Meet Melissa and Carlos, husband and wife, who are just as committed to their marriage as they are to documenting your special day through their photography businesses: Car and Mel Photography. What Car and Mel photography does best is that they truly capture those emotion-filled moments on your special day—whether it be a wedding or another special occasion. I talk with Melissa and Carlos about how they started in this business and what makes them unique in wedding photography.
Melissa and Carlos, you are such a lovely couple. How did you meet? And has your own marriage been an inspiration to follow the path of wedding photography?
Well to keep up with the current times it won't seem odd to say we met online! And actually we went into wedding photography before we got married! Many of the weddings we covered before ours would make us imagine and dream about our own wedding day; we would get very involved capturing a wedding, for example hearing the vows of the couples or seeing their smiles or their tears, to the extent that we would either be smiling with them behind the camera or there were some times when we were shedding tears with them. When the time came for us to get married we were of course very focused on what would be the most important thing to plan and invest in for our wedding, and as you can imagine, that was our own photos. When we started doing wedding photography it was very important for us to reach a certain level in our photography, so we took a lot of workshops and mentorships where we met many well-known photographers from Mexico and abroad. It was from those photographers that we admired their work, and we chose who we wanted to be our own photographer on our wedding day. To this day, many of the weddings we cover continue to be an inspiration for us; they are like a reminder of our own wedding and they also remind us of the important things in life: family, special moments, and of course the biggest reason of everything which is love.
You both have some impressive awards on your resume. Can you elaborate?
We have been very lucky to be the first photographers in the area to receive international awards from Fearless Photographers, the WPPI-Wedding, Portraits Photographers International, and the ISPWP-International Society of professional Wedding Photographers. All these awards are given to around 2-3% of the approximately 8,000-10,000 images submitted from all over the world. For us, these achievements represent the payoffs of the effort we have made in developing and growing in our photography. The long hours of work, both during the wedding coverages as well as the long hours of selection and editing of our photos, has proven to mean something. And while it is very nice to have our work recognized, the biggest drive for us is the satisfaction of the couples who choose us to capture their wedding day; we focus completely on them and their special day. We want them to be happy with their photos and if by any chance an image comes to be awarded, it is like a cherry on top of the cake, but for us the cake (meaning our couples) is the most important of it all.
Carlos, in photography, does Melissa complement you in your work, and vice versa?
Carlos: Absolutely! Feedback is very important. Complementing each other’s work demonstrates how we have been growing as photographers individually, but we also, and probably more importantly, are both very critical of our work and we try to be as nice as possible when we make a critical comment or suggestion to the other. Fundamentally we know that criticism is essential to the process of professional growth.
Melissa: I think that as in everything in life we serve as complements of bigger things rather than our own selves, so regarding our photography I think we complement each other by knowing where the other is, or by seeing things the other did not see, because even if we have the same approach at weddings individually, we see things differently, so we can be in the same place but we can see different things which is great!
Do you always work together as a team?
We always work as a team. We know each other’s movements and we actually communicate without even uttering a word; we just look at each other’s eyes and speak that way. For instance, if one of us needs to do an unusual composition or wants to be more creative and take a risk, we let the other one know to stay put for the safe shots. Or when it comes the time for the rings or the first kiss, we know where the other one will be. Most of the time we intuitively know the how, when, where and why of the other.
As destination wedding photographers, do you have a certain signature to your work?
Our style is purely documental when it comes to the covering the whole day, and artistic and playful when it comes to our couple's session time. Bahia de Banderas is our home and we want to show the traditions and customs of Mexico where our clients fell in love or chose for their destination wedding. We love to capture real, natural moments because we think that an authentic moment will always make the person in the photo remember how he or she felt. Capturing emotions will always bring something back, be that a year or ten years after.
Melissa, you grew up in Mexico-- how do you incorporate a touch of Mexico into your pictures?
I have lived all my life in Puerto Vallarta, so for me the magical skies we have for sunsets is something I truly love. I remember the first time I traveled to Cancún in my early 20s— I was on the balcony of my hotel room waiting for the sunset over the beautiful blue ocean of Cancún, and then I realized the sunset was on the other side in back of me! I could not envision being on a beach and having no sunset! So the beauty of this bay, the ocean, and the colorful sky is something I always try have to have in an image. Furthermore, this is something I think our couples also want in their photos, as they chose this place for their destination wedding. We also combine Mexico as they are visiting by shooting in colorful backgrounds or in town, or strolling along the streets incorporating the elements that surround us.
What can guests expect in working with Car & Mel Photography in Sayulita?
We like to know our couples, as we will be documenting a very special day for them. We encourage communication from the start; we offer online meetings because we know that deciding on your photographer from afar is not easy. Customer service and on-time deliveries are very important for us. On the wedding day we just let things happen—we do not stage anything, as we want to capture and experience the wedding celebration being naturally them, not who we think they should be or how things should be. We love what we do, and that only translates in giving our best every single time. When our couples decide on us to do their wedding coverage it is because our style resonated with them, and on the wedding day we will work within that same style to get the best images we can for them.
Anything else you wish to share with the world?
We love the color and vibe of beautiful Sayulita. We have photographed many weddings in Sayulita and we find it an amazing place for a destination wedding. There are so many different venues and villas which make it so unique and fun to shoot. We always look forward to going to Sayulita!
Written By: Inge Poell