Melanie Smith, Photographer
They have empowered us. They have nurtured us. They have supported us.
Something very important to us at PaisleyandPaige is recognizing and shouting-out incredible women in our lives.
This second blog post is all about Melanie Smith our photographer. She is beautiful on the inside and out, a very talented women with a big heart for others and lots of fun. She is our good friend. Hope you enjoy reading about Melanie and her why.
If you are looking for a talented photographer. Melanie can be reached at
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
When I was in high school, I discovered photography and that has led to my lifelong pursuit of capturing beauty with my camera.
What is unique about your business?
What tends to be unique about my business is that every photo shoot I do is completely different from the previous one. There are different people or subjects involved. I enjoy it because there are always different environments, and every shoot tends to push my creative brain to come up with the best outcome in very different ways.
To what do you attribute your success?
I would say I’ve become a successful photographer due to my education at the Alberta University for the Arts where I studied photography formally. That, and decades of practice. When I started out, I was limited to film and darkroom processing which was so much less forgiving than anything digital. I’ve had to make friends with digital photography once it became as proficient in quality to film.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
To someone just starting out, I would say make sure you understand that photography is a discipline. It takes a long time to understand why something looks pleasing to the eye and how to make adjustments so that you are happy with your image. Practice practice practice. You will improve the more you shoot. Most photographers tend to be perfectionists and we like to evoke how people feel when they see an image that we’ve created. We hope to communicate a clear message. Technology has given us so many advantages with high resolution cameras, filter presets and Photoshop, to name a few, to achieve just the right shot.
How can we be a support system to the female business owners in our lives?
We can always be a support system to other female business owners by using their services and purchasing their products. We can share with friends what we like about what they offer. Sometimes just talking about our own wins and struggles in business is encouraging because you always find out that you’re not the only one who feels that way. I am far more likely to purchase a product from a friend’s store or use a service from someone I know or know of. Nowadays referrals are so important and even Amazon has reliable reviews that people trust when making a purchase because you’re trusting someone else’s experience to lead you to a favourable outcome for yourself. Most of my business now comes from word-of-mouth referrals.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for women entrepreneurs?
Some of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs is getting the word out and advertising their products and services which photography certainly has a very direct relationship to.
It’s so important to have and set goals and plans to see those goals to fruition. I like to set goals and micro-goals. I also believe in celebrating once a certain plateau is achieved. It can also be so valuable to take an accounting of the goals you have achieved. I find that this also encourages me to be grateful to see I’m not where I started.
When you’re an entrepreneur if you are able to be a positive person and have a positive outlook then you will tend to do far better at business and life. There are always many many people who won’t believe in you or who try to discourage you and say that you likely will not be successful. It’s very easy, especially when you’re starting out, to have the business completely consume you. In a sense, you need to do everything yourself. Entrepreneurs have a lot more hands-on involvement throughout every hour of the day in their business. You have to strive for balance in order to not become discouraged. Some of the best encouragement I’ve ever been given in my life has come from other girlfriends. I believe in surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Other women know what it’s like to be a support system to each other. It’s interesting to me that some of my most supportive influences are other women who manage to juggle the work/family/life balance. If anyone has a foolproof, 100% formula for balancing the above, please let me know. For me it’s a constant work in progress.
What are the daily challenges you face as a female entrepreneur?
It’s very important to build each other up to achieve success for ourselves as well as for each other because that momentum tends to be infectious in a really good way.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
What I enjoy about being a photographer is the people that I meet and the new challenge of each job. It has allowed me to travel for jobs and to capture some extraordinary things. Because people really hate a bad photo of themselves, you will never have bigger fans than someone you can surprise with a great result. If you can capture something different for them where they see themselves in a new light or a different angle you’ve accomplished something, they didn’t realize was possible.
What has life taught you recently?
One extremely important lesson that I’ve learned about life is that no one else is supposed to be living my life and my life is not necessarily meant to look like anyone else’s. I need to pursue my life and my goals and they’re going to be very different from anyone else.
What small act of kindness were you once shown that you will never forget?
One small act of kindness I won’t forget was when I spent the summer between my third and fourth years of university in Milan working as a starting photographer. A modeling agent, (Fabio), gave me an opportunity to shoot some of his agency’s models. It was a priceless opportunity for me to hone my skills and drastically stretch my creativity. I would never have an opportunity like that if I hadn’t been working in Italy that summer.