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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

 

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

 

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
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

 

In Her Own Words mellBella

In Her Own Words- Ms Coco

I’ve been thinking… you know I could tell you 1,000 reasons why you should do a boudoir photoshoot with mellBella Photography, but why not let our clients tell you about their experience instead. So, we’ll be sharing actual client images and what they had to say about their mellBella Experience. All clients that we share with you have given us permission, and we never share your images without permission. So, let’s start off this series with Ms Coco, and see what she has to say.

moody lighting boudoir


BEFORE Her mellBella Boudoir Session
“How to describe what I feel before this photoshoot? Scared, anxious, and excited! The ladies have been welcoming which has helped with the nerves. We’ll see how this goes! At the end of the day, it’s about feeling confident and beautiful in the body I have, and I know he will appreciate any gift that shows my confidence!”

boudoir silhouette by mellBella

 

AFTER Her Photoshoot ” 🙂 If I could match the smiley to reflect these flase lashes I would. Never in my mind did I think I could handle being photographed, let alone in boudoir, but this was so much fun. I was also able to stay out of my own head with their directions. I owned my sexuality in this for sure!”

details statement necklace

 

AFTER Her Photo Reveal “This experience helped me develop a confidence in not just my sexuality as a woman but in being the subject of photography in general. It also showed me that taking a little risk may have big rewards. I’m a badass! :)”

black and white striped stockings boudoir
simply sweet boudoir

Caroline’s Boudoir Story

Every woman has a story. We’re thankful to share Caroline’s Boudoir Journey in her own words with the photos we created together. We hope she will inspire you on your journey.
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“Princess. Diva. Super-model. I’ve been them all, if only for a few hours.

Here’s my story: I’m an overweight, thirty-something (coughcough) mother of two, and a boudoir photography session has been my goal for years. I told myself that I was going to get skinny, so that I could take some rockin’ photos for my husband—and myself!—to look back on. Barring reaching my goal weight (which hasn’t happened), I promised myself that I would do it for my ten-year wedding anniversary. I blinked, and here it is; we’re planning our anniversary celebration. So even though I’m not ideal (at all), I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and make an appointment with MellBella, the sister company of Richard Bell Photography, one of the premier wedding photography companies in the southeast.

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Here’s their story: Five years ago, two best friends conceived of this company in order to honor women. I’m going to paraphrase Mell herself here (and when she explained their motivations, she was so impassioned that she was tearing up a little): Women are under intense emotional strain. We’re often the primary caregivers. We’re often the primary house-keepers. We’re often working a job inside or outside the house. We’re expected to stay strong for our families while being told by social constructs and media images that we’re not good enough. Many of us have issues with the way we look, and know that we’re not the ideal.
 

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I know that I’m not the ideal; any photo that I share with my public not only represents an hour of hair, make-up, and wardrobe prep, but has probably been edited a bit too. In other words, at my very best, I’m still not ideal. MellBella took my not-ideal body and (yes, there was an hour of hair/make-up prep) made me feel ideal. That’s an incredibly empowering talent. I am still walking tall, knowing that I might be lounging in yoga pants and a ratty t-shirt today, but I can look like a magazine model with a little help.

 
One very efficient strategy Mell employed was flipping the camera around early on, to show me just one of the shots she’d taken of me. If the lady in the viewfinder of that camera hadn’t been wearing my birthmark on my arm, I wouldn’t have believed it was me. I looked… gorgeous. Sexy. Beautiful. Like I belonged in a magazine… and from that moment on, I was confident instead of awkward in my poses, because I’d seen how I could look.

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Boudoir photography is ostentatiously for men—we do it for our husbands and lovers, and MellBella offers discounts to wives of deployed military husbands—but that’s not the complete truth. We tell ourselves that, in order to justify the experience—justify the chance to feel like a princess for a few hours—but the experience is really for us. We don’t have to be scantily clad in these photos; I took several that are perfectly normal and I plan on hanging on my wall. Because while I plan on giving most of these photos to my husband, I’m also keeping some for myself. Thanks to this session, I not only feel better about myself, but I have a series of incredible photos that I can look back on in the years to come. Mell even told me that many women carry copies of these photos with them, to peek at when they need a pick-me-up. One glance at these, and I know that I would walk taller, prouder.

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Consider booking your session with MellBella—or any other women’s photographer—today, so that you can have this natural high I’m still feeling; the high of feeling like super model for an afternoon, and looking at photos of yourself and knowing that you’re a beautiful, sensual, confident woman, no matter what you feel like society is telling you about being good enough. I promise you that you won’t regret it.  MellBella Photography: Beauty at Every Age and Every Stage.”  ~Caroline ralesept1615-0113 ralesept1615-0090