Why Me?

by Melissa de Blok

Apart from the obvious fact that most photographers don’t do shadow work or get to know you deeply prior to the session – here are some of the things that make me different from other photographers you may consider:

“I don’t look good in photos”: If you feel like you’re not photogenic, I’m probably perfect for your needs – my roots in photography started with people who felt extremely uncomfortable in front of cameras.  I enjoy working with people like that because it means I can uncover more of the truth, instead of having you revert to your usual poses.  I am proud to say that most people I photograph aren’t actually comfortable in front of a camera – a lot of my expertise lies in making you look and feel comfortable in your images.

My eye for what makes YOU look good: I have years of experience in luxury portraiture (click here to read my take on the difference between luxury and regular photography) – which means you’re guaranteed to have images that you will absolutely adore.  You’d be surprised to find that many photographers care more about whether the image is ‘correct’, than whether you feel comfortable and confident.

Photographic honesty: I believe in representing you accurately – no blurring your skin beyond recognition, giving you a body that isn’t yours, or turning you into something you’re not.  It takes longer as I need to subtly edit out distracting elements (the camera picks up a lot of things that the human eye can’t see!) without minimising who you are, but the result of seeing the real you… that is so worth it.

Experience with people like you: If you’re a creative introvert or lone wolf – like most of my clients are – then you’ll love the Pack – an online safe space that I created for people like yourself.  I started this community of 500+ members a few years ago, so my understanding of my clients goes beyond the usual “Oh, I’m an introvert too!”.

My respect for inclusivity: Due to my background – I have worked with a very wide range in the spectrum of age, gender, ability, body shape, belief, and ethnicity.  If you’re wondering whether I can or will photograph you – the answer is probably yes.

My intuition/channelling: I often read/notice people’s energy shifts, childhood issues, insecurities, and general shadows before they do.  As a result, the flow of my work relies on me sensing subtle shifts in tone/expression and adjusting the session (both shadow work and photography) accordingly.  It’s the number one reason I get the results I do. It’s also why I’m unable to work with people who are unwilling to be open with me – it can be incredibly alarming for a closed-off person to have their discomfort witnessed, confronted, and questioned when they’re so used to hiding it all with a mask.  It’s not something I have the appropriate vocabulary for, but most of my clients automatically feel a pull when I describe this to them.  Some things do not need to be filtered through the lens of language.

My complex background: My heart is at home in Nairobi, NYC, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Cape Town, Ubud, Edinburgh, and London.  I am Kenyan-Indian and Dutch, and have interests ranging from rally driving to Muay Thai, and sensory deprivation to playing fantasy MMORPGs.  As a result, my clients tend to be spread around the world – and just as complex as I am.  Working with me has a sense of familiarity – some say that it feels like coming home.  It also helps that I travel to most of my clients – instead of making them fly to me.

My constant evolution: I believe in endless education, as opposed to doing a multiple-year course and then thinking that’s the end of it.  Apart from my experience working with actors, performers, and models in NYC, London, Cape Town, Amsterdam, and Nairobi, I have been trained in-person by some of the best (Peter HurleyTom Hoops, among others) in the industry, and spend some time each week learning from masters at photography.  I also make sure I attend conferences and masterminds on a yearly basis – and invest over a third of my time and money into my personal, spiritual, and professional growth.

My work history:  In case it wasn’t clear – before all else, I am a writer.  Other than my shadow work and 10 years of photography, I also spent a few years specialising in online marketing and branding identity for personal/small brands.  On top of my photography/writing, I’m a singer-songwriter and have been writing and recording professionally for almost two decades.  As someone who has had a public personal brand for more than half my life, I can relate to my clients’ desire to constantly strive to be better than yesterday, as well as have the most authentic representation of themselves in their photos.  In fact, I may still have some cringeworthy pictures of my teenage fame days somewhere

My personal vulnerability: I like to walk my talk.  I can’t ask my clients to get vulnerable with me if I don’t do the same thing.  I face my demons publicly on my blog and my Instagram, with the hope that it’ll inspire others to do the same.

My self-care and boundaries: I believe that all great work rests on a solid foundation of self-care.  I only take on a limited amount of clients per month, focus heavily on my health and wellness, and make sure that I’m at 100% for every client I take on.  This means I have a large amount of time to grow my skills, expand my knowledge, and ultimately – be of better service to you.


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