Melissa in her Hawaii neighborhood as Fissure 17 of Kilauea volcano erupts in a lava fountain. Days later, this idyllic scene was covered by lava. Photograph by Dominic Tidmarsh

Melissa in her Hawaii neighborhood as Fissure 17 of Kilauea volcano erupts in a lava fountain. Days later, this idyllic scene was covered by lava. Photograph by Dominic Tidmarsh

Melissa Schelling is a disaster survivor from the Hawaii lava flow. Forced to evacuate her home forever, she photographed every day of the experience and fulfilled her obligation to create a solo exhibition 5 months later. The final group of photographs was made to help other lava evacuees deal with the trauma, and the exhibition story was picked up by APNews.

Melissa 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 as an alternative to 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, then opened her own studio in DC. She began her career photographing for galleries and artists, before switching to weddings.

Her first camera at age 6 was a gift from her grandmother to celebrate having two crayon drawings in the Royal Ontario Museum’s Children’s Exhibition 1964. Her first dog photo was of her new puppy under the Christmas tree when she was 7.

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, iPhone and occasionally borrows a Hasselblad X1D.