*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you get to hire and work with someone who not only does phenomenal work, but is also just a good person. A good person who has their heart in the same place that you do, that shares your values. For those of you looking for a wedding photographer in California (seriously, anywhere in the state), today is that lucky day. I’m excited to introduce LA-based Melissa of Marble Rye Photography to the APW family, though really she’s been here all along. Melissa started reading APW way back when I was planning my wedding, and still reads it every single day. She values the community here (you guys), and as she’s worked to intentionally shape her life over the last few years, she ended up starting a business with you guys in mind. Well, you guys and NGO’s in Rwanda, because that’s who she is.
Melissa’s background is film and television, and she was working steadily in LA, but her work didn’t feel like a perfect fit for her. Marble Rye was born when she took Maddie and Emily’s COLAB workshop last year, and she decided to just go for it. Melissa’s work is soulful storytelling. It’s best looked at not as an individual image, but as a collection that tells a story, which is what the best wedding photography does. Browse through one of her (stunning) recent weddings, and you’ll feel a little emotional, and like you know something of the emotions of the day. That is what you want to capture. That is what you want to have in an album, to re-visit years later, when you want to remember how it felt.
Melissa’s wedding pricing begins at just $2,100 for basically everything: one photographer, eight hours of coverage, your images professionally edited, a site set up for friends and family to view and order prints, and a beautiful hardcover album that you design together. It also includes a free, transferable engagement shoot (that means you can gift it to your grandparents, if you’d like). Her elopement pricing begins at $850. And all of this includes free travel anywhere in California, top to bottom. You may be noticing that those rates are positively insane for the LA area, home to some of the most expensive photographers around. They’re that low not because Melissa is just getting started and wants to build a portfolio. Nope. In fact, people in the industry are telling her she should raise her rates. But she doesn’t want to be limited in the weddings she shoots and only shoot weddings where people have a sizable photography budget. In short: she’s not raising her rates not because she doesn’t value her work, but because she does value you. She wants to work intentionally, on weddings she loves.
I’m going to let Melissa tell her own story, but before I do, I want to share what she has to say about choosing photography:
I got hooked on photography when I was 22. I took a Polaroid in Chennai, India of my rickshaw driver Sami and his girlfriend. She held the photo to her heart and asked if she could keep it. Quickly, a swarm of children surrounded us—each shouting for their turn.
Their skin and smiles glowed against their brightly colored saris, shorts, and tees. After them, a man asked to be photographed with his truck—his pride and joy. Next, a businessman in a navy suit adjusted his watch and held his briefcase at his side.
As the Polaroids developed, vivid colors bleeding into the frame, each person asked to keep theirs. I watched the businessman take a long look at his new belonging, and I imagined him going home and sharing the photograph with his family. The thought made me grateful and happy.
Other things that make me happy include: late night dance parties, dogs of any age, the ocean, strings of lights, rooftops, blacktops, bad TV, and good company.
Melissa at Marble Rye is someone you want to work with. And better than that? She’s someone you can probably afford to work with, too. Here is her story.
WHY I WANT TO WORK WITH APW COUPLES
I started reading APW in 2009. I got lost down a crafting-blog rabbit hole and ended up finding Meg (all roads lead to wedding blogs, turns out). I loved her perspective, her you-can-do-anything attitude, and the budding community I discovered in the comment threads. You ladies are strong, ambitious, and funny. You’ve taught me more about the kind of woman I want to be than I care to admit.
I want to work with APW readers because I’m an APW reader. I’m here, each and every day, to learn from and contribute to this community. And while we’re all very different leading very different lives, there’s a truth behind the saying that Like Finds Like. I believe the women of this community hold a handful of core values above all others. Be good. Be caring. Be thoughtful and sincere. Want to know something crazy? That sh*t shines through in photographs.
I studied film and television in college, and moved out to LA to collaborate with other creatives and bring their stories to life. I worked at an agency and then in development and production. I had kind bosses, fun coworkers, and good gigs. But damn it, I wasn’t happy. In 2011, armed with a lot of courage and a smidge of delusion, I left my job to pursue a career as a photographer. I picked up two serving jobs and saved up for equipment and classes (including Maddie and Emily’s COLAB last year, which left me feeling energized, inspired, and capable as f*ck). A few months later, I booked my first paid gig for a friend of a friend, and the whole thing just started Happening.
I’m still in the business of telling stories. But the stories I’m telling these days are small, intimate, and warm. I work primarily with makers (chefs, artists, and craftspeople) and families. On your wedding day, I’m there to capture the story of your commitment and your community. I’m looking for moments that illustrate the love you share with your partner and with those who stand by your side.
HOW I APPROACH WEDDINGS
My work is full of moments. The crinkling eyes of a swollen heart. The held hands, pulsing with the gravity of love. The collective lost-minds when that really good song from middle school starts playing. These are the images that I love the most, that make me do a little dance right on the spot. But I never forget that I’m there for you, capturing the photographs you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. Want to round up your People for a half-hour group portrait extravaganza? I will run that sh*t and love every minute of it.
MY BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY
This summer I had the opportunity to spend seven weeks in Rwanda, shooting for a social enterprise—Heaven Restaurant. In articulating how grateful I was to be there, taking photographs, I found myself saying over and over, “I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with every second of every day.”
I am genuinely energized by the work that I do. A curious kid through and through, being a photographer allows me to be a little bit of an anthropologist, to meet new people and explore new places. I’m in the business of discovering what makes you tick, and I work hard to produce photographs that you see as an authentic reflection of who you are.
An important note: As I grow my business, I plan to build in time to work with social enterprises and NGOs throughout the US and in Africa. The power of an evocative image can make an entire marketing campaign and help draw in the support an organization needs to further their work. I am proud to be able to help groups tell their stories in visually compelling ways. Selfishly, this kind of work totally feeds my soul.
WHY MARBLE RYE
If my photos resonate with you, that’s generally an excellent indication that we’d be a good fit.
Aside from my technical skills and unique aesthetic, I want you to know that I come to the table with a deep respect for customer service. I’m going to anticipate your needs. I’m going to anticipate the needs of your wackiest family member. And if you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed by the excitement of the day, I am going be able to calm you down. It’s just something I know how to do. It’s probably the part of who I am that I am most proud of.