Sharleen Stuart Photography chose @melissatokariwski_photography’s {Portrait} image for the month of November.  We decided to catch up with Melissa and learn a little bit more about her.

Tell us a bit about yourself? and  Are you a hobbyist or a pro?

I am a 46 yearr old mom of 3 – ages 14 (boy) 17 (girl), and 20 (girl) . We have lots of attitude here!  I work full time, Play ringette (I’m a goalie) and shoot for fun and as a hobby.  I do extend my photography skills to friends for shoots and I have sold some prints as well



I love this photo of my middle child. It’s just so natural, no forced smiles and shows how much fun we were having with these lights. 

Tell us a bit about your photography gear.  What is the lens do you not have but you   desire to have the most?

I started out with a Nikon D5100 from Costco about 10 years ago and shot in auto for years.  Mostly sports for my kids: hockey, basketball, ringette, volleyball, and baseball.  I tried different online photography schools…. Most of them confused me!   I dreamed and drooled over photos and their creativity for a while.  Sometimes their simple beauty and sometimes the complexity of photoshop.  I came across Shultz Photoschool in 2016 and that’s where I learned manual.  After years of shooting in auto, I came through my own way of composition by trial and error.  February 2017, I got a macro lens as a birthday gift.  I was going in to macro blind.  Not. A. Clue.  Lol. I studied online. I practiced. I researched.  Almost everything I have done is self taught and by picking the brains of others.



The sunflower shoot was full of giggles.  My daughter was wearing a tube top, so it looks like she is in the sunflowers with no clothes on.  She is so opposite of this and that’s why I probably love it so much. Getting her to open up a bit.  

What makes you pick up the camera when you don’t feel like it?

In 2018, I had some health issues and was at home a lot.  With minimal energy on my couch,  I studied photography more and more. Did more self projects.  The more I did, the more I wanted to learn.  I don’t think there is really a time when I didn’t want to shoot, but there is a time when I have to shoot… when I’m grumpy!   I find it therapeutic, and if I’m grumpy or moody I go and find something to shoot, usually macro.  A lot of my portrait inspirations comes from my daughters.  I usually get a “mom I need some Insta pics!” So we decide what we are going to do, we plan, and away we go. This particular paint splatter shoot was lots of fun.  There is nothing but giggles and fun when you get to throw paint at someone!  And then running around the yard and house for the perfect spot  The paint splatter was shot in my garage door.  The basic, open door trick.  And it works every time.  I can’t really vote about lifestyle or traditional.  What does wonky ideas fall in to?



Capturing my son outside of his sporting events is difficult and rare. He’s not going to go to sparkly lights and sunflowers and pose for me, so when I got him out for a hike, I took advantage of it. 

Film or digital? Black and white or color? Lifestyle or traditional?

I will shoot in black and white or convert to black and white to switch it up, but I am a color and details girl.  I currently shoot with the Sony A7iii, digital all the way. I can see right away what I like. I love it.  I love my Sony.   It’s a great machine.  I Pair it with the Tamron 28-75mm, it’s an exceptional and versatile lens.  I have a 70-300 Sony zoom I use for sports.  My love, Tokina 100mm for macro. I also have a couple Lensbaby’s (Sol 45 and Twist 60) that are fun for portraits, macro and Architecture.  Next up on my list would be a wide…. Tamron 20mm or 17-28mm for those landscapes and Northern Lights.



This right here is what I’m talking about for editing. What does this picture say to you?  Being in the middle of the woods with minimal light.  It was spooky but serene.  I could have edited a million different ways.  But this is how I felt being there.

What personal projects are you working?

I am currently working on my Iceballs.  Everyone seems to be fascinated with my iceballs.  I also have a couple things planned with my daughter… some indoor shots since we are soooo cold right now. Going to a department store, Laundromat, maybe the library, etc. We just did an indoor shoot at a Christmas light display and that was lots of fun.  I am always photographing sports, it never stops here with my son.



This is one of my iceballs.  I love the blues of winter and the sun setting in my backyard.  The iceballs I make are unique, and have now caught on by a lot of people to try.  You never know how they will turn out. 

Most important thing you learned about editing?

As I said earlier I am a color girl.  I like the bright colors and details and I will switch it up to get some moody shots or black and white. What I have learned about editing, and what I think about editing, is to not fall into the same pattern as everyone else that takes a preset and puts it on their photo and says they’re done.  I see a lot of people editing the same way. A fad I guess.  As you scroll through Instagram and see the same style over and over again.  I think you have to feel your pictures. What does it say to you?  What impression does it leave?  Is it moody? Add some shadows.  Is it crisp and clean?  Don’t do too much.  I don’t decide how I’m going to edit it until I see it on my computer. If there’s something I don’t like, can I crop it out?  Clone it out?  Chuck it?  As for technical parts of editing, use your hues and don’t over saturate!



I love this one because it’s a different perspective.   It’s not your typical pose and smile.  The conversation to get this pose was quite funny to begin with, so it just made it more fun and she ended up loving it in the end. 

I would certainly encourage you to go and check out @melissatokariwski_photography’s. You will love her work.  Thank you Melissa for sharing a little bit more about you.  We look forward to seeing your images on our Facebook page and our Instagram Page.

The theme this month is {Macro} so tag us with #sharesix_macro.  You still have a few more weeks.