We are so excited to start "Meet Our Inspiration" series on our blog. There are so many people out there that inspire us to do our best every day. To be the best we can be, to provide value and spread kindness. These are people whose work speaks louder than words, whose creativity we admire and who have a heart of a gold. In these series, we want to share their stories with you - how they came to be who they are today, what their beliefs are and their take on life, work and relationships.
As our first guest, we are so excited to introduce N A D I A M E L I - wedding photographer (keep reading and you'll see that it doesn't just stop at photography).
Why is Nadia our inspiration? She plays by her own rules. She is kind, gentle and strong all at the same time. She seeks beauty and she speaks when she sees it (oh, and she writes so beautifully!). Nadia is a wedding photographer who specialises in intimate weddings and elopements. She's a creator of The Signature Style System, which is a course that helps creatives find their true voice, build a business and stay inspired. She generously shares everything she has learnt so far with others. Nadia puts her heart and soul into everything she creates. Whether it's a photoshoot, a website or an Instagram caption - we truly admire her for all the beauty she shares. Nadia Meli, you are a true inspiration! :)
We could go on and on, but we'll let you get to know her through her own words. Her personality shines through this interview and we are sure you'll love her just as much as we do So here it is - Nadia on life, work, beauty, growth and more.
Why photography and specifically wedding photography? How did this adventure begin and how it also lead to coaching?
That is a loooooong story. Basically, I was always an artist at heart. But growing up I never thought I could make a living of it. And I had no idea what I would do exactly, anyway. I just knew I had this need to express my creativity, my world and I needed beauty around me. When I moved to London at the age of 19 for a gap year I started getting into photography and from there I never stopped (with a few detours like studying theology and moving back to Germany).
Ultimately, I knew photography was it for me. Especially people photography and weddings. It combined all I loved and valued. I could never do fashion photography, it would miss the element of real life emotions for me.
Photography helps me entertain my passion: people. I am so curious about people’s lives. Their story, what they’ve learned, what they have to say. With photography I have an excuse to get close to them.
And then that ‘getting close to people’ led to getting close to their heart. That ended up in coaching. It’s something that developed naturally, also because I share so much of myself that people feel they can tell me stuff and ask me for advice. I love both parts of my business deeply.
The best decision you've made for your business so far?
I don’t know if it can be called a conscious ‘decision’ - but it was the step of detaching myself from the standards that my industry dictates. What a (wedding) photographer should say, write, how they should shoot - I started using my own words, hosting my own kind of workshops, sticking to what I believed and valued, in shooting as well as running the business.
Another one was specializing in Intimate weddings & Elopements. These two things gave me so much peace of mind and so much more happiness!
What are you most proud of in your career?
That I’m doing what I never thought was possible: making a living from what I love. So that a lot of times it doesn’t even feel like I am working to earn money - I’m just genuinely doing something I enjoy and something I would do anyway.
And I am very proud of the people around me. The community I have build. It makes me smile every day, honestly.
It's a Monday morning, what will your day look like?
Get up early because I love mornings! Having a cup of green tea with my journal. I usually write down what I’m thankful for, affirmations on my life and prayers.
Then I’ll make a To-Do list for the week and for the day. I need to get all the little loose ends out of my head and in another place: paper. I really need that. I cannot function otherwise.
Then I’ll either work from home or go to my co-working office (which I love) - doing emails, Social Media, editing pictures, attending to my own Facebook groups, work on new ideas for videos, blogposts or products, writing - and more emails :)
If I have a shoot that will usually happen in the afternoon or evening, when the light is soft, so a normal day for me is mostly glued to the desk with a few breaks in between to either go for a walk by the beach or make some lunch. Very boring actually.
What's your favourite social media tool to use and why? Also, what advice would you give to a fellow entrepreneur on making the most of social media?
My favourites are Instagram, my Blog and my newsletter (do those count?) - I also love Twitter because it makes me laugh, there are some amazing people on there. I don’t think I am good at it and I wish I was a witty twitter person, but it’s fun to follow!
But Instagram is probably my number 1 right now - because it is the most powerful tool for businesses at the moment (iMO) and because it is great for meeting like-minded people. The ones that love what you love believe what you believe.
To make the most out of social media I would say find the platform that works best for you and then share like it’s your job . No pun intended.
Be honest, show your personality. Don’t write what others are writing. Say what you want to say. If you want a big following really fast, be strictly business - if you want to build a loyal community with an emotional attachment to you, be personal and say the truth about your business and your life.
How does work & personal life balance look like in your life?
I am not sure if that really exists when you own a business. And I have to say, I don’t really mind that the lines are blurred. But I try to implement little rules like not answering client emails or phone calls and texts really late at night.
I try and take a cooking break every day between work, it slows me down, plus I have something yummy to eat after.I keep a weekend or two open every month.
I also text or call my family and at least one friend every day to stay in touch - and if I’m lucky I also meet them in person a few times a month.
I just try to step out of my business bubble and participate in ‘normal’ life, in the little things as much as I can - that really helps.
What resources do you use to stay inspired both personally and in business?
The best resource for inspiration to me is doing what I love. Spending time to nurture my soul. That is where I find inspiration. When I sit down in a coffeeshop and watch people. When I read poetry or watch movies I love. When someone shares their story with me. When I look at the sky. When I listen to music. That’s when a thought will strike me, or a new feeling will come up - that’s when something new takes shape inside of me, that’s when I feel inspiration and when new ideas are born.
What's your “recharge/reflection” ritual?
Not a ritual in itself but just being alone. Doing whatever. But completely alone. At home or outside in an empty space. But when I’m alone I have the best recharging and reflecting times!
What does beauty mean to you?
Everything. Beauty is infinite. It is EVERYWHERE. And I need it like breathing. Beauty to me is not what you see in Vogue, beauty to me is everything. The way the sun hits the wall in the morning. How a flower grows through concrete. How strangers smile at each other. In the little details, when you see someone put effort and love into something. Beauty is everywhere.
What makes you tick, what's your purpose? Any advice on finding it?
It is a journey really and it’s different for everyone.
I would say to not stress out but always be curious and follow your curiosity. Follow the questions you have. Or ask questions in general, because some people never do. I found my purpose by finding myself.
Meaning: when I got to the roots of what defined me and why, I understood my purpose. And that involved a lot of soul-searching, painful reflections of my past, my childhood, the relationship to my parents and other people. When I understood what had shaped me to the woman I am, I was able to let go of things, to work on myself (still happening) and start living the life I wanted.
When I understood why I was always looking for love, for beauty and for a home and how those things were connected with my own story, I understood that my purpose in life was to create all of these not only for me but in the lives of others.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Don’t be scared. Things will work out. All the good and the bad stuff will work out together to create your beautiful future. You will find your purpose. You will find people that get you. You will find home. Be brave. The stuff that didn’t work out and that you’re upset about right now - it’s necessary for you to end up in just the right place. Don’t be scared, it’s going to be a brilliant ride.
Workspace essentials: 1 big bottle of water, My diary ( i would be lost without it), Laptop obviously
Top 3 books (the ones you would like to gift someone): Start with Why - Simon Sinek, Big Magic - Liz Gilbert, The Artisan Soul - Erwin McManus
Happy place: London. London. London.
Guilty pleasure: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Fun fact about you: I have a moustache (italian genes).
If you could go for a coffee/tea and a long chat with someone (living or dead), who would it be and why?: Geeez. So many people popping into my head right now. Let’s go with Peter Lindbergh. I would love to get a deeper look into his soul. And I would love to see how he would photograph me.
P.S. A couple of our personal faves of Nadia's written pieces are her blog posts - The Woman I Want To Be and My Purpose. Both are sure to inspire you to write something similar for yourself.
Thank you so much for reading and a big thank you to Nadia for sharing her story with us!
With Much Love,
Dear Diary team