Saint Mary’s Home For Disabled Children. A beautiful place for beautiful children. Virginia Family Photographer.

Saint Mary’s Home For Disabled Children. A beautiful place for beautiful children. Virginia Family Photographer.

Have you ever come to the end of a day and known that you spent it in exactly THE right way? That’s how I felt after I finished my family portrait event for the children and families of Saint Mary’s Home for Disabled Children. I can’t think of a more fulfilling, rewarding, or fun way to spend a Saturday.

Saint Mary’s website says, “St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk is a special place full of love and laughter, where children and young adults from all across Virginia live, play, go to school and receive complex, professional, around-the-clock care in a nurturing, comfortable environment to help them achieve their fullest potential.”

I love that…”achieve their fullest potential.” We are all born with God-given gifts, abilities, and limitations. We are not like each other. Each of us has particular strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and we each have a unique purpose. I love that at Saint Mary’s the children who live there are nurtured, taught, and loved in ways that help them fulfill their purposes and develop their gifts.

Saint Mary’s is a beautiful, modern, 80,000 square foot facility that is located in Norfolk, VA just off of Kempsville Road. Everything about Saint Mary’s is warm, welcoming, and cheerful. Original artwork adorns the walls, a heated, outdoor pool is housed at the center of the facility, gardens and flowers surround the perimeter, and the classrooms are inviting and stimulating. Teachers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists come to Saint Mary’s to be sure each child is challenged and educated. Local community groups and businesses generously provide rich activities for these children such as a spring prom, days at the Virginia Aquarium, Old Fashioned Photos at the oceanfront and a host of other opportunities. It is a happy place to be and it is filled with happy people.

Before my family portrait event, I sent a questionnaire to each child’s parents so that I could find out a little bit about them. Interests of these dear children range from Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift to Hello Kitty and Curious George. Several of the young ladies love purple, fuchsia, and zebra stripes, and Frozen is a favorite movie choice. It was such fun watching them respond with joy and excitement to Adam Levine being blasted from my iPhone and to see their mischievousness show itself when we weren’t expecting it.

The staff of Saint Mary’s is kind, loving, thoughtful, skilled, nurturing, compassionate, friendly, and selfless. And somehow those words are just not enough to communicate the feeling one gets being at Saint Mary’s and seeing the way the staff and children interact with each other.

I loved spending my day with these wonderful children and their amazing, loving, caring parents and siblings. There was much love, laughter, and joy to be had by all.

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Shaun & Stacy are getting married! Virginia Wedding Photographer

Shaun & Stacy are getting married! Virginia Wedding Photographer

When I met Shaun and Stacy, I knew right away that we’d become friends. Not only are these two very much in love, but they are really fun to be with. Both Shaun and Stacy are quick to laugh and enjoy each other without reservation. One thing that really stood out to me when I met them was that they were genuinely interested in me as a person, not just in my photography skills. We met for hours, not just talking about their relationship and their wedding, but about their careers, hobbies, favorite restaurants, and their dog, and we also talked about my family and how I became a professional photographer. I love connecting with the people I’m blessed to photograph. I love that what began as a meeting to talk about wedding photography ended with two new friends.

We had a perfect afternoon and evening for Shaun and Stacy’s engagement session. We began in Virginia Beach on the trails at First Landing Park. The light was magical as it filtered through the trees and Spanish moss. We finished on the bay side of First Landing Park with a gorgeous sunset.

Shaun and Stacy’s wedding is just weeks away, and I can’t wait. I know their wedding day will be filled with much joy, love, and laughter, and I am so thankful that I’ll get to be a part of it all.

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Sadie is ONE! Virginia Family Photographer

Sadie is ONE! Virginia Family Photographer

Sadie is one, and I got to go to her birthday party.

I met Sadie when she was just a few days old, and I’ve been blessed to have photographed her (and her family) four times this year. Sadie is about as cute as they come. She is cheerful and smiley and loves to be on the go. Sadie is an “all in” kind of girl…just look at those cake pictures! She is loved dearly by her parents, big brother,  big sister, and countless number of family members and friends (as well as her photographer!)

I love that I get to see little people grow up and develop personalities and preferences. I love watching them explore their worlds and interact with people and their surroundings. I love capturing those looks that define who they are. I love that I get to preserve those looks in images that will grow in value as the children grow up.

Bob Dylan says, “Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” I’m so glad that Sadie’s family is taking care of their memories. They are, after all, only lived once.

I’d love to capture and preserve timeless memories for you. Call to set up your one-of-a-kind session! 757.362.4353

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17 Years and Five Kids Later

17 Years and Five Kids Later

Seventeen years ago I was the mistress of ceremonies for Mike and Farrah’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding held at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk Virginia. Mike and Farrah’s love for each other was romantic, fresh, and full of hope.

Seventeen years later, they are parents of five kids and though life has not been easy (is it ever?), they have kept their commitment to love each other and to persevere in their marriage. Years of love, forgiveness, tears, laughter, certainty and confusion, but ultimately seventeen years filled with the goodness and grace of God.

On May 17, Mike and Farrah renewed their wedding vows to each other standing on the same spot where they first made them. Their five children acted as their wedding pary, and the pastor who officiated their ceremony seventeen years ago, Eric Hughes, senior pastor of Redeemer Church Chesapeake, led them through their vows once again.

In some ways, this celebration was more meaningful than the first. It represented promises kept and vows fulfilled, and it confirmed their intention to keep keeping their promises.

I’m thankful to have been part of Mike and Farrah’s wedding and their anniversary celebration. I’d love to be a part of your memorable events, too. Call now to schedule a wedding, event or family portrait session. I’d love to capture and preserve priceless moments for you and those you love. 757.362.4353

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Congratulations Class of 2015!  Virginia Senior Photographer

Congratulations Class of 2015! Virginia Senior Photographer

I love taking senior pictures. I think it’s because I love teenagers. I love the teenage years…so full of opportunities, decisions, energy, and yes, angst. But I love seeing potential in people. I love seeing young people not just through my camera lens but through the lens of possibility. One of my favorite educational writers, Debra Bell, once said, “Giftings are clues to callings.” That phrase has stuck with me as I mother my four daughters and as I interact with people of all ages. Each of us really does have a set of gifts…talents, proficiencies, passions, and those gifts are clues to what we should do with our lives. It’s fun to uncover those gifts and talents and to explore how they might be used.

I have four daughters, and they have very different types of gifts. One is gifted in writing and foreign languages, another is my “social leader” and has a teaching skill, one is very athletic and helpful (she’ll actually do dishes without being asked), and the fourth has a way with children and animals and is sensative to how people are feeling. One of the things my husband and I have made a priority in our parenting is to help our girls not compare themselves with each other–or anyone else for that matter.

When we realize that we can’t do EVERYTHING but that we are made to do SOMETHING very specific, it frees us to enjoy how we are made and to pursue what we should do without comparing ourselves to anyone else. And that’s what I’d want the Class of 2015 to remember as they begin the next chapter of their lives. Each of you is unique, and the way you’re made is not like anyone else. You have something to do.

This year I was fortunate to photograph seniors in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Alexandria, Virginia. We took pictures on the beach, at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, at the historic Francis Land House, in woods and fields, at sunrise and sunset, in industrial workplaces, in parking garages, and on city streets. I love how location, wardrobe, and even time of day reflect the distinct and exceptional personality of each of these graduates!

Thank you for choosing me as your senior photographer! Thank you for letting me capture and preserve a very special part of your life! I pray that you find your unique call in the next stage of your life and that you experience great joy and success. I am FOR you!

True Love and Pinky Promises. Virginia Wedding Photographer.

True Love and Pinky Promises. Virginia Wedding Photographer.

Kyle and Emily met on the four square court when they were in middle school, and it’s been true love ever since. In addition to being their wedding and engagement photographer, I’m their friend. I’ve watched them grow up. I’ve watched their playground crush turn into a deep, faithful, and committed love that has weathered storms and withstood the challenges of waiting for each other. Though they are young, their love has a depth and maturity beyond their years. They are also fun and full of life! When you’re with them, you’re going to smile and you’re going to laugh, and you’re going to leave them filled with joy.

Kyle and Emily got married at New Life Church, Ghent Campus in Norfolk, VA. Eric Hughes, pastor of Redeemer Church in Chesapeake, VA officiated the ceremony, and hundreds of family members and friends celebrated with them as they began their new life as husband and wife. Bridesmaids wore dresses of their own choosing in varying hues of grey while the groomsmen sported white oxford shirts, hot pink ties, white high top sneakers, and khaki joggers. Both the mother-of-the-bride and the mother-of-the-groom looked more like bridesmaids than parents.

The couple was chauffeured to the wedding reception at Greenbrier Country Club in a 1958 Pontiac Bonneville after our romantic photo session.  Dinner, dancing, and Duck Donuts rounded out a wonderful day. Here are a few of my favorite images from the day as well as a short video.

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To see more of their amazing day, check out this short video.

Now accepting weddings for the fall of 2015! Call Melanie Wasko Photography 757.362.4353. I’d love to capture the joy and love of your special day!

Tucker, Class of 2015

Tucker, Class of 2015

Meet Tucker, Class of 2015. Tucker loves to hunt and fish, and he has a pretty amazing red truck–my favorite color! We started our session in Chesapeake where, literally, every single picture was perfect. Afterwards we headed to First Landing Park for a spectacular sunset followed by yummy sandwiches at Taste. =) Tucker was the prefect senior model–quick to smile, fun, friendly, and very handsome!Tucker_0024 Tucker_0028 Tucker_0034 Tucker_0038 Tucker_0043 Tucker_0066 Tucker_0067 Tucker_0078 Tucker_0085 Tucker_0175a Tucker_0209aTucker_0137