Melissa Schollaert Photography ~ Atlanta, GA

With a career that started in Interior Design, photographer Melissa Schollaert always knew she was an artist. After working part-time as a second shooter photographing weddings, she quickly realized that wedding photography was her true passion and ideal artistic outlet. We've long admirered her timeless images filled with soft light and dreamy color; her style has a classic elegance. With a photojournalistic approach, she is a true storyteller documenting all the special moments of the day from the details and portraits to the candid moments. Her beautiful images have been featured regularly in our Real Wedding blog features on Completely Unveiled and in the pages of Weddings Unveiled. Read on to learn more about the talented lady behind the lens of Melissa Schollaert Photography!

Melissa Schollaert Photography is based in Atlanta, GA. To contact Melissa Schollaert Photography, visit her website here.

Weddings Unveiled: Tell us a little bit about Melissa Schollaert Photography.

Melissa Schollaert: Melissa Schollaert Photography started while I was still working a full-time job in the Interior Design / Architecture field. For years, I worked a full-time job in addition to running my own business. After a very busy 2010 for weddings, I decided that I would finally leave my job to focus on my photography business and haven't looked back! I mostly work alone and am the main point of contact for my business. I love being involved in every aspect from first meeting with the client to capturing their wedding, editing the images & designing their albums. As a boutique studio, I provide personal service & attention to every client.

WU: How did you become a wedding photographer?

MS: Completely by accident. A photographer who was an acquaintance was starting her own wedding photography business and needed help with her first two weddings booked on her own - on the same weekend! She knew I photographed personally and was creative, so she asked me to help. I thought, well, I'll just help her this one weekend and that will be that (this was NOT something I wanted to do). I was wrong - I completely fell in love with weddings and the excitement of the day. I loved telling the story. I was a second shooter for about 5 years before starting my own business.

WU: Digital or film or both? Why?

MS: Both. I had photographed with film since I was young up until I graduated from college. When the digital revolution hit, I jumped on the bandwagon & purchased a digital SLR. I really enjoyed it for weddings because you could see immediately what you were capturing. But, I became frustrated with digital and all of the editing and decided to try some film for fun. I love the tones & true colors in film. I love the softness, the light it captures. I have a great lab that has customized my developing to achieve my look. I shoot part film & part digital depending on the wedding & lighting situations.

WU: Describe your wedding photography style.

MS: This is a very hard question to answer - mostly because I feel as though my work brings together many styles into one. My main style of shooting is to photograph in order to tell the "story" of the day. First and foremost, I'm there to document and capture my clients wedding day and how it unfolds. The next part of my approach to weddings is to show the "place". I think it is one of the most important parts of the day that helps tell the story. Clients usually choose a place that is special to them or shows off their personalities and I think it's important to capture that. Be it a farm wedding with a barn in a field, or a sunset ceremony on a beach or an elegant affair at an old, historic building, I love capturing the place and showing how it was a part of the wedding day. The third part is incorporating more timeless portraits into the story. While capturing candid moments are important, I feel that many families these days live long distances away and a wedding is sometimes the only time that they may all be together in one place. I really urge my clients to spend some time capturing portraits of all the important family members in their life. The last part of my style is one of my favorites and that is capturing all of the special details that my clients have created for their day. I think seeing the "place" along with the "people" plus the "details" all help tell the "story" of my clients wedding day.

WU: Show us your favorite wedding image and tell us why it represents who you are as a wedding photographer.

MS: This image is from a destination wedding in Mexico. It says everything about who I am and how I capture my images. I absolutely love destination weddings! Most couple's usually choose a destination spot because it is special to them - and that makes the "place" more meaningful. I find so much inspiration in a "place" - a city, a beach, a backyard, wherever it may be. I also get very inspired by new places. I love starting to shoot on a wedding day having not even seen the location. There's something magical about seeing something for the first time and capturing it right at that very moment. It really & truly inspires me and forces me to see things in a new way and be more creative. I also think that my background in design & architecture play a huge roll in my images. I love to use architectural & structural elements to frame photographs. In this case, we walked out onto a private pier over the water for some photos of the Bride & Groom. On our way back, I was waiting at the end of the pier at the steps for the Bride & Groom and saw the perspective looking back towards the water. I had them stop on the edge for a few photos, but this is by far my favorite and most magical image! I love the composition of the posts with their feet in the middle and the steps going down into the sand. The texture, the water, the sunset light - Love.

WU: What inspires you?

MS: My biggest source of inspiration is nature. I grew up next to a large park and was always outside. I love to pose my subjects in any natural landscape and use natural elements - flowers, trees, grass, a field, etc. in my photos. Natural light is also ideal for my style & the look of my images and I try to shoot in all natural light as much as possible. The other big source of inspiration draws from my first career & training in Interior Design & Architecture. I love to incorporate structures and buildings into my work to frame my subjects or use as a backdrop. Historic buildings and old churches are one of my favorite places to shoot - second to nature.

WU: What inspires your photography?

MS: I think knowing that I'm capturing memories for my clients & their families really inspires my work. I'm telling their stories for their future generations and their kids. Nothing is more priceless than looking at old family photos and seeing where you came from.

WU: How do you keep your wedding photography fresh?

MS: For each wedding, I try to do something new and creative. I'm always critiquing my own work when I'm editing and see things that I want to improve on, or new techniques I want to try. While I am usually too hard on myself, I think it really pushes me to be better and be more creative. I also think that because I do so much destination work, I'm in a new place for almost every wedding and that alone inspires me.

WU: Do you do non-wedding photography work? If so, how does it influence your wedding photography?

MS: I do some travel photography work just for fun. I love to travel and roam around and take photos. So my vacations are typically a little beach time, some sightseeing, but mostly taking photos. Shooting for me helps improve my skills, try out new ideas & practice. I think practicing your skills helps hone your talent and makes you a better artist. It helps to refine my skills and get comfortable with those new ideas before using them on a fast-paced, real wedding day. But most of all, it's simply inspiring.

WU: What makes you different from other wedding photographers?

MS: What makes me different is my dedication to personal service. I mostly work alone and am the heart of MSP. Besides my second shooters on a wedding day, I am involved in everything from the first email you receive, to capturing your images, to editing, to designing your album & shipping it to you. My clients can talk to me directly at anytime. I personally meet with each client, both before and after their wedding. I think that forming an honest relationship with clients really helps me get to know them & their style. It also allows for more trust between photographer & client. Trusting your photographer is a key part of the relationship and allows the client to be comfortable on their wedding day and allows the photographer to be free to create & be inspired.

WU: What would be your ideal wedding assignment?

MS: Oh wow, I've dreamed of many of these throughout the years. Most of my ideal wedding assignments revolve around a location - typically somewhere around the world, Sweden, Italy, Japan, Bali, Spain, Brazil. If I had to select one, it would be a wedding celebration in Greece. I would envision a very, very small & intimate (20 people or less) wedding in an old, abandoned structure on the hillsides just above the sea. A sunset reception with one, long table for everyone. I think that the wedding traditions in Greece are so beautiful & meaningful and really celebrate their culture.

WU: Tell us three things you can't live without.

MS: My dog. Good food. My family.

WU: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

MS: Keep your mouth shut and your ears {and eyes} open.

WU: What is the best advice you can give to an engaged couple?

MS: Take time to enjoy your engagement. Really, it can go by quickly and is usually filled with non-stop wedding planning, showers, engagement parties, etc. But don't forget that this wedding and your marriage is about the two of you. Take some time and spend it just being together.


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