Serving Shenandoah National Park, the Chesapeake Bay, and The Blue Ridge Mountains. Specializing in elopements, microweddings, and your simply-just-because adventures.
As of July 1st, I'm Booking Fall + Winter 2022 through 2023 Elopements + Intimate Weddings!
It's taking the time to go dancing in the sun, to embrace the wind and the moment, and to adventure together. Even if it means jumping out of the car to catch the last minute of that brilliant coraly-purple sunset that makes you just want to throw your arms around your love. Maybe it means running through the rain and really seizing the moment and throwing caution to the wind. It's bringing your wedding dress to the cleaner and getting to tell the story of that adventure to a cliffside location that left your dress a little dirty.
Or it may mean cuddling on the couch on a rainy day. About taking the time to just be... together. To give each other the gift of time and to nourish the connection you have with each other. The connection that reigns victorious over the busyness of life. My couples are ready to jump on the bed, cuddle up by a fire, dance in the kitchen, and run down the halls. Or they're ready to lead each other through warm meadows, get windswept on a mountainside cliff, or run with abandon into ocean waves.
And if you're looking for a photographer who...
...will make a fool of herself for your laughter...
...will do her best to bring out the best...
...will blend right in with the family and cry with your mommas...
...will guide you through the planning process...
...will remind you to live in the moment...
...will always be a sappy, cheesy soul who just wants to tell your story and bring true, lifetime love to light in a world that needs more of it...
...will make her work about you and not about herself or her visibility...
...then you've come to the right place.
You are living your days amongst millions of other lovers. Millions of other love stories and moments. But this one? This story is YOURS. Your story is meant to be lived out, not dictated. Your love is meant to be unique and exclusive to you in a world of conformity and influence. And I'm here to capture it in the truest, most intentional way I can.
I want my work as your photographer to do for you what finding old, handwritten love letters does for the soul. Nostalgia. Excitement. Legacy. Discovery - or even rediscovery. Knowing you got to live in the moment with the one that takes your breath away. Again. And again. You want your memories documented as they happen, allowing you to be completely and utterly wrapped up in the moment, and, as your photographer, I can only hope that when you look back on the images of these memories, you see them as they truly were. Not the way the rest of the world says they should look. Not because Instagram says so. Authenticity. (Hint: it's why I'm not on social media.) True, luminous color and genuine emotion. Warmth you can almost feel, and captivating movement dancing around your undeniable chemistry. As an intimate wedding and elopement photographer, my goal is to document your story so genuinely true to life, that you'll never find yourself regretting being present over being scripted.
My couples value photography beyond a price tag and prefer, above all, to have a connection with their photographer. They value professionalism and authenticity. My couples are looking for an experience and someone they can trust rather than just a service. It's more than getting yearly portraits done. It's more than just showing up. It's far more than just doing a job I was hired to do.
Centered on inspiring and capturing moments and memories that evoke nostalgia and passion.
Welcome to Ocean + Ridge by Melissa Durham.
Samantha & Jon: Spring Pippin Hill Farm Wedding
I am an island-born 80s baby from the Florida Keys who lived on the coast until 2004, when I found my way back to the mountains I camped in as a little girl. What I didn't realize is that I found my way back to what really makes my heart feel inspired, safe, and at home. I love my mountain life in Virginia, but I just can't let go of my island roots. So I don't! You'll see it in my love for sun, my "wild woman" "mermaid" hair, and my love for sandy toes.
I married my mountain-born sweetheart (the ridge to my ocean!) in 2006 after I moved back to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and we have two incredibly bright, witty girls, a brand new miracle baby girl, a lazy ol' hound mix, and a rescued Great Dane who can get enough neck rubs. I have a Masters of Science in Nutrition, and I try to balance my inner foodie and my sweet tooth with a love for running, yoga, gardening, and quiet meditation (though that rarely happens as a mom, LOL).
Mild obsessions are: a great pair of shoes, sun-kissed skin, oversized sweaters and sundresses, chestnut praline lattes and piña coladas (hold the alcohol!), smoothie bowls and birria tacos, salty ocean breeze and fresh mountain air. (And I may have a rather large obsession with calligraphy ink, pens, markers, paints, and journals.) My ultimate bucket list location is the Galapagos Islands, but I'm dying to visit Israel and India.
But most importantly, I'm a sister in Christ. My faith is strong, my love is true, and He has shown me great mercy and blessed me with miracles. I'm proud to be a Christian woman, and I'll gladly share my testimony with whoever is in need of hearing it.
In my lifetime, I've been a zookeeper, done cancer research, and performed autopsies in a hospital setting.
I get the itch to change things up in my house every couple of years. I blame the military and all those moves.
We have a Great Dane named Pickles and a big ol' mutt named Marla. Both rescued! And they're a riot.
See more of William + Liz
I would highly recommend Melissa! She was our elopement photographer. But she ended up being way more than a photographer! She helped me with everything. We were new to the area so I needed recommendations for lodging, locations, flowers, etc. We talked regularly for a couple months in preparation for our elopement. She used what she knew about us and her extensive knowledge of the Shenandoah Mountains to create the perfect elopement ceremony and photographs. She also helped wrangle the drama that comes with “the big day”. Due to the new time constraints, the elopement ceremony location was changed to a nearby location Melissa knew of which resulted in AMAZING PHOTOS of our ceremony. Melissa literally saved our day. Not only did she give us what we asked for but she delivered a product that I couldn’t even put in words. She truly loves her craft. You’ll see for yourself when you get your wedding album.
See more of Chris + Kathryn
Melissa is so amazing to work with! My husband and I are not picture people, or so we thought. I always dreamed of having those beautiful wedding pictures, but didn't ever think it would really happen, until I met Melissa. She made us feel so comfortable through the whole process. Taking the pictures did not feel like a chore, or like we were forcing poses. It was so fun and felt so natural. The pictures turned out AMAZING (despite the fact we shot on a VERY foggy and wet day.) We looked so good, the scenery was beautiful, her editing is so dreamy. Everyone is obsessed with our pictures and I can't stop raving about Melissa. She went above and beyond and I'm so happy she was the one to photograph our elopement. I thought I had unrealistic expectations, and she far exceeded them!
See more of Tyler + Michelle
Melissa Durham was definitely the easiest wedding planning decision I ever made!! She came highly recommended and as soon as I met her, I immediately just felt so comfortable around her. She took our engagement pictures last fall and I absolutely loved the whole process. She made my husband and I feel so comfortable in front of the camera and we had the best time goofing off and exploring! Melissa is SO talented and professional. She doesn't just provide a service, she provides a friendship. She deeply cared for Tyler and I and helped us out the entire duration of the wedding planning process. My entire family and wedding party loved her on the day of the wedding and I am still getting compliments about how great our pictures are! I will work with/recommend Melissa until she gets tired of me lol- she is one in a million!
See more of Nick + Kaitlyn
When you hire Melissa, you can expect the absolute best. Her incredibly warm heart creates a space for immediate friendship, and she will always have our business! We met Melissa in 2017 when she photographed my sister in law’s wedding, and after Nick and I got engaged, she was the first vendor we turned to after securing our date! Melissa took away the jitters we had of being photographed and captured Nick and I in a way that we will look back on for years to come so fondly. The way she captured our most intimate moments with grace and kindness is a trait she holds so naturally. Melissa makes you feel like more than a client, because you are instantly a friend. We are so thankful she is in our life and we will continue to ask her to work her magic on all our future big moments life brings us!
See more of Chris + ALlie
Melissa is an absolute DREAM to work with. So down to earth, professional, and all around an amazing photographer. She knows no challenge - freezing weather? Surrounded by a swarm of lady bugs? This woman's talent is out of this world! We are MDP clients for life and couldn't be more grateful for how beautifully she captured our day. She is worth ever. single. penny.