A Photographer’s Dream Come True Grandma’s Photo Shoot Receives National Attention



Imagine being a photographer and having your photos printed in a national magazine. Local photographer Melissa Denny doesn’t have to imagine it, because it happened to her, after photos of a local grandma celebrating her 90th birthday went viral and found their way to People magazine. 

Melissa Denny grew up in Rural Hall, NC, with her parents, sister, and a supportive extended family. “My parents and grandparents always made it known that I could do anything I set my mind to. Growing up, my mom, Robin, had a passion for taking photos; most were of my sister and me, our family, or nature. I guess a part of my passion came from her as well as my grandpa Fred. My precious grandmas, Shirley and Jerri, I called them Ma and Memaw, passed away earlier this year, but they were so excited about my photography and would be elated that I made it to People magazine.” said Melissa. Early on, Melissa, who has been a sonographer since May 2011, saw photography as a creative outlet, but it has now blossomed into a great passion and business, allowing her to meet people and do what she loves.

In 2012, Melissa purchased her first ‘big’ camera, a Nikon D5600, prior to a first anniversary trip to NYC with her husband, Grayson.  “I used to look at other photographers’ websites and daydream about how I could do it, too. I confided in some friends early on that I would be a photographer…one day. I started by taking photos for free, or next to nothing, just to get some experience. I photograph families, children, individuals, and couples; I love doing shoots outdoors, but also do in-home sessions using natural lighting. But the photos that caught the attention of People magazine were quite special. A local family wanted to celebrate their grandma’s 90th birthday with a photoshoot, and her granddaughters, Stephanie and Jennifer, whom I knew from high school, contacted me, and the planning began,” Melissa commented. 

 Stephanie, one of the granddaughters, shared with Melissa what they were thinking for their grandma, and she was thrilled to be a part of the 90th birthday celebration.

“For the photoshoot, I looked around Reynolda Gardens, which the family chose, for the perfect spot with excellent lighting and beautiful flowers. Upon meeting Martha, G-Ma, the name her family calls her, I could tell she was ready for anything and had a playful spirit. On the day of the shoot, I had my favorite assistant, my husband, and several of the family members came, too. They brought a pink tutu, cookies with their grandma’s face on them, cake, balloons, a banner, and a fancy chair for her to sit in. Since G-Ma had such a fun personality, I had her dance in the tutu and that brought laughter to us all. I loved the photos of her naturally smiling and having fun. We had a great time. G-Ma thought the cookies were hilarious; she enjoyed the day with her family by her side. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a 90th birthday. I will be forever grateful they asked me to do the photoshoot. It has been a wild ride from being on local newscasts, to People and Southern Living magazines. I am so thankful for such a fun experience!” stated Melissa.

For more info on Melissa Denny Photographer, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram at Melissa Denny Photography or call at 336-972-4221.


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