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Meet Melissa Pfannenstiel of Blue Springs

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

Hi Melissa, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My interest in photography began in grade school. My camera went everywhere with me, and I always documented field trips, family events, or just hanging out with friends. In 2002, I went to work for an IT reseller, and part of that position required me to photograph computer hardware. I learned a lot from seasoned photographers who I worked with. When our oldest was born in 2005, my husband bought me my first DSLR as a gift, and I began taking pictures of our son daily. I studied portrait photography incessantly, I just couldn’t get enough of it. Friends began asking me to take pictures of their children. I purchased lighting equipment, studied studio lighting, and officially started my business. I opened a studio in Blue Springs in 2009, with newborns being my specialization.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t know any entrepreneur that can say they have had a smooth road! My first real struggle in business was a fire in the building where my first studio was located. Despite having the necessary insurance in place, I essentially had to start over from square one in many ways. Without a passion for the craft and plain stubbornness, that would have been the end of my business. That was a really hard time. The photography community in KC was much smaller than it is now, and another photographer offered to share her space with me in the interim. I spent the next decade in a building on Main Street in Blue Springs and offered that space to other photographers who were just starting out as a place to grow their craft without having the burden of a huge overhead.

I spent 3-4 hours per newborn shoot huddled over babies. After so many years, it took a toll physically on my shoulder and wrist. Most people don’t realize that posed newborn photography is physically challenging. The shoots are very long, and the studio is kept very warm. In 2020, right around the time, COVID came about, I decided to retire the studio portion of my business. Like so many businesses, I have had to find ways to adapt. Both of those experiences taught me that a building really is just four walls. My camera can go anywhere and that is part of the beauty of what I do.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
These days, I specialize in families, children and seniors. I am often told by clients that they have a blast on my shoots and I love that. I strive to get soulful, genuine expressions from my subjects.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I grew up in a family where I saw my father working tirelessly on weekdays and on weekends as well. There were many days he would come home after we were in bed. In return for his hard work, we had a comfortable life. Entering the workforce, here is what I understood: Hard work = Comfortable life. That work ethic stuck with me. As I got older, I realized that both good and bad things can come about despite our efforts, including circumstance and opportunity. I believe luck is what we call the things that we have no control over. Being a Christian, I truly believe that God is ultimately behind our “luck”. The adversity I have dealt with in business has brought forth personal growth. I feel truly blessed.

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