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My name is Melissa Ferrara and I'm a documentary lifestyle photographer specializing in portraits, weddings, and travel. I currently live in Chicago with my boyfriend, and rowdy Boston Terrier, Rooney. When I'm not behind the camera, I enjoy making a fool of myself at karaoke, rooting for my beloved Chicago White Sox, and finding the best donuts in the city. I love exploring new places and make a point to travel somewhere new each year. Although, most days you can find me at home watching The Office for the millionth time.


Melissa is Greek for “honey bee” and Ferrara is a Latin derivative of “ferrum” meaning “iron.” Boom. There you have Iron + Honey.

I’m not one of those people that were gifted a camera by a relative at a young age and destined to be a photographer when I grew up. I picked up photography as a hobby in college while working towards a degree in advertising. On top of the classes I took to gain the technical and compositional skills, I worked at a portrait studio and spent my free time taking photos of everything I could. I was also given a wonderful opportunity to work alongside some of Chicago’s most talented photographers. After graduation, I knew I wanted to pursue photography as a career.

My favorite part about photographing weddings is all the unique ways there are to celebrate. Also, it’s so exciting being able to document all the emotion on such an important day knowing that people will be looking back on these photos for years to come. Photography is such an important part of a wedding. After the food is eaten and flowers are wilted, the photographs will be the only thing you have to remember the best day of your life.

I also photograph lifestyle images for brands and influencers. My background in advertising has helped me understand the importance of highlighting the subject’s personalities as well as consistent, professional imagery to promote a product or brand.


My blog consists of weddings, events, and portrait sessions I photograph as well as any tips I find to be helpful for photographers or anyone planning a portrait session or wedding. I also write about personal accomplishments and travels. If you'd like to learn more about me and see what I've been up to recently, you can check out my blog and subscribe to my newsletter. The best way to get to know me is to reach out, so send me a message and we can chat!

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When Andrew proposed to me, I knew right away who I'd ask to be our photographer; Melissa of course! We had traveled to Chicago from California in December 2017 and I thought it would be fun to have photos of us taken while we were there. She did a couples session for us and we had a blast at the windiest spot in the city that day! We really loved the photos she took too. So naturally she was the first one I thought of to photograph our elopement. We invited her to stay with us in our super cute Airbnb [in Cannon Beach, Oregon]! It was a lot of fun just hangin' out chatting with her outside of the ceremony and photo work that she was there to do, and I think that was a special thing for us to share with her. Not all couples have the luxury of their photographer getting to know them on a more intimate level like that over the course of a few days and I'd like to think that helped her really capture not just our ceremony, but also who we are as a couple. I'm so incredibly grateful to have the beautiful and emotive images she took for us. I really appreciate the details she captured and the story she told of our day through the photos. I'm pretty sure it goes without saying that Melissa has my highest recommendation! Working with her was effortless and it felt like we were hanging out with a friend the whole time! We still wanna karaoke with her too!

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Beautiful, natural, just-right moments captured with a quiet, fierce grace... Melissa has an art and zen that is so refreshing and rare. Her all-star personality and talent together made I+H the beyond-perfect fit for us. My husband and I (and all our guests!) recommend Melissa with the utmost confidence and highest of praise. So much time and energy go into planning what amounts to an 8 hour (+/-) event. Make the most of those memories, photos are forever - hire our girl, Melissa...we are so happy we did.



I was immediately impressed by Melissa's ability to capture genuine emotion instead of posed portraits. Her attitude is a perfect mix of go-with-the-flow and get sh*t done. Every photo was AMAZING. When I look at the gorgeous photos she took of our super special day they bring me back to the exact emotion I was feeling at that particular moment. She understands how to capture raw human feelings, and she does it with such effortless skill. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have these breathtaking photos to look at for the rest of my life. Working with Melissa is like working with an old friend; she somehow completely understands you and your significant other's relationship after just meeting you and is able to capture the uniqueness of your relationship.



Melissa is incredible at making the subjects + city shine. I knew she would be the perfect person to capture the essence of our online shop! Pictures are my storefront and Melissa truly understands what my company is all about. She's helped transform my website through her images. She not only captures the product features well, but she also truly knows how to showcase our products in an authentic way. I'm continually impressed at how she can make any scenery pop, how she approaches each photo from a different angle, and the quality of the photos I get back. During our shoots, she's equal parts photographer, set designer, stylist, and even official hair-fixer if the job calls for it. She does it all! Melissa always produces quality work and uses her creativity to ensure every shot is what the client is looking for. Melissa's creativity behind the lens truly sets her apart. She's such a joy to work with!

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My favorite part about working with Melissa was her ability to make things fun and comfortable! We had never had professional photographs done before, and I was honestly pretty nervous about it. She totally made us forget that there was even a camera around and captured us being "us" so well. It was easy to be myself around her and just have fun! I never worried that something was going to be missed. She covered everything we thought of and wanted, but also even things we didn't know we'd want captured! From the moment you arrived, we felt at ease and knew things would be so amazing. You're such a fun person to be around! I didn't want you to leave at the end of the night!


behind the scenes

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