documentary | the reeves family



Ever since I announced my retirement from photographing weddings and families, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I’ll be photographing next. The short answer is “I don’t know yet.” After shooting photos for over a decade and almost 6 years in business, I can finally see my own voice emerge from my photos. I am drawn to authenticity in photography, to photos that are beautiful because they are real, not in spite of it. I’m not entirely sure how that will translate into my business, but for now all that matters is that I continue to clarify my voice and my vision when it comes to photography.

This is my family – brother, sister in law, and my 3 nieces. I pitched the idea of a different kind of newborn shoot, one that is more in the moment with no lengthy planning of wardrobe or props or any sort of posing. When you have a newborn life is a blur – it’s easy to forget those quiet, beautiful moments that happen between numerous diaper changes and the witching hour (or two) or midnight feedings. My goal: create a collection of photographs that capture this precious time in a family’s history, but do it in such a way that is honest, intimate, and true. I’m so happy they took me up on the idea.




melissa_brandman_maternity_boudoir_001The only constant is change ~ unknown

I’ve faced a lot of changes over the last 10 years. Buying a home or two, moving away, having kids, moving back, quitting a career, starting a business. That being said, I am still uncomfortable with change. I can sense when change is coming, and I fight like hell to stop it. But change always happens, almost always for the better.

This decision was made many months ago, but now is the time to announce it: as of today, I am no longer photographing weddings and families. My reason is simple: I need more time with my family, especially my girls that are growing up way too quickly. Don’t think for one minute this decision was easy. It’s been on the horizon for over a year, but I was just deep in denial about it. Let me be clear: I love love LOVE photographing weddings and families. You, my clients and friends, are the reason I didn’t want to walk away. But I know in my heart that it’s time for a change.

Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I’m looking forward to taking my photography in new directions, and thanks to brave clients like Jennifer here, I get the chance to stretch my creative wings with new genres of photography (maternity boudoir, anyone?) I’m teaching my first photography class this week and I am so jazzed about it. So I’ll still be here, drinking coffee and taking photos.

I hope you’ll continue to join me.

October 16, 2014 - 10:18 am

the reeves family | melissa brandman | photographs - […] since I announced my retirement from photographing weddings and families, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I’ll be […]

September 30, 2014 - 10:05 am

Jen Johnson - I’m so happy for you that you’re continuing on and refining your journey! Can’t wait to see what the future holds!!!

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!!