This week we wanted to feature our friend and owner of Serendipity Photography, Mellissa Stanturf. She was so kind to answer a few questions about her experience in photography and what sets her apart as a wedding vendor in Oregon.
Why do you love weddings and photography?
Photography isn’t just about beautiful portraits. Photography is a way for me to capture someone’s existence; their mark in this world – even if it was a fleeting moment of that overall impression in their life. To be able to document emotion, tell a story, without words is a great accomplishment to me. I want my viewers and viewers of my photographs to instantly connect themselves to the subject or subjects in the photograph, connect with an emotion, and feel the story behind it. Weddings and births are my specialties. I often get asked why I love photographing these events and I always respond with, “How could someone not?” Both of these are days and moments in a person or persons life that change the rest of their lives significantly. They both include moments you can only capture once. Both days include emotions from every range – love, happiness, anxiety, possibly a little fear, pride, and so many other adjectives. Much like reading a book, these events have a beginning, middle, and end. Moments that reach high points, taper and then reach ultimate climatic endings. Being a part of these moments and sharing them with my clients is truly a humbling experience.
How did you get your start?
My journey into photography isn’t a riveting one. In fact, photography sort of fell into my life by chance. In November of 2010, my husband, who at the time was active duty Army, became deployed overseas to Afghanistan. We were stationed at in Germany and I started taking photographs of my children and the beautiful country to send my husband. I constantly complained to him about the quality of portraits and how they never did the actual scene or subject any justice. My husband decided to take it upon himself to buy me a late Christmas present/Valentine’s Day gift by purchasing a top of the line camera at the time for me. He then proceeded to tell me that I needed to learn the camera and how to get results I wanted because if my images were still not up to par it was user error and not equipment holding me back. I began taking classes, learning photoshop, googling, youtubing, and all things became photography. I was practicing on friends and using my children as photography subjects and learning tools. In 2012, we moved to Hawaii and I officially opened Serendipity Photography, LLC in September. I named my business Serendipity because it means “fortunate accident” and I found that realizing I was meant to be a photographer was a fortunate accident especially during a time that was difficult.
What is unique about you as a photographer?
There are so many wedding photographers and photographers in general that I want to make it easy for my clients to say, “Hands down. We want her. She’s the total package.” I don’t want to just give clients beautiful images. I want to give them an experience. I want them to feel a connection with me before their big day, have that connection carry over to their big day and even beyond, after I deliver their portraits. Service is a top priority to me and if I can help, I certainly will. I’ve assisted couples in finding officiants, catering, creating timelines, and even honeymoon destinations way below budget. It’s something I would do for friends and my clients truly do become my friends. A relationship fostered through trust and dependability. Offering prints, wall art, albums, and products is just an extension of that service. I want my clients to have tangible, beautiful art for their homes that they can see and take them back to that day every time they look at it. I’m also unique in that I love styling and creating unique engagement sessions for my clients. If you can dream it; I can create it. I’ve done The Notebook inspired, Bonnie & Clyde inspired, 50’s inspired, a bowling alley engagement session, and zombie inspired just to name a few. I let my clients sit back while I order all of their props, clothing, shoes, etc and they just show up ready to be a part of the magic.
Where can brides find you?
My studio is in Salem, Oregon and although I do a lot of weddings in the Salem and Portland area I travel anywhere my clients are. Destination wedding? Yes, please! I love travel and capturing weddings in unique and beautiful places.