Nessa + Sara Workshop - Day One // Austin, TX by Melissa Fitzgerald

A couple months ago, I attended a workshop with two of my most favorite photographers, Nessa Kessinger [Nessa K Photography] and Sara Byrne [Dylan and Sara Photography]. I'd been following the work of these two amazing ladies for over a year when I saw the announcement that not one but BOTH of them would be teaching a workshop. And where you ask? AUSTIN!  My former home and favorite weekend getaway spot!  Done, done, DONE.  

Both of these ladies have an aesthetic and talent that literally blows me away every time I see one of their images [like for example this shot by Nessa K... sorcery perhaps?  Or these images by Dylan and Sara - I literally almost cried they were so beautiful. Like "almost printed them all out and hung them on my walls and I don't even know these people" kind of beautiful. To be less creepy, I settled for plastering them all over my Pinterest walls, true story].  So needless to say I was excited to hear them speak for two days about their methods and philosophies on their art. They were truly an open book, willing to answer any questions we had and were eager to share their work flow tips and tricks, even their editing process.  One of the greatest things they encouraged all of us to do was to network and support each other as a photography community.  Sharing advice doesn't weaken you, it strengthens the collective, which in turns lifts everyone up.  As artists, we always have something to learn and something to offer, and that willingness to share only serves to make us better.  

The images you'll see below were from our sunset session on the first day with the oh-so-beautiful and awesome couple, Taylor and Leah Muse, as our subjects.  It was a very cold, overcast day, but it was so much fun.  Myself and the other amazing 11 attendees watched Nessa and Sara work and shot around them in the process, taking chances to direct towards the end.  I'm sure Leah and Taylor have an idea of what it's like to be a Kardashian now.  I hope you enjoy this peek into day one.  

Cuteheads Spring Lookbook Preview // Commercial // Houston, TX by Melissa Fitzgerald

I did my first commercial shoot yesterday for the oh-so-adorable children's clothing line Cuteheads, designed by the talented, Esther Freedman.  Here is quick preview of my favorite shot of the day.  All of these babies are exceptionally adorable and were so good during our session.  Thanks to moms, Brooke Wise + Paige Baden (and Esther, of course) for helping me capture their attention!  Want any of these looks for your own cute head? Head over to cuteheads.com and stay tuned for the new Spring line, launching soon.  

The Mabry Family // Lifestyle Family + 6 Months // Houston, TX by Melissa Fitzgerald

I arrived at the Mabry house thinking this shoot would be just like any other - meeting the client for the first time and slowly getting to know each other over the coming hours. But when Cynthia's bright, smiling face appeared on the other side of the door, I knew at once that this was a not a stranger, as I'd expected.  After a couple minutes of detective questioning on both ends, we figured out that we had, in fact, briefly met before and had a strong link to each other through her Uncle Al and Aunt Cynthia, who, I too, call Uncle Al and Aunt Cynthia, although they're my close family friends and Cynthia's blood relatives.  Never the less, I've heard about "little Cynthia" (as she is fondly known) for my entire life.  It was such a pleasure spending time with her lovely family and precious baby girl, Madeleine.  It was more like a morning with friends than a job - my favorite kind of shoot.  I love how small the world can be and how serendipitous this shoot was.  The love between all three members of this sweet family (and Pearl cat!) is the kind that make me look forward to having my own family someday.  To the Mabry's - thank you for letting me peer through the window of your lives for a couple of hours, the pleasure was all mine :)

Finley // 5 Months // Mini-Session // Houston, TX by Melissa Fitzgerald

I always feel extra bonded to the babies I have the privilege of photographing in their first days on this Earth.  Little Finley is one such baby and it's been such a joy to watch her grow up and be a part of continuing to document her life through photographs.  This was a quick mini-session we did for Valentine's Day and it was the first time I'd seen her since she was 10 days old.  It's amazing how much babies change!  She's looking more and more like each of her lovely parents with every passing day.  I'm particularly fond of the portion of the session we took on her nursery rocking chair, which is the part you'll see below.  Little Fin was almost ready to sit up on her own, but wasn't quite there yet, so we propped her in the corner near some perfect window light and the results couldn't have been cuter.  

Blake Ivy Wise // Lifestyle Newborn Photography by Melissa Fitzgerald

There's nothing more exciting for me than working with a repeat client.  I've had the privilege of shooting with Brooke numerous times this year for her oh-so-chic fashion blog, StyleWise, and then documenting the pregnancy + first photos of her sweet baby girl, Blake Ivy.  You'll not meet a sweeter and more beautiful person than Brooke, and her husband, Jeffrey, is equally kind and warm.  It's no wonder these two people found each other and created the tiny bundle of pure sweetness that is Blake Ivy.  I hope you enjoy this peek into their first days as a new family.  

I left my heart in France. by Melissa Fitzgerald

France is my favorite place on the Earth.  The food, architecture, art, people and language are some of the most beautiful I've experienced in my humble travels thus far.  I've been fortunate enough to visit and revisit this country multiple times, and this post documents trip number three.  To me, Paris is the quite literally a magical fairy land of romance and light.  I can never get enough.  But for anyone who's visiting France, I highly recommend taking time to explore the rural parts of the country as well.  It has a charm and warmth that's distinctly different from Paris, and equally lovely.  While I have included a few highlights from our stay in the City of Light, the majority of the pictures below are of our time spent in these rural regions.

Knowing my love for all things vintage, castles and wine, my boyfriend Joseph, arranged a private day tour of the Loire Valley that included each of these things, complete with a 1953 Citroen Traction Avant as our transportation du jour.  The next several days of our trip were spent in the Normandy region of France, with the Ville de Bayeux as our home base.  We soaked up as much history as possible visiting three of the American landing locations on D-Day (Omaha, Utah and Pointe du Hoc) and ending at the Normandy American Cemetary and Memorial.  The D-Day tour was an intensive eight-hour informational download leaving us with a deep appreciation for our freedom and an overwhelming respect for the thousands of men and women who lost their lives so we may have that freedom.  Every American should visit. 

I left the trip with this stream of conciousness: Croissants are delicious - totally worth the carbs.  French wine is like nectar.  I wish escargot was on every menu everywhere.  I can't believe I actually like escargot.  There's not a much happier moment for me than watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.  I am not above purchasing the little souvenir Eiffel Tower replicas.  I didn't think Joseph could be any more handsome, until I saw him in France.  Butter makes everything better.  I can speak more French than I realized.  I wonder if Joseph and I will ever stop competing over who can get better shots? I will never forget the sacrifice so many soliders made so that I can enjoy the life I have today.  Breakfast each morning with fellow maison visitor and WWII vet, Mick McMechen (pictured below) was truly an honor and a priviledge. Our Bayeux maison hosts, Eric and Nelly (pictured below), now feel like long lost relatives that I can't wait to visit again.  French people are really like Texans with melodic accents.   And finally, when can I go back? 

Sites pictured in order of appearance: Centre Pompidou, Tour Eiffel, Loire Valley Tour with the wonderful Simon and Susan, Loches, Chateau Chenonceau, Ville de Bayeux, Relais Saint-Loup Maison d'Hote, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Utah beach, Omaha beach, Pointe du Hoc, Normandy American Cemetary and Memorial, WWII veteran and pilot Mick with Joseph (see his blog of our trip here), Charlemare the maison cat, our lovely maison hosts, Eric and Nelly, and lastly the Bayeux train station.

Fashion Blogger Series // Pt. 1 // Houston by Melissa Fitzgerald

When four lovely and very fashionable Houston ladies approached me to shoot a blog series featuring four looks from four local boutiques, I couldn't refuse.  What girl doesn't want to spend a Saturday playing with clothes, bags and accessories?  The pictures below are part one of the four part series. Enjoy these looks from Sam and lilli in West Ave. 

Ladies in order of appearance: Nina Rand [thehssfeed.com], Brooke Wise [stylewiseblog.com], Julie Bortnick [fromproseccotoplaid.com] and Lauren Mills [sundaybeachblog.blogspot.com].