behind the camera Melissa Arlena

Ready for gorgeous photos that will make you fall in love all over again?

Perfect, I'm your girl!

10 years, over 100 weddings, over 250 portraits sessions & more beautiful moments captured then I can count. I've learned that gorgeous photos start way before you get in front of the camera.

They start with getting to know each other and your desires for your photographs. It continues with help & guidance on picking the perfect outfit that makes you excited to wear it. Plus tips on coordinating all your outfits so you look like you just stepped out of a magazine! 

Finally, it all comes together as I guide you through my easy posing process so you feel comfortable & relaxed. The result is gorgeous photos that you plus your friends and family will love!

"Melissa is an absolute joy to work with and she clearly goes above and beyond for her clients. She produced images more amazing than I ever dreamed (and worlds better than my example photos)! We loved her and how she captured that special time in our lives!" - Taylor
Oh, Hello There
I'm Melissa

Most days you can find me camera in hand chasing my kids and dogs around for that perfect photo! Or I might be tackling my latest design or DIY project, you can bet either way I'm wearing something navy as it's my favorite color!

I’m mostly known for being the photographer with a sailboat hence the sailboat in my logo. I’m a military wife, Marine Corp to be exact and mom to two little boys, Will and Rob! I live in Fredericksburg, Virginia but am frequently in Charleston, SC visiting family.

My family and close friends call me Mel but never my husband, let’s just say his version of what a Mel should look like is not how he wants to picture me!

My Favorite Things

JCrew cardigans - my collection rivals that of Mr. Rodgers, seriously I've lost count
Capsule Wardrobes - I love them so much I wrote a whole series on getting started with your own
Monograms - let's just say last year everything I asked Santa for was monogrammed
Printed Photographs - I love curling up on the couch snuggled with my boys looking at their baby albums
Learning - I geek out over business, marketing and of course photography classes, I'm usually taking at least 4 classes at any given time
Anchors - I'm obsessed with anything nautical and if it has an anchor on it it's mine

I believe in...

- cuddling on the couch with loved ones, flipping through photo albums and unlocking memories that have since faded
- family birthday parties with store bought lasagna and home made cake cut by our wedding knife set
- framed photos all over our home showing my boys how loved they are
- vacations with the sun on our face and the wind in our sails as we explore the Chesapeake Bay
- small photo books of our adventures to relive them every day

5 Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. Golden Girls is my favorite tv show and now it's on Hulu so you know where I am
2. I hate coffee, I'm sorry but I was ruined by a cup of black coffee at 7 years old
3. I love my fur baby Sam like he is our third child, he is my perfect Golden Retriever that I've wanted since I was 5, oh and he's 100% blind
4. The Princess Bride is my favorite movie ever and I know all the words to it
5. I discovered true crime podcasts this year and I am a Murderino


I Believe in Legacy

I photograph couples who desire to have Classic, Romantic & Joyful photographs documenting their life. I’m lucky to capture them as their love story unfolds from engagement session to wedding and then starting a family and beyond. Over the last 10 years of photographing weddings and portraits I have learned that my favorite part of my job is developing lasting relationships with my couples. This starts with the engagement session and by the wedding day I’m photographing friends!

After doing this for so long I love when my couples reach back out to tell me they are having their first baby! Seeing them become parents and documenting those first moments together as a family are truly special to me. Even if you weren't a wedding client of mine I want to give you amazing newborn photos too!

"I love that Melissa has been there for all the major moments in our lives. From our engagement to wedding and now our first born son." Matt 

As a photographer I’ve been featured in magazines and many online wedding blogs and I love seeing my clients hard work and amazing photos recognized by industry professionals. You can see a few of the places I’ve been published below!


Award Winning Photographer As Seen On

Sailing Life

When I’m not busy capturing beautiful weddings or photographing adorable newborns you can catch me sailing the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay on our 40′ sailboat Apogee with my handsome husband David, and our crazy boys.

They have been sailing all their lives and are getting old enough to start helping out a bit and they love it! Sailing was something we just kind of fell into and here we are 8 years and 3 boats later spending our summer vacations cruising the Bay for weeks on end.

follow along - #mybayberrylane, #sailingapogee, #willandrob, #sammyjGR, #bigearblitz

Best of the Blog

New here? Check these out!

Love Notes

Taylor & Conor

Maternity & Newborn

"Let me start out by saying that Melissa is an absolute joy to work with and she clearly goes above and beyond for her clients.
Not only did she research locations and take time to scout them out, she produced images more amazing than I ever dreamed (and worlds better than my example photos)!
We loved her and how she captured that special time in our lives so much that we hired her as a newborn photographer too!"

Love Notes

Paige & Matt

Engagement, Wedding & Newborn

Worth every penny! If you are getting married in Virginia or close by, there is a good chance she has shot a wedding at your venue, that is how I found her and it was a no-brainer once I saw her website.
What sets her apart is her streamlined, modern process - she has a fabulous website that makes viewing your photos and making selections SO FUN AND EASY! She is a one-stop shop for all things wedding photo-related and I'm so glad I found her.
She really over delivers when it comes to service. I won't spoil anything, but expect lots of sweet surprises from Melissa as you work with her. We will use Melissa for years to come!

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