Nadia Meli | Wedding Photographer

Hi! I’m Nadia, an Italian living in Germany (that’s not my fault, my parents imported me). I’m an international wedding photographer, business coach and speaker.

Most importantly, I am a hugger.

When I started my business six years ago, I had no idea of where it would take me. The only thing I knew was that I needed to be free and I needed to be creative.

As a child, I would spend hours creating with my hands. I painted and drew. Always people. Always faces. My parents still have all of those images. As I continued growing up, my creative soul got buried somewhere along the way.

I did a BA in Theology (which was a lot more fun than it sounds, promise) – and after that I wanted to get into social work, because I wanted to “help” people. I thought that’s what you do when you want to change the world, you do social work. 

Back then I didn’t realize that the best I could do for the world is use my talent and do what I really love. That just by doing that I would have an impact.

Photography came into my life randomly, during a gap year I spent in London when I was 20 years old. It never left me. I had found something that made me hold on to all the things I felt and noticed around me, that were too much to express - and I was hooked. Plus, I realized it was a lot faster than drawing a portrait.

Wedding Photography was very much a man dominated territory in Germany when I started out and a lot of male photographers didn’t take me seriously when I entered the game. They publicly hated on me on their Facebook pages and in Forums. I was self-taught, I had no idea what I was doing – but I was booking jobs they never dreamed of booking and traveling the world because of it. It was amazing – and at the same time brought me lots of hate – I was the little girl with no qualifications. No right to be there. No right to play with the big boys. How dare I.

I ignored them. And eventually they stopped. Think of it that way: Haters are just unhappy people. Because happy people would never feel the need to make others unhappy. So forgive them, ignore them and move on.

I adore photography and the door it opens into people’s lives and their stories. Because people are what inspire me the most. Stories of growth, unfolding a personality layer by layer, the substance someone is made of, the color of their soul.

That rawness, that vulnerability is beauty to me. Beauty makes me happy. I actually need it around me. People have a perverted definition of beauty. They think beauty is about makeup or what you see in magazines. Ultimately, people believe beauty is superficial and you shouldn’t focus on it. I totally agree. If you have a distorted perception of beauty.

But beauty is so much more than what society says it is. It is holy and indescribably important. Beauty, like love, is essential to life. Like love, you notice when it’s missing. Beauty is in so many things.

Even in something as small as a leaf growing through a stone wall. Especially in something as small as that. Details like that can keep me in awe for minutes (and will cause raised eyebrows, but whatever).

The way someone extends a helping hand. When I receive a much needed smile. The fact that someone puts up flowers in a room. When someone shows me their soul.

That is beauty. That is love.

To me, beauty and love are deeply connected. And I try to communicate that with my photography.

Yet, photography is only one side of my business. What I’m ultimately interested in, is people.

My whole life I longed for women to be inspired by – women that build others up with their words, instead of tearing them down, strong women with big hearts, a warm soul and a vision.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that kind of role model when I was younger. I was surrounded by a negative environment, by the belief that life was hard, dreams are naive and that I wasn’t enough to achieve anything anyway.

So I decided I would be the woman I needed when I was growing up.

When I found what I loved, when I came alive, I decided to be that person to others. That support, that love, that inspiration. I decided my heart would have enough room for anyone who needed a home. I decided I would not live a guarded life, but instead a life of vulnerability. So that inspiration and life can flow from me to others.

There’s nothing that gets me more excited than seeing other people come alive. People come alive when they set their passion free. And people that come alive are beautiful people.

Putting your passion out there is so scary, I certainly have learned that – but so rewarding. Not just for oneself – but for the world. We can only be inspired to learn, to grow, to act ...if we share.

How tragic to think that the world has missed out on so many amazing melodies, words, tastes, buildings, images, mothers, fathers, friends, paintings, ideas... because someone held back who they were. What they loved. What they wanted to be.

Who do you serve by hiding what’s burning in your heart? No one. Share your heart and your heart’s creation, it might just be what the world was waiting for.

This is what I love to sow in people, I love to see it grow and I love to see them take flight, take charge of their life and dreams. I love being a coach as much as I love being a photographer. In fact, the first happened because of the latter. 

Being a photographer and getting so close to people inevitably led to getting closer to their soul and to what really matters.

In the past 10 years I’ve learned that it’s so crucial to know who you are and listen to your gut. When you don’t know that, you waste a lot of time running after someone else’s idea of success.

I learned that it is ok to not have it all figured out yet, because ultimately who you are is more important than what you do. Your purpose always goes beyond what you do for a living.

Following your heart is usually not a straight road, more often than not it’s a crazy, unsure, winding adventure. But if you keep on pushing, by step by step, keep doing the things you love, things will add up -  eventually all those steps will take you to the life you dream of and the person you want to be. 

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