what we can offer in client experience, uniquely, there has to come a drastically different business from even your bestie photographer friend.
I truly believe there is so much we can learn from each other but if we are just copy-pasting what another photographer is doing (even the best, most successful in the business), we are missing the point entirely. And not only missing the point but also doing a complete disservice to our businesses & this industry as a whole.
This blogpost is an ode to that photographer who is too afraid to appear as if they don’t know what they are doing so they never ask questions. A friend pointed out to me last week that for every email I have received, there are likely 10 emails that will never be sent out of fear. And I get it. I do. I was that girl in the beginning and I can tell you now, being afraid to appear like you don’t have it all together was the single most isolating thing I have ever unintentionally done. So ask. Ask a photographer you feel safe with. Ask the photographer you look up to. Go ahead, even ask a total stranger. What do you have to lose?
Onto the questions.
Do you shoot film or digital?
Out of all questions, this is by far the one I receive the most. And, to be perfectly honest, the one I dread the absolute most. The short answer? I shoot both.
The long answer is that to date, I have chosen not to specify when an image is film vs. digital. And it’s not because I’m a part of some super secret society of film shooters who get together, wear giant robes and say film chants late into the night but because film is so, so personal to me. Film is the medium I grew up on; it’s what I first learned on and those first images are the ones where I quietly whispered. “I want to be a photographer” before I ever said anything to anyone else, There are many opinions out there about the film trend comeback (or for some, never left) and while I have no interest in the debate, I want to be clear that film is where my heart was, is and always will be in photography. I firmly believe a photographer needs to find a medium of creating photos where they find a deep connection with the look & process of the image; for some that is digital, for me it is film. (And for others and even some of my closest photo friends; it is both.) When a photographer finds a medium that they connect with; what else matters?
A quick example of why I prefer film over digital is below. I shot Sarah & David’s engagement session on both film and digital; both images were taken within 30 seconds of each other with the only difference in settings being the film image on the left was shot at f/1.4 and the digital image on the right was shot at f/1.8. Even with the slight difference in composition, my connection to the image on the left is overwhelming. I’m not trying to prove which medium is better; I don’t think there is a correct answer. All I want to do is share why I prefer film and encourage you to find whatever medium makes you want to yell, dance and throw confetti in the air because that is what it is all about.
Some may ask why I don’t shoot 100% film if I am so passionate about the difference and the answer is: I am working on it, friends. One day soon.
How do you get your clients to look so comfortable in front of the camera?
True story; the first time I received this question via email I snorted water out of my nose and had to go back to look through my images to make sure the email was really meant for me. I’m certain there are a bajillion ways to get your clients to be themselves in front of the camera and my way is very true to my personality and my style so please know that my shoddy “techniques” may not actually work for you and your target client.
My style of photography is one rooted in the desire to show someone who they are as a couple. I talk extensively about this in my potential client consultations and strive with every wedding, engagement and lifestyle session to really get to the heart of what makes a couple tick. If they are silly together, I want to capture that. If they are sweet and intimate together, I want to capture that. I don’t want an engagement session full of smile-and-look-straight-at-the-camera, grandma-is-really-going-to-like-this-one images because 99% of the time, those images are not what sets my heart on fire. To me, an engagement session should show a couple how they love each other and be a representation of who they are as a couple. I tell you all of this because I think it is imperative to know a little about how I view my style to understand why I do the things I do to get my clients comfortable.
Early in my career I found that one thing I really struggled with was giving direction to those who weren’t the most comfortable in front of the camera so I dedicated myself to finding a style of directing clients that both worked for me and also allowed my style of photography to shine. And somehow, in the middle of trying to figure out what worked while remaining true to my style, it clicked (clicked, get it?!?) and I found a way to be authentically me and still make clients feel at ease. Sometimes that is giving them space and not allowing my inner photo-ADD to interrupt a moment that is happening between them. Sometimes that is telling an incessant amount of dumb jokes that I can never really remember the endings to. Sometimes it includes accidentally falling flat on my face in a field of weeds to lower the boundaries of photographer/client, even just a little bit, and allow for a couple to realize it’s ok to be themselves. It truly is different with each client and that is why this question is SO hard for me to answer.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the number one most important thing ever to making clients feel comfortable in front of the camera is confidence and technical knowledge of your equipment. If I am fumbling around behind my camera, trying to find the correct settings, I am going to lose the connection with my clients in one second flat. Clients are exceedingly sensitive to this and rightfully so. How often do we, as photographers, get in front of a camera? It’s not easy and it’s certainly a little bit uncomfortable at first.
Know your equipment and then some. Practice until your shutter finger bleeds. (Ok, maybe not but kind-of.) And then practice some more. Read books, online tutorials and your camera’s manual and figure out how to shoot in different lighting situations. However, education is not a good substitute for real life shooting & lighting situations so the only thing left to do is shoot. Grab a friend, the dog or your child and shoot them (with your camera, duh) until they lay down and refuse to be photographed anymore. Do it until you feel confident and then practice just a little bit more.
Do you really love every single one of your clients like you claim to?
I will admit that I wax poetically about my clients and their sessions and wedding days, but here’s the thing. I really feel those things about my clients. This is a much bigger topic but the bottom-line is that I work very hard and have been exceedingly successful at finding (and being hired by) clients that I want to have in my life; clients that value my work but above all else truly connect with me. This leads into a conversation about branding and target clients and I am happy to talk about that but I think that is a (very large) single blogpost in and of itself. All to say, I really do love all my clients. And I believe you should strive to too.
If you have any questions you would like answered, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. Night or day. Day or night. Preferably day though.
i’m yours, melissa
November 7, 2011
There are only two pieces of itty-bitty fine print:
1) You must be available in the Minneapolis area on a weekend day sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Or feel free to fly me to where you live. I’d be ok with that.)
2) You must be willing to sign a model release so I can use your pretty faces all over my website and blog.
i’m yours, melissa
November 4, 2011
With our move to Minnesota 5 years ago came some native-to-Midwest words & activities that had never been on my radar in Utah. Things like ice fishing, the word “spendy”, flip-flops the first time the temperature hits 45 post-winter and commencing the arrival of fall with a trip to the apple orchard. I’ve since realized that apple orchards do exist all around the country but since my first visit to one was nearly 28 years into my life (also known as, this year), I’m going to figure that most people are also not familiar with the ways of an apple orchard.
I’m here to help.
Things you do at an Apple Orchard:
- Go on a hayride.
- Milk a pretend cow. (Don’t lie. You know you want in on this.)
- Purchase apple butter, apple doughnuts, apple cider and (inexplicably) Pop Rocks at the gift shop.
- Look at (and try to pet) animals.
- Eat apples straight from a tree. (Not sure if this is actually legal so proceed with caution.)
- Climb on a giant hay bale and declare yourself King of the Mountain.
- Pretend drive old tractors. (Thrilling.)
And last but certainly not least…
- Pick your own apples. (Yes, yes it’s true.)
i’m yours, melissa
November 1, 2011
Confession time. I’ve been a hypocrite and I’m really sorry.
I preachramblepreach to newer photographers the power of infusing you (in this case me) into their brands and yet it occurred to me, today mid-editing marathon, that I have been such a sorry example of that. My last strictly personal, not just about the photos, nothing to do with business blogpost was in August. Before that? June. Before that? MARCH. And that’s it – THAT’S IT – for 2011. So thanks to me, y’all have learned exactly 3 new things about me this year. Good job me.
Yes, I could claim that my Twitter feed is proof that there is more Melissa Oholendt out there than could possibly be good for my reputation but since those 140 characters are often written, backspace, backspace, backspace and then completely deleted and re-written, it is an edited safe-for-public-consumption Melissa. (Except on nights when I have two glasses of wine.)
All to say, I haven’t been living up to my preach-it-preacher words. For this girl who has spent 3 years building a brand based on who I am that is shameful. SHAMEFUL. So, in these last two remaining months of 2011 and beyond, I’m going to work on fixing that. Starting with three things that are absolutely crucial (aka, useless) to know about me.
+ I use twitter hashtags in emails, conversations and text messages. Everyday.
+ If this website could wear a fragrance, it would smell like grapefruit. My love of the smell of grapefruit runs deep.
+ I take one iPhone photo of my dog napping almost every day. He even has a photo folder dedicated to him called, “Napping Bunnies”. (Embarrassing examples above.)
i’m yours, melissa