My name is Melissa Haugen, and I live in Northern California with my husband and three kids. When they tell you time goes quickly with kids, they aren’t kidding.
I’ve loved photography since spending my high school days in the darkroom, but I really dove back in as a way to document my children’s fleeting childhood moments. Over the last few years, it has blossomed into a part time business, where I specialize in family, maternity, birth & newborn photography. I also have some upcoming educational opportunities with Click Photo School.
My work is a mix of environmental portraiture, lifestyle and some fine art. I tend to love rich colors and bold contrast in my images. I’m also drawn to very varied perspectives which means I should probably reintroduce myself and really lay it out there. Hi, I’m Melissa, and I’m a gear junkie.
Gear is not everything and it does not make the photographer. I firmly believe that I could still produce imagery that I’m drawn to with a single body and one (maybe two) favorite lenses, but why not have some fun with it? Having a variety of lenses allows me to expand my perspectives and take the ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.
On a typical outing with my kids, I bring my Nikon D850 and will either have my Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM or Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens on it. I carry these on my Spider Pro Holster so I can be hands free to play with my kids. If a moment to shoot arises, all I have to do is reach down, unlock it and lift the camera to shoot. It’s unbelievably simple.
I’ve recently upgraded to the Dual Camera System and will often bring my Nikon D610 with the alternative focal length mounted on it for shooting versatility and balance with the belt. I also use this setup on client sessions. It’s easy to use, I have no strain on my back, and the cameras aren’t hitting the ground (or one other) as you can find with some strap systems.
I’ve been enjoying wide angle lenses for their flexibility in tight spaces and the amazing vastness I can capture in wide open spaces. The Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM is wonderful in my home, especially capturing the everyday moments in bathrooms and bedrooms where light is often low and space is limited. The minimal distortion can be easily corrected in post processing without compromising image integrity.
The Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye really allows me to get close in on the action for an interesting first person documentary type of perspective, or pullback for an expansive environmental portrait.
As my kids have gotten older, we are starting to take more outings and are finding ourselves at more of their sports events. My Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD is a fantastic lens to take on quick day trips or field trips when I need to keep my setup light and don’t have time to be changing lenses, and my Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC USD is my go-to lens when my kids are running across the field to score a goal. It’s fast to focus and has wonderful compression when opened up.
I have a few more pieces of gear that are intended to feed my creative soul. I have a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 (that is deconstructed) and a Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 that I use for freelensing. I have also started shooting film again and do that with my Nikon F100.
I recently took to the air with my DJI Mavic Pro. The bird’s-eye view is unbelievable and really lends to a whimsical feel in images. I use the Polar Pro Cinema Series Filters to help add contrast and color pop to the straight out of camera images.
And finally, I dove into the water with my SPL A-Series Water Housing for my Nikon D610. I love the control I have in being able to take my DSLR into the water. I use both the standard port and the over/under dome in the pool. This gives me versatility to choose whichever prime lens is best suited for the job that day.
My Burton F-Stop 28L Camera Backpack (not pictured) is my favorite camera bag to date. If I needed it to, it is capable of holding ALL of my camera bodies and lenses. I prefer wearing a backpack for the ease of portability with kids. It also holds what they need when we travel, like changes of clothes, water bottles, and snacks, while still having room for things I need like my Vanguard VEO 265AB Tripod, MacBook Pro, and Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet.
Inside Melissa’s camera bag:
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