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Melanie, la ballerine

About two weeks ago, I encountered my first nasty comments written about my online by another photographer. It has happened before, quite a few times over the course of this year, but my name had never been brought into it, so I let it go. But this time my name was right there, out in the open for the world to see. At first, I was embarrassed and angry and worried about ridiculous things. I wanted to flat out quit. A 9-5 job doesn’t sound half bad when poop hits the fan in this industry. I wanted to just delete Facebook and my entire blog and get rid of things that I have worked so hard to put together. And then I remembered I need to calm down (and re-read this).

The last time I felt the way I did a few weeks ago, was in high school when I was being bullied. It was brutal. As a teenager you don’t know what to think or handle that kind of stress. Often times, you think of extremes like taking your own life or dropping out of school. Neither of those are the right answer. For me now, I utilize what I have. Photography for me used to be a stress reliever, a job I did on the weekends because it was fun and wasn’t my depressing job. But at the same time, let’s get real – some of her comments are damn near correct – I was no where near as good as I am now. I have attended enough workshops and classes and learned everything there is to know about my camera to know that maybe I didn’t have any business doing photography at all 5-6 years ago. I overexposed like crazy and my coloring in editing and my white balance….let’s not even talk about that, because it doesn’t really matter. What matters is, when things get rough, I like to remember that photography can still be that outlet for me. That the power to create something bigger than the thing that is bothering me is incredible. And the power to be able to write about it, is even more incredible.

This shoot might not seem like much, but I took my beautiful little sister, who is the age I was when I was being tortured in high school, off to a path and took photos. It was the best idea we have had together in a long time. Just two artists, hanging out in the woods, creating something beautiful.


  • October 14, 2013 - 8:54 am

    Natalie - Love you Dani! Keep holding your head up high – you are extremely talented and a true sweetheart! Love these images too – GORGEOUS!

  • October 14, 2013 - 8:57 am

    Jackie Phillips - Gorgeous photos of your sister! It is sad what lengths people go through to hurt others or speak negatively about them. It shows their own insecurities and how they must really feel about themselves. Keep creating and doing what you love. Because no one can take that away! For we are ever-evolving artists.

  • October 14, 2013 - 9:10 am

    Hillary - Stunning, all of it.

  • October 14, 2013 - 9:20 am

    Rachel - the proof is in the pudding, girl – this shoot is case in point. (two cliches in one sentence) but seriously. love it.

  • October 14, 2013 - 9:38 am

    Emilia Jane - What a huge gift that you can share this time with your sister “as artists in the woods” like you said. Love.

  • October 14, 2013 - 10:13 am

    jennifer - These are beautiful, Dani. I love how you were able to reflect and share with your sister in these.

  • October 14, 2013 - 10:31 am

    Jackie Sass - What a wonderful gift that you’re able to turn to your family and your passion to help erase someone else’s hurtful words and insecurities. Never let them get you down! You’re wonderful and truly amazing at what you do!

  • October 14, 2013 - 10:33 am

    Mom - Both good and bad, it’s life’s experiences that make us who we are and who you are is pretty amazing. I’m so proud of both of you!

  • October 14, 2013 - 10:33 am

    tPoz - “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” …Winston Chuchill
    Beautiful images, and moments that you will both look back on and treasure… i heart you!

  • October 14, 2013 - 10:40 am

    Brea - You are an incredible person and photographer. I’m glad you took this opportunity to reflect and create something amazing, because that’s exactly what this session is… amazing. Love you lots!

  • October 14, 2013 - 10:55 am

    Lauren C - I’m sitting here crying looking at these photos and I’m not totally sure why. There is such beauty in this world. This session is so raw and pure and beautiful. Melanie, you’re absolutely stunning and such an amazing sister for being an inspiration to your big sis and bringing her back to what she loves.

  • October 14, 2013 - 11:36 am

    Lindsay - This gave me goose bumps and made me get teary. This was beautiful- both your words and the gorgeous photos of your sister. I’m sorry you had to encounter nasty comments. I miss you!

  • October 14, 2013 - 11:40 am

    Jan Morrison - This is beautiful and courageous and more learned than you can possibly know. Aside from your sister and your family being very special to me, your talent is immense.

    Sadly some believe that demeaning others increases their power and importance. Happily, most people are wise enough to see through it and become more thoughtful and appreciative of another’s work.

    You are a gifted and talented soul; great genes and great sister and great talent!

  • October 14, 2013 - 11:58 am

    kathy - These are beautiful – what a beautiful little sister! ๐Ÿ˜€ I adore the one of her on pointe reaching for the sky, breathtaking. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • October 14, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    Sarah - Love the photos and your attitude toward negative comments. Don’t let them get you down.

  • October 14, 2013 - 5:35 pm

    Kathi Laughman - Lovely series. The pairing of dance and nature brought to another level by bringing the symbols of discipline from ballet into the frame. Just lovely. This would make a nice exhibition.

  • October 14, 2013 - 5:38 pm

    Courtney - Beautiful!

  • October 14, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    Anna - #1 these are gorgeous #2 people will always say stuff #3 you are a very successful photographer and people love your style and what you have to offer

  • October 14, 2013 - 8:58 pm

    Donna Brown - And create something beautiful you did! These photos say so much without any words being spoken. Dani, continue to do what makes you awesome!! You are an awesome photographer and capture things in your photos that words could never say. You recently took the photos at my daughter’s wedding. The love you captured that day was something so precious and so very special. Continue to use this special gift God has blessed you with!!

  • October 14, 2013 - 9:40 pm

    Melissa - Dani- This is such a beautiful session!! I also have no clue why someone would say nasty things about you because not only are you an amazing photographer but you are such a wonderful person too ๐Ÿ™‚

  • October 15, 2013 - 9:25 am

    Meagan Steele - Dani,
    I’m so upset to hear this. You are a fabulous photographer. Not only do my husband and I think so but we have received countless compliments about you and your work at our wedding. Keep your head up and carry on. The world is lucky to have you capturing all of the beautiful moments that you do with your camera.

    Meagan & Rick Steele

  • October 15, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    Emily - I could not love these photos more. So perfect.

  • October 15, 2013 - 10:20 pm

    Miriam Schwartz - These pictures are just breathtaking. Ballerinas and their poses are so graceful and beautiful. Social media and the internet has turned into a nasty place, unfortunately, and the haters that are out there seem to feel more powerful than ever, whether posting cruel or negative things anonymously or not. there will always be haters, especially jealous ones, and you should take it as a compliment! Also remember that haters are usually few in number but always manage to be way louder than anyone else!

  • October 20, 2013 - 3:08 pm

    Victoria - I know I’m late to the game on this one, but I will echo what everyone has been saying: you are an amazing photographer! I am so proud that you followed your dreams (as your big sis, I can say that!) Also when did Melanie turn into a beautiful young woman?! There’s something about sisters! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • October 28, 2013 - 4:32 pm

    Amy Rapp - It does not take a lot of courage to post critical comments about other people’s artistic endeavors. But it takes courage to create and publish your work, and to take in others’ comments, criticisms, and adoration. Your photos are quite lovely and your sister is a beautiful girl with nice ballet lines. Your photos were nicely composed and I always love to see ballet photos with dancers in proper alignment.(I hate to see a beautifully composed ballet picture, with a model as a dancer without a clue of alignment – but i digress) You have a good eye and have posted some beautiful photos. The best of luck to you in the future…

  • April 18, 2014 - 1:22 pm

    High Five for Friday! » Dani Leigh Photography - […] is Melanie, Dani’s favorite and most amazing sister in the world. You may remember me from here.ย ย Since Dani is busy exploring the world and such I will be doing today’s […]

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