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Conversations with Melissa Otto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Otto.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
I started in the wedding industry in 2011 when I worked for my local catering company. It was a high school job where I only worked on the weekends when there were weddings and other events. From the very start, I was drawn to the joy and beauty of a wedding day. I worked this job on and off for 8 years and then worked as a bridal consultant at a wedding shop while I was in college. I went to St. Thomas and earned my elementary education degree but couldn’t get the wedding industry out of my head. I always loved taking photos, had several point-and-shoot cameras growing up, and bought my first DSLR camera after high school graduation. While in college, I made friends with a few classmates who were starting their own photography businesses. These ladies inspired and motivated me to take my love of weddings and photography to the next level. I launched my photography as a side hustle when I began teaching. I quickly realized that teaching wasn’t for me and that wedding photography was. I quit teaching after two years and decided to take my photography business full time.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It hasn’t been a smooth road. If you had told me as a child that I would own my own business one day, I never would have believed you. I grew up in a small rural town in Southern Minnesota where everyone grew up to be teachers, nurses, or farmers. I felt like there wasn’t much creativity in my small town, and I never thought it was possible to start my own business. I had no guidance on becoming an LLC, how taxes worked, or anything business related. After all, photography is way more than taking pretty pictures.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in wedding photography, but I also offer engagement sessions, senior sessions, and family sessions. I’m so proud of myself for building my business from the ground up and evolving from a 16-year-old server clearing plates at a wedding to working side by side with the bride and groom on one of the biggest days in their lives. My teaching background comes in handy when organizing bridal party and family photos on a wedding day. I have definitely used my “teacher voice” on a set of rowdy groomsmen or two. 😉

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you, and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The biggest thing I’ve learned about Covid and weddings is to be flexible. Emotions are heightened so being flexible and meeting your clients where they are is crucial. I’ve seen couples call off their dream weddings and get married with just immediate family around, all while wearing masks; the best thing to do in this situation is just run with the punches and serve your clients to the best of your ability.

Pricing:

  • 8 hour package starts at $3200
  • 9 hour package starts at $3500
  • 10 hour package starts at $3800

Contact Info:

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