Alumni Interviews: Melissa Berg Photography
We are so excited to bring a new interview series – featuring our alumni!
We look forward to introducing you to many of our awesome students (all in various stages of their journey!)
And to kick it off, let us introduce you to Melissa Berg,of Melissa Berg Photography
(stop by and say hello over on facebook here – www.facebook.com/melissabergphotography)
Where do you call home?Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Describe Your StyleClean, soft, and cozy.
What made you decide to become a photographer?I have loved photography for a long time. It has always been a hobby of mine and I was always the one taking pictures. I bought my first DLSR when my nephew was born 5 1/2 years ago and slowly everything took off from there.
How did you learn? Degree? Self-taught? Workshops?I took a good ole photography class in HS, complete with film and darkroom and loved it! In the beginning I was self-taught on the internet and once I knew I wanted to be a newborn photographer I invested in my first in person group workshop. Since then I have taken several online workshops to help further my education and perfect my craft.
How long have you had your Photography Business?I officially went into business in 2011 but started pursuing photography as a career in 2009 before my son was born. I did some free sessions for friends to test the waters. I took a break when my son was born in 2010. After I started taking pictures of him, I had friends wanting me to take pictures of their children too and the rest is history!
What do you love most about having your own business?I love that my business is “me” down to every last detail. I love that if something doesn’t work – I have the power to change it and make it better.
What do you love the least?Bookkeeping! I actually just recently outsourced this and I’m so much happier!!
What do you wish you had known prior to starting your own photography business?I wish I had known that I would not be “everyone’s photographer”. That was a really hard lesson at first, especially when it came to friends. Of course we want to photograph everyone who contacts us, especially those we know and care about, but in order for me to sustain a business – I had to let that go and stick to my business plan. I wish I had known to not take it so personally, especially when friends couldn’t or didn’t hire me…it’s just business and I had to learn to take the emotion out of it. I now know that my clients who do hire me, value my talent immensely and are super excited to work with me. Finding them was a little difficult at first when just starting out since I was trying to break into the high end market. I did not base my pricing on what everyone else was doing…I knew I wanted to run a high end photography business with a boutique experience and I’m so glad I stuck with that dream.
Studio or on-location?I have a home studio which is a large bonus room above my garage. It seems very “separate” from the rest of the house which was important when deciding to purchase our home in May. Clients walk through my dining room and kitchen and then up the private set of stairs straight into the bonus room…which is also closed off from the rest of the upstairs/our bedrooms. The best part is that the laundry room is RIGHT there, which makes session clean up a breeze! 98% of my sessions are in studio with the exception of seasonal family mini sessions which I conduct outdoors.
What was your biggest “A-ha” moment?I think I have had too many of these to pinpoint just one!! There is so much to learn about not only photography but running a business as well. I am constantly learning and growing. I think the one that impacted my business the most though, was reading Sarah Petty’s book “Worth Every Penny”. I received it in the mail free one day out of the blue as a surprise from them and it changed my thinking entirely on how I wanted to run my business. So much valuable information in there. When I’m feeling down about my business or in the slower months, I find myself skimming the book again to remind myself of why I am worth it.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?So many different places! I am a part of an amazing group of ladies from across the world who chat on a daily basis and I am so inspired by every single one of them. They are my biggest inspiration and push me to be a better photographer and business woman.
Something you’re still learning?…The learning never stops. I will never become stagnant in what I do! I am constantly finding new lighting, editing and posing techniques and I am always trying to perfect what I do.
How do you create balance between your business and the rest of life?This is super hard, but I try to have set “business hours”. I am most productive at night time though so this is rather difficult for me. My life mainly consists of my family – my husband and 3 year old son (and expecting another little one in April!), my photography business, my job as an ICU nurse on weekend nights, and my social life. My family obviously comes first. I just cut back my hours at the hospital so I could have more weekend family time with them, now that my business is providing the extra income that we need in order for me to do that. It’s all a delicate balance!! A lot of people ask me when I’ll quit nursing….that will probably never happen! I love my job as a nurse and I love that I get that adult interaction with intense complex medical problems that force me to use my brain and education in that respect. I need that! Just like I need my photography business for my creative outlet. I am so lucky to be able to do both!!
What has been your most memorable shoot & why?Actually recently I had a baby girl born with hip dysplasia. I had the parents come to the newborn session under 12 days old anyways, even though baby was prescribed to be in a harness full time, to make sure we captured her as she was as a true newborn (they change so much in just a week or two!). I told my clients that they could come back when the harness was off and I would try my best to capture those posed nakey baby shots that mom had wanted so badly. Well, the session just happened recently and baby girl was 8 weeks old…and she totally shocked me by sleeping incredibly well and letting me pose her just as a brand new baby would. I am so grateful and ecstatic for the parents who will now have those treasured photos they always wanted PLUS more. I was so happy to go above and beyond for this family and I know they are so appreciative.
What’s your Favorite Image? And why is it your favorite?Two words: Baby Charlie!! I will never forget his contagious huge open mouthed grin that was loved by so many!! It was just “one of those moments” and I had captured a series of shots that told the story of how that grin came to be. It just makes me smile every time I see it!
Favourite gear?My macro lens (Canon 100mm macro). Macro photography is something I’m working on at the moment..they are some of my favorite shots!
What is your go to lens & why?My 50mm 1.4 because it’s like old faithful. I remember upgrading from the 1.8 a long time ago and this lens just blew me away with what a difference it was. It’s like butter…super smooth, quiet focus, beautiful color and crisp images.
RAW or Jpeg? I always shoot in RAW. Learning ACR has helped me perfect the really technical side of editing my images and I want the best quality for my clients!Nikon or Canon? Canon! Even back to my point and shoot days as a hobbyist.Mac or PC? Mac!Lightroom or Photoshop ( or both ?) : I mainly use Photoshop but I do use Lightroom for some things but it’s rare nowadays.
What classes have you taken with The Milky Way?My first class was Illuminate and even though it was advertised as a basic class for beginners, I took it anyways because I love Lisa’s work and the price was so reasonable. I found I definitely learned enough to more than cover the money I spent on the class and I always highly recommend it!!
I also took Beyond The Beanbag which is setup the same way (super organized!). I regretfully haven’t technically finished the course due to lack of time (my own fault!) but thankfully the great thing about these courses is that you have access to them forever (or at least for as long as the courses are run) so I know that when I have time, I will be able to go back and look up things forgotten or continue on with the modules I wasn’t able to complete.
My favorite thing about these courses are the Facebook groups that you can choose to be a part of. Lots of additional learning and friendships built over in those groups!!! It’s a wonderful community that I love being a part of.
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