Friday, March 16, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Melissa Hamburg

Melissa Hamburg, though Queens born and raised, has resided in Manhattan for the past 20 years. A former dancer, she has enjoyed performing in regional theatre, commercials, TV, and revue shows in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe.

Eighteen years ago, on a cruise ship clad in no more than a g-string and plastic bananas (No, this was not her regular attire.  Yes, she was performing).  Melissa befriended a fellow performer who would become her future sister-in-law.  In 2008, she married this pal's brother, a school psychologist, and gave birth to their son in 2011.  Currently, Melissa is a headshot photographer shooting actors in all fields of entertainment.  She is thrilled to finally be a mom.

To view Melissa's work, or to book a session, please visit .

How old are your kids?  Boys? Girls?
I have one boy who is almost 9 months old.

Where were you in your career when your child(ren) were born?
It was just the end of my dancing days.  My photography business was already pretty established so when A was born, I took a few weeks off and then started shooting again.

What were your plans? How did your plans square with reality?
I had hoped to keep shooting as actively as I was before, in addition to keeping up with dancing about 3 times a week.  Not reality!  My family comes to help 3 times a week for a few hours during which time I have to shoot.  So I really have no time to dance anymore.  At best, I get a yoga class or a dance class in once a week and then I’m scrambling to get home on time.  But I’m always excited to see my little man, so it doesn’t matter.   The joy I got from dancing has been replaced by being with my baby.

Had you photographed families and children?  Has having a family of your own changed given you any new insight into working with children?
I actually have always been a headshot photographer for actors.  I’ve been shooting professional children for many years though.  Having a child of my own has really given me newfound respect and admiration for the parents!  They are juggling so much, many of them coming in from out of town to bring their kids in after school for auditions and shoots.  And I have to say, since having a child, my goofiness level is at a new high.  So getting kids to relax and smile has become easier.

How has your perspective on your work changed?
My time is so valuable since I‘m an older mom.  Family time on the weekends is something really hard to compromise, so I really won’t take weekend shoots anymore even if the money is good.  Actually, the only exceptions I make are for moms who are struggling to get to me during the week.  I’m way more sympathetic to them now!

How much sleep are you getting these days?
Not my favorite question!  About 7 hours of very interrupted sleep.  From 6 weeks to 6 months, he slept through the night.  After 6 months, it was payback time.  He’s up 3 to 4 times a night.  Luckily, it’s only for about 10 minutes and he goes right back to sleep.  Somehow, I’m functioning.  But giving up coffee for Lent might not have been the right choice…

Your biggest surprise about motherhood?
I’ve become a total scaredy-cat.  Prior to having a baby, I was, admittedly, a bit reckless.  I drove a spaceship-like automatic motorcycle (Honda Helix) in the streets of New York City for years, I would take my scuba diving a little too deep, and, when overseas, I never thought twice about hitchhiking.  Since A was born, I’ve turned into my grandmother.  I got rid of the bike, I can’t ever imagine diving into a blue hole again, and I even get nervous standing on the platform of the subway.  My life has a new, very profound meaning.

For all women, having babies definitely separates things into before and after.  For dancers this is especially true. What has it been like to go back to dance class? 
In one way, it’s been harder because when I’m there and actually dancing, my body is painfully reminding me of all the things I can’t do anymore.  In another way, it’s actually more enjoyable.  I savor my time there because I get so little of it and, when I’m there, it’s so much more relaxing because I’m not auditioning anymore.  No more anxiety about how I look and who’s watching or talking about upcoming gigs.  I’m truly “in the moment” for the first time.  I used to stand up in the front and now I happily stand in the back during warm-up, in my own little world!

At Cipriani Wall Street shooting the Luis Miguel video
"Santa Claus Llego a la Ciudad." Melissa is first from the right.

What is the last thing you did for yourself?  How often does this phenomenon happen?   
I got a haircut…it had been 6 months.

What are you starting realize about parenthood now that Adrian is no longer a newborn?
Definitely how fast it’s going! 

I’m pretty much a stay-at-home mom (even when I work, it’s from home) so I’m really fortunate to have so much time with my child.  This can also be exasperating, especially because he only takes one 30 minute nap a day.  When he finally takes this 30 minute nap, I usually try to clean our room and condense his clothes, putting them away for, hopefully, another child of our own or to give away.  As I’m going through these clothes and seeing just how fast he outgrows them, I’m reminded of how quickly he’s growing and changing.  Some outfits he’s only worn once and some not at all.  Each outgrown outfit or toy is such a wake-up call and reminder that I might only have these experiences once…so I’m really taking it all in. 

Unless you are Ma Duggar, folks are going to ask you if you want more kids.  So do ya? Hunh? Hunh?
I would love one more.  We’ll see…. 

What you hope your parenting style can be described as in 5 words or less.
Patient and encouraging.



  1. Loved reading this! You look awesome and Aiden is growing in leaps and bounds....Hugs!

  2. Love this! What a beautiful picture of you!...You still look great! and your son is such a cutie.


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