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Conversations with Melissa Ortiz

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

Hi Melissa, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have always been interested in the creative – in high school, I was editor of the yearbook and I majored in Journalism in college, so writing and photography have always been close to me. In my corporate job, I focus on client management in international business, but I have always gotten pulled into creative projects – hosting events, coordinating photoshoots, writing, designing, creating, volunteering, etc. Years ago, I started in photography somewhat on a whim, purchasing a DSLR and photographing friends and their families at special moments. I am self-taught and a proud student of YouTube, which is where I dug into the technical aspects of photography. Since then, I’ve focused on growing my craft and investing in my growing business, which includes lifestyle and brand photography and blogging/content creation. I’ve started and stopped blogging more than I’d like to admit, but I most recently started again to share my journey as a millennial woman trying to “do all the things” as a wife, mom, corporate professional, photographer and content creator. It’s been a great outlet for me and has really been the perfect marriage of my varied skillset!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. I’ve started and stopped photography a few times due to various circumstances – moving, the birth of my daughters, and then, enter 2020 and COVID! Being honest, imposter syndrome was a big part of my struggles. I think most creatives get there at one point or another – questioning whether or not you can do it and wondering if you’re good enough. I’m extremely blessed, though. I’ve got some amazing clients who pulled me out of retirement and family and friends who have been my greatest cheerleaders. Though 2020 was incredibly tough, it was an important year for me and my business. The forced downtime allowed me to slow down, invest in myself and focus on my craft. Cue a ton of education and a wildly valuable mentorship that has helped me revamp, refresh and refocus!

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?
I am a lifestyle and brand photographer and content creator. As a photographer, I document real life with a pop of WOW for families, couples, individuals and brands. I am known for capturing true-to-life, natural moments for my clients, who describe my style as simple, clean and classic. A session with me is always relaxed and fun! As a content creator, I lean into and share the experiences that have and continue to shape me as a millennial woman. Using lifestyle imagery and relevant copy, I add value to my audience and authentically integrate brands into my lifestyle. I am most proud of being self-taught and building a brand that truly encompasses my passions! It’s taken years for me to find “my place” and I finally feel like it’s all coming together.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
Invest in yourself early, and know that it doesn’t always mean spending a ton of money. It means investing in the development of your craft and the growth of you as a person and your brand. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. You can’t ever over-shoot or stop learning! Spend time with your peers to watch them in action, observe their approach and talk shop. Educate yourself formally or informally, in the form of workshops, masterclasses and courses — reputable ones, hosted by experienced professionals a step, or two, or three, above you in terms of technical skill. Find a mentor – someone who will pour into you, challenge you and inspire you. Someone whose work you admire and whose style resonates with you. Learn the business side of photography, and do it right – from formally incorporating your business to insurance, marketing, etc. Doing these things on the front end! I wish I had known how important community was when I was starting out. I can’t tell you how important it is to surround yourself with people who “get it” and are truly for you. The whole “community over competition” sounds nice but makes all the difference when practiced. You’ve got true gold when you find your tribe!

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Image Credits
Melissa Ortiz Photography

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