March 5, 2020
AN OBSERVED REALISM
Photography by Melanie Meggs
Interview by Karin Svadlenak Gomez
Melanie Meggs is a visionary Australian photographer and the creative mind behind The Pictorial List. Melanie's artistry runs deep, having studied Fine Arts and worked in the field for years, but it took a near-death experience to reignite her passion for photography. Photography is now a significant part of her life, using it to escape from the realities of real life. Through strangers on the street, Melanie creates scenarios, delving into the intersection of reality and fiction. Her photography is usually darkly humorous and is intended to provide a somewhat psychological portrayal of her escape from her own everyday reality.
You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut. - Dr. Seuss
“From a young age, I have been completely mesmerized by people and their complex interactions in different scenarios. I intently observe and analyse their behavior and social relationships, as I find it incredibly fascinating.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH MELANIE MEGGS
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Melanie, when did you start getting interested in photography?
MELANIE MEGGS: As far back as I can remember, I have always had a passion for photography. It all started when I was a young child and I would snap pictures of everything around me with my trusty camera. When I began studying art, I was overjoyed to receive my first SLR camera - a secondhand Nikon FE. I still have that camera to this day and it holds a special place in my heart. While I was initially more interested in the theoretical side of photography, I loved the experience of working in the darkroom and seeing my images come to life before my eyes. Although it's been many years since then, those memories remain vivid and exciting.
A few years ago, my life was almost taken away from me by sepsis, but I used that experience to change my perspective on life. I began to appreciate life in a new light, taking a camera out with me on my daily rehab walks to keep me company. Through my viewfinder, I was able to escape the reality of my illness and everyday life. Even today, photography remains a place of solace for me.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration?
MM: I derive my inspiration from my passion for painting. Though I can no longer paint with the same skill as before, I have discovered a way to incorporate my love for painting into my photography. I now paint with my eyes, capturing beauty through the lens of my camera.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?
MM: I have forever been inspired by artists such as Jeffrey Smart, Edward Hopper and David Hockney. The way they created these precisionist depicted scenes of urban landscapes that were full of playful allusions appealed to me very early on in my life. I recently have found inspiration in the conceptual photographic works of Ben Thomas and Maria Svarbova.
TPL: Has your style of photographing changed since you first started?
MM: Certainly, my approach to photography has evolved over time, and I anticipate that it will continue to evolve as I gain new insights and knowledge.
TPL: Where is your favourite place to photograph?
MM: I really enjoy taking photos at the beach these days. People there seem more carefree and happy, which makes for great photos. I recently visited Japan, and it was a photographer's dream come true. There were endless opportunities for amazing shots, and the people there were wonderful. I'm already planning to go back again in the future. I also love experimenting with different techniques in art galleries and museums. It's a fun way to challenge myself and create something unique.
I now paint with my eyes, capturing beauty through the lens of my camera.
TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What is your current camera and why did you choose it? Is there anything on your wishlist?
MM: I would love to have a camera with weather-sealed medium format or full frame capabilities to successfully achieve my photography objectives. This feature is crucial to my work, as I often capture images in sandy or wet surroundings, and it is essential to the quality of my work. Additionally, I aspire to produce enormous prints in the future, and having a camera with more megapixels will help me achieve this goal. I currently use the Olympus OMD EM II and mostly use my prime lenses 17mm (35mm equiv) and 85mm (170mm equiv). I have a deep affection for my Olympus camera. Its 5-point stabilization, lightweight design, and ability to produce stunning colors makes me hesitant to invest in a new camera at the moment.
On my wishlist, emphasis on WISH!...a Leica or a Hasselblad...I shall just keep dreaming at the moment though.
TPL: Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
MM: I have a diverse background in the arts, having studied Fine Arts with a focus on art history, painting, and printmaking. Additionally, I studied music and can play the tenor horn, trumpet, and tuba. From 2012, I co-owned a homewares, florist store, and gallery with my close friend, where we showcased the work of talented Australian artisans. Our store also featured our own handmade timber furniture and homeware designs. Sadly in 2018, we had to close the store due to my illness.