Melissa K. Stallard was born in the coal fields of Southwest Virginia then uprooted to a wide spot in the middle of the road in Northeast Tennessee at thirteen. Most of her formative years were spent in the back seat of her parents' car roaming the countryside throughout the region. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from East Tennessee State University in 2003. A year later, she relocated to Chicago, IL where she finally learned to appreciate the things that she had had her entire life. She received a Master of Fine Arts in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2008. She is currently an assistant professor of photography at the University of Akron in Ohio.