We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Nansen (she/her) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
I have a necklace I wear almost daily that says “she who dares wins”. To me it’s a daily reminder to push into the things that make us uncomfortable. I have taken a fairly structured and predictable path in most things I do, but I am always up for a great challenge.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a photographer in Parker Colorado. I specialize in stylized and creative high school senior photography. I didn’t get really interested in photography until I had my daughter in 2012 and then I became obsessed with trying to capture all the little moments along the way. During that time I was also a high school science teacher mostly teaching chemistry and coaching cross country. And that’s where my two passions collided: the love of taking photos to capture the milestones in our lives and working with high school age young adults. Deciding to become a professional photographer was not a hard decision for me. If I am determined to do something I’m 100% invested. I spend most of my day with people between the ages of 14 and 18 and I learn something new every day! These young adults and teenagers approaching adulthood teach me so much about resilience, passion following your goals that I wanna make sure I’m putting that same creative energy into the sessions when I photograph them. That’s truly what sets me apart as a high school senior photographer. When I am working with these young adults it is so important that I am authentic and I am true and real and also passionate about what I am doing. Gone are the days about wanting to fit in our meeting a certain look or perception, today is all about being your authentic self and creating a vision of yourself as how you want to be portrayed and I work hard to capture that in each of my senior sessions.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way is that I am not ‘everyones cup of tea’ and that’s okay. In my early days of photographing I thought my artistic worth was about how many likes I was getting, how many people I was booking and the imposter syndrome was so real, and honestly still hits in those dark nights. I was constantly comparing myself to other creatives everything from what they were postings, how they were editing, perceived business and the overall trap of “if it’s on social media it must be true”. Photography as art should be inspiring, emotional, and storytelling and for a hot second that switch flipped for me. And one night as I was working through a social issue with my daughter, while multitasking and re-editing a photo for what was probably the 20th time, I said to her “why do you want to be friends with someone who doesn’t like you for who you are? You don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea and your friends should make you happy not make you second guess your choices.” BAM! Switch flipped. I need to practice what I preach. If my goal as a senior photographer to capture each senior as their authentic self I too must be authentic to myself.
The seniors and families who choose me as their photographer value the experience I provide, the memories we make together and how we create a story; their story. Many of my clients are visionaries and storytellers who travel their own path. All of my seniors are invested in the experiences they choose. I match that energy. I work really hard to get to know my seniors, what they desire out of their session, and I invest in them. I want to make sure when they look at their senior album they feel like I “get them”. Everyones story is as beautifully unique and that’s what I want to capture.
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?
Well I think my first question would be what’s your favorite kind of food? First we eat and then we’ll see was in the area.
During the week we would probably get out of town and into nature. We would hit up the drive through at Kunjani coffee for one the best Golden Eye latte’s in Parker, as we head out to a near bye day hike. My favorite, easy, day hike is Mount Falcon at Indian Hills. In under an hour you can be at your location and on top of the world. The paths are wide and gradual (for the most part) with landings easy to stop and rest and the views are stunning at every turn you take. It is the perfect day hike for a family with kids and or someone who wants to take in the beauty of Colorado without an extended commute. After the hike take the back way into to Morrison, Colorado stopping for dinner at The Cow an Eatery or the Morrison Inn and hitting the little shops, like The Mercantile, for souvenirs and one of a kind items. If there is a concert or movie at Red Rocks you go. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what is playing the atmosphere is amazing and you will love every minute!
On the weekend, as a Parker local I would stay in my own town. Downtown Parker really is fantastic! Almost every neighborhood has access to the cherry creek trail for a stroll. Personally, I like to grab a drink at Fika Coffee, I am obsessed with their lavender chai, and then hit up the trails! O’Brien Park is the perfect stop for kids with an epic play ground and pool park with options for all ages. After a day at the pool cool down with a double scoop of ice cream from Kilwins and some to-go food from The Tailgate Tavern to picnic in the park. You can sit back and listen to live music from the Tailgate outdoor stage as the kids play in the park well into the evening.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband. I am a dreamer and he removes the obstacles so I can reach them!
Instagram: @melissanansenphotography and @nansen.pics
My picture was taken by Dustin Moon Visuals