Palm City, Florida
Editorial and Freelance Photographer
How long have you been part of the horse world?
My best friend in middle school had an Appaloosa mare that kicked off my love of horses. All my horse-crazy friends and I used to make our “dream horse” list by picking out items from State Line Tack catalogs—silly, but we had such fun! I started volunteering and riding at various barns for the experience. My first horse show was a local show and I won first place in an equitation flat class when I was 13 on a Morgan mare named Sassy. From there, I went on to showing Arabians, Appaloosas and Quarter Horses. I worked my way up to riding warmbloods, and that’s when I was introduced to dressage and never looked back! I decided I didn’t like jumping after one time when my Arabian came to a halt in front of a jump and popped it, causing me to smack my face into his neck while I was still in two-point.
What part do you play in the horse world?
I was on the board of directors as the secretary and program designer of our local horse show for a few years in a row, but now I’m happy to be with Sidelines, as a photographer, for two-and-a-half years.
Melissa competing her Quarter Horse Tootsie in a dressage show as a young girl.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
My favorite part about being with Sidelines is endless, really. I get to meet amazing people and travel. I get a firsthand look inside their stories and achievements. To capture their images for the magazine gives me a chance to get to know them and see personalities that are humble and radiate their love of horses. I have had the privilege to step inside some of the most gorgeous barns I’ve ever seen, and get close to absolutely beautiful horses! Some of the riders I’ve documented have stayed in touch with me, and that friendship is cherished.
What do you consider your biggest achievements?
I have many achievements that mean the world to me. I entered print competitions for many years with the photography guild I was a member of and won numerous awards. All of my accolades from my riding days make me smile. It was important for me to end my ride on a good note. If I had a “not so great” ride, I saw that as an experience my horse and I had to get through. My family is most important to me: being a good mom, wife, daughter and friend!
What are your goals?
My goals for my company and myself are to “just keep swimming!” I’m always looking for ways to be creative and keep my perspective fresh with my photography. I have an eye for detail, almost to the point of it being a curse as well as a blessing! I strive for putting back into my business, whether it’s new equipment or attending photography seminars for continuing education.
Melissa doing a photo shoot for Sidelines magazine, with a little help from a friend.
What’s the best thing about your life?
The best thing for me so far is being able to look back and see how much growth I’ve accomplished. I want to continue to travel, experience, learn and just plain soak up everything I can. I love the quote by Ken Blanchard, “When you stop learning, you stop growing.”
Best-kept secret about what you do?
I have an oddity of having a photographic memory of every house I’ve ever been in. I could recite the complete layout of the house, even if I’ve been in it for 20 minutes. I probably should have been a realtor! Also, it’s really no secret, but I love educating those I’m photographing. I try to explain things during the session so they understand the thought process of photography.
Melissa enjoys some puppy love from Willow, her Mastiff/Cur mix.
For more information, visit msfullerphotography.com
Photos courtesy of Melissa Fuller