Local Favorites: Melissa Oholendt

In our latest Local Favorites Feature, we chat with Melissa Oholendt, wedding and lifestyle photographer extraordinaire. Check her out on Instagram @melissaoholendt to see her dreamy work! She's also an expert at covering books, a lover of dogs, and is a joy to work with. We know you'll love her too! .


 What got you interested in photography?

To be truthful, it was a bit of an accident. 

Photography wasn't on my radar as a career path. Like. At all. I was living what I thought was my dream - working in a high-stress, incredibly type-A job at a hedge fund and after months of long days and long nights, I found that I craved a creative outlet that had absolutely nothing to do with what I did everyday. 

Because my dad always loved photography, I was the lucky one who always inherited his old equipment and so I found myself toting that old Nikon F100 around, everywhere. It was on a trip to DC way back in 2007 that I found myself enjoying the process of taking photos more than I was actually enjoying the trip. After receiving the scanned negatives back, I'm not ashamed to admit that most of the shots were not worth the paper they were printed on but I distinctly remember two photos that ignited something deep in me. Those same two photos were ones that I kept coming back to - even as I trudged through the steep learning curve of self-education of photography basics - they were the physical proof of how it feels to truly capture the essence of something and that feeling encouraged my soul that maybe I was meant for something more than finance.

The ability to capture a moment in time and to do it in a beautiful way is something that sparked that day and has carried through for almost a decade.


What's the most exciting part of your job?

Taxes...    JK. JK. JK.

Honestly, it's the people. For wedding especially, there's an opportunity to be a part of the most joyful time of a couple's story and I find myself completely and totally in love with each of my wedding couples in such different ways by the end of our time together. It's really special.  

How do you stay inspired?

So many things but I think the main baseline of all of these things is knowing when to stop working, shut down my computer and explore inspiration for the day or week. 

Travel. My family. Interior Design. Justin Timberlake (really). 

What's one thing you couldn't get through the day without?

If we're talking something I need to function - it's absolutely my morning latte from my trusty Nespresso the powerhouse. If it's something I can't get through a day without doing - it's making up silly songs to sing to my dogs. That hasn't yet made it's way to Snapchat but it's only a matter of time.


What would your dream venue be?

An all-white, Scandinavian-inspired barn venue with beautiful hydrangea & garden rose filled grounds. 

What's something you do that you never thought would be a part of your job?

I'm always surprised at the breadth of roles that are required on a wedding day. At any given time I'm playing the role of timeline manager, best friend & confidant, fashion stylist, bouquet holder, personal attendant, shoe tie-er, prop stylist, voyeur, family wrangler, photo journalist and last, but certainly not least, lip-syncer and bad dancer extraordinaire. 

 What's your proudest achievement?

I'm not great at talking about my successes but I will say that something I am intensely proud of are the opportunities I've had to be an educator in the realm of photography & brand strategy. As someone who is essentially self-educated in both categories, I've never given myself much credit for the scope of information that I've had to internalize over the years and to be asked to share that information with others in a formal environment is something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. 

What would your perfect day in the Twin Cities be?

This is my favorite question, YOU GUYS.  
Without a doubt it would be breakfast on the patio of French Meadow on Lyndale (their breakfast quesadilla owns my heart), followed by a stop at Spruce Floral on Chicago and then directly over to Mille for some retail therapy (and to bring Michelle flowers because I love her). From there I would head to Lake Harriet for a stroll around the lake or to catch some live music at the bandshell. 

Then it's off to lunch at Tilia, directly followed by a drive downtown for more retail therapy at my favorite North Loop shops. Foundry Home Goods, Wilson & Willys, Askov Finlayson and Grethen House, just to name a few. Our jaunt to the Nolo would be capped by a necessary pit stop at the Bachelor Farmer Cafe for a killer cup of coffee and a quick instagram photo and then it's off to Saint Paul. 

First stop is at BlackBlue for new denim for Matt Oholendt and then a quick 5 minute walk down to IDUN for something beautiful. Our Saint Paul shopping wouldn't be complete without a stop at Cooks of Crocus Hill on Grand because even though my cooking isn't anything to write home about, I do enjoy browsing the aisles of olive oil and various cooking gadgets that would literally never get used in our house. 

From there we'd slow drive around on Summit and admire all the old mansions & intensely awesome landscaping and then drive straight to The Strip Club Meat & Fish for dinner with friends and to say hi to the owner Tim who Matt loves almost as much as he loves steak (a lot). 

To wrap up the BEST DAY EVER, we'd caravan over to Saint Dinette for beignets, shortcake and whatever our favorite bartender Jason will whip-up for a nightcap while I fall asleep at the table because woah. 

If you weren't a photographer what would you be?

One hundred percent an interior designer. It's actually what I originally started in school to do but somewhere along the line convinced myself it wasn't attainable and switched majors. Those were the days when interior designers were a luxury and priced as such but now, in the last few years, the market has exploded with ways to hire a designer to help the consumer create a beautiful space without all the dollar signs. 

If you suddenly see Melissa Oholendt Interiors, THIS CONVERSATION IS WHY. 

What would you do with an extra hour in a day?

Garden. There's just something about getting my hands dirty and working up a sweat outdoors pulling weeds that is so vastly satisfying. 

Catherine PolacekComment