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:



food | gooey s’mores bars

True confession time: I’m addicted to Pinterest. Back when I was working 70+ hour weeks, I never imagined I would have the time to learn how to cook or sew or learn anything “domestic.” Fast forward almost 10 years later, and I find myself really drawn to learning more about the domestic arts, if you will.  Pinterest has tutorials and DIYs for days, but it can be a double-edged sword for many women (myself included): it’s a source for truly creative ideas with the soft underbelly of womanly/mommy guilt. Believe me when I tell you that I am not inherently a “Martha Stewart” type. Nothing about cooking, baking, cleaning, sewing, or crafting comes easily to me. Not. at. all. That doesn’t stop me from trying, and I thought I’d share some of my Pinterest (mis)adventures with you on the blog. You can trust me to give you the real scoop on a recipe or project, and let you know what a normal wife and mother with average-to-sub-par crafting/cooking/cleaning talents thinks of the recipes and DIY projects Pinterest has to offer.

Let’s start with dessert – one of my favorite things to pin on Pinterest (check out my pins here).  I have had a recent string of bad luck when it comes to Pinterest dessert recipes, so I was skeptical when I read how “easy” gooey S’mores bars were to make. But with an ingredient line up like this, I figured it was worth the risk:

smores_bars_ 1

Can you really go wrong with Cocoa Pebbles? No you cannot. Here’s the result:

smores_bars_ 2

My take on Freutcake’s Gooey S’mores Bars (recipe here):

level of difficulty (easy to difficult): easy

recipe accuracy (in terms of ingredients and time it take to make the recipe): accurate

deliciousness (from 1-5): 5 – a big hit with grown ups and kids alike

I must say these bars tasted just as good as they look.  Some issues I ran into when making the bars: there were a few places the recipe lacked detail – for example the recipe calls for 2 cups of graham crackers, but it doesn’t mentioned if they should be crushed up or not. This might seem obvious to you bakers out there, but to a relative novice like me I had to think twice about (and yes, you should crush them). A couple more things:

  1. I would double the recipe for the graham cracker crust so it would be thicker and hold the gooey s’more-ness on top better.
  2. When broiling the bars to toast the marshmallows, I would probably only do for one minute. I did it for about 1 minute thirty seconds and I was on the verge of charbroiled marshmallows. No bueno.

So there you have it – check one in the win column for easy, delicious Pinterest desserts.

the art of reinventing (this blog)


I know this is a “photography” blog, so it makes sense that this blog to stick to the topic of photography. Well I’ve been thinking about it, and I think that’s a little restricting. It is my blog, after all, and while photography is a significant part of who I am, I have so many other things I’d like to chat with you about. I’ve ventured into uncharted waters with my Type A Girl series and I plan to continue talking about business and my successes (and the many failures that proceeded it). I always appreciate when someone keeps it real, either in real life or on the Internet, so why not do the same with this blog? So I’m taking a chance and changing up the format a bit around here.  Topics may bounce around a bit until I find a rhythm. Stick with me – I’m gonna find my way, and I’d like you to be there when I find it.


introducing bishop

myers_019bishop_004bishop_006myers_024myers_028myers_021myers_023myers_012bishop_007myers_038bishop_005myers_026myers_047I just love this family. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of photographing the Myers family for a few years now, and it was just so comfortable and easy to photograph the newest member of the family in their home. Baby Bishop is clearly well loved, as you can see from the photos.

On a personal note, I would love if more clients would let me photograph you at home, just as you are.  Interested? Use the contact form to get in touch.

April 15, 2014 - 10:43 am

Amber - LOVE this! they look perfect and you captured their true essence. What an amazing family.
Also – yes. We need family photos. But first, I need to get my hair done.

travel | cabo san lucas

cabo002cabo003cabo004cabo001cabo_004The day after Valerie + George’s wedding, I only had a couple of hours to explore before I left for the airport. I was very tempted to eat potato chips and lay in bed watching TV, but instead I grabbed my camera and hit the streets near my hotel. I love how colorful Cabo is, even the most simple and mundane spots. I found all of these spots within a three block radius of my hotel. Just goes to show: adventure is always present and waiting for you. As long as you get your butt out of bed and put the potato chips down…

type a girl’s guide to writing your business plan | sales and marketing (oh my!)


No video again? Yes, only because I think this material doesn’t require my awkward presence on YouTube…

So let’s get to it: You’ve created a business plan that identifies your purpose, you have a clear statement of what your business does and who your client is, and you know how much money you need to get this business started. Now we need to talk about how you’ll get those first sales, and where you can talk up your business.

Sales Channels:

Sales channels are any of the places you will sell your product or service. For example, as a photographer I mostly sell my services in person and over Skype. If you create handmade wares, you probably sell or have considered selling on Etsy. So in a nutshell, your sales channels are where people come to buy your product or service. Easy peasy to identify.

Marketing Activities:

Marketing activities are not the same as sales channels (I only say this because I used to mix this up, and thought you might too). Marketing activities are any means by which you will talk about your product or service. Another example from my own business: I would say around 90% of my business comes from referrals from clients and wedding coordinators. So I make sure to pursue those referrals by consistently connecting with former clients and coordinators and asking for those referrals. That’s a marketing activity. I also have a website/blog (which you obviously know about if you’re reading this post) – this is also a marketing activity, a place where I can show my work and let you know more about me.  Social media is most certainly a marketing activity (even though it can also be a complete time suck). Don’t forget about traditional advertising too.

Here’s my 2 cents about marketing – you don’t need to be everywhere to market your business. As a solo entrepreneur or a one woman show like myself, I just don’t have the time to explore every single marketing opportunity that comes my way. This is where really knowing your ideal client comes into play. Where does she “hang out” on the Internet? (Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter?). Who does she ask when she needs a referral for something? Does she like to read blogs? Is there a business or service she frequents? Does she read certain magazines? Knowing how your ideal customer likes to communicate and receive information will help you narrow your marketing activities so you’re the most effective without spreading yourself too thin. Once I figured this out, it has saved me a lot of time – time I can most certainly use in other parts of my business (and my life).

Any questions? I’m trying something new here – ask me a question on I’ve followed a few of these q&a chains the past couple of years relating to film photography and I really found it so helpful.  I would love to build an archive that is just as helpful and inspirational for you out there.  So don’t be shy – ask me something!