Presented by SoBe
Melly Lee doesn’t take portraits like we’re used to seeing. These days, portraits tend to be repetitive, a subject standing in front of a blank wall with a stripped back aesthetic. Let’s face it, that aesthetics’ getting a little tired. Melly’s portraits are anything but tiring, they’re bursting with concept and character. It’s the result of Melly’s hyperactive mind—like a child trapped in an adult’s body. To help up our photography game, Melly gave us some tips on how she makes her portraits speak so loudly. Remember to pay attention to these tips—after all, selfie does stand for self-portrait.
Why do you like taking portraits?
Portrait photography is a visual means for me to connect with others by finding authentic common ground. I like exploring and discovering the stories and experiences that make up a person’s identity.
What makes a good portrait?
Vulnerability and authenticity evoked from both the photographer and the photo subject.
Do you design a concept in collaboration with the subject?
Yes and no, depending on the case. Sometimes the subject will have an idea that they can’t quite conceptualize on their own and together I will work with them to translate the idea. Other times the subject will give me their undying trust and let me have full creative reign for a shoot.
What’s your process before doing a portrait? Do you research a lot?
My process before a shoot depends on the scale of the project. If there is a high concept expectation for the photo I will heavily research during pre-production. This includes researching the subject and going over every small detail like lighting, location, wardrobe, etc. If the desired outcome is a simple portrait I prefer not to research. I’d rather walk into the session as a blank slate and be able to converse with and discover aspects of the subject genuinely.
Does a good portrait have to be elaborate?
No. A good portrait just needs to say something and evoke an emotional response.
What’s your number one tip for amateurs looking to improve their photography?
Set milestone goals, and keep taking photos. It could be anything as small as taking one photo a day or a grand as executing a high concept photoshoot with a large team once a week.
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