Photos: top left by Mike Tarabulski; all others by Dominic Tidmarsh; Long Haired Dachshund by Melissa Schelling age 7


melissa and photography

Melissa Schelling is a life long photographer who worked 10 years as a full time professional in Washington, DC. In 1987, she pioneered a new style of wedding photography that smashed the tradition of staged wedding photos, marketing it as “Photojournalism without the grit.” By 1990, Melissa was a Washingtonian Magazine Top 10 Wedding Photographer, and her photo of a swirling bride was the lead photo for their annual wedding article.

She studied photography in the total immersion program at the Maine Photographic Workshops for a year and a half. After living and breathing photography non-stop she opened her own studio in DC, and began her career photographing for galleries and artists, before switching to weddings.

She got her first camera at age 6 - a gift from her grandmother to celebrate her first art show: 2 crayon drawings selected for the Royal Ontario Museum’s Children’s Exhibition 1964. At age 7, she made her first dog photo of her new puppy under the Christmas tree.

Melissa has used many cameras and film sizes: 110, 126, 2 1/4, 4x5, pinhole camera, underwater, rangefinder, SLR, push button digital, DSLR. She has lugged around Metz flash power packs, Speedotron studio strobes, and Lowell Tota-lights. Her favorite combination is 35mm Leica R6 all manual camera with the 90mm lens. Today she uses Canon 1DX, Sony RX100V, GoPro and iPhone.

My Life With Dogs

During the year of living dog-less, strange dogs yanked on their leashes to come see me. After entering my late dog’s favorite park, a pack of 10 dogs surrounded me. Dogs know when you need them most, and I was lost without my 16 year old dog.

There was another dog-less year, age 6-7. Every day the Beagle next door played with me, then howled when I left. Each night during bath time, I practiced my Beagle howl at full volume. Finally, my mother gave in and got me another dog.

By age 11, I was leash walking four dogs by myself: two Great Danes heeling on the left, long haired Dachshund trotting on the right, and pure black German Shepherd striding out in front. My parents didn't worry for my safety - nobody was going to bother a little girl walking huge dogs.

I grew up with purebreds: Basset Hound, Long Haired Dachshund, Miniature Long Haired Dachshund, Great Danes, German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees. But fell in love with mutts the instant I rescued a 6 week old puppy from the river. As an adult I’ve had five mutts and two feisty Border Terriers. In addition, I have cared for a Sheltie, Pomeranian, Black Lab, another Great Pyrenees, Beagle, and an out of control terrier who settled down beautifully after running on the beach every day.

I have rescued several dogs - one dog caught in a leg hold trap; a frightened Golden Retriever at the top of a waterfall; three dogs stuck on a wobbly section of old lava flow; and my puppy from the river. I tried dog sports before they had a name: running my German Shepherd over horse jumps in 1973; harnessing my Foxhound/Husky mix to pull me on skis across a frozen lake in 1981. Now I play dog agility, AKC Rally, and participate in dog behavior research.

This is the second time photographing dogs every day for Year of the Dog. The first time was Year of the Dog 2006-07.