I love it when clients come back for a second (or third, or fourth) shoot with me. Each time you learn a little bit more about yourself, you love yourself a little bit more, and you learn to embrace and trust the process. And the afterglow is just as amazing every time.

This absolute bombshell came in to shoot with me for the second time recently and we had so much fun! Her last shoot was just before I moved out of my last studio so she got an entirely new look this time. This is what she had to say about her experience:

“If you have ever considered doing a Boudoir shoot, whether it be for yourself (which is what I did) or as a gift for someone else… DO IT! And not only that, but please make sure you do it with the best in the business, Studio M! Melissa made me feel so comfortable, and so so beautiful! Seeing my pictures afterwords brought tears to my eyes because Melissa was able to capture images of me that I didnt know were possible. I’m so excited to see my book and will forever be grateful for my experience with Melissa at Studio M! I am already looking forward to doing another shoot with her in the future!”

Listen to Miss N. Treat yourself. 🙂 I’d love to work with you too!

Candlelight Sessions!!

This year I am offering four different limited edition specialty shoots-first up are Candlelight sessions! It is so important as an artist to change things up, to challenge your creative process and to feel inspired. This shoot definitely accomplished all of that. David and Dash and I headed into the studio for two different test shoots, one with fewer/smaller candles and one with larger candles for little bit more light. I absolutely LOVE what we came up with and am so excited to share these with you!!

Sessions will be available on March 21 ONLY and include hair and specialty makeup including body shimmer, highlights and lip gloss to pick up the candlelight, and of course (always) lashes! Also most of the wardrobe you see here will be available for use-body jewelry and the gorgeous sheer black lace dress!

Click here to grab one of the four spots, or message me for more info!

Here is a behind the scenes peek into the creative process with the most adorable assistants on the planet.

I’m so excited to create more beautiful candlelight images!!



What Your Esti Wishes You Knew Before a Brazilian

I have known Susan Keefe of Clean Slate Spa for almost twenty years now. She somehow continues to get more and more fabulous. Fun fact: Susan did makeup for my very first boudoir clients ever (eleven years ago), was at my grand opening for my first studio and she continues to be one of my biggest cheerleaders.

She is the absolute BEST at Brazilians – I”ll never go anywhere else! I sat down with her to talk about what clients need to know before having a Brazilian wax!


Is there anything I should do to prepare for a wax? ​I recommend you try to book your appointment about a week after your period. At this time, you tend not to be as sensitive. Please stop shaving for at least 2-3 weeks before your appointment. This will give your hair ample time to grow out to the length that is appropriate for waxing. The day of your appointment just try to relax. Even though you will be given a sanitary wipe to freshen up prior to your appointment, it is highly recommended to shower as close to your appointment as possible. Also, please avoid caffeinated beverages a few hours before your service. Caffeine can stimulate the nervous system and make us more jittery and anxious. In addition, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever about 45 minutes before your appointment to help minimize inflammation, sensitivity and discomfort. Wear something loose to your appointment too!

How much outgrowth should I have before my appointment? ​To maximize the waxing, I recommend the hair be at least a 1⁄4 inch long. It doesn’t require that you get a ruler out to measure it. That’s normally about 2 weeks of outgrowth (no shaving!). Any shorter than that, and it’s very difficult to pull out. If you happen to have thicker or stubborn hair, you may want to grow your hair out a little longer like a 1/2 inch. Perhaps, 3 weeks instead of 2 weeks.

How soon before my shoot should I schedule my wax? ​My recommendation is always to schedule your Brazilian waxing appointment 2-4 days before any special occasion. It’s also not a bad idea to prepare yourself by doing a few waxing trial runs before the big day, just in case you experience redness or sensitivity. You would rather have the extra day or two to recover than be miserable. It’s better to be safe than sorry…

Can I work out the same day?​ I do not recommend working out the day of your wax. Before or after…Exercising generates, sweating, heat and flushed skin. Waxing can further irritate the skin, causing inflammation and you may be at risk to folliculitis, which is an infection of the hair follicle caused by bacteria.

How soon can I get frisky?​ Give yourself a minimum of 24 hours if you are new to waxing. Most clients are completely fine and walk out of my spa with no sensitivities or issues. I do, however, recommend not a lot of rubbing and friction for the first 24 hours. Be safe, not sorry!

How often should I schedule?​ I recommend a schedule of 4 to 6 weeks between waxes.


How did you get started as an esti? ​I was previously working as a Director of Marketing for a manufacturing company and getting facials on a regular basis. I was always intrigued with the profession. At the time, my esthetician had an amazing wealth of knowledge about skincare and I loved to pick her brain about ingredients and new treatments each time I saw her. One day when I was receiving a facial she said, “have you ever thought about becoming an esthetician?” Of course I had not, but two weeks later, I quit my job and went to esthetics school. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I absolutely love my career!!

How long have you been running Clean Slate Spa? ​2020 will be my 12th year in business.

What is your favorite thing about your job?​ ​The power of touch and self-care can be transforming. Since the start of my career in esthetics, giving a facial has shown me the importance of touch coming from a loving place.The result of a facial is not only that a client looks better, but also feels better. Through the years, I have discovered that self-care and nurturing my clients benefits more than just their skin.

Do you have a favorite skin care product? ​I actually have two! Amlactin Body Lotion (can be purchased at Walgreens or Amazon). I LOVE this product!! It not only hydrates the body, it also exfoliates. Most body lotions only provide hydration, so if you have dead skin build up it will not penetrate and will not work as intended. By using 12% lactic acid, Amlactin exfoliates your dry skin and provides intense hydration. Furthermore, if you have keratosis pilaris (KP) it is the best! The other product is Retin-A (or another type of retinoid) T​hese vitamin A derivatives have been proven to boost collagen production, speed cell turnover, even out discoloration, brighten the skin and unclogs pores. Retin-A is amazing from acne to aging!

Favorite item in your makeup kit? ​Nars Blush in “Orgasm” and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. These two products work well with any skin tone and should be in everyone’s kit!

What is your current facial of the month (or other promo)?​ The Hydrafacal!! Our winter, dry skin just drinks this facial in!

What is your skincare regimen? ​I make sure to cleanse at night. Even if you don’t wear makeup, we build up dirt and oil throughout the day. Cleansing at night is so important when the most crucial skin healing is done when we are sleeping!. I also exfoliate 3-4 times a week, use a peptide-filled eye cream, sunscreen daily, as well as applying Retin-A every other day. I also get regular professional treatments such as chemical peels, microcurrent and oxygen facials.

If you have never visited Susan for a wax or one of her incredible facials (I recently had the Cannibliss facial), what are you waiting for?!? Check out her website here.



Congratulations, beautiful.

So, I’m definitely not going to claim responsibility for this, but this gorgeous babe DID get engaged after her photo shoot . . . . .

In all fairness he didn’t even see the photos until after he’d asked her to marry him. She is insanely cute and even sweeter that you could imagine, and they are going to be so happy together. This sexy collection of photos was just icing on the engagement cake.

She has already booked another shoot and I can’t WAIT to come up with some insanely beautiful ideas for her to share with her new husband. Congrats, K. I am so incredibly happy for you.

Starting off 2020 with a Beautiful Mama

One of my biggest regrets is not having maternity portraits taken of myself. I think maybe 2 photos exist of me pregnant. Regardless of how I felt about my body at the time, every.single.time I see them I feel an incredibly joyful nostalgia. I miss holding those sweet little babies.

THIS right here is why it is so important to exist in photos. To be able to look back at this incredible time in your life to appreciate what your body has done-the almost unbearable excitement, waiting to meet your sweet little bundle and hold them for the first time. To embrace being sexy AND being a mother – we are allowed to do both!!!

Miss M came in to celebrate her first baby, and she glowed with happiness her entire shoot. She is going to make an incredible mama, and I can’t wait for her to meet her beautiful little girl.

2019 Year in Review

This is a chronological (ish) look at 2019. It is so crazy to look back at the images taken at the Hide House studio. It feels like it was a million years ago that I moved into the new studio in Walker’s point!

Not only did I move into an entirely new studio, but I completed the third installment of the secret project and worked with so many people that helped me grow as a person and an artist. I am so grateful for every one of these beautiful, amazing souls.

Thank you for the opportunity to do this work that I love so very much.

Here’s to 2020.

Stand in Your Power

So many boudoir shoots are about reclaiming your power. The inner beauty and mojo that you KNOW is there but have somehow lost. Sometimes it is a monumental life event, like walking away from a terrible marriage. Sometimes it is losing yourself in motherhood. Sometimes you wake up one day and wonder who you are and where your old self went. These are my favorite types of shoots. Reconnecting with yourself, loving yourself, celebrating yourself. We all need it. Here is what miss C said about her shoot:

“Melissa! Thank you!!! You showed me a version of me that I never knew was actually there, and you showed me the beauty of standing in my own power.”

Her images are so stunning and I can’t wait to deliver her album just in time for the holidays! A gift, indeed.

Back to Blogging

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I blogged!!!

Black Friday through Cyber Monday is one of the busiest times of year for me-I booked out half the year with the sale! I am SO excited to work with everyone that treated themselves to an incredible experience of self love and empowerment.

Now the focus has switched to the 12 Days of Christmas in my facebook group-we play games every day and someone wins a prize from one of my favorite local businesses!! So far we have given away prizes from Colectivo Coffee and Indulgence Chocolatiers! The first day we had a compliment challenge and it was so amazing to watch all these women lifting each other up and cheering each other on.

Today’s prize is a sassy one-come join our group if you want to play! There is always an amazing grand prize on the last day . . . .

In the meantime, I’ll let these absolutely gorgeous images speak for themselves.

The 2019 Secret Project

There are so many things I could say about this project. My gratitude goes out to each and every person that participated in the project-all the models that put themselves out there for all to see, to David for being a continued phenomenal (and handsome) guest photographer, to Althea’s Fine Lingerie for fitting the models and to Schumann Studio Creative for the amazing prints. But the impact and importance of this project is really summed up by a message that I received the morning after the project reveal party.

As an artist, you put work out there and hope that it resonates, inspires, makes a difference. You are vulnerable, hoping it sends someone strength. This is the type of message that keeps me going, fills me with humility and inspires me to do more, keep growing, keep seeing beauty in everyone (as if I could stop). Thank you, K. You will thrive indeed. And all of us are rooting for you. ❤️❤️❤️

“I wasn’t able to attend your event last night but I just flipped through the images you shared and I couldn’t help myself from wanting to send a message and thanking you for your honest and thoughtful inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds in your projects. I know this is something you work at and I have seen the progress through the years. In a post-Trump world, I have tried to be more conscious of what business and people I support. I believe you take your mission of inclusion and diversity (in ALL the ways) very seriously and that it means something to you. I am proud to support your business and you! And as if it needs to be said – the images are gorgeous and powerful.

On a personal level, I have come in for two sessions with you in the past. The first time, you were still in your first marriage and the second time you had went through your divorce. I was struck by the transformation and growth I saw in you and inspired by it. I had no that idea that several years later I would spend all of 2019 unexpectedly fighting for my marriage and going through some of the most painful and heartbreaking experiences I can imagine. Being in your FB group and watching you be strong, vulnerable, confident, and sincere has given me so much hope that whenever I find the end of this struggle – whether it result in divorce or a saved marriage – I will be ok and I can and will thrive. So thank you for being open about your story and experiences – in case you weren’t sure, they have impact and have helped me.

Sending all my best and with sincere gratitude.”



The Woman Behind the Lace

One of the most important factors in a successful boudoir shoot is your choice of wardrobe.  You don’t want digging straps, gaping cups, or any other uncomfortable thing happening with your underwear.  But most importantly, you want to feel irresistibly sexy.  A great lingerie set can transform your entire mindset, a huge benefit going into a boudoir shoot. 

This is where Althea’s Fine Lingerie comes in.  All Studio M shoots include a wardrobe consultation with Althea.  She has an absolute GIFT for fitting women with lingerie that flatters their body types and fits their budgets.  This is what Althea has to say about working with Studio M!

“I have an admiration for the way Melissa has built her business: on her own terms. Like Melissa, I believe that every woman is beautiful – and that every woman should have beautiful bras, panties and lingerie that fits and helps her look her best. It’s about helping someone feel confident, secure and sexy.  That’s why the two of us work together so well.”  

It isn’t a secret to anyone who has talked to me that I absolutely love Althea, but here are a few things you might not know:

Althea opened her shop in 2014, after developing a love for luxurious fabrics and fine tailoring details, which began when she was a young woman. 

Althea of Althea’s Fine Lingerie

“I have always been a curvy girl. I started sewing my own clothes in about 1972, in 7th grade, because I already had a figure that didn’t quite fit the shape of the clothes sold in the stores.”

Here is what a couple of Studio M Clients have had to say about their fittings with Althea:

“I am starting this by saying I have never been “properly” fit for lingerie.  Like most women, I have gone to Victoria’s Secret and gotten measured for their bras, which put me at a 34D (I have lost a considerable amount of weight in my life and breastfed my son for almost 2 years, no way am I a D cup…)  I stopped in Althea’s because Melissa (from Studio M Boudoir Photography) was hosting an event and I was in the area.  Althea was so warm and welcoming I decided to try on a few pieces.  She measured me at a full B cup and for the first time I actually had a bra that fit me correctly.  She taught me about the band and adjusted the straps for me.  I ended up walking out with the sexiest lingerie set I’ve ever owned!  I am so thankful for Althea’s expertise and professionalism, I have recommended her to all my friends and will definitely be shopping there again!”

“When I first visited Althea’s Fine Lingerie I didn’t know what to expect.  I must admit, I was slightly intimidated by Althea’s presence.  She was sitting at her sewing machine and she had a very no nonsense look on her face.  However, as Althea and I began to work together and explore my options, I realized that my initial impression was ALL WRONG! Althea is warm, friendly, direct, and over the top HILARIOUS!  She turns what could be considered an uncomfortable situation in to a party! She is very knowledgeable about the lingerie that she sells as well as what will look good on you according to your body type.  She and I laughed and laughed and before I knew it, I wanted to buy everything in her store! I spent more money with her than I have ever spent on lingerie, but you know what…IT WAS WORTH IT.  After my fitting and purchase she and I chatted a while.  I had been feeling a little down a few days prior to visiting her, after I left her store, I felt GREAT! Oh…and my photo shoot was PHENOMENAL! I just want to say “Thank you Althea…I hope I’ve done your fine lingerie justice!”

Take a trip to downtown Milwaukee and visit Althea-you will laugh, possibly have some wine and chocolate, and leave with the sexiest lingerie you have ever owned.  <3