melissa brandman | southern california documentary fine art film photographer

In 2009 I made the choice to walk away from the life I’d always planned on, only to discover a life I never dreamed of. I thought all I wanted was a career that was practical, profitable, and predictable.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I was looking for was the road less traveled – in my case, a career as a documentary film photographer (with a side of stage/soccer mom).  I traded my briefcase and heels for a camera bag and flats, all for the chance to photograph your stories of love, life, and laughter.

Click below to find out more about me and why I shoot film, a little about you, or scroll down to learn more on my blog:



travel | summer vacation in Santa Barbara


Our Summer Vacation

(all photos: Contax 645 and Contax G2 + Kodak Portra 400)

With school and fall activities in full effect, I can’t help but wish I was back at the beach on summer vacation. We had a “glamp and glam” summer vacation in Santa Barbara – 2 nights at El Capitan Canyon and 2 nights at a hotel in Santa Barbara just in case “glamping” was an epic fail. It wasn’t, but I have to admit that first shower at the hotel was one of the best EVER.

Here’s to holding on to summer – easy to do with the weather in Southern California at the moment…

married | kendall + phil


Kendall and Phil knew exactly what they wanted for their wedding day: elegant sophistication without an ounce of pretension. Case in point: a wedding at the beautiful Hummingbird Nest Ranch with burgers by the incomparable In and Out and fries and mini donuts and churros courtesy of The Fry Girl. These two even pulled off a first touch that involved praying together and exchanging letters and reading them back to back without ever looking at each other before the ceremony! (Quite a feat if you ask me). Their wedding was full of love, emotion and tears, but most of all laughter and excitement for a lifetime of adventure. Starting with the surprise honeymoon Phil planned for Kendall. kendall_phil006kendall_phil014kendall_phil007kendall_phil034kendall_phil008ostermann_362ostermann_368kendall_phil009ostermann_386ostermann_403kendall_phil010kendall_phil012MBP_4585kendall_phil025kendall_phil016kendall_phil001kendall_phil035ostermann_281kendall_phil026kendall_phil027kendall_phil021kendall_phil022ostermann_473kendall_phil028ostermann_498ostermann_502EEbrandman000813-R1-053-25kendall_phil029ostermann_532ostermann_530ostermann_541ostermann_570ostermann_594ostermann_639ostermann_660kendall_phil031ostermann_667ostermann_673

Congratulations Kendall + Phil (and mad kudos to Phil for keeping the honeymoon destination a secret even when I cornered him on the dance floor and demanded to know where he was taking Kendall…)

September 2, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Kaysha - Lovely Melissa, you captured everything perfectly!!

travel | neon boneyard


Our first big summer adventure – I’ve been wanting to visit the Neon Museum for a few years now, and I’m so glad we found some time to check it out (before dance competition craziness started). The signage detail, the curating, and the history was so fascinating. We give it 2 thumbs way up.

photo booth shenanigans

photo_booth_003photo_booth_001photo_booth_005photo_booth_004photo_booth_006photo_booth_002It’s no secret photos booths are a big draw at weddings, and this wedding was no exception. Normally I’m off duty for photo booths, and I usually don’t shoot a lot of film during receptions, but after seeing the amazing number of props at this photo booth I made an exception. All shots with my Contax G2 with direct flash and Ilford XP-2 film.