Photographer Profile

My name is Melissa Howell and I specialize in custom portrait design for your home. You can visit my official photography website at to view more of my work and to contact me to set up a consultation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas From My Family to Yours

At this time of year, my heart is filled with gratitude for the many blessings I enjoy daily. One has only to watch the news to realize how many things we have to be thankful for. I especially am thankful for my belief in Jesus Christ and His atonement, which offers me forgiveness despite my many shortcomings. I owe all my happiness and all my blessings to Him and my Heavenly Father. I hope that during this Christmas season, we can all remember the real reason we celebrate--because a holy baby was born who would forever change the world and offer us all the hope of eternal life.

Merry Christmas!
Love, Melissa

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Photography Class

I am really excited to be offering my first photography class! It will be held on Saturday, January 28th. The time is still TBD, but will probably be at 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. and will last 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If you have a DSLR camera but leave it in auto all the time, this class is for you! We will talk about ISO, aperture and shutter speed and how they all relate. We'll go over white balance, composition, and flash (when to use it, when not to use it). I'll also answer any photograpy-related questions you have. If you are interested, contact me soon, as space is limited! The cost is $59, and well worth it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

White Chocolate Candy Cane Drops--The Perfect Christmas Cookie

These are the best cookies ever. Seriously. And they are perfect for Christmas. I make them every year and give them out (or just eat a ton myself). If you want to impress your friends and neighbors, these are the cookies to make.

8 oz. white chocolate baking squares or 8 oz. white chocolate chips. (Try to use chocolate with cocoa butter, as this will make the most tender cookies).
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Chop 4 oz. of the white chocolate (not necessary if using chips) and set aside. In a small saucepan, cook the remaining 4 oz. chocolate over low heat until melted. Cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium or high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in melted white chocolate. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in the rest by hand. Stir in the remaining 4 oz. white chocolate or chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. Drop by rounded teaspoons two inches apart onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Or you can use stoneware with no paper. Bake 8-10 minutes (longer on stoneware) at 375 degrees or until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Makes about 50. Store cookies in layers between waxed paper in an airtight container.

Note: I have found that it is best not to have the candy canes pulverized into powder, but to just try to get them into small pieces.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Tastiness

If you are looking for the the perfect recipe for pumpkin pie, look no further. I get rave reviews every time I make this.

If you want something to really wow your Thanksgiving guests, this Chocolate Pecan Pie is a must!

What about dinner rolls to-die-for? The best part? You make the dough the day before and then cook them on Thanksgiving!

Want some super-yummy salads? Try Frog Eye Salad or fresh and tasty Layered Salad. Or you can make this Broccoli Salad that will get raves for years. (Seriously, I once made this for a wedding reception for some friends, and they said that people were like, "Hey, congratulations on your marriage. Who made the broccoli salad?)

These recipes are sure to make everybody happy at Thanksgiving. Give them a try! You won't be sorry!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nichole Van's Textures and Actions

If you have been reading my blog, you already know how much I love Nichole Van. I was introduced to her work a few months ago when I asked a photographer friend of mine where she got the textures she used on her images. When she pointed me to Nichole's website, I was blown away by her work. No wonder she has been on the cover of Rangefinder magazine (twice) and has gotten so many awards. She is so humble and generous, and gives workshops to teach those of us who are not quite as awesome how to become more awesome :) (You can go here to learn about her workshops).

I bought her Chic Vintage action and textures set, and I love it! Here are some samples of my images with some of her actions and textures. Her sets are very reasonably priced, and you couldn't be establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with a better person.

Shop Nichole Van

In an effort to win a workshop with Nichole Van, I am posting a link to her website here. If you are a photographer, she also sells textures and actions to take your images to the next level. If you haven't seen her work yet, prepare to be awed. To go to her site, click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Being on T.V.

On November 16th, I got to be on T.V! My friends, Brandi and Jen, have a craft blog and business called Holiday Snobs. They got to be on our local Fox station's morning news demonstrating a Christmas craft and talking a little bit about their business. The news station wanted at least 10 other women there crafting with them, and I got to be one! Here are some pictures from the event (that I stole from Brandi):
This is the craft we were doing. It is a Christmas tree centerpiece made out of festive napkins.

This is me, sitting in the corner. If you watch the video, I am standing in the back on the left-hand side.

The man on the couch is Dan Daru, the newscaster who did the segments. He was CRAZY. (I guess you have to be to work on a morning news show that starts at 5:00 a.m!) During one segment, he ran upstairs to surprise Brandi's husband and ask him what he thought about all this crafting. Luckily, Sterling saw him coming up the stairs on t.v. (he was watching the show in his bedroom) and hurried and came out of the bedroom before Dan could burst in!

Here's a picture of the Fox 31 van. You can't see the top, but there was a huge spinning antennae (or dish, or something I don't know the name of) at the top of the pole that was broadcasting what we were doing at the house.

Here is a video of one of the segments:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Take Two! {Littleton Baby Photographer}

When this little guy was here a a couple of weeks ago, I didn't feel like he got enough face-time in front of the camera. (His whole family, including grandparents and cousins were all here!) So I invited him back so he could get the one-on-one time he deserved. He really rose to the occasion and favored us with lots of smiles and happiness. Can you say "adorable?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

See Me on T.V!

Tomorrow morning (November 16th) I'll be on Good Day Colorado helping promote my cute friends' craft blog! I know these girls through church, and they are so darling and have so many stinkin' cute ideas. You can check out their blog, called The Holiday Snob, and then tune into your Fox station tomorrow morning at 7:45 and 8:45 to see me! (But mostly to see them, as I am only there to provide crafty support as requested by the news station. They'll do all the talking).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Which is Your Personality Type--Part 2

In this post, I talked about the book It's Just My Nature by Carol Tuttle. In it, she explains that there are four different personality types, and while we all exhibit characteristics from each type, there will be one that is most dominant in us. Today I am talking about the second personality type, which she labels "soft and subtle." This does not mean weak and shy. If you think about the Mississippi river, it is powerful, but flows in a constant, stately motion. Also, a willow tree flows gently in the wind, but provides shade and comfort to those under its branches. Type 2 people are the same way. They are steady and consistent, and comfort is a major priority for them. My second daughter and my husband are both Type 2s. My daughter gets upset if her socks don't feel just right, and my husband never throws out his old, ratty t-shirts because they are so comfortable! Type 2s also like to hold onto things. For girls and women, this means they hold onto pictures, blankets, special toys--anything that ties them to the past. For men, it means they hang onto big boxes that electronics came in (just in case they need them) and also have tons of cords for said electronic items! (This describes my husband to a T!) Type 2s are also very detailed and methodical. To others, it may seem like they are taking a long time, but to them, they are just being thorough and investigating all the possibilities before making a decision. They are also very skeptical. When my daughter was about 5, she asked me how babies were made. I told her that Mommy had a seed inside her, and Daddy added a special kind of water, and then a baby grew. She looked at me doubtfully and then said, "I don't think that's correct." :) Type 2s are the peacemakers--kind, gentle, and sweet. My husband is definitely the peacemaker in our family full of emotional women! To find out more about Type 2 personalities (and all the other personalities) go to Dressing Your Truth and click on the "Shop" button, and then on the "Books" button. It's Just My Nature is a fantastic book that will help you to understand yourself and others so much better. It would be a wonderful Christmas gift to yourself or someone you love. Are you a Type 2? Do you know somebody who is? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This is a recipe from Chocolate Never Faileth. A roommate in college gave me a very similar recipe. I decided to try this one and compare, and it turned out just as well, so I will add it to my list of go-to recipes. My roommate's used brown sugar and this one uses white sugar. They both worked well. It's good to know that if I ever have a white sugar shortage, I can use brown sugar instead :) I also love this recipe because you don't have to grease the pan. Also, this cake is magic. Seriously. You just put sugar and cocoa powder on top and pour water over it and put it in the oven. Then, through the miracle of chemistry that I don't understand, it all sinks to the bottom and turns into pudding. This is so fantastic served warm with ice cream, but is also great the next day after the pudding has firmed up. Then I think whipped cream works well on top. The picture is a spoonful showing the layers of whipped cream, cake, and pudding. Yum! By the way, this recipe makes a 9x13 pan, which is a lot unless you are entertaining guests. I cut this in half and put it in an 8x8 pan and it is the perfect size for our family. If you do this, bake for 40 minutes instead of 60.

2 cups flour
3 cups sugar, divided
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cocoa, divided
1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup milk (I used powdered milk)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
3 cups hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13 pan, combine flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup cocoa. Mix well. Add the butter and mix again. Add milk and vanilla, mixing with a fork until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, remaining 1/2 cup cocoa, and nuts (if desired). Sprinkle this mixture over the batter in the pan. Pour 3 cups hot water over everything. Do not stir. Carefully put in oven and wait 60 minutes for the magic to happen! Allow the cake to set for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Proud to Present... {Aurora photographer, custom frames}

I am so excited to be offering frames from The Organic Bloom! These are hand-made boutique frames that are the perfect complement to your gorgeous portraits! They have a ton of different designs, and they are fully customizable with colors to match your decor! These are only available through professional photographers, but you can purchase them through me whether or not you have your portraits done with me. (Although I'd really love for you to have a photo shoot with me as well!) If you are interested in having a shoot or just buying some frames, you can contact me by e-mailing at Here are some samples of what they look like on the wall with gorgeous portraits inside!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Little Princesses in the Forest {Parker child photographer}

A few weeks ago, I took my girls out to get "school pictures" of them (since I never buy actual school pictures). I had them get dressed up in pretty dresses and I curled their hair. Then I made my husband lug this bench out into the wilderness to get these pictures. I love how they turned out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Southern California Vacation

Over fall break, we took the kids to southern California and visited every theme park known to man. Our first stop was Sea World, where the girls enjoyed watching the dolphins and the Shamu show.

The following day, we went to the San Diego Zoo. I can see why it is a world-famous zoo. It was like walking through a forest. We took the bus tour all around the zoo first, and then walked around the whole thing. The weather was overcast, but pleasant.
Kate was right at home with the animals in the petting zoo.
The following two days found us at Legoland. Julianna is wild about Legos (as well as my husband) so it was nirvana for them. I was most impressed by their models of famous buildings, like the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower. They also had the whole New York Skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. It's amazing what you can build out of Legos!
In this picture, you can see me and my kids behind the Capitol Building. This gives you an idea of how big these models are.

On Sunday, we went up to Santa Clarita to visit with friends we knew when we lived there. It was so great to go to church and see them all again. Afterwards, a few of us got together for dinner and had a wonderful time talking. I only wish we could have spent more time with them.

But Disneyland was calling, so off we went for the next three days. We went back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure, making sure to hit all our favorites and trying out some new attractions as well. It was Kate's first time, and Natalie hardly remembered anything from when she went (she was only three when we moved back to Colorado). They totally redid the parade with new music and floats.
This picture totally cracks me up. Kate did NOT want to have her picture taken, and Julianna's face is covered with her hair. And I guess they forgot what the sun was like.
Before we went to Disneyland, Kate kept talking about how excited she was to see the princesses. Then after we waited in line forever to meet them, Kate didn't want to have anything to do with them! Jacob had to hold her in the picture with Cinderella.
I love her expression in this one with Snow White.
In California Adventure, we loved going on the big Sun Wheel, Soarin' Over California (you really feel like you're flying) and this river raft ride. Yes, we got very wet.
Here's one of my favorite pictures from the trip:
Our whole family in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle. As you can see, Kate REALLY didn't want her picture taken. She kept trying to run away, so Jacob had to hold her. I was hoping if she were upside down she would think it was funny and smile, but she did not.
On our last day before we went to the airport, we had a chance to go to Manhattan Beach. It's where they have the famous beach volleyball tournaments. It was a perfect day, and we saw dolphins in the water. The girls had fun playing in the sand, and Jacob even made me this cute heart:

By the end of the trip, we all felt like this:
It was exhausting, and our feet hurt from all the walking! But we loved all the fun adventures we had and will look back on this vacation with fond memories.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sophie Saves the Day {Littleton photographer}

What do you get when you mix two fifteen-month-old twin girls, a 6-month-old baby boy, two adult sisters, one husband, and two grandparents? By the end of the shoot, you get this:
At this point, the kids had had it, and the only thing left to do was laugh (or cry).

Earlier in the shoot, I was introduced to Sophie, a squeaky giraffe. I love Sophie. I must have a Sophie of my own. Sophie was amazing. She took charge of the whole shoot and was responsible for most of the good shots I got. (Grandma and Grandpa helped, too :)

Here's a shot of Grandma and Grandpa with all the grandkids:
Aren't they so stinkin' cute? (And the kids are adorable, too :)

This is an amazingly good-looking family:

Here are some more I love of the kids:

Thanks, guys! Now I'm off to find myself a Sophie :)