Something New for 2022

I’ve been working for several weeks on a new logo for mellBella Photography. This will be the third edition of the logo since the mellBella brand was officially founded The name mellBella includes my name, BUT I didn’t want it to be just me. Bella is a nod to the Italian roots of my husband’s family who started Richard Bell Photography who gave me my start in photography. PLUS, Bella means beautiful. The first version of the logo was retro feeling, and of course the B was capitalized. Our colors were hot pink, black, and silver.

original mellBella logo

She was a good logo and the B changed colors to red and purple depending on the photo shoot too. However in 2017, we changed to something more flowy, modern, and sleek. It took some time to find the right fonts and color, but she was professional, curvy, and cute. 2017 mellBella logo

BUT over the last few years, mellBella Photography has grown in so many ways, and this logo didn’t fit the brand anymore. mellBella is so much more than professional, curvy, and cute. Soooooooo much more than where we started…. the logo needed to be more and different. So in February, I emailed my designer, Andy, who is also a Bell, to figure out a new look. It had to FEEL just right.   For the record, it’s really hard to describe something that you can’t picture in your head as the final look but you have lots of ideas, feelings, and an instinct that go into it. I’m so thankful to Andy for helping me through this process, listening, and translating it ALL into an actual design.

bisexual lighting with anonymous feeling tossing hair

This portrait was the INSPIRATION behind our new logo.  For her most recent shoot in December 2021, she asked if we could do some images with bisexual lighting. This lighting incorporates a blue gel and a magenta gel and where they meet creates purple lighting. The colors are on the bisexual flag, give an 80s retrowave vibe,  the three main hair colors I’ve had in recent years, AND are used throughout tv shows and movies as well. And if you know me, you know I love to PLAY with LIGHTING and COLOR.

This lovely woman has trusted me to photograph her and embrace who she is. She gave me permission to share this image without her face and a few details about her story. She was my very first trans client, and she even used the photos we created from her first portrait session to come out to her mother. Wow, just wow. I’m so grateful to her because trans people face high levels of discrimination and violence,  AND she’s not alone. To be clear, trans rights are human rights.  She is inspiring…  watching her confidence and comfort in herself grow over the years is indescribably beautiful.  Of course, there’s SO MUCH MORE to it all… so much more detail, history, struggle, growth, and most importantly, LOVE. SHE is the phenomenal muse behind the new logo.

The new logo is dedicated to-

  • The FANTASTIC woman in the above photo, of course.
  • ALL of my clients (past, present, and future) whose trust I value immensely.
  • The awkward, the in-between, those who have been told they’re less than, those who have been told they’re too much, those who feel out-of-place, and those who are still figuring it out.
  • Creating, Collaborating, and Caring.
  • Being a Whole Ass Person.

Check out the NEW look in the video below-

I wanted a logo that would be….

  • Slightly more modern but not stiff; still curvaceous
  • Upscale, high end but still relatable and friendly with some whimsy
  • NOT perfect
  • Vibrant, Bold, Fun
  • Androgynous, Feminine, and Masculine
  • A gradient of colors
  • Enchanting, Welcoming, and Balance
  • Something that feels like me
  • Something that when you look at it doesn’t look nor feel like every other photographer out there

I was finally diagnosed with ADHD later in life, so I lived most of my life feeling Out-of-Place without understanding who I am. I felt Awkward, Too Loud, Too Random, Out-of-Place, Weird and Clumsy in my Brain and Body, Forgetful, Lazy, and Not Good Enough. BUT as a child, I would watch Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and I always knew that Mr. Rogers liked me exactly as I am. No qualifications… no buts…. just how I am. Growing up, I wondered so many times– IF I was loved by my mother, IF I was unlovable, IF I could do anything right, IF I could ever decide what I wanted to do with my life, IF I was good enough, IF I can change myself enough to fit in, IF… IF… IF!!! I think that’s why the following quote is a huge part of my values:

“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.” -Mr. Fred Rogers

This new logo feels right… it feels fitting… it feels like it reflects the changes and growth in mellBella Photography. It feels retro and modern. It feels masculine, feminine, and androgynous. It feels welcoming and fun but serious and professional. It’s a balance and whimsical. 

mellBella Logo 2022

My goal is for the art I create with my clients to show:

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has or ever will have something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”  -Mr. Fred Rogers

So….. what’s next? The website. It’s a process, but it will be worth it.

 

2022 Intentions- W A P

Every new year, I choose words or phrases as my intentions for the year. I really liked last year’s intentions which were: Inclusion, Creation, and Innovation. I feel like mellBella Photography is on the right track, and we made some progress. I’m continuing my education in photography which goes far beyond camera and lighting gear. I’ve been reading, listening, and learning about fatphobia and diet culture as well as continuing learning about the “isms” (racism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc). I think the following quote sums up what I’m trying to do:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou

With the last few years, dramatically changing us all from figuring out life and daily tasks to exhaustion to mourning to anger, and to finding some joy and hope.  I’m struggling as a parent of a toddler and elementary school student. I’m struggling with my PMDD and ADHD and possibly have endometriosis too.  My PMDD causes me all kinds of problems and negative symptoms for at least 2 weeks out of every menstrual cycle. Time feels different. My ADHD is a beautiful but difficult conundrum, and allows me to pay attention to almost everything at the same time which makes sitting down to focus my attention difficult at times but it’s the best thing for a photo shoot because I’ll notice the mood, the lighting, the temperature, personality, changes, noises, etc. Now those are health struggles… and there’s so much more that goes into the day to day.

So what does this have to do with intentions for 2022? I am a W-A-P.  For 2022, my intentions for mellBella Photography can be summed up by those three letters– WAP.

I am a WAP. Everyone you see or meet is a WAP. Each human is a WAP. You are a WAP. A WAP is…. a WHOLE ASS PERSON.

You are supposed to take up SPACE. Almost every person, who comes to my studio for the first time, is so nervous, and they shrink themselves at first. But throughout the photo shoot, it’s a discovery of seeing themselves as worthy of taking up space… of being a WAP– WHOLE ASS PERSON! Being a Whole Ass Person does NOT include being unkind and disrespectful. Basically, DON’T be an Ass Hole Person to yourself nor others. And as a Whole Ass Person (WAP), you are going to have feelings that might change daily about how you look or feel in your body. When you feel a disconnect or uncomfortable in your own body, it’s soooooo easy for the negative self talk to take over and the feelings of self worth plummet. Maybe you feel bad because you “should” look a certain way and don’t. There’s no one right way to look, BTW. You are worthy of LOVE because you exist. It’s inherent.

“You must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first.”    Rupi Kaur

You bring your baggage literally to the photo shoot, and there’s so much going on inside of you before you arrive. I don’t know your history, but sometimes you share part of it with me before your shoot day. Maybe you’re recovering from an illness, accident, or surgery.  Maybe you’re celebrating your birthday, anniversary, or surviving and leaving a bad relationship. Maybe you were raised to believe that your body is shameful. Maybe you’ve always felt self conscious about your body or that you feel awkward in it. Maybe you’ve done a photo shoot with us before and you want to try something different or bolder this time because you’re less nervous and more excited. Maybe you had a baby and want to celebrate or appreciate your new body.

“Radical self-love demands that we see ourselves and others in the fullness of our complexities and intersections and that we work to create space for those intersections.” —  Sonya Renee Taylor

I don’t know what happened right before you arrive at the studio. Maybe traffic was bad. Maybe you got in a verbal argument with someone important to you. Maybe you struggle with depression or anxiety and struggled even getting out of bed today. Maybe you’ve been caring for a sick loved one. Maybe inside you’re scared about hating photos of yourself… again. Maybe you were taught growing up that loving yourself/feeling good about yourself is selfish and you’re struggling with those conflicts still today. Maybe that person who was supposed to be safe and loving told you horrible lies about you and your body which you are still carrying with you. Maybe your kids were incredibly difficult to interact with that morning. Maybe you couldn’t sleep the night before your photo shoot. Maybe you want to do something just for you because it’s well past time you did and you need something to put back into you.

“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.” ― Sophia Bush

When you arrive at the mellBella studio, I want you to find a breath of fresh air, a place of comfort, a safe space, and a ton of joy. I want you to relax and be in this moment right now… not the past… not the future– but right now. I want you to set some of your baggage down, and take a little break from it. Maybe you have to take some of that baggage with you when you leave, but maybe just maybe, you can leave with lighter bags. I want you to feel more free and confident to be you, yourself, and your WHOLE ASS PERSONHOOD.

 

What to Wear Not Your Typical Looks

What To Wear For Your Boudoir Shoot– Top 10 ‘Not Your Typical’ Looks

I get asked this question a lot, …

What should I wear at my boudoir photo shoot?

A lot of people are familiar with some of the typical lingerie options and accessories (underwear, bra, corset, stilettos, etc.) or possibly simply your birthday suit. But what about if typical isn’t your thing? What if you want to wear something that reflect more your personal style? Maybe one of our Top Ten ‘Not Your Typical’ Looks ‘ for your Boudoir Session will give you a place to get started.

  1. Button Up Shirt with a Twist— you’ve seen it everywhere –the classic white button up shirt. But what if the shirt has a different texture or possibly see thru? I really like this idea because it’s versatile, comes in a variety of sizes, and pairs well with other looks at your shoot or at home. Here’s an example I found on Amazon:
  2. Swimsuit Cover Up— Look at these sheer pants I found on Amazon! There’s options with and without ruffles. Almost any swimsuit cover up is great… don’t be afraid of bold colors too!
    black sheer pants with ruffles on the sides
  3. Footie Pajamas– Seriously, why not? Plus, these rubber ducky pjs are the best!
    rainbow rubber ducky footie pajamas
  4. Favorite Fabric– What type of fabrics do you love? Color? Texture? Pattern? Go down to your local craft store and get at least 3 yards of a fabric that makes you happy. We have some options in our mellBella Client Closet too! From there, we can decorate you or your set with the fabric of your choice.
    pearls and moody purple
  5. Halloween Costume–  You needed an excuse to wear it again, and I LOVE HALLOWEEN! The studio always has a little bit of Halloween decor up all year long.
    halloween baroque costume
  6. Coveralls/Jumpsuits/Rompers Oh My!– Really there’s no wrong answer here.
    coveralls and chuck taylor shoes
  7. Body Harness– From leather to elastic… and they come in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors.
    red wall, black leather body harness, and jeans
  8. Sweatpants/Yoga Pants/Workout Clothing– Yes, you read that correctly… comfy clothing for the win!
    teal sports bra and black capri exercise pants
  9. Go Retro– Just pick a fashion era that you love  and commit…whether it’s 90s Goth, 50s pinup, Rococo style, etc. 
    black and white crop top with pleather pants
  10. Thrift Store Finds— You never know what you’ll find, AND it’s a great way to recycle too. So look for your favorite color, unusual, weird, wild, silly, etc. It can be anything from a dress, pants, t-shirt, hat, shoes, belt, and the list goes on. Two of my favorite Charleston Thrift Stores are:  Closet Case Thrift and The Exchange Factor   
    thrift store find flowy orange halter dress

 

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

 

mellbella what to wear comfy tank

One Image Wednesday- Comfy Tank

It’s time for another What To Wear Wednesday! So what’s good option that you can wear right now and/or for a photo shoot? Comfy tank tops, of course. (Bra optional). I’ve been living in comfy tank tops lately too. They’re convenient, inexpensive, and cool for those warm summers days. Plus, if you’re working from home and you’re not on a video conference, no one knows what you’re wearing anyways.

Wear THAT Dress

One Image Wednesday- THAT Dress

Happy Wednesday! It’s always a struggle to figure out what to wear for your photo shoot. But what about that dress you love?!? It doesn’t have to be a ballgown, but it could be. It doesn’t have to be your wedding dress, but it COULD be. It could even be that dress you wore on your first date, your anniversary, or your birthday. OR maybe it’s just your favorite dress that you wear to the beach. Don’t think I CAN’T WEAR THAT! Bring it to your mellBella session to see that dress in a whole new way.

Boudoir FAQ

Boudoir Q & A Podcast

Mell Bell and Wanda and I were recently on a Podcast. And not just any old Podcast but it was Weddings from the Pros!!! A local and amazing Podcast filled with lots of great info for wedding planning, but of course, we put on our spin on it. On the pod, we chatted with Nathan Whitworth of Angled Light Photography and Kendall Kapanzhi of Wedding Festivals.

While we did talk about boudoir photography as it relates to a wedding gift, there’s soooo much more about one core beliefs, our process, our experience, and lots of answers to common boudoir questions. Like, why do a boudoir session? And, how do you choose a boudoir photographer? So check it out and let us know what you think.

Listen on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bridal-boudoir-the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving/id1486145197?i=1000463421261

Or Spotify : https://open.spotify.com/episode/5SlXzHwuqonUl6ArBtWUwR

Let’s do this!

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    Best time to call

    How did you hear about us?

    What are you interested in?
    BoudiorPinupStyled

    Why is doing this important to you, and what draws you to our studio?

    If you have any questions, great! If you are ready to book, even better.

    with love from Mell and Wanda

    2020 New Year

    Mell Bell and Wanda the photographers and founders of mellBella Photography

    Happy New Year from mellBella! It’s 2020. It’s a new year and with that it means there fresh excitement for change, hope, and love. For growing, dreaming and achieving, building a better world filled with justice and love, making positive connections, for surviving and getting through, gratitude, and as always kindess.

    We don’t know what all this new year holds. Some people say 2020 is the year of clear vision…haha. But we have some ideas and dreams that we look forward to bringing to you this year.

    Our motto for this year is timeless advice:

    “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else!” RuPaul

    Thank you for your trust, your support, and just being yourself. To 2020!

    mell bell and wanda News flash friday faces

    News Flash Friday- October 2018

    mellbella trick or treat 2018

    Halloween Costume Contest

    What are you going to be for Halloween?  Be sure to enter our online Halloween Costume Contest. You could win a FREE boudoir or pinup session with us or some other fantastic prizes. The rules are simple, and all ladies 21 years old and up are eligible to enter.

    1. Post a photo of yourself in your costume on Facebook or Instagram now through October 31st
    2. Tag mellBella in your post on Facebook- mellBella Boudoir & PinUp Photography or Instagram – mellBella
    3. Add the hashtag #mellbellatrickortreat2018
    4. There are 3 categories and prizes: Overall (wins the FREE session), Scariest, and Sexiest (have other awesome prizes)

    We’ll announce the winner after Halloween! Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    Miss Rockabillaque 2018

    Rockabillaque 2018

    Are you ready? It’s almost time for the 6th annual Rockabillaque at Park Circle in North Charleston from 11am-6pm on November 10th. Bring your friends, and come check out the vintage car and bike shows, live music, or enter one of the contests: Pinup, Tattoo, Beard & Mustache, and more. mellBella is proudly sponsoring the Pinup Contest again, and this year, we’ll be judging it too! So grab your pearls, wear your best pinup look, and rock on down to Park Circle. We’ll also have a booth there to check out our pinup photography too.

    C4W NEW Conference 2018

    Center for Women NEW Conference

    C4WNEW is the Center for Women’s 2-day event on November 15 & 16th bringing inspiring fresh ideas, relevant and useful knowledge, and innovative thinking to curious and ambitious women in South Carolina. This event will ignite professional growth, personal transformation, and economic development. mellBella will be there as part of their ME TIME Marketplace with specials ONLY available for those attending. AND you can still purchase the She’s My Hero Calendar at this event.

    Get your tickets at: Center for Women

    mellBella Gives Back

    mellBella Fun Fact

    Looking to give back? Some of our favorite local non profits/charities to support are:

    • One Eighty Place ends and prevents homelessness one person at a time, one family at a time.
    • Florence Crittenton Programs of SC provide education, counseling services, medical care, social support, and a safe haven for at-risk,  pregnant and parenting young women in need.
    • People Against Rape (PAR) is a sexual advocacy program offering free support and services for survivors of sexual assault.
    • YWCA Greater Charleston is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

    We’ll be posting some more about them and their Christmas Wish Lists coming soon!

    She's My Hero Calendar Launch Party banner

    She’s My Hero Project Calendar Launch Party

    To celebrate women, their diversity and empowerment, mellBella Photography created the She’s My Hero Project , a project to raise awareness and as a charity fundraiser for the Center for Women.  On October 10th from 6-9pm at Boone Hall, mellBella Photography along with our fabulous sponsors will host the She’s My Hero Calendar Launch Party.  Dress is casual or business casual, but we welcome you to come just as you are. The colors for the event are purples, lavenders, silver, and white, so feel free to dress to match.

    She's My Hero Ticket Link

    We will have Erin Kienzle of Lowcountry Live, as our wonderful emcee, to present each of the winners and their photos during the big reveal. The photos from the She’s My Hero Contest  winners will be in the 2019 She’s My Hero Calendar. It’s going to be so much fun, as the winners of the  haven’t even seen their photos!

    erin of lowcountry live with wanda and mell bell

    Hungry? Enjoy complimentary food, drinks, and desserts from the delicious Asian and Latin cuisine of Dashi and mini sweet treats, wine, and sangria from Sweet Lulu’s Bakery, Cocktail Caravan, and Pedal Pub.

    And who doesn’t love a silent auction? The auction items that have been donated will be on display and up for bidding to support the  Come ready to have fun, purchase a calendar, bid and win at the Silent Auction, and/make a donation. The calendars will be $20 and a suggested donation at the door is $20. Of course, it’s not mandatory, but after all, it is a fundraiser.  All proceeds from  donations, the silent auction, and calendar sales go directly to the Center for Women.

    Did you get your tickets yet? The event is FREE to attend, you just need to:

     Get Your Tickets HERE! 

    A huge thank you to our sponsors! We couldn’t have done this without your supprt. Be sure to check them and show your support for these local businesses– many are women-owned. Can’t wait to see you there!

    Did you get your tickets yet? While the event is FREE to attend, you just need to register at the link below. Get your tickets NOW! Can't wait to see you there.