The Journey to a New Chapter

Today is the day. The day that has been greatly anticipated… my husband is defending his dissertation at the University of Michigan and he will be getting his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology. Sorry, I know this post isn’t sharing anyone’s wedding or family photos, but I need to take a minute to brag about my best friend!


To say I’m incredibly proud of this dude is not enough! I’ve learned that science is a very interesting field and learning how to fail is tough for anyone! But it takes a special person to learn how to fail, face challenges and come out with some amazing discoveries! This is why I believe Travis is so great at what he does and will continue to be great as he pursues a career as a professor. He takes everything he learns and looks at the bigger picture and revaluates his process and gets it done! During his time at UofM his research has been on C. Diff. Some of you may have heard about this as it’s an issue in hospitals and with the elderly. I try to explain what exactly his research is, but here is a quick article on what his work was on.


The past almost 5 years have completely flown by and within that 5 years we had a beautiful daughter who is 4 now and I came home to be with her a year and a half ago to spilt focus on her and my business. So on top of everything that normal life brings with the everyday woes, this guy didn’t let it affect him. He stayed focus and was still an amazing daddy and husband through it all!


I will be the first to admit that it’s hard for me to express the right words to him and how proud I am of him, but Travis, this is to you that I am over the moon excited for you and our next chapter in this adventure of life! Northwestern is going to be an amazing experience for you and I know you are going to do even bigger and better things in this next chapter! I love you more than you will EVER truly know babe! I’m one lucky girl to call you my husband Dr. Kochan!


Class of 2018 – University of Michigan – Kelsey Kochan

Really quick “Super Proud Sister” blog post from me! (Sorry, not sorry!) I got to take some graduation photos of my sister earlier this week and now she graduates on Saturday! Quick backstory on us. I met her back when she was this little 12-year-old playing on the Nintendo Game Cube. She was cute, loud, and wanted to be the center of attention, like most little girls who grow up with all brothers! I know this because I have a brother who is 10 years older than me so it’s safe to say I wanted attention too! But to be honest, I was never the girl “that always wanted a sister”. But when I met my husband and his family I instantly fell in love with them and this super cute blonde girl basically wanted to be my best friend, I was smitten! We instantly clicked and ever since I’ve loved becoming closer and closer to her as years went on. After almost 13 years of knowing her, I’ve pretty much seen it all! But I knew I just had to be there for her as a Big Sister and give the best advice I could throughout her teenage years and young adulthood! Even though I know there might have been times, at that moment what I had said she didn’t necessarily want to hear it, I hope she can look back and think “dang it, you were right!”

I’m a true believer that everything you go through in life only makes you stronger, the good, the bad and the ugly! That all being said, I’m so incredibly proud of her and everything she has accomplished in her life so far! This girl is turned into one amazing & determined woman. Don’t tell her she can’t do something, because she will prove you wrong! She will be starting her graduate program in the fall at UofM for pharmacology! She has come a long way from that 12-year-old little girl I first met!

So this is my Thank You to you Kels! Thank you for being such an inspiring sister, aunt, and friend! Travis and I love you and can’t wait to see how you leave your mark in this crazy world and in science!













BIG NEWS! – Melissa Elaine Photography is… Expanding!

I’ve tried to sit down and write this blog post a few times now. So here it goes!…..It’s with great excitement and nervousness that I get to (finally) announce that my family and I are moving to CHICAGO! BUT…..DON’T STOP READING! There is a lot of information that I’m going to share with you about the future of Melissa Elaine Photography as this blog post goes on. Below are some questions that I know people will ask me. So here we go….


Will you still be taking Weddings and Family photos in Michigan? If so are you going to charge Travel Fees?

I will absolutely still be working as a Michigan wedding photographer and lifestyle photographer! I will just be expanding my business to the Chicago area wedding photographer and lifestyle photographer as well!! What does that mean for traveling? I will NOT be charging travel fees to come back to Michigan to do shoots! NO TRAVEL FEES?! Our entire families are in Michigan so coming back to Michigan will be no big deal. Just may require some planning ahead of time. Planning a shoot with a short notice just won’t work anymore. So please do not be discouraged to contact me to do shoots in Michigan. I will be readily available in both cities and beyond!

There will be dates for Michigan Mini sessions so make sure you keep an eye out for those!!

Why Chicago?

My husband has spent the past 5 years working towards his Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Michigan and got an awesome job opportunity working for Northwestern University. I’m very proud of him and always knew this day would come. We are both very excited about this new chapter in our lives and are looking at it as an adventure and I can’t wait to have another amazing backdrop to capture Chicago weddings! Also, just an FYI but St. Joseph Michigan is only an hour and a half away from Chicago, so if you know anyone having an amazing beach wedding (like my husband and mines) please feel free to pass my name along! I would love nothing more than to shoot beach weddings!

Is this a forever move? 

We aren’t really sure how long we will be here yet. Could be 2-5 years, could be 10? There is no telling at this point. We will just have to wait and see and time will tell! But for now, we are going to enjoy the time we have here in our new city life living.


When are you moving?

My husband has a start date of August 1st. So our plan is to sell A LOT of our stuff, pack up our house by the end of June and move the last week of July. Being that I still have weddings July-October in Michigan, there will be a lot of traveling back and forth, but we can’t wait to take the month of July off and enjoy our families before we move and then let the excitement begin! For my brides in that part of my wedding season and 2019, DO NOT WORRY! I will back in Michigan 24 hours before your wedding to ensure I’m back in town and not having any travel issues before your wedding day.

What can I do to help you?

Well, I’m glad you asked! Any and all referrals to people who you may know in the surrounding Chicago area is much appreciated! It can be families, wedding couples, families having newborn babes, pretty much any and everything at this stage, I’m happy to talk to them!  That also being said, to build some of my Chicago based photos I will be having a “Giveaway” for some mini sessions in the Chicago area to build my Chicago portfolio some. So if you know anyone that might be interested in that, please pass my name along to them.

Some fun facts to us about this city!

Something has always brought us back to Chicago ever since my husband and I have been together. My husband’s first trip to a big city was Chicago, with me of course! One of my best friends lives here so that always has us coming back. We have always enjoyed coming to Chicago for White Sox & Cub games. Even though we are pretty sure we will be Cubs fans once we move. We had our Honeymoon in Chicago. We came here to celebrate my husbands 30th Birthday. Then what I think is the coolest thing I just recently found out about this city is it was founded on March 4th, 1837. My daughter was born on March 4th. If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is!

So there it is! The news is out! Again we are very excited and nervous all at the same time about this move and can’t wait to start our lives in a new city! But PLEASE understand, this is an expansion! NOT a packing up and shipping out business change for us!! Thanks for all the love and support from our family and friends and my current clients who have expressed their excitement for us! We appreciate all the good luck and appreciate the support! Cheers to a new chapter!

Ann Arbor Michigan Winter Wedding – Melissa & Mike

Melissa & Mike’s wedding was held at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor Michigan. They had an unusually “warmer” winter wedding in Michigan which we were pretty happy about! Now when I say that, I mean there wasn’t much snow on the ground that time of year, which was surprising! Can we also talk about her beautiful flowers from Lasting Touch and amazing dress from Beckers Bridal?! I had such a great time capturing their day!














































Balancing life and everything in-between!

I recently quit my full time, 9-5 corporate job, this past winter to focus on my 2 passions, my photography business & my family. I learned quickly that this point in my life with my daughter being 3 years old I don’t want to miss her littleness.  I’m a true believer that if I’m not happy doing something, then something needs to change. Life is too short!

The whole corporate grind was not something I wanted to do at this point in my life. I want to focus on making what I have better, and live a life of passion! Not just clocking in, doing the work, going home then waking up to do the whole thing over again. It was starting to get too repetitive for me. I wanted my time back! Now I have it! Time to play, time to work, time to focus on my family and MY business.


So now with my new title of “Momtrepreneur” there is a balancing act that needs to get put in place even more than I thought before. BUT can you really have 100% balance?! It’s something I’m starting to discover more and more being home with my little one. I know there are things I must finish and do for my business, but the reason I quit my job was to enjoy my life too and enjoy my child. So that guilty feeling you get when you aren’t doing one or the other is something you have to get over!

I’ve been a small business owner for 9 years now and I’ve learn a LOT in this time. The hustle is a real thing! You are the owner, the boss, the one that calls all the shots. So if I’m not the one doing it… my business just sits here and nothing happens. I’ve learned that I need to be more of a go getter and make things happen and now with all my time I have now I am able to do so and make my passion grow! But how do you do that but also have balance in your life?!

img_3646I’ve learned that I need to set a schedule that is realistic to me and my life! Give grace to yourself! I quit my 9-5 Monday-Friday…. I don’t have to continue that pattern now that I’m home! I have set days and hours that I focus on my work, when I know my child will not be around. Then those days that she is home with me, we get to play! The phrase “work hard, play harder” is so true! But find what works for you and what makes you feel balanced. It’s ok to adjust as you go!



What camera should I get?!

Being a photographer, one of the most popular questions I get from people is “What camera should I get?”. This can sometimes be a difficult question to answer! There are a few questions you have to ask yourself and what you want to capture with your camera first!Whether you are expecting your first child and don’t want to miss any milestones or you’re planning a trip and want an easy point and shoot so that you don’t have to worry about carrying a bunch of extra gear! There are plenty of options to choose from but I can tell you what I personally love!

I had to do my research before choosing what I wanted to get. I had a point and shoot but it was getting old and I wanted something with close to the same quality as my professional Canon DSLR. I asked around to my photography friends and I’ve heard great things about Fujifilm and the film look to their cameras. I knew a lot of people who had the Fujifilm X100T . But I didn’t want to spend that amount on something I wanted to throw in my purse to carry with me. So when I asked about the Fujifilm cameras someone brought up the Fujifilm X70. It’s nice and tiny and does an awesome job! One thing I really knew I wanted was a point and shoot that had wifi so I could upload photos while I was out and about directly to my phone. That way I could post photos right away which was a huge plus! I also wanted the capability to shoot manual, BUT don’t worry! You can always put the camera on auto if you don’t want to worry about learning manual mode. Another perk to this camera was it can shoot amazing high-quality video!
I also discovered some additional accessories that I added to my camera. I got a unique wristband along with a lens hood to protect the lens while being in my purse. It does come with a lens cover, but the hood adds protection without me having to mess with a cap. I would totally rate this camera 5 out of 5 stars!! It’s so easy and the size is perfect so that I can take it everywhere with me!


Now if you are wanting a good entry level DSLR to take more “professional quality” pictures these are my recommendations: Canon makes a Rebel T5 camera and Nikon has D3400. I shoot Canon so I’m not super familiar with Nikon’s cameras. If photography is something you want to learn and eventually invest in, these are for sure stepping stone cameras. The pricing of these may look more appealing, but just remember, it’s a kit so it comes with a “kit lens” which is normally lower-end quality. I would highly recommend purchasing a 50mm 1.8 prime lens or 50mm 1.4. These are great lenses to learn on since they can get nice and wide at F/1.8. Without getting all technical, these lenses will help you learn the different settings that you can’t get with the kit lenses since the widest you can get on those are sometimes F/3.5 or F4. Just very limiting! Now the 50mm lens is a prime (fixed) lens, which means it cannot zoom. If you want to zoom in and out, your feet are your zoom! If you don’t want to buy it brand new, you can sometimes get lucky and find used lenses at camera stores or online. Just make sure you purchase it from a reliable seller.

EXTRA TIP: Regardless of what camera you want there is some basic knowledge that you should learn before you purchase any camera! The DSLRs can be overwhelming with ALL their features! Yes you can throw any camera in auto, but depending on the lighting it may cause your flash to go off and you may not want that.  My biggest advice for taking better pictures regardless of what camera you choose is to make sure you HAVE LIGHT if you don’t want your flash to go off while taking pictures! The more natural light the better! Making sure there is enough light in the room will help your camera to have quicker shutter speed so it can capture the image in focus and without movement.

Disney First Timers – Part 2

I can’t really say I am a true “first timer” to Disney, BUT  as a family, we were absolutely first timers! I think that last time I was at Disney was in 2000 and I was a teenager. I didn’t plan things then and SO much as changed since I was there last! Planning a Disney trip can feel overwhelming at first. BUT booking through an agent and booking early helped with making sure we got the most out of trip. Our awesome agent Kim helped us get everything together and helped me with my many unknown questions I had! Pinterest has a ton of awesome tips and trick and I encourage you to do your research before you go. I gave a brief overview about what was helpful in Part 1. But here is a more in-depth view of some things about the parks that I found SUPER helpful & fun!


We only went to Magic Kingdom 2 days, Epcot 1 day and Hollywood Studios 1 day. No Animal Kingdom this time.

FastPass+ – You can book your Fast Passes 60 days in advance of your trip. Do it! You get 3 fast passes per guest per day. Now this is where you need to think about the people you are with. Before I booked our fast passes, I looked at my Disney Experience App and got a feel for what the wait times were like through out the day at the parks. For our family, being that this was a first time and my daughter is 3 years old, we wanted to make sure she was able to meet characters that she loves over the big rides. But I knew we would want to still go on some of the rides she would be able to go on that have the longer lines, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan in Magic Kingdom, and we took what we could for the new Frozen ride at Epcot which was a 8pm timeframe, but totally worth not having to wait 90 minutes+! Hollywood Studios, we got a Fast Pass for the Toy Story ride since that can be an hour long wait at times.

Wait Times – Yes, the wait times can be a little overwhelming to look at, BUT if it’s 20 minutes sometimes even 30 minutes, it tends to go quicker than expected. Disney is really good about trying to make sure they are the most reliable wait times by tracking the crowds. We waited about 25 minutes for the Magic Carpet ride, but it went quick and it was a fun ride!


Food in Parks– Yes you can make reservations, but sometimes it’s nice to just go with the flow and eat where lines are short and easy. Our first day in the park we ate lunch at the Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. We went prime lunch hour and the Disney staff was prepped and ready to serve. Will feel overwhelming at first, but lines go quick! If there are a few of you, have someone grab a spot to eat before getting in line. Sometimes just grab and go eats is the way to go. They way you can continue to enjoy the park but still getting some food in.

Cinderella’s Royal Table – This is something that needs to be booked well in advance! But if you can get a reservation, I highly recommend it! Can be pricey but totally worth the $150 for the 3 of us. We booked breakfast for my daughters birthday and we had a blast! When you first come in you are greeted by Cinderella and get to have pictures taken with her. Now I did read before we went that the princesses do tend to change and not always the same. However we had Ariel, Aurora, Snow White & Jasmine at our breakfast! They have staff that watches the princesses to ensure they do not miss tables and get to greet everyone! Best part, they recognized it was my daughters birthday and our waiter brought out a cupcake with a candle and we were able to sing Happy Birthday to her which was a nice touch! Her reactions to when Ariel came out literally put me in tears!


Strollers – Yes there are rental companies you can rent from, but even if you think your kids is too old for a stroller I highly recommend bringing one or renting one. Smaller is better, is my opinion purely for the shuttle buses. Also make sure it’s one you can easily and quickly break down. We had a Summer umbrella stroller before and I loved it but folding it up was kind of a pain. I noticed they came out with a newer one that was super easy to fold and went for the upgraded Summer stroller for our trip. Then I also got this extra storage/drink holder so my husband and I had a place to put our water bottles. There is stroller parking everywhere! Just make sure you put it somewhere you are suppose to put it and don’t be alarmed if your stroller gets moved. Making sure your stroller is recognizable is super helpful!

Parades – Make sure you put time aside to attend 1 or 2! We only made it to the Move it! Shake it! Dance and play it! parade. My daughter loves to dance so I’m glad we caught this one! She was able to dance with one of her favorite characters Jessie. I wish we would have see the Disney Festival Fantasy Parade, but just with timing, it didn’t work out.


My Disney Experience App– My biggest pointer for your Disney trip would be to use the Disney Experience App!! Download it, play with it, learn it! It was really helpful to be in the park and to be able to see where characters are, what the wait times were like, and finding food that was close by if we were hungry. Yes you can just walk around and find things, but looking it up on a map and having the information right away was helpful with saving time and staying on track of what you wanted to do! If you need to remember what time your FastPass was for, you could check it on there. Best part if you bought the PhotoPass you can view them on the app if you link your photo pass to the app about 20 minutes after the pictures were taken! So awesome!

First Aid in Disney World – This should be a no brainer, but bring your insurance card with you! My daughter woke up our first morning with questionable puffy eyes, which I at the time was trying to be optimistic and thinking maybe it was just allergies. Well about 1pm we decided we needed to go to urgent care and get her checked out. But then all the questions started popping up. How do we get there? Should we Uber? Can Uber pick us up here? Where is the closets urgent care? Oh crap, what do we do?! First Aid! I knew there was one in the park.  We I figured lets go there and get some of our questions answered! Maybe they will even have something for us. Unfortunately they weren’t able to help us medically, but little did we know (Disney is so amazing!) they were able to call a shuttle that would take us to Urgent care, FOR FREE! This was the bummer part of our trip that we missed about half a day, but we are happy we were able to go from the park to urgent care without a worry and then after we were done at the urgent care they were able to call us a shuttle to take us back to our resort.



Disney First Timers – Part 1

I don’t know if I was considered the crazy planner when it came to our very first Disney trip, but I knew by my daughters 2nd Birthday that I couldn’t wait to start planning our Disney trip! My daughters birthday is at the beginning of March and it ended up working perfectly that we planned to go over her birthday when she turned 3 years olds. Luckily that time frame was right before the large Spring Break crowds!

DSCF4196 3

Here a few quick things I’m glad I did while planning!  It’s ok to plan early! It’s ok to be on top of things! My husband and I knew we wanted to plan early for a few reasons.

1. Budget $$$- We wanted to make sure we had this trip paid off when we could and early! Things can add up quickly when it comes to Disney. Between what hotel you pick & dining experiences planning early is super helpful to make sure you were able to do what you want!

2. Photo Pass – Being a photographer, I knew I would have my own camera with me, but spending the extra money on the Disney Photo Pass was important to me. My husband bought me an awesome “point and shoot” Fujifilm x70 (LOVE!) camera to take with me on trips so I wouldn’t have to luge all my gear with me. BUT my biggest worry was that I wouldn’t be in any of our pictures! They have people all over the park to catch your photo ops that you can just sit back and enjoy with your child without feeling obligated to take a photo.

3. Hotels – We ended up booking the Art of Animation resort and I know everyone has their on preference when it comes to hotels, but for our daughter it was the perfect option for us! She LOVES The Little Mermaid so staying in the standard Little Mermaid room was perfect! They have fun photo ops around the resort from Lion King, Finding Nemo, Cars and of course The Little Mermaid areas. Best part, when you stay on a Disney Resort there are no worries about transportation! Disney Express to and from the airport and shuttles buses to the parks from your resort!


I will break down my trip more in another post about what I learned while in the actual parks! But hopefully this helped you a little. Research and PLAN AHEAD! It’s the best way to get the most of your trip!