One Image Wednesday

One Image Wednesday- Inferno Wings

Here’s a little something new we added to our studio… the Inferno Wings! These gorgeous gray wings can be added on to your session as an additional set. We can set the scene for a moody dark angel or maybe you want something a little more heavenly. What will you be?

mellBella Inferno Wings
Introducing Mell Bell

Meet Mell Bell

It’s been a while since I introduced myself. I’m Mell Bell… yes THE Mell Bell of mellBella Photography. I’m the photographer, artist, creative, designer, ride or die, never gonna give you up, cheerleader, etc. kind of person. My pronouns are she/her.

I’ve been a photographer with Richard Bell Photography since 2005. So I got my start in wedding and family portrait photography with my husband, Nathan, son of Richard Bell. I’m so thankful to be a part of the family business, but something was missing. In 2010, I photographed my first boudoir session, and after that, I knew THIS was the missing piece. So, with a lot of planning, long hours, and hard work, I founded the mellBella Brand with my dear friend. (Naming the company, Richard Bell Boudoir wasn’t going work. Totally not sexy at all!) Over the years, we’ve added pinup, styled, sets, a client closet, and so many things. Every year, I introduce a few new things that help make the mellBella Experience even better. Always thinking and growing!

many faces of mell bell

Because I feel it’s important to have a great relationship with my clients, we should get to know each other a little bit. So here goes…

  • One of my favorite local organizations is the YWCA Greater Charleston. Their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women is very important to me.
  • I have 2 daughters that are 8 years apart in age. What a BIG surprise indeed!
  • I’m awkward and empathetic, but my super power is embracing the awkward and making people feel comfortable.
  • I love my freckles, and I call them angel kisses.
  • Flip flops are my shoe of choice, but  I’ll rock a pair of heels for the right occasion.
  • I wish I could do hair and makeup, but I leave that to the professionals.
  • I pay homage to Lucille Ball with all my facial expressions.
  • My favorite drinks are Coke Zero, Jack Daniels, Espolòn Tequila, Diet Dr Pepper, and of course water.
  • I can eat ALL the pasta, pizza, and ice cream any time.
  • I celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions with an impromptu dance party.
  • Some of my favorite TV Shows are:  POSE, Grey’s Anatomy, Schitt’s Creek, Supernatural, Queen Sugar, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,  Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Steven Universe, and more!
  • I have too many movies to narrow down, but we’ll start with Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther, Spider Man: Into the Spider-verse, and COCO are my more recent favs.
  • My musical preference depends on the day or mood.

And finally I’ll end with a non Photoshopped boudoir photo of me, taken by me, and quote that is a mantra of mine.

“You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There’s never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.”  — Fred Rogers

professional boudoir selfie by mell bell

 

One Image Wednesday

One Image Wednesday- Over the Bed

For this One Image Wednesday, I wanted to share one portrait from our Over-the-Bed camera. We love dressing up the bed with complimentary colors to really set the mood. We love a messy bed! Whether you want go bold or more natural, we customize the look on the bed for you. For the Bella, we used black, gold, pink, and just for fun a rose gold necklace from our mellBella Closet. Her black lace shoes are also available from our mellBella Closet. What are your favorite colors?

mellbella over the bed camera
In Her Own Words mellBella

In Her Own Words- Ms Lilly

I love the tousled hair look, and Ms Lilly worked some model wind at her session in our studio. Here’s what she had to say about her mellBella Boudoir Experience.

mellbella messy hair boudoir

BEFORE Her mellBella Boudoir Session— “How I felt before- I’m excited and nervous. I have always wanted to do this, but never had the nerve. I can’t wait to do this, to feel strong and confident, but also show my fiance how much I love him!”

booty shot over the bed at mellBella Photography

AFTER Her Photoshoot—  “IT WAS AMAZING!!! They act like you’ve been BFFs forever. They make you laugh, feel comfortable, beautiful, confident, and overal AMAZING! They really made me feel strong and confident. I would do this again in a heartbeat. They truly make you love yourself.”

black and red teddy boudoir

AFTER Her Photo Reveal“The experience gave me confidence in my image and my self-confidence is where it should have been all along.  I am proud of myself and my beauty.”

natural light skimming across the body boudoir

 

christopher robin quote

Transitions and Changes

2020…what a year!!! I don’t think any of us could have imagined what this year would look like.  I think we’ve all become familiar with having to figure out new ways of working, schooling, living, and dealing with everything in our daily lives.

Today, I want to share with you a big transition in mellBella Photography. About 10 years ago, Wanda and I dreamed, planned, and officially founded the mellBella Brand. We were two best friends with big ideas and tenacious attitudes to create a one-of-a-kind, empowering photography experience.

mell bell and wanda are up to something
Each year we would imagine and create new ways to elevate the mellBella Experience. Our families have grown together and even at times vacationed together. Wanda was at the births of both my children, and I (Mell) helped photograph two of Wanda’s daughter’s weddings. Also all of Wanda’s daughters have helped out at mellBella through the years too, especially Cecilee (Wanda’s eldest daughter).

Since 2012, Cecilee has worn many different hats as a part of the mellBella team. She started helping us with our boudoir marathons, and her assignments grew from there. You may have met her as the Welcome Committee when you arrived at our studio. Or maybe it was at one of the many wedding shows/Rockabillaque. Or in your actual photo shoot when she helped out with posing and photography.

Mell Bell, Cecilee, and Wanda

But things at mellBella are changing and adapting like we do every year. This year, we have the biggest change yet. The pandemic has hit our industry hard causing a difficult yet necessary shift among our mellBella team. Therefore, with lots of love, friendship, and support, we want to announce that Wanda and Cecilee are now small business owners. They have launched a new business, like none other, in the Charleston area. Introducing Mamasita’s Cloth Diaper Service.

mamasita's cloth diaper service
It is their goal to make cloth diapering an easy eco-friendly experience.  They even offer cloth wipes, diaper balm, wipe solution, and more. Let me just say that as one of their first clients,  I LOVE my products and so does my little one. Seriously, the diaper balm and wipes solution smell soooooo good. Be sure to check them out at: mamasitasclothdiaperservice.com

Please show your love and support to Wanda and Cecilee and their business. And if you or someone you know is having a baby/thinking about cloth diapering, please share their website, Facebook, or Instagram. They even offer classes on cloth diapering or you can check them out at the  Sea Island Farmer’s Market.

Wanda and Cecilee-I love you both so much, and I look forward to seeing your business grow. Thank you for all the time, the hard work, the behind the scenes, your friendship, support, and everything inbetween!  Our friendship is not something that comes along every day, and it’s not something that’s going away.

mellBella Photography isn’t going anywhere either. Things may be changing, but we’re adaptable. You can still expect  a one-of-a-kind, empowering photography experience. That’s one thing that will never change. And in true mellBella fashion, I want to share some of my favorite mellBella moments with Wanda over the years.

In Her Own Words mellBella

In Her Own Words- Ms Allison

boudoir through the archway

Ms Allison wanted to celebrate her birthday, and why not? She wanted to come out of her shell and feel confident. She chose something glamorous and something comfy to wear for her shoot. Here’s how her session went in her own words…

boudoir lounging on our antique sofa

BEFORE Her mellBella Boudoir Session— “Super Excited for my photoshoot. What a way to bring in my 25th. I am looking forward to the pictures. Surprisingly I am not worried. 🙂 Let the fun begin.”

black and blue color scheme for our boudoir bed

AFTER Her Photoshoot—  “Best photoshoot ever! These ladies surely know how to make you feel comfortable. I was so relaxed, and the previews phenomenal. I will be back :)”

Comfy tank top boudoir

 

 

In Her Own Words mellBella

In Her Own Words- Ms Kim

It’s time for another real story from our Bellas. Ms Kim was SOoooo ready for this shoot and here’s what she had to say about it.

statement necklace in black and white

Before Her mellBella Boudoir Session– “I wanted to give my husband a different kind of birthday present this year. I know he will absolutely LOVE this! I am a little nervous yet excited at the same time. I can’t wait to see the photos! It’s going to be so fun!”

red and black color scheme over the bed boudoir

After Her Photoshoot– “It was an amazing experience! The girls showed me exactly how to pose to make me feel sexy! Even from the few pictures they showed me during the shoot were amazing and made me feel so confident. I am almost positive I will be doing another shoot in the future. Thank you!”

moody boudoir lighting

After Her Photo Reveal– “I feel that this experience positively transformed me. I genuinely enjoyed every moment during the shoot, which I did not expect. I was anxious and excited all at the same time for this experience. I’m so glad that I choose to do this because it made me feel empowered and proud of the woman that I am. So thank you both for that!”

boudoir headshot with messy hair
What To Wear Favorite Color

One Image Wednesday- Wear Your Favorite Color

don't be afraid to wear color at your boudoir session

For boudoir, most people think you have to limit your color options to black, white, or red. But who doesn’t love wearing their favorite color? Don’t be afraid to wear something in yours–whether it be lingerie, a dress, shoes, or maybe even a flower. We love playing with colors to enhance your look. What’s your favorite color?

In Her Own Words mellBella

In Her Own Words- Ms Rachel

Ms Rachel brought a gorgeous cozy sweater,  lacey teal bodysuit, and this WOW bra for her session. But we’ll let her tell you a little more about her mellBella Boudoir Experience.

all those lovely curves on the boudoir bed

Before Her mellBella Boudoir Session– “It is hard to put my feelings into words with how I’m feeling/thinking. I’m a mix of anxious, excited, a little nervous because this is out of my comfort zone. Despite the fact that I feel like I’m shaking like a leaf. I’m excited for this experience and can’t wait for what unfolds.”

relaxing and cozy boudoir

After Her Photoshoot– “Nervous at first, but felt so comfortable by the second pose. The amount of confidence I felt was surreal. Any insecurities I had, didn’t exist. I’m walking out of the studio a stronger woman that has gained self-love. I’ll forever cherish this experience.”

pink couch and that boudoir look

After Her Photo Reveal– “My self confidence has improved tremendously. I can be beautiful without being a pre-pregnancy size 4. I’ve learned how to embrace what other “gifts” motherhood has given me in addition to my daughter.”

boudoir power pose in a teal bodysuit

 

Help Support Change Together

Where To Begin

I don’t know where to start, but here it goes… As you know, the world is battling the pandemic known as COVID-19. AND every state in the USA and several countries around the world are protesting police brutality and standing together to declare that Black Lives Matter. Wow! In my whole life, I have never seen such unity around the world. As some of you, I was in quarantine for several weeks, and in some ways, it’s been a bit of a reset… a time to rethink, listen, learn, and focus.

In Charleston, we’ve also had protests, acts of rebellion, walks against hate,  one night of people getting tear gassed by the police, arrests of protesters violating curfew, defacing of Confederate and/or monuments of slave owners or supports of slavery, mask wearing optional, some social distancing, and a lot of what should we do/where do we go from here.

For the last several years, I’ve been researching, reading, listening, and learning about racism, systemic racism, and White Privilege.  I’m not an expert. I’m still learning, but I just want to be a part of making the world a better place. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania until I was 11, and I never met a person of a different race until I moved to South Carolina. And I grew up very white– meaning that my neighborhood, church, school, my mom’s work, and almost all of my friends were white. My family never talked about racism, and for a long time,  I literally had no clue there was racism because I was in my little bubble. I thought that the Civil War and slavery had ended, so why is racism a problem? I don’t treat POC any differently. According to our Constitution, everyone is equal, right? Racism solved (NOPE). My history classes in school glazed over the Trail of Tears, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement.

So what is racism? Being racist isn’t simply not saying the N word and just treating everyone kindly. We have to be more than that simplistic view of racism… we have to be actively against racism in all its forms… antiracist. But what does that mean? “Racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas. Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” –Ibram X. Kendi from How to Be an Antiracist

A dear friend allowed me to share some of her writing, and here’s a quote from her that I’ve been thinking about: “Meditate on how this saturation in whiteness has shaped your thoughts, your beliefs, and the lens through which you see the world. Let go of your belief in white innocence and your need to be *seen* as a good person; become that person instead … This is mostly an inward journey where your mind and beliefs and actions will be challenged and ideally transformed.” –Jada Elata

Basically stop trying to prove you’re a good person and just go become one. Embrace the discomfort, listen, and learn before you speak. You don’t have to do it alone. You will still make mistakes but keep learning and trying. Talking about race can be really intimidating, but not talking about it hasn’t helped at all. But what can we do? Thankfully, there are many different ways we can learn, be an ally, and show support. As a White person, I will never know nor fully understand everything that a Black person deals with every day of their lives. But there is hope, and I can be an ally and do something. You can too! And hopefully with everything that is going on in the world, together we can be a part of the change to make the world a better, more just place. Because lives truly do depend on it.

So what can we do…..This link has petitions to sign, resources for education, places to text/call, links to voter registration, and more: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Another great way to help is to support Black-Owned businesses. Here’s some just to get started, but I’ll list some local ones first. I tried to list a variety of businesses from food to art–

Fresh Future Farm
Kasada Beauty Supply
Motherland Essentials

Dellz
Swank Desserts
Anaris Photography
DNA Sweetgrass Baskets
Turning Page Bookshop
Kiddie U North Charleston
Marcus Amaker
Ment Nelson
The HoneyPot
SC Division of Small and Minority Business Contracting and Certification
Black-Owned Beauty Businesses