HONOLULU (KHON2) — United States Space Force Master Sergeant Angelina “Elle” Melendez, of Mililani, and owner of Elle Rosegold Photography, a studio on Bishop Street has something to smile about behind her camera while capturing the true essence of women around her.

Melendez was recently recognized virtually on Feb. 15, by Go Boutique Live, with the highest award at The Julie Awards. The “Julie” award was presented by the Joy of Marketing, an organization that holds honors boutique portrait photographeres internationally.

Download the free KHON2 app for iOS or Android to stay informed on the latest news

“I was very shocked to be honored this year among other amazing photographers. I started my studio just last year and definitely put everything I had into it,” said Melendez.”

At first, Melendez wasn’t sure she would make it in the photography business but with guidance from her mentors and support from her family, she took a chance.

“I experienced a lot of fear and uncertainty at first because I didn’t think I could turn this passion of mine into anything profitable. I’m truly humbled to have made this far,” said Melendez.

Melendez said she was inspired by the book “Worth Every Penny,” written by Sarah Petty and began her photography journey one year ago.

Courtesy of Elle Rosegold Photography. Views expressed and use of photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Air Force.

According to Melendez, the idea of photographing uniformed women came from her own 16 years of experience of being one.

“When I joined back as a teenager, I knew it was going to be hard for me to conform to so many regulations, mostly written by men,” said Melendez. “I think my hair and my nails kept me in hot water the most in my early years, and I always kept a miniature ruler plus a copy of the regulations on me as a challenge.”

Melendez said she tried to hold on to tiny things that made her feel womanly because the lack of comes with the job, it’s a heavily male-dominated space.

“Day to day, we have to curb a lot of what makes us unique and feel beautiful because the uniform becomes your identity. It wasn’t until last year that different changes were made and we’ve been given some of our femininity back, I’m grateful for that,” said Melendez.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

Sarah Petty, founder of The Julie Awards and New York Times Best Selling Author said Angelina is one of the few elite protrait photographers awarded worldwide.

“She set the standard for providing the highest level of boutique experience to her photography clients,” Petty said. “This award is a testament to the dedication and investment required in gaining the skills, creativity and service it takes to provide a second-to-none wall portrait experience.”

Melendez said her favorite part about the experience of photographing women in uniform is when they see themselves through her lens.

“My creative style is to portray my clients as museum-worthy artwork because they are, I wouldn’t be satisfied selling regular photos. It is also a truly transformative experience as some of my clients never wear makeup in uniform or in general,” said Melendez. “I get to see them admiring themselves in the mirror at the studio and in their portraits at our reveal session, that is the most amazing feeling for a photographer.”

According to Melendez, her studio creates “beautiful images that help everyday women feel confident and celebrated. Her mission is to use the art of photography to empower women to live and be their best version of their selves in every aspect of their life.”

For more information on Elle Rosegold Photography go to, www.ellerosegold.com.