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

 

melissa and photography

 

Melissa is a life long photographer, getting her first camera at age 6. Also age 6, the Royal Ontario Museum displayed her two paintings in a Children’s Exhibition. At age 7, she made her first dog photograph of her new puppy under the Christmas tree.

She photographed professionally for 10 years in Washington, DC. In 1987, she pioneered a new style of wedding photography that is very popular today - called wedding photojournalism. In 1990, the Washingtonian Magazine named her as one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the DC area, and featured her photo of a swirling bride as the lead photo for their wedding article.

Before weddings, she photographed art work, making exact color reproductions of paintings, and using studio lighting on sculptures in gallery installations. She ran her own photography studio from 1986-1996.

Before going Pro, she studied full time at the Maine Photographic Workshops for a year and a half. Her dog came with her to MPW, and a teacher joked that she was always photographing her dog.

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, GoPro and iPhone.

melissa and dogs

 

During the year of living dog-less, strange dogs yanked on their leashes to come see me. When I entered a park that my late dog loved, 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 I played with the Beagle next door, who howled as 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 about 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 I 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.

The decisive moments in my life all center around dogs. I was even born in Year of the Dog.