Hey there! I’m Melissa Rey but, most just know me as Mel. I’ve been shooting for 10 years total, four of which are me shooting weddings full-time.
I’ve often been compared to the Austin Powers of the wedding industry except less vulgar and more professionally polished. My father was a nature photographer, so I naturally grew up around cameras and developed my own love for capturing memories.
I can remember the excitement of purchasing those $5 disposable cameras and every Friday my dad would take me to develop the film. It was like Christmas every time I unfolded the envelope with my images in them.
He then gifted me his Canon AE-1 35mm Film Camera with a 50mm lens and that’s really where my love for photography began because I was learning about photography fundamentals to create properly exposed images etc. Slowly over time, I was able to save enough for my first full-frame camera!
Canon 5D Mark IV: I chose this camera body for several reasons. It’s super fast and tack sharp! I love the touch screen capabilities as well as the ability to connect to wi-fi.
I do a lot of self-portrait series in my downtime and having that function allows me to use the Canon Connect app on my phone to see exactly what my viewfinder looks like and to use it as a wireless remote. I can’t rave about this camera body enough!
Canon 50mm f/1.2: I love using this lens for portrait sessions.
Canon 85mm f/1.2: This lens is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES to use while shooting a wedding. The bokeh takes on surrealism for easy artsy effects as well!
Canon 35mm f/1.4: If I had to pick one lens to shoot an entire wedding with it would be this one! It works excellently in low light situations and is tack sharp.
Canon 70-200 f/2.8: This is one lens I LOVE when shooting nature photography or my husband while he is singing at concerts! It’s insanely sharp!
Canon 24mm f/3.5 Tilt-Shift Lens: Now this lens is one I ALWAYS have on one of my camera bodies. (I wear two at all times when shooting a wedding). I simply love the cinematic feel to the images when I cull through a wedding gallery.
People often ask why I don’t just apply the tilt-shift effect in post and it simply isn’t the same. This lens is magic! I also love the ability to make buildings perfectly straight using the tilt aspect of it. It’s an epic lens that I will never rid of!
I own one Canon Speedlight 600EX II-RT. This flash is a workhorse that will last you a good long time! When shooting receptions I always have one flash on-camera and two off-camera at opposite sides of the dance floor to really make my subjects pop from their backgrounds! This flash is super fast!
Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II Speedlite flash: A friend had flagged me in the direction of this flash and I can honestly compare it to the Canon version for a fraction of the cost! It works perfectly. The power and recycle time is great!
Depending on the size of the wedding or location (If I am flying to a wedding or its a local wedding), I have a Compagnon bag which I absolutely love for hiking elopements!
I have a Think Tank Airport Roller Derby bag for when I am flying and love that I can easily roll it through the airport without having to pack around all my heavy gear on my back!
I have a Manfrotto Tripod and four Neewer light stands.
Hardware & Software
I edit in Lightroom with custom presets that I have created over the years. I think presets are a great thing for beginners to study but not to solely use as a one-click fix! I encourage everyone to try and create their own to create an original style. I also use Alien Skin Exposure for my self-portrait, funky projects, as well as, Photoshop.
I feel like I have a bazillion batteries in my camera bag because I have this reoccurring nightmare that my batteries all die and I don’t have enough time to charge them, so I have 8 Canon batteries charged and ready for action.
I have my Get Fractals prisms, gum, lip balm, lens cleaner, my fanny pack (filled with funky items to hold in front of my lens) and usually, I pack a couple pb&j’s in case I or my second shooter get hungry.
A few pieces of advice I would love to give to any photographer, new or old, is to never stop learning or incorporating a new technique into your craft. That’s the best part about photography, that it’s constantly evolving and so are we as creatives!
I also want to tell every beginner to not focus on what gear such and such photographer has that they look up to rather, focus on really nailing down the fundamentals of photography and gaining confidence in the gear you currently own before going into insane debt.
Lastly, make connections with other photographers and find yourself a supportive community that uplifts each other! Some of my closest friends are photographers I reached out to through social media and we refer clients to each other all the time!