JRP: Melai Lopez is a professional photographer whose rise in photographic circles is steady and well deserved. I came across Melai’s galleries on PBase.com, and was very impressed with her images. There is much to learn from her.
Thanks Melai for sharing time with JRP Blog and it’s readers.
Melai Lopez: Thank you very much. I am honored to be featured in your blog.
JRP: Where do you call home?
Melai Lopez: I am from the Philippines. I now reside in Metro Manila though I trace my roots to Lambunao, Iloilo, a small town in the Visayas.
JRP: How did your journey in photography begin. Do you have any formal training?
Melai Lopez: I’ve been into arts since I was young though I wasn’t able to formally pursue my love for it at once. When I was in college I had the chance to use an AE-1 Canon which introduced me to photography. It was more than a decade later that I was able to really get into it when I bought my first 35 mm SLR and upgraded later to a Digital SLR.
My formal training was with the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation where I took my basic and advance courses. I didn’t expect that I would go this far. I only wanted to know my camera better, the shutter and aperture stuff, things like that. Since I am a mother, I want to create quality photos of my children.
JRP: Please describe the equipment I would find in your camera bag?
Melai Lopez: In my bag you’ll find my Canon 5d, 24-105 f4L IS lens, 17-40 f4L lens , 50mm f1.8, 70-200 f2.8L lens, speedlite 580EX, EPSON P-2000, a CPL, and cleaning kit.
JRP: What type of editing software do you use in your workflow?
Melai Lopez: I normally use in my workflow Aperture and Photoshop.
JRP: I am going to try to get into your head with this question. The geographical region where you do most of your photography provides a rich aray of color and subject matter that a lot of western photographers simply lack. How differently would you approach your location portraiture here in a North American setting as opposed to where you normally shoot? Also, do you work independently or with assistants on your shoots?
Melai Lopez: I am an avid fan of black and white. I think I would shoot that way more often than what I do here. I would also infuse an old ambiance to give images softer look which I really find fascinating. I am sure each place has a lot to offer whether they are colorful or not. More than anything else, its really the way we look at every scene that really matters. I work independently.
JRP: The work in your on-line galleries is done using available light. Do you ever use studio lighting or fill lighting on location to supplement the available light?
Melai Lopez: There are instances where I use fill lighting when covering events. I seldom (very seldom) use studio lights for my portraits. When I shoot outdoors I only use a reflector to preserve skin tone, and to get rid of too many shadows.
I once attended a studio lighting seminar and that’s it! I didn’t have the time to practice it but if given a chance, I would love to try a studio shoot.
JRP: What are some of the unique challenges for a photographer in your native market to sell their work? Do you currently market more to private individuals as opposed to commercial clients?
Melai Lopez: The market for photography here is not as mature as in other places. The medium as an art is still in its infancy. Most photographers still struggle to find their niche. We’ve seen for the past years a rise in the number of enthusiasts here which augurs well for the art.
I market more to private individuals than commercial clients though just recently an advertising firm asked me to submit my portfolio.
JRP: What has been your most memorable photo session to date?
Melai Lopez: My most memorable was the one I did in Payatas. It’s a garbage site in the largest city in Metro Manila. Taking photos of children living on a mountain of garbage was a very moving and humbling experience. You really feel the emotions through their eyes and little smiles.
JRP: What is most important to you, technique or vision?
Melai Lopez: Vision! One can be technically good, but if he doesn’t have the vision then the picture becomes lifeless and boring.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Melai Lopez: Don’t be afraid of criticisms. It’s the best way to learn fast.
JRP: What advice would you give to a young photographer starting out?
Melai Lopez: PRACTICE and ASK. One should not be afraid to ask for anything. Some people at times fall into the trap of pretending to know everything. I think, just like any other passion, one must continue to strive for perfection and the only way to do it is by continuously learning new things.
JRP: Thank you again Melai for sharing your thoughts and photography with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you.
Melai Lopez: Thank you very much. More power!
JRP: To view Melai Lopez’s impressive photo gallery please go to this link: http://www.pbase.com/melailopez