Meet Melissah Shahparnia, Winner of Our Lifestyle Category

Melissah Shahparnia woke up one day and decided that she wanted to make her photography hobby the real deal.

And lucky for us, because that’s the day she also snapped her winning image, entered into the Sun Bum Lifestyle category of our MC Photo Comp, and took home heaps of ca$h. With a background in architecture and design, Melissah’s big on capturing everyday moments from unexpected vantage points. Cheryl Dunn picked her photograph as an immediate stand-out, and our murmurs of agreement soon followed. We caught up with LA photographer to find out more about the winning pic and what she does when she’s not dominating international photo competitions.

Can you tell us a little more about the story behind your winning photo?
I took this photo literally the day I decided I wanted to pursue photography seriously and not just as a hobby. I borrowed my mom’s camera because I didn’t own one yet, and I called my friend Naomi to see if she’d be willing to let me take some portraits of her. We were both in our small hometown of Arroyo Grande where we grew up, and I believe there is something special about the moment I snapped that particular image that really captured both of our unspoken understanding about how it feels to be coming of age and not wanting to grow up.

How do you plan to spend your prize money?
I’d love to buy a plane ticket to shoot somewhere I’ve never been.

What have you been shooting at the moment?
I love shooting people being real in their unique atmosphere. I’ve been working on, and brainstorming about, an ongoing project of environmental portraits I’m calling Sense of Place where I do my best to capture the characters that genuinely help define a specific location. This could be the career karaoke host at a local dive bar or a bodybuilder queen spray tanning for her competition. I’m absolutely in love with chasing and shooting unconventional lifestyles and activities. My dream is to get paid to do it.

Which photo of yours would you save from a burning building?
The first ultrasound image I have of my future babe. Oh! I’m currently pregnant.

What do you like to do when you’re not shooting photos?
I’m obsessed with my husband and he makes wine, so I like to help him make wine.

Any plans for 2023 that include your camera?
Honestly, I’m never satisfied with my work, so I’m constantly inspired to shoot because there will always be a way to capture something that scratches the surface more than before. In 2023, I know I will get closer to that satisfaction you get when you know you got the shot. I’m going to try to manifest right now and say that shot will be in Tangier since I’ve always wanted to go. Maybe that’s where that plane ticket is going!

Thanks, Melissah!
Thank you so much for everything! I’m super grateful to be included amongst these incredible photographers, and to have the chance to have my work published. I’m still in shock and very excited this opportunity came my way.

Follow Melissah to see more of her work.

Special thanks to Sun Bum for sponsoring this year’s Lifestyle Category.

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