Melissa Seslar, owner of Periwinkle Photography, confesses that it was the ambiance of downtown Delaware that attracted her there.
“I like places that have that historic feel,” she said. “I love it.”
The award-winning fine art photographer opened her new studio last month at 15 1/2 W. Winter St. It’s nestled away in the alley between Pat’s Endangered Species and Choffey’s Coffee and Confections across from Cross Strings.
Seslar said she is an old-school photographer with an artistic flare, specializing in maternity, newborns, children, and family photography.
She said as her clients’ families grow, “My business grows.”
Seslar is a 15-year veteran in the field of professional photography. She holds a degree in commercial photography from the Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology in Dayton. Since her graduation from the school, she said it has been purchased by Brightwood College and the professional photography program has been discontinued.
After graduation, she moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work for Hallmark Cards at the company’s in-house studio as a photographic assistant and stylist.
“It was kind of like grad school for me,” she said. “They did commercial-style photography for their products, but they also did lifestyle stuff for their banners and cards.”
Seslar said she got into newborn baby photography because of her family and friends. She said she would be asked to photograph children, but would turn them down saying, “That’s not what I do.”
Then she asked herself, “What am I doing turning all this business away? I started doing family photography and I loved it.”
Seslar said she didn’t understand the joy the families she serviced experienced from her work until she started having children of her own.
“I kind of realized what I was giving to these families,” she said. “How really cool it was to be creating memories for them.”
Seslar said family photography led the way to newborns.
“It’s a whole different world,” she said. “There are a lot of tricks of knowing how to pose and light them so they don’t look like a jumbled up mess.”
Seslar said she stays busy photographing three to four families a week in the summer. Then during the winter her focus turns more to newborns and children.
It was at Hallmark where she developed her love for the styling of a photograph.
“I enjoy the styling of a photo more than the lighting of it,” she said. “I learned to break the rules. I learned to shoot with natural light because we were using window light. It all helped me develop my style.”
Another aspect of working with Hallmark she enjoyed was traveling to old towns with lots of old houses and rustic buildings lining the streets.
“It was amazing,” she said. “We would shoot things like you see on the cards.”
Seslar also developed a fondness for old props while working for Hallmark. She has a collection of her own she uses during photography sessions, including stools, buckets, boxes, and chairs.
“I’ve got to have cool old chairs,” she said.
Seslar said she likes to sell her work as physical products instead of only digital files. She sells prints on rustic wood, canvas, in albums, and as traditional prints.
“Selling only digital files makes it feel like I’m only pushing a button,” she said.
Outside of her Facebook page, Seslar said word of mouth is only her only advertising tool.
Her husband, Jeff, is a commercial photographer who creates virtual tours of businesses for Google and photographs products for gift catalogues. They met while in school at OIP&T.
Seslar said she and Jeff lived in Westerville for nine years before moving to Delaware with their three small children.
Periwinkle Photography is open by appointment only.
Visit www.periwinklephoto.com/ for information.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.