We had the good fortune of connecting with Melyssa Gonzalez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melyssa, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Balance is so important to the quality of the product I can give to my clients, as well as to my quality of life! When I first started my business I never ever said no to any job for any amount of money, big or small. I worked every minute I could while trying to simultaneously give my all as a wife and mother and this inevitably led to major burnout. I was doing an “okay” job at everything, not excellent at anything, and mostly miserable by the end of every day. As time went on I realized that I needed to value my skill and product more. I’ve invested in my art and I pour my heart into each job and I know I am delivering a valuable product yet I lacked confidence. When I began to more appropriately price my work, this has given me the freedom to enjoy giving 100% to each client as well as tenderly mothering my children without feeling compromised! As I’ve grown to find better balance over the years of running my photography business I have found so much more joy in what I do. I had to increase my skill to gain confidence, and then increase my confidence to find balance. Life is busy and it requires me to be assertive to maintain healthy balance in my schedule every day – it’s a marathon and not a sprint to find it. Some days I still push too hard, but seeing the progress in finding better balance as time as gone on gives me energy to continue growing as an artist and valuing the art I give to my clients.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I thrive in situations where I see a challenge and find a way to creatively overcome it. This is one of my favorite things about photography. Every session is completely unique from the one before it and the one after it. Each person is different. I love getting to know my clients on a personal level and really finding out what makes them tick. Knowing them and making them comfortable with me is so important when wanting to capture them in their element. When I am looking through images after a shoot and I can feel them…. that’s when I know I’ve succeeded and I get really excited. I want to really FEEL the photos I deliver to my clients. I am so attached to the images I create for people that sometimes they will put tears in my eyes when I’m going through a finished set and that’s when I know I’ve accomplished my goal. I want to give them something to treasure for the rest of their lives. Time is something that we can never get back, but photos that emote can make us feel like we’ve gone back to that moment and that’s what I obsess about delivering to people. Being able to show someone how beautiful they are, how incredible their natural interactions are with their loved ones, it’s rewarding beyond measure. I had a number of jobs before venturing into photography and I know there is really no better fit for me than this. It is a constant challenge because as an artist you have to keep growing, changing, modifying and bettering your art. You have to deliver something unique and beautiful to clients that isn’t the same as everything else out there. I find so much joy in the chase of finding the next amazing image, it’s like my drug. Every shoot I can learn something new when I search for it and it is so exciting to me. I’ve had many difficult situations over the years where I’ve left feeling discouraged and those moments have been the most important because they are incredible learning opportunities. Sometimes you have to “fail” to see how you can avoid making those same mistakes. Sessions have become exciting and fun as I’ve learned over the years (sometimes the hard way) the things I need to do to set myself up for success for every shoot. I love looking back and remembering the days where I was so nervous and anxious before every session, full of fear that it wouldn’t be good enough. Now I am calm and joyful before sessions, ready for whatever challenge comes my way!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love going out to fun places to eat and drink. We live in north county so one of our favorite things to do is support local restaurants and I would definitely take friends to all the local breweries around town! Of course the beach is always a hit, sunset cliffs for sunsets and some of the amazing local trails for walks! There is so much to do in San Diego, whether it’s the zoo, flower fields, beaches, trails or good food! Not to mention the nearly perfect weather year round, it’s just the best place in the US in my opinion!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would dedicate my shout out first to my husband, who has encouraged me and supported me through this journey. It has not been easy and he has been a partner who has really stepped up with the kids so I can pursue this. He has invested with me financially to get the education and gear needed to be successful, and poured grace on me when I’ve had hard days and pushed me to keep going. I also have to shout out to Scott Saw of Vixen Photography and Fuze Photography who shared his wealth of knowledge in this industry and taught me SO much as he mentored me for 5 years before I began on my own. There is no way I would be doing what I do without Scott. It’s hard as a photographer to share your secrets and I understand that even more today than I did when I first started as an intern for him almost 9 years ago! Scott is a creative genius and he understands the technical, art and business of being a photographer and he generously shared his knowledge with me. It’s all about lifting others up and I hope to one day find the right person and mentor them to give the gift that Scott gave me.