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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

In Which a Famous Photographer Comes to Visit

The night before last, I had trouble sleeping. You would have thought I was a small child, giddy with the prospect of Santa's arrival. Instead, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of Nichole Van Valkenburg (otherwise known as Nichole Van) who is a famous, enormously talented photographer. I want to be like her when I grow up. Except that I think I'm older than her.... But seriously, when you look at her work, your jaw drops and flies come in and out of your mouth, because you never close it. Each image is so awe-inspiring.

So when I got word that she was coming to Denver for a day and a half and was offering a mentoring session while here, I jumped at the chance! I was so lucky that I got to spend time with her (and her adorable husband) and learn some radically new photography techniques.

We hit it off right away. We both went to BYU, and she even taught English there! Anybody who teaches English is my friend, because they are the only ones who might understand my fetish for proper punctuation and spelling. (I was reading an ice cream book yesterday, and they said to add "4 egg yokes" to the mix. I immediately wanted to write a letter to the book editor notifying him/her of this egregious error). Nichole and I also have 3 children, all the same ages! (Well, her kids are 10, 7, and 3, and mine are 9, 7, and 3, so close enough).

We hiked to a little spot behind my neighborhood and set up all the lighting equipment, and Nichole taught me how to get a completely different look than the one I typically employ. Here are some shots she got of me during the session:

Awesome, right? Hardly anything was done to these in Photoshop. The sunburst is not trickery. It was actually produced by the lens on the camera. After we came back to my house, I fed them homemade Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (recipe coming soon!) because Nichole is a foodie, and quite frankly, this ice cream is to-die-for. I had to share.

Nichole was so generous and fun and friendly. I feel SO LUCKY that I got to spend a couple hours with her and learn from a master! Thank you, Nichole!


Blazing Goddess said...

Oh, my goodness!! That is AWESOME!! How did she do that?! My sunbursts always look like something from a migraine! It's so clear and sharp! And I will be watching for that ice cream recipe.

Megan | Photography Contest said...

And I thought the sunburst wasn't originally That's one amazing trick!

Shauna said...

How fun. What a great opportunity. I'm excited to see how you incorporate what you learned.