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  • Melissa Richard

Melissa Richard: After the fire

In May 2016, our lives were turned upside down. Our home and all of our cherished keepsakes were taken from us by the Fort McMurray wildfire. We all made it out safe and that's what's important. However, there were so many cherished keepsakes that we can never get back. School pictures, baby pictures, dance pictures and videos, baby books, and the list goes on.

The year following the fire I went a little over board with getting professional pictures done with my family. I was trying to create new memories and new captures to showcase in our home once it was rebuilt. Finally, my husband told me we really can't afford getting our pictures done all of the time and suggested I learn how to use a camera. I laughed at first, no way! I'd rather leave that to the experts.

A few months later, I decided to take a two-hour beginner's photography class here in town. That was October 2017, and I have not put the camera down since. I have become passionate about learning and taking online photography courses in my little free time.

I am a very quiet and private person. Photography has been a place for me to have a voice, be creative, and put myself out there. I am passionate about capturing the magic of childhood. Candid moments and the little details and moments that may not seem very significant now. I know that in the future, when I look at these images with my children, we will realize how these little candid moments were in fact the big and important ones.

Ashley Tobin was another Fort McMurray mother who turned to creative expression to deal with anxiety following the fire. She asked around for submissions from the community and received the stories of 92 other locals. This book, includes Ashley's story, 93/88,000 tells stories of evacuation, reentry and the time between. My story was submitted handwritten, I wrote it and never proof read it at all. Sealed it, and sent it in. It made the book. I still to this day have not re-read my own story. We are coming on to the second anniversary of the fire and I decided to pull the book out, took a picture of the cover and one of the pages with my words on it. Someday I hope to be able to read it.

To see more work by Melissa check her out on Instagram: @melissarichard4

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