Art Beat: Her Frame of View

This close-up photo of Charlie — a Golden Doodle — captures the purity of his spirit.

By Amelia Blades Steward // Photos by Melissa Grimes-Guy

Photographer Melissa Grimes-Guy captures the world one frame at a time

People often call eyes the windows to the soul. But when you talk to local photographer Melissa Grimes-Guy, you see that the camera’s eye may be the window to what our souls need.

Grimes-Guy has worked in virtually all areas of photography — as a commercial photographer, an AP stringer/photojournalist, and since 2007 as a portrait, pet, and wedding photographer on the Mid-Shore through her business Melissa Grimes-Guy Photography. But it was not until the recent loss of her husband at a young age to early-onset dementia that some of her most haunting and personal images have come to life.

She calls the Instagram feed of her photos, “The Passion Project,” which she created quite accidentally while coping with her grief.

She recalls, “I decided to take my dog Miles on walks each day. He was my motivation to get out and move in nature. I took my phone along on the walks and one day began taking photos of things I was seeing. I knew after the first image I took that I wanted to do something more with these photos.”

“The purity of it — that was the surprise. I didn’t set out with an intention. It didn’t come from that place. It started with trees and a fence in the fog,” she adds.

Clockwise from bottom-left: Melissa Grimes-Guy photographed her cousin’s family, the Ashtons, and their beloved Golden Doodle, Charlie. The photo reflects the family’s character.

An Instagram photo taken of Grimes-Guy’s six-year-old Double Doodle, Miles, on a snowy walk with her son, Alex. Copy reads: Today. Slow Down.

The first of Melissa Grimes Guy’s Instagram photos taken of a fence and a field. Copy reads: “And the fog shall clear and light rule the day.”

A favorite pet portrait of a colleague’s dog, Oliver.

She explains that she can go within a mile of her home and find gems in nature to photograph. She states, “When I do that, I then think about what the photo says to me — how it ties into the grief process. It has made me appreciate the support nature provides without us being aware of it. The natural world around me has helped me process the loss — a cathartic experience.”

The positive feedback from the community to her reflective Instagram images has motivated her to think about putting together a book of the images and offering prints for sale in the future.

While she calls the Instagram feed her muse, Grimes-Guy spends most of her days managing a diverse group of businesses which have grown out of her photography — including, a wedding resource website showcasing the Eastern Shore’s best wedding vendors; Photomatic Photo Booth; Chesapeake Pawtography; Rockfish Media Group; and most recently, Whirligig Films.

She reflects, “I have always loved photographing people. I have felt we co-create the picture in some intangible way. There is a zone you can get into when photographing someone where the end result becomes greater than its parts — there is a dance between the subject and photographer. It’s a cool thing.”

Chesapeake Pawtography grew out of her love of animals.“There is a difference when photographing a pet,” she says. “I think animals bring a purity of spirit. When doing a photoshoot with a pet, there is something so pure about an animal. They are so in the moment. With lifestyle photography, I can capture that special something in that animal.”

Reflecting on her continued passion for photography, she speaks as if looking through a lens.

“There is an excitement I continue to have about seeing the world in small frames,” she says.

“When that happens, it is a marvelous feeling to focus attention in some aspect or in some manner that would go unrecognized otherwise — seeing things in a new way. What continues to surprise me about photography is the combination of composition and the indescribable.”

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