Category Archives: My Story

The story of how I started seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and became a Landscape and Nature photographer. Learn about some of the glories, sidesteps and the pitfalls that I have encountered since my journey began into the art of photography.

I Sit Here In Tears

Landscape and nature photographer Melissa Fague

I sit here in tears looking at my computer screen, not because of sadness but because of joy. Today, I researched my name and was pleasantly surprised on what I saw. For seven years, I have been growing as a landscape and nature photographer. During that same period of time my family and I have been working on building Pi Photography Fine Art. Over the years there have been many hurdles, curves in the roadway, and pitfalls that we have encountered; each carrying their own unique set of challenges to overcome. There have been countless times over the years that I have wondered if all the time that has been invested, all the time away from friends and loved ones, and all the resources invested was ever going to pan out.

I am a single mom of two and have been for most of my adult life; I had my son at 20 and my daughter at 22. I’ve worked endless hours at good jobs but jobs that didn’t fulfill me as a person. In 2009, after a car accident, my good but financially unstable life was destroyed and it had to be rebuilt from the ground up. At 32, severally hurt from the accident with a lot of time on my hands I went back to school through online classes and eventually received my degree. The years of going to school, being a mom, healing, working a job (some points 2), learning about business and growing my business has been the most exhausting experiences of my life but they have also been the most rewarding.

Today I saw my name and I began to cry.

Some of you may find that statement a little ridiculous but those of you who have been challenging yourself day in and day out will understand. Those of you artists or innovators trying to be seen will understand. I’ve been selling my nature and landscape photography wall art through my own website for about 4 years now, Fine Art America, Etsy and Houzz platforms for about 6 months. But today, because of Trademark Fine Art, I saw my name and my work on Amazon, Overstock and Wayfair; three of the largest internet retailers in the world!

I cried because I see that the work is paying off…I cried because I could have given up but I didn’t; for that I am thankful and proud. My hope is this is not just a step in the right direction but a huge jump in the right direction.

Pi Photography and Fine Art Online Nature and Landscape Photography Wall Art Prints on amazon.com

Pi Photography and Fine Art Online Nature and Landscape Photography Wall Art Prints on Overstock.com

Pi Photography and Fine Art Online Nature and Landscape Photography Wall Art Prints on Wayfair.com

 

 

 

 

“Keep Going! Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”  ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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Own Your Dreams, Own Your Life

Over the years as my business has grown I have shared some of the struggles of learning the skills of nature and landscape photography, learning the world of business, as well as the struggles with creating a business of my passion and the conflicts of a personal life outside of business. Honestly, some of the struggles that I have gone through (sometimes still do) relate to personal doubt. Ultimately, I continue on over the struggles because I know at some point I will be truly successful in my career as a professional photographer…. At some point my business will be strong enough to pass on to my children, my grandchildren…and possibly my great grandchildren.  Yes, I want a legacy. I want to be as infamous of a photographer as Ansel Adams.

Recently, my brother shared this video on Facebook and I watched it in tears. The reason I share is because so much of what Prince Ea states is true. I have heard my own family members state that they’re envious of my courage to try, they state their regrets for never investing in their own dreams and they wish they could take it back. My replies have always been it’s never to late to try. Yes, it is hard to balance everything. Yes, there are pitfalls, roadblocks, and sometimes cliffs that need to be leaped over but I can honestly say the struggle is worth it.

I share this because I would like nothing more than for you to have the  courage in yourself to reach for your dreams. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a photographer, a writer, a builder, a cook, a doctor, or ever the president… whatever your passion is go for it!

Own your dreams, own your life!

Becoming A Professional Nature And Landscape Photographer: Explore

Becoming A Professional Nature And Landscape Photographer: Explore

In the previous blog post, Becoming A Professional Nature And Landscape Photographer: Making Opportunities, I briefly went over just a few of the experiences that I encountered coming into the field of Nature and Landscape Photography. Today, I’m going to touch base on exploring before you explore. Our world is full of wonderful details; from extraordinarily high mountains to dry, deserted flat lands and everything in between. How do you decide what you would like to photograph?

I spent a good amount of time as a child reading and flipping through the pages of National Geographic Magazine. The details of our world completely fascinates me and if I could I would visit every place that I had ever seen in those pages. Nothing would bring me more joy than to wake in a different part of the world every few days. Unfortunately, at this point in my life  and my career, my wallet (if it could laugh I’m sure it would) will not allow that much travel but I’m getting there.

Pixley Falls 1 Photographed by Melissa Fague - Landscape Photography

Pixley Falls 1 Photographed by Melissa Fague – Landscape Photography

Explore Yourself First

As a teen my one life goal was to be a vagabond that hitchhiked where I wanted to go, thank god for maturity. Thankfully that goal has evolved into a safer (and cleaner) career path of Landscape and Nature Photography but the drive to see and experience the different climates as well as geographical areas has remained the same. However, not everyone is the same as I am when it comes to travel and not everyone can travel with others. If you are toying with the idea of becoming a landscape and nature photographer I recommend you honestly explore your own likes and dislikes before venturing out into the great beyond. There is nothing worse than trying to create beauty while dealing with uncomfortable situations on an expensive trip.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you plan and book a trip somewhere:

  • How do I react in the humidity?
  • How do I react to the cold?
  • Do I have the equipment for the extreme climate changes?
  • Where can I get the equipment needed?
  • Do I work well with others traveling with me or other travelers?
  • Am I willing to eat the local food?
  • Do I want to see all the travel hot spots or explore the lesser known areas?
  • Do I like to shoot alone or in a group?
  • How do I react sleeping in strange places?
  • How well can I communicate with the locals?
  • How much do I know about the culture?

If you are unsure, most of these questions you can test out on small trips somewhere in your region.

A few years back I learned a valuable lesson on a camping trip with another emerging photographer. The trip was planned for months and at the last minute my shooting partner started becoming iffy about the trip. Before planning, I was told that he was an experienced camper and loved it.  So we planned out this hiking/photography trip in the Appalachian Mountains for a week with three locations to do shoots. The three locations that we decided on all  involved hiking a distance with all of our gear. From the very start of the trip (we had not even finished packing the car up), his mood was less than pleasant and it continued to get worse as the week progressed. Every little thing that occurred made him become even more cranky…it was too humid in the mountains…the tent posts wouldn’t work right…the bugs were attacking him…the food wouldn’t cook on the fire…he smelled skunk…it was never ending. He had no patience for the outdoors and my patience grew thin very quickly with him. By the third location, which was beautiful by the way, I was so frustrated that I just wanted the trip to be over with and be away from him for good. None of the photographs I created at the second and third location we salable because I was too distracted by the frustration with my shooting partner.

The moral of the story is, find out what you like while you are close to home. If you don’t like being cold, traveling to the north and spending time in the cold climate may not be in your best interest. If you don’t like being around other people while you work, than go alone and finally if you don’t like bugs… I don’t recommend being a nature and landscape photographer at all.

 Go back to: Making Opportunities                                                       Coming Soon: It’s A Business

Becoming A Professional Nature and Landscape Photographer: Shoot What You Know

Shoot What You Know and Love

Becoming a professional nature and landscape photographer is no easy task. An artist not only needs to practice the craft of photography continuously but they also need to learn about the business of photography. As much as I would love to pack my bags and roam the world taking photographs all along the way, I can’t….not yet anyway; I am still a “one man show” so to speak. At this point in my career as a nature and landscape photographer I have been published, won several awards nationally and internationally and I have started exploring outside of my region but I am still battling obscurity. Meaning, I’m still fighting to be seen as an artist.  About 80% of my time is dedicated to marketing, networking and trying to make sales, which makes it hard to drop everything and run to glorious locations around the world, no matter how badly I want to see them.

You don’t need to live in exotic places to create beautiful landscape photographs, shoot what you know. Every part of the world has something to offer to the world of photography and fine art. For example there are people who live in the central part of the United States who will more than likely never see or experience the ocean and the beaches. There are people around the world that will never experience the Urban landscape of New York City and there are people in this world who will never explore outside their own country. The list could go on, the point is that you know your hometown, you may even know locations throughout your region. You are familiar with the types of wildlife and foliage in your area for nature photographs. Unless you are have exceptional photographic skills and you are making money on your photographs like Peter Lik or Trey Ratcliffe you do not need to spend a chunk of money on a trip just to create beautiful landscape and nature photographs while you’re learning. Don’t disregard photographic projects of where you live just because you think you have seen all it has to offer. Try to look at your part of the world though eyes of another.

If you live in Alaska, there are beautiful snow-capped mountains right within your reach but that’s not the only kind of nature out there that could be stunning to another person. New York City, has a beautiful contrast between the elements of central park and the concrete and rush of life in the high rises. These things may seem ordinary to you because you see them every day but to the rest of the world  these subject could be very compelling. Go to the same location at different times of the day, visit them during the different seasons and use those elements to enhance the overall scene. These subtle changes may even teach you something new.

Nature has always been a big part of my life and it is one of the main inspirations for my creativity. Having grown up in Delaware, I’ve spent most of my life wandering the woods, rivers, fields and the beaches around me. Even today, wandering the woods or strolling the beaches and marshes gives me a sense of peace that I don‘t feel anywhere else. So it was no surprise that landscapes and nature photography seem the most natural to me when I was exploring the different genres of photography. However, I don’t like to limit myself to just those genres, I definitely experiment with capturing a variety of subjects in my work. I absolutely love it when I can “WOW” a local with a photograph of places they have seen so many times before.

You know where you live and if you have a passion for photography than try to look at your world with fresh eye before venturing off to great distances.  This will not only help you focus on the smaller details but it will help you refine your techniques. I bet there is something about your hometown that you have never explored before. I challenge you to tell me a photographic story about your hometown, it could be landscape, nature, candid, or a narrative… whatever you love to photograph. Once you’re done ping back to this article so that others can see your work and join in the on challenge.

Happy Anniversary To Me!

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Today I celebrate a day like no other. It is not a celebration of a relationship or of a happy moment in life. It’s a celebration of the day my life changed forever. Six years ago today I almost lost my life. My children almost lost a mother, my brothers almost lost a sister, and my parents almost lost a daughter all because of a simple text message. I am physically as well as mentally changed forever because of it. However, I celebrate today because that accident, as bad as it was, also changed my perception, taught me amazing lessons, catapulted me back into school and into a new career that I am passionate about. Through all of the damage that occurred, all of the surgeries and thousands of hours in physical therapy I made a choice (and stuck with it) to not only make the best of the situation but to use it to succeed in my life and its working.

Six years ago today I almost lost my life in a car accident due to another individual texting while driving and I will never be the same again but that is okay…. In fact, it’s fantastic. I am not angry with her for her bad choices. In all honesty, I  believe that if it was not for that accident I would have never learned about myself, my family, my friends, my full strengths and my passions. So, in a way I am thankful for her choice.

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I have written about my story before and I don’t share it for pity, I share it to inspire others. I share my story because there are so many negative things that happen in life and it is easy to fall into a rut because of it. I share my story because it is easy to give up on yourself without support.  I share my story because it  was (and still is) one of the scariest (but yet rewarding) things I have ever endured. I share my story because none of us will ever walk through life without change…you can’t fight it, it is inevitable. Some of the things we encounter will be beautiful while others will be traumatic but I am here to say that the trauma does not last. Trauma can be used to create something beautiful, trauma can teach you to truly appreciate the beautiful things, the hearts of others, and it is what makes moments in life priceless.

If it were not for my car accident I’m 99% positive that I would not be on my journey to becoming a world-renowned landscape and nature photographer. I am just as positive that I would not own an art gallery that is about to take on other artists in several fields. I truly believe I would never have seen the courage and strength in myself nor would I ever had invested in myself on so many levels.  Granted, I am nowhere close to being done but I have come a long way and I am proud of the choices I have made over the past six years. And for the scars I have on my body and the remaining damage to my spine, I am becoming proud of them too…they are proof that wounds heal and challenges can be overcome.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!!!!

To read the full story of my journey please visit: In the Beginning: How My Photographic Journey Began and please visit the gallery at: Pi Photography And Fine Art.