Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mamma Tortilla with Melissa West Photography

I'm really really excited about my first interview here at Mamma Tortilla and I had the pleasure of interviewing an amazing photographer, as well as a dear friend of mine, Melissa West. Its funny how we met really. We were going to the same Birthing Circle meetings and La Leache League meetings in our local area because we were both pregnant at the same time. I found out that she was a photographer and I wanted my pregnancy pictures done. She came to my house and took some fabulous photos. From then on she has taken wonderful pictures of my family and has become a good friend. Our daugthers are two weeks apart and now hang out together for paper eating time (they don't have play dates they eat paper together ...haha).

Sit back, relax and get to know Melissa West.

MT: Ok, so I heard you have a super power: you’re a mom, a wife, very active in your community, you make everything from scratch and you have your own photography business. How do you do it?
MW: Wow! I must admit I do have a few flaws - ha! I'd love to tell you I have it all together and that I have an ultimate planner that holds my life together, but... Well as I sit here answering these questions I couldn't find a pen on my work space - so not totally all together - and I do have a planner but it is on my workspace so...=) I try to put my family first and go from there. My husband does help me and let things slide when I start to lose it. Oh, and you will find a few boxes and canned foods peeking out in my pantry...

MT: What got you started in photography and what made you want to turn it into a business?
MW: My husband and my husband! After teaching for a few years both he and I saw that it was not what would make me happy. It would take too much time from our family. So I began to look for another job (well not too hard!) For our wedding he bought me my first “real” camera. Once we returned home, he kept commenting on the pictures I had taken. I'm not sure how many times he had to encourage me before I took the plunge!

MT: What inspires you when taking pictures of your clients? Do you have a signature style?
MW:I love vintage and I love natural! It is awesome when a parent looks at a photograph and says, “Aww! That is her exactly!” Makes my day.

MT: What has been the funniest session you have had with a client?
MW: Well just today I was chasing 3 boys down a driveway and into a ditch (I'm sure the parents were watching out the window laughing at me - does that count? Oh, and there was the time when I was photographing a wedding and had to run into the dressing room to find the grooms ring - during the service!

MT: I know recently you had the 50/50/50 collection. Tell me more about it and do you have any upcoming collections or projects you are working on?
MW:The 50/50/50 Fine Art Collection will be fifty different babies featured on my blog. Each day a different child will be featured for that day alone. The fine art print will be matted, signed and dated and available for fifty dollars to whomever wishes to have that little bit of sweetness. Parents who volunteer their child may end up seeing the photographs in locations such as pediatrician's offices, birthing centers, or a favorite boutique. The Collection should be ready for display in early Spring of 2010. There are still spots available for babies 0-2 years.
No other collections on the horizon (this one is quite enough to keep me busy at the moment!)

MT: Where do you hope to see Melissa West Photography in five years?
MW:A well run business that lets me spend more time photographing and less time establishing the business end of things.

MT: Who are some of your favorite photographers?
MW:Alicia Caine, Kelly Ryden(one day I will get photos like hers!), Brandy Anderson, Jessica Kettle and Michele Anderson to name a few.

MT: This is probably really hard question to answer but what are some of your favorite blogs?
MW:Mamma Tortilla, of course! Well I love to craft and sew - so a few along those lines: Betz White, Happy Together, One Crafty Place, One Pretty Thing... I could go on forever=) Another blog I love to follow about homemaking/living naturally is Passionate Homemaking.

MT: Do you have any advice for other mammas who want to follow their passion?
MW:Well it helps ALOT if your husband is on board as well. I have been blessed with a very supportive husband. He will give me the time I need to work and then doesn't mind when I stay up late sewing into the wee hours of the morning(he also acts very interested when I show him all my photos that I edit and the projects I work on - ahh I love that man - okay what was the question=) If your passion is business related - research FIRST (I found this out the hard way) then find someone who is already doing it and pick their brain. Then go for it. Treat your customers wonderfully and they will return the favor - my best business is from word of mouth.

MT:When you are not taking some of you amazing photos, what are other things do you like to do?
MW: Love dating my hubby, sewing/crafting, reading, oh and sleep...I really love sleep!

MT: Ok, what are your small pleasures in life?
MW:Browsing Etsy, rows of glass jars (is that strange=), homemade ice cream, a good book, visiting my sisters, craft blogs (those really suck me in)

MT: I know that you love to sew and craft, what are some of things you are working on now?
MW: I just finished a string of lights advent calendar(so cute - www.elsiemarley.com), and I'm in the middle of too many projects. I have project ADD! Slings, diapers, blocks, baby shoes, skirts, apron...
MT: What was one of the first things you ever made? Who taught you how to sew?
MW:My mom and older sisters taught me to sew. I think the first project was curtains - all those straight lines, you can't go to wrong!

MT: Does Bella get a lot of your sewing creations? I'm sure she loves playing with your stuff when you are crafting.
MW: Yeah, I think she enjoys the craft supplies more than the finished crafts! I try to sew when she is sleeping - it is very hard when she is awake and into everything.
I made her a block set that had the letters of her name on them...well, she always bypasses them for the spoons and measuring cups=)

MT: Ok, a little birdie told me you are almost done with your Christmas shopping? You have to tell us how, what, when, where - HOW DO YOU DO IT??
MW:Well that starts with a gigantic love for the holidays=) I start really getting excited about Christmas in September. But I make my list and start shopping the day after Christmas! I also make a large portion of my gifts. With 30 people in my immediate family if I didn't make gifts I think I might be in the poor house=) But, I also love making gifts that mean something and aren't just another toy that will be lost under the bed in a few weeks! And, of course, I always end up doing a few family sessions for Christmas presents.

Please visit Melissa West Photography and her blog.

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