Posts

Growth in Boudoir Photography

For 2021, I choose three words that I want to guide my focus for this year…. INCLUSION, CREATION, & INNOVATION. I am working through updating the website, social media, and throughout the business to be more accessible, more inclusive, address any other concerns, and update the imagery too. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and I wanted to share some growth and history with you.

I was brought up in a family with a verbally and emotionally abusive mother. My father died when I was thirteen. They had brought me up in a cultish religion where only they (the religion) had the answers,  and everyone else was wrong. Changing your views was considered sinful and wrong… even when new information from many verified sources disproved that view/value. Hating yourself and putting your needs/boundaries last was considered the highest good. Many lies were fed to me through this religion, and any negative things about the religion or respected leader were hidden. Guilt, shame, and fear were the motivations to do “the right thing” as they defined it… and most of the religion’s values were either racist, misogynistic, homophobic, ableist, etc… and a lot of times a deadly cocktail of some of or all them. Add to this my struggles with undiagnosed ADHD (until summer 2020) and never feeling like enough or feeling like too much.

Fast forward to high school where I started questioning a lot of the misogynistic practices in my high school. Then to college and after,  getting married, and having kids. Throughout my life, I never thought of myself as hot, sexy, or even beautiful. I thought of myself as cute, silly, quirky, and very awkward. When I started photography in the family business through weddings, I kept seeing again and again how only women who looked a certain way were in the movies, tv, magazines, models, advertising, etc. And that the view of a women’s beauty and her worth was only if she met this impossible criteria. I photographed my first boudoir shoots in 2010 and connected the dots… that all women are beautiful and should feel that way.

So when the mellBella Photography  brand started in January 2011, our mission was to “remind women they are more beautiful than they think they are. Specializing in women’s photography to honor these Bella Beauties and the men they love.” WOW! Thankfully, we’ve done A LOT of growing since then. That mission was problematic… exclusive in several ways. We had a very narrow view of boudoir photography and what it was back then.  Coming into boudoir photography as wedding photographers, we narrowed our focus to only brides either getting married or as gifts for wives to get their husbands.  BUT that excluded  LGBTQIA+ persons… it excluded any other gender… it excluded people who weren’t married… it excluded people who didn’t have a partner… and it made it only about a gift for someone else.  And on top of all that, we had very little diversity in our clients.

Me circa 2011 early on in the mellBella Photography life

 

How did/do I change it? It came/comes through putting in the hard work personally and through the business…. education and communication. Being open to changes to learning… not being afraid of being wrong… apologizing and taking the steps to correct the problems…and changing the goal to not only became a better photographer but also a better human. To create a welcoming, safe place, and fabulous experience for our clients.  And to always be learning, admit wrong doing, when you mess up–make up for it as best as you can, and to put love and kindness above all else.  I have invested in education through The Boudoir University  I’m  over halfway through their foundational program called The 7 Pillar Program: The Course for Photographers Who Give A Damn. “The pillars are designed to confront blind spots, outdated belief systems, and biases that we all have when it comes to the human experience. In order for us to become more empathetic and thus, more empowering, we need to open ourselves up to understanding experiences from different intersections.” Boudoir Photography is truly so much more than “pretty pictures” or just a “photo or tw0.”

Image of Mell Bell by Christine Hamrick Photography

So, what is the mellBella Photography mission/goals now?!? I don’t have a formal mission statement right now that is wrapped up nicely in one sentence… but here’s what I value:

  • EVERY BODY is beautiful. EVERY SINGLE BODY is freaking gorgeous simply because it exists.
  • Boudoir Photography isn’t just for females… it’s for ALL genders.
  • For my clients to see themselves with loving eyes instead of hypercritical ones.
  • Celebrating YOUR version of beautiful, sexy, happy, strong, silly, sensual, etc.
  • Confirmation, Detoxification, Communication, Exhilaration, Declaration, and Affirmation of YOU
  • Creating a Safe Space of respect, trust, peace, vulnerability, emotions, and comfort combined with fun and laughter.
  • An experience that puts back into someone…reminding them to value themselves… appreciate their bodies… AND yes, even CELEBRATE.

Here’s just a small sample of the portraits I’ve been doing. I dedicate to my unforgettable clients, my friends, and family who support me and my work:

 

⠀⠀⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

 

 

 

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.

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?

mellbella virtual session art

Now Offering Virtual Photoshoots

It’s official… we’re NOW offering Virtual Mini Sessions. All you need is your phone, a strong WIFI or Cell connection, an outfit, and a great attitude! A Virtual Photoshoot is a beautiful way to create one-of-a-kind fine art portraits AND practice social distancing. Each image is crafted to create a custom work of art. All images in this post were inspired and built from a mellBella Virtual Photo Session.

mellbella virtual session fine art


Our Virtual Art Package is $300 and includes:

  • 30 min virtual session
  • Three 4×6 Torchon Fine Art Prints (including these three digital files)
  • 30 min online photo reveal and ordering session

It’s so hard to convey digitally how these look in person as seen below. OMG they are gorgeous!!! They are printed on Torchon by Hahnemühle, which is a watercolor paper with a distinct textured surface. It’s one of the highest quality of fine art paper.

fine art torchon portraits

At your photo reveal appointment, you’ll have 10-15 portraits to review and pick your favorites. Additional products or fine art prints are available for purchase. Again, each of these images will be personally photographed and edited by Mell Bell (me!) Results will vary.

Click HERE to Book your virtual session NOW!

how to prepare for your boudoir session with mellBella

How To Prepare For Your Boudoir Session

Figuring out how to prepare for your boudoir session may seem overwhelming, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

At mellBella Photography, boudoir prep is EASY! All you have to do is take a deep breath and check out the following tips…

Determine Your Desired Look

Do you want your shoot to be full-on sexy or sort of sweet? Do you want to go Over the-top glamorous or more natural? Do you want to go nude, partially nude, wear lingerie, a favorite t-shirt, or pjs?   Your desired look for the session will help us pick the best sets/lighting. details, wardrobe, and props for your photo shoot. And it’s totally fine if you don’t know. Just pick one outfit you like, and we’ll take it from there.

boudoir details in black and white by mellbella

Find a Specialist

Boudoir portraiture is a niche art form, so you must be very discerning when choosing a photographer. It’s crucial to do your research—browse their portfolios and read client testimonials. Since boudoir is such an intimate and vulnerable experience, it’s essential you find someone whom you trust and feel comfortable around. We’ve been boudoir photographers since 2010 and have photographed hundreds of clients, and we love giving our Bellas the best experience! But don’t just take our word for it… check out our reviews on Google and The Knot.   We’re currently in the process of updating our website, but be sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages and stories to see what we’re up to now.

 Wardrobe

Start by shopping your closet for the items you instinctively select when you want to feel (and look) your absolute best. Don’t stress over this. If you feel lost, just bring one bra/panty set, one bodysuit, and one wildcard (like something from our mellBella Closet or your birthday suit). Have fun with it! Be sure to check out our What to Wear section on our website. And if you still have questions, please contact us. We’ll help style you.

Prep Mind, Body, and Skin

Drink LOTS of water. Lower your salt intake and abstain from alcohol for a few days before your shoot to avoid water retention. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi, if you like. Bathe, shower, and moisturize. Enjoy a quiet evening and get a full night’s sleep before the day of your session. (Or at least try to!) It’s a good idea to do some stretches the day before as well.

Relax

Take a deep breath and relax. It’s completely normal to feel nervous before your shoot. We promise, it will be a fun, stress-free day that’s all about YOU. We’ll guide you through every step, and you won’t have to worry about what to do with your hands. Trust us, you’ll be coming back for more!

If you would like more information on booking a session with mellBella Photography for the best boudoir experience,  CONTACT US.

boudoir booty shot by mellBella

 

 

Support Small Business Contest by mellBella

Support Small Business Contest

Like many other small businesses, this time has been rough and scary … so we wanted to bring you something happy and make some lemonade out of these lemons.

So, welcome to our Support Small Business Contest! We’re teaming up with 
Bits of Lace and Sipango Restaurant to bring you some awesome prizes.
Winners will be chosen on May 1st!

You can enter on Instagram or Facebook. Here’s how to enter….⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

1. Post a photo on your profile that we’ve taken or you OR a selfie ⠀⠀⠀
2. Follow and tag each of us
On Instagram,
  @mellbella @bitsoflacefinelingerie @sipangochs
On Facebook,
mellBella Boudoir & Pinup Photography, Bits of Lace, and Sipango Restaurant
3. Be sure to include these hashtags on your post for your entry. #supportsmallbusiness and #socialdistancingissexy⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
***Note if your profile/posts are set to private, we won’t be able to see your entry. You may post up to two times a day which will give you 2 entries per day.

You could win one of these prizes…

1. A FREE session with us, including professional hair & makeup styling
2. A $50 gift card to Bits of Lace
3. A $50 gift card to Sipango Restaurant

And because we have the BEST clients ever, we have a special prized just for our previous Bellas who could win our gorgeous new product, the Legacy Box (pictured below), with 10 matted images from your last photo shoot with us.

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 your off the shoulder sweater

One Image Wednesday- Off the Shoulder Sweater

This One Image Wednesday — Grab that off the shoulder sweater and SHOW OFF those shoulders! OR take a sweater that is a few sizes too big for a similar look. Neutral colors like gray are great, but don’t be afraid of a pop of color. Plus, you’ll be so comfy too. Just wear it.

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.

What To Wear 25 Under $25

mellBella’s Top 25 Lingerie Picks on Amazon Under $25

The age old question… What To Wear? We at mellBella are going to bring you a series of some of our favorite picks at varying price points. Sometimes you want fine lingerie, something unique, or sometimes you just need the easiest thing available. Keep in mind some items are way more comfortable to wear, and this post is just a place to get started. The most important thing is to be yourself or find something in that color you love. Each image is even linked to the Amazon Page, just for you. Keep in mind prices on Amazon may change frequently, and the images are from the companies that made these products. Without further ado, here are our Top 25 Picks Under $25 on Amazon.

Off the shoulder sweaters are cozy, and go great with our Just Be Natural set.
Don’t forget about your back, especially if you have a back tattoo.
This high necked body suit emphasizes your top half and minimizes your lower half. Plus, it comes in this beautiful wine color.
Lace or Chiffon Swimwear Cover Up… choose your length and color
Over the Knee Thigh High Socks… because sometimes the stocking sdon’t fit right
This plunging neckline with a thong back is for the more daring. Do you dare to wear?
Not a fan of heels? Try some sparkly sandals instead.
Mary Janes are classic and timeless. Just choose your favorite color.
This lace robe is romantic and sexy. Pair with your fav panties not the little piece of cloth that comes with it.
A strappy tank is always in season.
This Semi Sheer Maxi Dress is for when you want more coverage, but the peel-a-boo panels fall in just the right places.
We love the corset back on this high waist panty set.
We say yes to anything lace.This high to low ruffle hem is sexy and sweet.
This body suit comes in fun colors and features a cheeky booty.
This floral lace babydoll looks amazing on all shapes and sizes.
This faux leather corset comes in several sizes and features lace details.
Don’t forget your special ring or make a statement with this one.
This corset is a shaper too!
This cold shoulder babydoll is as comfy as your pajamas.
Who wears short shorts? You can!
A bustier in fun colors and a zipper back? Yes, please.
Can’t or don’t want to wear heels? Try these flats instead.
What’s not to love about these comfy yoga pants with a slit?!?
Pair this classic low cut tee with some cute panties for the win!
Never underestimate the power of a cute sundress.