On being bold

Oh shit, it’s another post. I originally wrote this in July but didn’t post. Oops. A lot has changed in the relationship department since then, but I still feel it’s important to share with my single friends! My single girls, this is for you. Enjoy my rant/ramblings about #singlelife.

This post is about intention, expectation, and living unapologetically. Warning in advance: this is roughly about my life as a single woman in SF. Enjoy. It’s not super raunchy, sorry.


I’ve been trying a new thing lately. I’m trying to be bolder. I’m attempting to talk about things that make me uncomfortable, and honestly, just do more things that make me uncomfortable. Writing, or, well, posting what I write is uncomfortable. I used to write a LOT in my teenage years and into my early 20s. The posts died with my old myspace. RIP. 

So here I am doing this “uncomfortable” stuff. It’s a bit uncomfortable to write about personal stuff sometimes, but the more I do, the more I discover that others are going through the same thing. 

This theme or new motto started around April of this year. I remember telling myself I needed to be uncomfortable if I was going to change my life. My dating life sucked and so did my job. I mentioned my last one was terrible, which it was, but I didn’t mention the process for my new job (I recently passed six months!). 

Finding my new job was so UN. COMFY. It challenged me in a new way, but I kept coming back throughout the interview process like a crazy person. I’m better for it. This was sort of the re-start of this very intentional boldness of mine. Anyway, this post is less about the job thing and more about my personal life. For a long long time, I felt like a failure in my personal/dating life. I’ll share my thoughts with you in hopes that even one person can relate and maybe even find the boldness to expect more for themselves. Y’all curious? hold on. I’ll share some nuggets with you. 


Let’s be real, nobody is busier than the person not interested in you. Let me just say it again in a different way, no one is busier than the person who doesn’t prioritize you. Period. Simple. That’s it. Please re-read that again in case you read it too fast. I want it to stick.

At the time of writing this, I’m on work day 14 of 10+ hour days. My free time is limited, but I’m making it work for the people that I care about. It’s not only super important for my soul, but I value my friends and really do want to be a part of their lives on a more than a superficial level. Sometimes this means I borrow from my sleep in exchange for more memories. I have absolutely zero regrets. It takes intention, but it’s worth it.
I share this because I feel it’s important. We skirt around this reality. We make excuses for people all of the time. If you think you don’t, you’re probably lying to yourself. This applies to friendships as well as dating “situations.” If you’re ok with not being a priority or being a second or third option, then so be it. It’s your choice. 

In my time being single in San Francisco I learned that the dating scene is abysmal. I had never felt so unenthused in my life. I felt like I was trying to sell myself like a fancy car … Of COURSE, I’m the newest model with the coolest features, right?!


What has the Marina done to me? Look up @overheardmarinasf on Instagram for a glimpse into what I mean. For the record, I do not consider myself to be like the average Marina chick at all. :-P 

I’ve been in SF for a year and a half. This was my experience: We swipe, we match, we probably don’t talk, or maybe we meet once. I delete the apps out of annoyance, get lonely, re-download, swipe, match, wash, rinse, and repeat. 

I went on a handful of first dates this year after really not dating much for the past few years. I wish I could say it was enlightening in a very positive way, but it wasn’t. I learned that I was too slow for the game. I tend to draw out the trial period beyond the acceptable limit. This is the time in which I decide if I’d like to see someone more than a couple of times. Pro-tip: don’t drag this out. 
You know what I said about being intentional, bold, and living unapologetically? Yeah, do that. Don’t wait for the guy to hit you up same day for a “date”. Don’t accept last-minute fill-in plans as the real thing. IF you’re looking for a hookup situation, then, by all means, embrace those half-assed DMs.

In that same vein, I would have never allowed a guy to hit me up once every few weeks when I was younger. That’s not really dating. Essentially, I was accepting scraps. I have a bad habit of seeing the best in people. I’ll see a glimmer of decency and throw away the rest. This is probably the one situation in which it’s not a good thing to only see the best in others.  

Be ok with it not working out. Don’t force it. Spend more time with friends. The good-good ones, the ones who know who you are when you have forgotten yourself, they’ll bring you back and set you straight.

The right person will come along and they’ll actually make real plans with you. I know you’re worth it. 

Ok, that’s all I’ve got. Here’s me being a bit vulnerable about something that has been relevant to my life for a very, very long time. :) 



Looking ahead at 2019!

Hi all!

I know I’ve been pretty quiet for the last few months, but I wanted to share a little recap of 2018 and add a little more color into how I’ve gotten here.

As an individual, I’m the hardest on myself. I forget to celebrate my accomplishments and how far I’ve come as a person. I almost feel guilty for celebrating it. As a naturally self-critical individual, I sometimes imagine criticism that isn’t even there. Through this introspection, I’ve learned that I’m my biggest blocker. This is how it usually goes for me: I set goals, but I scare myself with how big they are so I readjust them to a more comfortable size that I think I can manage. I’ve done it with my tech career, personal life, and especially with photography. Photography was always a passion of mine. I remember very distinctly wanting to go to college for photography when I was a young teenager. I had been using an old SLR for years, and I just *knew* this was my dream career. Instead, I went into the business world. Photography was still a dream but not one I thought I’d make a reality. I didn’t even realize I’d be able to combine my love for camping and the outdoors with photography. I’m a vanlifer at heart, but as an adult in my early 30’s, I figured I needed to stick with tech as it’s more “stable.”

Now that you have that background, let me get back to the goal thing. You know how I said would not set high enough goals out of fear? Well, in 2018 I did what I always do. I initially set my goal to shoot four weddings in 2018 so that I could “ease” into this wedding world. I didn’t think I’d be where I am now back in January, even though Hipcamp featured me as one of their favorite adventure wedding photographers. I’m still shocked about that one. I mean, that’s EXACTLY my dream job, and my name was among my legitimate idols like Benj Haisch and Maddie Mae. How?! Somehow I forgot about this article until I searched for something unrelated in a destination wedding photographer group I’m in … and then, there it was, a reminder that I am doing this and others recognized it before I allowed myself to believe it was genuinely possible.

Oh, yeah, so that goal I set of four weddings? Well, in 2018 I had the opportunity to photograph over 15 weddings/elopements (all while working FT), and I’ve also started booking for 2019! The only downside of my chaotic year is that I haven’t updated my site, haven’t shared much of my work, and I (kind of) sucked at life in many ways. I promise I’ll be better. In 2018 I photographed weddings near Mendocino (coastal Northern California elopement anyone?), Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, Sacramento area, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, near Yosemite, and all over Napa Valley. Next year I’ll be shooting my first out of state (near Denver, Colorado) and I hope to add more in places I’ve already been (Iceland, Maui, Ireland) and maybe some places I haven’t (Scotland, Spain, Morocco?). Why not? I love that I get to do this and I LOVE that my dream of becoming a destination elopement and wedding photographer is within reach. I have some big goals that I’m not going to alter this time.

All of this leads me to my next chapter; the chapter where I get to go after this and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In early 2019, I’ll be relaunching my brand as an adventure elopement photographer who also dabbles in intimate weddings. I’ll be sharing a new site, some of my best work, and a new vision. If you’re reading this, I want to thank you for supporting me. I wouldn’t have stuck this out through the stress of early 2018 without your encouragement.

I do this because I love this. I love adventure, travel, new friends, and building relationships. I’d love to have the opportunity to photograph your elopement, wedding, engagement, proposal, or couples session! Reach out to me and let’s plan an adventure! If you are reading this before 2019, I’m running a special to get a few more sessions on the books. Any 2019 wedding or elopement booked by December 15th will receive a $300 discount or $200 discount if booked by December 31st. I’m still working at my (awesome) job in SF, so dates are somewhat limited. Know someone who recently got engaged? Booked referrals receive a $50 discount on a couples session and a bonus print credit.

Thank you again for your friendship, love, and support when I doubted myself. 2018 has been wildly amazing and has given me more than I thought possible in so many areas of my life.

With love,

Melissa Joy

Is this thing on?

It’s a typical Monday over here. I’m doing a bit of meal prep after working out and grocery shopping.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror above my sink. Side note: It’s weird, I don’t really understand why it’s there, or who thought to do it, but it’s actually at my eye level (which isn’t very high). Anyway, when I saw myself I noticed that I was smirking. I was actually smiling. These days I’m doing that a lot more. I smile at random people on the street (and by people I don’t mean just dogs). I smile at real-life human beings.

I came back to myself. It’s been awhile, but I’m back. For the last year, I was in the worst job I’ve had in my entire life. It was soul-sucking, it kept me up at night, and I would wake in a panic. I was on edge every day wondering if I’d have a job the next day/week/month. I couldn’t help but be all consumed by it. It wasn’t that it had to be that bad, but I wasn’t treated well and … I just won’t go into it anymore. This isn’t the reason why I’m writing. 

I saw myself in the mirror and I know that I have come back to myself. This is the me that I missed. I’m fire. I’m passionate. I’m an easily-distracted dreamer with so many business ideas that I could probably start four companies tomorrow and I’d have a decent shot at being successful. It’s funny. I don’t think a lot of people I know or the guys I’ve dated really got to see who I am. I think they maybe thought I was just a nice girl. 

Nice girl. 

Yeah, I identify with it on many levels. I love people deeply, I hurt for those that can’t help themselves, and I have a strong sense of obligation to teach and share knowledge. Shitty credit? Yeah, I got a(n) MIP at 20, which led to me losing my license for a year (San Diego doesn't mess around), lost my job due to the recession, couldn’t pay my CC’s, fucked my credit, and eventually bounced back…. 6+ years later. I wanna help. I can show you how I was able to fix it. I am a teacher at heart. Wanna learn how to use your camera? I’ll share what I know. Intimidated in your career? I’ll show you that you’re worth more. I genuinely want that for others.

But I’m more than just a nice girl. I actually grew up thinking that I was hardened and unlovable in many ways. I didn’t have that bubbly flirtatious ability that other girls had. My friends were guys. I was a slightly angsty songwriter/writer/creative that felt out of place. I listened to Brand New and Sigur Ros. My wall was painted a deep red. I had a lip ring. I wrote lyrics and then painted over them. Thankfully, I’m no longer angsty; however, I’m still not just a nice girl. I'm thankful for that as well.

I’m intelligent. I’m determined and sometimes I’ll fight for something just because someone told me no. I want to empower women to get what’s theirs and to reach for the highest goal that they think is just too unattainable. Have I reached all of mine yet? No. Will I get there? Probably. Oh, and I want the same for my guy friends as well, but they often don’t need the push because they are typically raised to be at the top.

So why so vulnerable and open? I don’t really have the answer. Maybe because I’m sick of people not digging in. Maybe I am just kind of annoyed that everything is so surface level with dating and meeting people here. I live in a city where ghosting is so fucking commonplace that you anticipate it before there are any real signs. Because it’s surface level. I’d much prefer to be “alone” and have time to explore and pursue my passions than spend time on that. I must believe in fairy-tales still. I believe there’s someone out there that will be as spontaneous as I am. Who has done something big and life-altering because they wanted to. Who has passion for something. 

Instead of worrying about finding that person (maybe I have and they haven’t shown that they want me enough?), I’m doing my thing. I’m meeting people. I’m enjoying my friends. I’m loving the life I have, it’s not always easy (San Francisco rent is no joke, for one), but it’s pretty good. I’m not alone. I have wonderful, brilliant people in my life. It’s not surface level. It’s the real-real shit and this is a bit of the real-real me. Sorry, really not sorry. 

Picture credit: Luke Lee Photography - www.lukeleephotography.com/