AN OBSERVED REALISM
IN CONVERSATION WITH MELANIE MEGGS
Confronted with almost losing her life four years ago, visual artist and Founder of The Pictorial-List, Melanie Meggs, picked up her camera again to keep her company on her walks as part of her rehabilitation. Photography is now a big part of her life, using it to escape from the realities of real life. Inspired by her local relaxed beach lifestyle in Newcastle in Australia, her photographs combine an observed realism with a touch of quirkiness, wanting to find the humour or prettiness in an ordinary scene.
“You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut."
"I'm a renowned people starer. I'm fascinated by people and how they interact within a scene."
When did you start getting interested in photography?
I had always been more interested in photography theory then the act of photography when I was in art school. My photography teacher was quite rigid and as soon as the technical information and studio lighting started to be talked about, that was me out the door. However, I did love the darkroom experience, where the true magic happened. Seeing your image appear before your eyes for the first time was always truly exciting. That was many years ago. I have always captured many candid family moments through a point and shoot camera and more so since the digital age. I still have several rolls of unprocessed rolls of film rolling around in my kitchen drawer.
But it was when I almost lost my life to Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome that I started looking at photography in a whole different way. As part of my rehabilitation, I began to take a camera out with me on my daily walks and that is when a passion for street photography evolved. I found that photography took me away from my realities of my illness and daily life. It still does.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from my love of painting. I can no longer paint like I used to, so I find that I am incorporating my painting into my photographs. I paint with my eyes now.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
Growing up I was obsessed with 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.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
Yes most definitely and I'm sure it will continue to develop as I discover and learn more.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
My favourite place to shoot at the moment is at the beach. I find people are relaxed, happy and uninhibited. Also, I recently traveled to Japan where I was like a kid in a lolly shop. Endless opportunities and brilliant compositions. And the people were amazing! I'm hoping to return next year.
Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
In my vision for my photography personally, I think equipment is only somewhat important at the moment. Some of my favourite images were taken on my iPhone. Use what you have even if it is a point and shoot. Then, if you enjoy that buy yourself an entry level camera with changeable lenses. I currently use the Olympus OMD EM II and mostly use my prime lenses 17mm (35mm equiv) and 85mm (190mm equiv). I am looking at getting a prime zoom...just so I don't have to keep changing lenses. I would love an upgrade to a weather sealed camera and a larger sensor but I prefer to spend the money on travelling at the moment. Photography is an expensive hobby and especially here in Australia, cameras are practically double the price. So I shall just keep dreaming of owning a Leica or a Hasselblad...
What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
Humour! Never lose your sense of humour...life is too short to be super serious. Oh and composition. Learn the rule of thirds...or not...if you dare!
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
Yes, I studied Fine Arts and majored in art history, painting and printmaking. I also studied music, can play the tenor horn, trumpet and tuba. I also co-owned a homewares store and gallery with my best friend that supported Aussie artisans. We also designed and made our own timber homewares and furniture.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
The Pictorial-List!...A beautiful worldwide online community photography platform.
If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...
Something creative! Or road tripping and picnicking with my family, or dining with good friends.