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mj2day photography workshop in charlotte, north carolina





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Hi, I'm Emily.

One of my goals for this year was to attend a photography workshop. I’ve gone to many conventions, but there was something more personal about a workshop that I knew would be so beneficial for me. When Melissa Jill opened up her North Carolina workshop back in February, I jumped on board before I had a chance to let myself back out.

Fast forward to last week. I flew out of Cedar Rapids on Sunday and got to Charlotte around 6 PM local time. I met another workshop attendee, Nancy, at the airport and we split a cab to the hotel. After a quick freshen-up, we headed to the workshop location, which was hosted by the truly lovely Leslie Hancock. Let me tell you something about Leslie: she is the perfect hostess. When you pull up to her driveway, you can immediately tell that she loves creation and that she loves to have people enjoy what she loves. Her yard…oh, her yard. It’s not even really yard. It’s kind of like an enchanted place where nothing ugly can grow. Only beautiful things. Then you walk into her home and feel immediately enveloped in warm hugs of welcome. Every nook and cranny is perfectly situated to host people. I felt so welcome and so at home.

Sunday evening was a meet and greet. All but 1 person from the workshop were able to be there Sunday night and it was such a good time getting to hear everyone’s back stories, how they got into photography, where they are from, married, kids, the whole gamut. Because Melissa keeps her workshops small (there were 13 of us, I believe), everyone got to know each other over the next few days and the environment of teaching/learning was so open.

Monday morning we got right into the workshop and, honestly, the next 2 days flew by for me. There are so many goals that came out of this for me. Some of my goals were reaffirmed, some were revised, but everything was amazing.

This area along the side of the house is Leslie’s enchanted garden. It really does feel magical.

I love the sound of water (except when it’s flooding my basement) and so the fountain in the back yard was such a peaceful place for me.

Breaks and lunches were spent outside in the beautiful North Carolina weather drinking coffee and chatting.

We had a mock engagement shoot on Monday night. It was a great chance to see how Melissa runs her sessions and also to hang out with everyone. Honestly, if no one would’ve kept me on scheduled, I could’ve spent the entire 2 days just hanging out with these women!

Tuesday evening was a fun chance to get headshots for everyone. These are obviously some of the outtakes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your wisdom and being so genuine and kind. Thank you, Michelle, for keeping the entire thing running behind the scenes and for making us that delicious dinner! Thank you, Leslie, for hosting us in your home. And thank you to Jill, Taylor, Stacey, Anna, Melissa, Sarah, Jen, Emma, Christine, Nancy, and Moe for sharing your lives, your stories, your friendship, and your hearts. I’m truly a better person because of meeting you all.

All images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 50mm f/1.2 lens.


  1. […] put your albums together. They areย a small business owned by Melissa Jill (who helped me so much a few years ago when I was treading water and trying to figure out how to move forward in my […]

  2. […] on her blog for MJ2Day Alumni. It’s been just a little over a year since my trip to the North Carolina workshop and it was so fun doing the interview and realizing just how far I have come in the past year! It […]

  3. Rachel Ruffer Smith says:

    I think I need a garden like that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Melissa Jill Photography says:

    Such a fabulous post Emily! I’m SO thrilled that you were a part of this group! You were such a joy to meet and get to know! I can’t wait to keep in touch and see where your business and life goes in the coming years! And fabulous photos! Love them!

  5. Jennifer Liong says:

    excellent writing and images from the workshop, emily! miss you already!

  6. Stacey LaCoursiere says:

    You are so amazing and beautifully talented. Only 8 hours away lady! Miss you already!

  7. Jill Casper Luton says:

    You rocked these detail shots! Umm… I would also like to point out that you are an excellent writer so we can dismiss any words contradicting that, ok? I heart you!

  8. LeslieHphotography NC says:

    WOW! You are so sweet and I miss your “new york” face and spunk! I’m smiling from ear to ear at the lovely things you said about me and the hospitality I strive for in my prayers…prayer answered! The pic’s you took of the yard are AMAZING! Thank you!-Leslie

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I'm Emily and I'm so happy you're here! This blog is a journal about my life and my latest work. Stay a while and say hello!

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