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Melissa Frederick was born and raised in Dallas, TX, though she is an avid traveler and has lived all over. Melissa honed her photography skills in Connecticut, worked in a Russian orphanage, and spent an impactful decade in Louisiana where she began her own career. Today, she is blessed to call the beautiful and inspiring mountains of Colorado her home.
Melissa discovered that her greatest passion lies in working with women, photographing women, and giving them the means to feel beautiful in their bodies. She has the gift of unveiling the pure, radiant essence of each woman she works with. And delivering their presence to the world in their truest form is her greatest pleasure.
Her mission is to make EVERY woman feel amazing and comfortable in front of the camera and to give her photos she truly loves. Enjoy her exclusive Business Heroine interview…
BH: How did you decide to start a career as a photographer… tell us the story of your journey into entrepreneurship.
Melissa: I began photographing when I was 15 and in boarding school. I lived in an area of Connecticut with amazing woods, which inspired me to pick up a camera. I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to make photography a career for myself, and it’s been my continued passion and drive that made it happen.
In college I studied art, but when I graduated I ended up working in insurance to support my husband through his college career. On the side I would assist wedding photographers, I worked briefly in a studio, and would photograph my friends here and there. At the time I was miserable in my job and trying to find a way out.
I began my entrepreneurial career as a Body Empowerment Coach, helping women through emotional eating and healing the emotions that were holding them back from releasing weight. In my own journey I’ve gained and released over 100lbs, and have successfully kept the weight off. There came a point in working in insurance, where my coach at the time said to me “Melissa, just quit your job and start your business, you can afford to do it so why don’t you?” So, in October of 2012, 3 months before my husband was to graduate and we were going to embark on a 3 month cross country road trip, I quit my job and have never looked back.
I feel like my transition from coaching into photography was bound to happen. I was still photographing on the side but hadn’t figured out how to make it work as a career yet. Last June, I traveled to Hawaii where I went on an excursion with Dana Mermaid. When Dana saw my photography she looked at me like I was crazy for not pursuing this as my career. She said to me…you know how many Body Empowerment Coaches there are out there, but there are no empowerment photographers, this is your calling. After some persuasion I decided I was going to go for it. I came home from my trip and sent out an email to my list letting everyone know I was changing my business from coaching to photography. It’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
I love being able to integrate my coaching with my photography in such a way that makes women feel amazing in their bodies and incredibly confident in front of the camera.
BH: What made you decide to be a photographer for women only?
Melissa: I have photographed everything from landscapes to weddings to families, babies and the list goes on, but when I was working in a studio with families, children and babies I didn’t enjoy it. And when I’d assist wedding photographers I realized that weddings aren’t for me. They’re too high pressure and I didn’t find them very fun to work. It wasn’t until my friends started having babies that I discovered my passion lie in working 1-1 with women. As my friends started getting married and then pregnant, I’d offer to do boudoir style maternity shoots. I absolutely loved it and realized I had a knack for bringing out the femininity in women and for making them feel and look amazing on camera. So, when making the transition from coaching to photography it felt only natural to work with women specifically.
BH: Did you go to school for photography or are you self-taught?
Melissa: I am 100% self-taught. When I was living in Connecticut I took the 2 hours each day when everyone else was in sports to pursue independent art, much of which was photography. I was given the opportunity to travel to a different campus to use their darkroom and there I also taught myself how to develop film and create prints. In college I took one photography class; everything else I have learned on my own.
BH: Tell us about your Women’s CHD Photography Project.
Melissa: I was born with Congenital Heart Disease. I’ve had 3 open-heart surgeries and 2 minor surgeries. One of my goals has always been to find a way to work with women or children around accepting their scars and living with CHD. I have overcome all obstacles in regards to my condition and I’ve always wanted to empower others to do the same, to reach for their goals no matter how unattainable they might feel, because we only have one life in this life-time and why not make the best of it. I’ve always felt like I could be a great example to other women because of the things I’ve accomplished that seem so unattainable for a CHD patient ie: becoming an advanced open water diver and successfully completing a 125ft wreck dive.
When I was coaching I wanted to help coach women around their insecurities and help them reach their goals. When I switched to photography I wanted to find a way to work with CHD women and so the Women’s CHD Photography Project was born. As I travel for both leisure and business, I schedule dates for CHD shoots. The shoot is free to the women participating and it’s really all about showing them how beautiful they are, even with their scars. I’ve photographed 15-20 women across the country so far, and will travel to Barcelona in November to photograph a group of 20 women there.
BH: As an entrepreneur, why is it important for a woman to embody her brand in her photos?
Melissa: As entrepreneurs it is so important for us to embody our brand on camera. You see, typically, our clients are us, 10 steps behind, which means our clients are specifically made for us. They connect with us, they want what we’ve got. When you schedule a photo-shoot you want to think about how you’re going to translate to your target audience, you want to be an up-leveled version of yourself. Think of who your client is, is she a working mom? Maybe she’s an up and coming entrepreneur, either way it is so important to choose your clothing and location in such a way that is going to speak to your client. You want to be yourself, because in the end they are going to choose to work with you because of your unique gifts and offerings, but when they first see your photos your goal is for them to immediately think…I want what she’s got!
*Special Offers from Melissa Frederick*
20% discount on any packages $500 and up!
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