Photography was never on Melissa Bernard’s radar, until a special event in her family inspired her to pick up a camera to record every.single.moment.
A drive to make those recorded memories beautiful led her to take part in our Enthusiast Photography Course in July 2014 and then followed up with our Advanced Photography Course in March 2015, and Melissa hasn’t been without her camera since!
She runs a successful portrait business now, in northern NSW (Australia), where she lives in a small country town of Inverell with her husband and young son, Daniel.
Melissa’s drive to succeed was largely inspired by a desire to support her family.
And whether she knows it or not, her determination to make it happen inspired all of our Click Love Grow community to try to push through the barriers to achieving our dreams that we all experience. I’m very happy she was so keen to have a chat with us, and I think you’ll agree her enthusiasm and passion is palpable…
How did you feel about photography prior to taking the Click Love Grow Photography Courses?
I had absolutely no interest in photography until 15 years ago, when my niece was born.
Suddenly, I was utterly in love and wanted to photograph every single little facial expression, achievement, milestone and everything in between.
I bought my first digital camera – a Fujifilm – and went crazy! I certainly photographed every single detail of my niece’s life – she has endless embarrassing photos for her 21st album!
When I upgraded to a DSLR in 2012 – a Canon EOS650d in 2012 – and after this my passion for photography really ignited.
How has your photography improved the most since you began?
Oh my goodness! Every single aspect of my photography improved from the moment I started the Enthusiast Course!
If I had to choose a single area that the course helped me improve, it would be that I no longer ‘spray & pray’ – you know, where you snap away taking hundreds of photos hoping that you get one or two keepers.
There are many problems with this approach but the biggest one is that even when you get those one or two great shots, you still have no idea HOW you got them. Now, I confidently shoot in full manual mode, find and set up a shot and press that shutter button once or twice.
I get the picture and because I was in complete control of all the settings, I know exactly HOW I got it.
My “aha!” moment was finally understanding light and how it can make or break a photograph, how certain times of the day are better than others, how powerful and creative backlighting can be, how flat or soft or harsh light is.
As soon as all of this clicked, my images improved dramatically.
My biggest photography goal was starting up a photography business and YES! I DID IT!
I officially started up my business 18 months ago and it has been a fun, crazy, enjoyable and growth-filled journey.
Your favourite genre?
Ohhh, tough one! Each genre has its own perks and challenges and I find it hard to compare them.
I have recently started photographing a new genre – family photojournalism – and am loving it so much! I spend a few hours in the client’s home, photographing their every day life.
It’s relaxed, it’s easy, no stressed out Mums trying to keep their children clean and composed. The children also love this style because they don’t have a stranger shoving a camera in their face, asking them to sit and smile.
I love that I get to capture these families true life moments – the ones that will be remembered forever as part of their daily routine.
Where do you find inspiration for your photography?
Mostly through the rest of the Click Love Grow Course graduates.
Seriously, there are so many passionate and ridiculously talented people in that group.
Someone posts a photo and I fall in love with it and get super inspired. Or I get stuck in a creative rut and someone makes a suggestion and that triggers my drive again. Their inspiration is limitless and their support is invaluable.
A funny tale…
I was doing my first ever newborn photo session. I set up my lounge room for the session and had the mum holding her naked baby boy. Before I had even snapped a photo, bub pooed all over my carpet and all over the mum (who was wearing a white shirt). We cleaned everything up, got back into position and same thing happened again.
After this clean up, I learnt my lesson and plastered my carpet with rags lol.
We had another two poos, a handful of wees and a few sick-ups over the next five minutes, as well as a shirt change for the poor mother!
Thankfully, the client was a friend!
Your fave gear
Love, love, LOVE my Tamron 85mm!
Focus is always sharp, it produces gorgeous background blur and performs beautifully in low-light situations.
It is faultless!
What was your favourite aspect of the CLG Course?
Meeting, getting inspired, sharing advice and being encouraged by everyone I was doing the course with. These fellow graduates are like my family, business advisers, best friends and support network all rolled into one.
My favourite content covered was the lighting module in the Advanced Course… I learned so much and this was my big “aha!” moment.
Also, Lou and Pam are always there to answer any questions along the way – they are amazing mentors and there isn’t any other course out there that offers what the Click Love Grow photography courses provide.
This course will push your creativity and your knowledge in huge bounds.
I remember the very first lesson in the Advanced Photography Course (high and low key images) had me sitting on my bathroom floor, crying tears of frustration. I had been trying to get my challenge photo for hours and hours and I just couldn’t do it.
I wrote in the group, saying I couldn’t submit anything and thinking that I had made a massive mistake in enrolling in the Advanced Course – it felt too advanced for me, at the time.
Within seconds, the girls had rallied around, encouraging, advising and crying tears of frustration right along with me. And guess what?
I completed that challenge. I broke through that barrier.
That day forced me to realise that the only thing that could hold me back was ME. To this day, high key and low key images still cause me a bit of hesitation but they are no longer something I fear.
I could never have started and succeeded in my photography business without the love, encouragement, understanding and support of my wonderful husband, Shayne and the perfect little human being we are so blessed to parent – our gorgeous son, Daniel.
Before & After
If you’re ready to take control of your DSLR and learn to use it in manual mode, our Enthusiast Photography Course is exactly what you’re looking for.
You can read all about it over here.