Phamily Interview
Jan 22, 2014

Phlearn Interviews The Phamily

Hi Everyone! This week we’ve got something a little different for you!
Phlearn Interviews The Phamily, Edition I, Featuring photographers and Phamily Members Sara Melotti & Ruben Chase!

“Phlearn Interviews The Phamily” is the beginning of a new series, where we feature talented and creative photographers on Phlearn. We showcase their talents through creating dialogue within an interview, and by of course profiling some of our favourite works by the artist(s). If anyone is wondering who or what exactly the “Phamily” is, it’s simply a word created to symbolize the community that we have here at Phlearn. If you watch our videos, read our posts, follow our tutorials and/or look at weekend inspiration, you bet you’re a Phamily member here at Phlearn. ūüėČ

This interview is Edition I in the “Phlearn Interviews the Phamily” series. We will run these types of interviews once every 2-5 months, and the interviews are meant to showcase and profile the amazing talent of photographers, who began learning about photography through the means of our tutorials here at Each edition will profile 1-2 photographers. Enjoy!

Part 1, Phlearn Interviews Sara Melotti

Sara Melotti is a 25 year old photographer, originally from Italy, but she has been living mainly from L.A. for the last 5 years. Sara has quite the extensive background in contemporary dance but recently she left all of that behind to be a photographer. Sara has been shooting personal and commissioned work in London for the last 5 months, so she is soon planning to relocate to N.Y.C. after spending next month shooting in Milan and the following 2 months shooting in L.A.!

Sara has learnt almost everything she knows from, and my experience with Sara is what inspired this series of interviews!
Sara had e-mailed me because she was interested in being featured on our weekly “Weekend Inspiration” post, I loved her work so I featured her. Then about 6 months later, it was during Summer time, Sara had contacted me again interested in being featured. Seeing how much her work had improved in such a short period of time had inspired me beyond belief, and inspired me to inspire others with Phamily members experiences. Don’t be afraid to pick up your camera and get started, we were all there at some point, including both of these amazing photographers that we’re featuring today.

Check out this awesome interview with Sara Melotti, she speaks about how she learned so much in such a short period of time, how she managed give herself discipline, and how important it is to stay self-motivated as a photographer.

How did you become interested in photography?

I’ve always loved the art of photography but I never thought about picking up a camera myself until very recently.

You’ve learnt a lot about photography through, other than this do you have any type of formal training in photography?

I’m completely self-taught. Phlearn was a really important part early on for learning the basics, which allowed me to develop my own techniques later on.

So, how did it all begin? You were always interested in the arts as you do contemporary dance, but, how did the transition to photography begin to unfold?

As you said i have always been interested in the arts, my high school was an art school and I started dancing in my early teenage years, I moved to LA after graduating and a whole new world opened up to me, I was constantly surrounded by artists of all kinds and everything was so new and inspiring. After years of dancing I was ready for a new challenge(and also I was getting close to “retirement age” haha). Last November I was given a canon 60d as a gift, one month later I put together my first shoot and from the first ‘click’ that day I knew photography was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I fell in love with it instantly! So I decided to shoot as much as I could in order to create a portfolio to show to agencies and possible clients and now 11 months later photography is not only my full time job but my whole life!

Currently, do you work on both your contemporary dance and photography or have you sided with just photo?

I would love to still be able to do both but I got so busy with photography that it became impossible to keep up with both. I still try to catch a class every once in a while if I have some spare time but it’s very rare.

How would you say that your background in contemporary dance has helped you with your photography?

I think my background in dance has helped me develop an eye for feminine and elegant lines. Growing up dancing in front of a mirror made me very conscious of what makes the human body look graceful and beautiful, in fact being a dancer really affects the way I pose models and the expression/emotion I try to get out of them on a shoot.

What’s your creative process like? On average how long does it take you to complete an image? (Conceptualize, edit, shoot)

My process depends on the task. usually there’s a lot of pre-production involved in my shoots. Choosing a theme/concept, putting together a great team, casting the right model, finding the location etc requires days of preparation. The time it takes me really depends on whether I’m shooting for a client or for personal work. If I’m shooting for a client there’s usually more meetings and preparation involved. If I’m shooting an editorial or personal work I usually start prepping 2/3 weeks in advance to make sure everything runs smoothly on the day(although things never go exactly according to plan!). The day of the shoot always goes by very fast and after that there’s about 1 week of post production involved.¬†So I’d say on¬†average¬†it takes me 2 to 3 weeks to complete a shoot.

Do you ever sketch your ideas before shooting? (if so can we see!)

I do sometimes, I always create moodboards to send to my team as visual references but sometime I can’t find images that translate my vision as well as i’d like so I try and sketch my idea to give them a more specific idea of what I have in mind.¬†Unfortunately¬†even after¬†years of art school I am pretty bad in drawing so I think it might be better for your eyes if you don’t see my sketches haha.

How important is Photoshop to the work you do? Would it be possible for us to see a before/after?

Even if I try to do as much as I can to get everything in camera, Photoshop is still a very important part of my photography as it helps me to bring out the full potential of my images. I usually focus on skin retouching, eliminating distracting elements(if any) and enhancing colors and tones. All of these elements play an important role into defining my style.

What is your proudest moment as a photographer?

It felt great when the first shoot I ever sent to a magazine ended up being published, it made me feel like I was on the right track. I have big dreams and tend to shoot higher than I should so¬†I think the proudest moment has yet to come,¬†but I’m¬†happy and proud of my achievements so far and i’m really enjoying¬†my journey.

Would you like to offer some advice to people who were once like you, and haven’t a clue where to even start within the game of photography?

Sure,¬†I think it’s really important¬†to¬†get rid of your fears, go out there and shoot as much as you can. Stay true to your vision, shoot what you love most and experiment,¬†I learnt A LOT from just making mistakes and experimenting!

Looking through your portfolio it is clear to see that you have focused on a particular genre of photography, and that would be fashion. How early in the game did you realize you wanted to create fashion photography? and did you ever find it tough or restricting to try and focus your portfolio to go a certain direction?

I knew fashion photography was what i wanted to do from the very first moment. I love telling stories and creating characters with my photos and fashion photography allows me to do that respecting my vision, which is very feminine and romantic (and of course I am a fashion lover) I think there are so many different directions to be taken in fashion photography that it’s impossible to feel restricted, it’s a though industry to break into but I believe that with hard work anything is achievable.

You’ve only been into photography for a little over a year, and I’ve seen your progress over time as you have e-mailed me in the past with interest in the “weekend inspiration” features.¬†For only starting to get into photography, you’ve accomplished quite a lot, You have been published in magazines such as Superior, Coco, Photo Vogue Italia, En Vie, and much more.¬†How hard was it to get to where you are now? And how important would you say it is to stay “self-motivated” when we are our own employers?

Yes, My very first shoot was at the end of December 2012. The reason why I accomplished these things in a short period of time is that
A) I’m very motivated and I really love what I do,
B) I work very very hard: I’m dedicating every single moment of my days to my photography, if i’m not shooting i’m retouching, planning, networking, emailing, etc etc.
C) I have a good eye thanks to my art and dance background.
It is vital to stay self motivated especially in a thorough industry like fashion. It’s important to not let rejection bring you down and keep a positive attitude at all times. Work hard, stay true to your vision and results will come!!

Can you tell us what an average shoot would be like for you?

On an¬†average¬†shoot I pick the theme and location first then cast my team and models according to what I need for that specific shoot. My team is composed of a make up artist, a hairstylist, a fashion stylist and sometimes assistants, set designer and a videographer. I cast my models from modelling agencies a few days prior to the shoot . If i’m shooting an editorial i usually shoot between 8 and 12 looks, if it’s a test, between 3 and 6. ¬†If i’m on location I use different backgrounds for every look, in studio unfortunately I can’t have as much variety as on location. When working on tests and editorials everybody works for the images and/or the credits in the publication, if I’m shooting for a client then everybody gets paid¬†their fee.

What inspires you?

Everything! It’s so easy to find inspiration in everything around us, movies, books, paintings, music videos, nature and much much more.

What is your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken?

Although i’m happy with my work there isn’t a favourite image from what I shot so far, every shoot I try to challenge and improve myself so it’s always like¬†my next photo will be my favourite.

What are you currently working on?

I just wrapped up my shoots for magazines and clients in London and Milan, I’m now in NYC for some meetings and I’m about to spend a few months in LA shooting some personal and commissioned work.

Any big plans for the future?

I’m moving to NYC in the spring, I’m really excited about it, I love the city and i think it’s the best place for a fashion photographer to be.

Where would you like to see yourself and your photography go within the next 5 years?

I would love to keep doing what I’m doing but on a much bigger scale. My ideal¬†career¬†would be to shoot campaigns for big brands and designers, editorials for amazing¬†publications like Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire etc etc and i would love to¬†get into shooting celebrities as well.

If you would like to keep up with Sara and her work you can do so on her Website, Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for Reading!
Interviewed By: Angela Butler

Part 2, Phlearn Interviews Ruben Chase

Ruben Chase is a 23 year old photographer from Vigo, Spain, residing and basing his work within the same City. Ruben graduated last year from the University of A Coru√Īa to be a physical education teacher. Currently Ruben invests most of his time in creating amazingly surreal photo-manipulations. Just like Sara, Ruben hadn’t a clue about most of photography until he stumbled upon Phlearn.

Ruben learned many techniques especially for composite photography, and implemented those techniques into his own work. Ruben currently works as an editor in a photography studio in Spain, but he’s still searching for more, and of course spending all other time creating personal projects within his photography. Join us in this interview with Ruben where he talks with us about his struggles trying to find work, he gives us a huge sneak peak into his process by sharing sketches and before and after(s), and he talks with us about his experiences of having his images stolen.

How did you become interested in photography?

When I was 16 I started doing Parkour in my town with some friends, and I always brought a camera with me to record our jumps, and maybe do some photos of us, nothing crazy, just photos with friends. Sometimes I tried to find new angles for jump photos, trying to create special photographs, but I failed miserably, my images were really crappy. I’m really stubborn, so I started photoshopping them to make them look better, and with time… I started liking it. I mean… I started shooting only to create beautiful images. It’s been a while since that, now I’m near 24 and I continue by going on with that “artist feeling”..

You’ve learnt a lot about photography through, other than this do you have any type of formal training in photography?

I have no formal training in photography, photoshop, or any graphic art, all I know is from trial & error, or internet tutorials, such as the Phlearn ones. You guys are a huge knowledge database!

Currently, have you built your photography practice into a career, or do you just do photography on the side? (if you do photography on the side please tell us about what you do!!)

This is a tough question at this moment of my life. As you guys probably know, in Spain, the unemployment rate is huge. I’m trained to be a teacher and a personal trainer, but I can’t find a job doing that. Currently I’m the editor at a photography studio, but I’m working externally. I’m searching for more.
Oh, and of course, I work on a lot of personal projects with photography, just to practice and express myself.

Can you tell us your experiences with having your photographs stolen? Is this something that has only happened to you once, and how was it resolved?

There are loads of companies that think ‘if something is on the internet, it’s free for everyone’. It happened to me a few times on their own websites, and I have lost the count on their facebook pages. They rarely put at least my name on them, but sometimes, they even put their own watermark over my image. It’s kinda funny. There’s a particular image that is constantly repeated on photography facebook pages, one of my images is like “viral” on their pages, or something like that.

What’s your creative process like? On average how long does it take you to complete an image? (Conceptualize, edit, shoot)

I usually don’t think much about creating an image itself. I simply‚Ķ live, and there are lots of situations that make me think of a new concept, that’s the long part, it can be from 1 hour, to a few months. Then, shooting and editing, would be at least 3 hours, but less than 5. It’s hard to tell‚Ķ

Do you ever sketch your ideas before shooting? (if so can we see!)

Of course I sketch them! I have a mini sketchbook on my desk permanently. The shooting part, it’s a lot easier for me with a sketch, because I already know the right angles, or the composition before shooting. As you can see here, there are some sketches that are more elaborated than others, haha
(Sorry for the crosses, that means that I have already done them, my sketches are a huge chaos)

What is your proudest moment as a photographer?

This interview? Haha, I don’t really know. Probably my first solo exhibition, which is currently on.

Would you like to offer some advice to people who were once like you, and haven’t a clue where to even start within the game of photography?

Yeah, of course. My best advice is “do whatever you want”. Seriously, there are no true rules in art, and those who break the rules, are the best artists.

How important is Photoshop to the work you do? Would it be possible for us to see a before/after?

90% of the work I do, would be totally impossible for me without Photoshop. I usually say that I don’t shoot photos, I shoot layers, to combine them later in post. Here are a few examples:

Looking through your portfolio it is clear to see that you have focused on a particular genre of photography, and that would be Photoshop and Photo Manipulation. You say on your Websites, “I don’t believe in SOOC shots”.
How early on did you realize that you wanted to create this type of photography? and did you ever find it tough or restricting to try and focus your portfolio to go in that certain direction?

Of course it’s not restricting, I create those kinds of images, because it’s what I really want to create. It’s not an obligation, it’s a passion. It’s my personal way to talk to the world, and an image is worth more than thousand words.
When I started doing photography, my photos weren’t special at all‚Ķ I mean, any of them. So I started forcing them to be special. At first it was really hard, but with time, I started creating surreal images, something that was impossible for me to shoot in real life. I wanted the viewer to keep looking, I wanted to blow his mind‚Ķ I think it’s beautiful. You can see the work of a conceptual artist and know instantly who created that piece

What are you currently working on?

I’m trying to create a black & white image that I like. It’s harder than it sounds.
I also have a few major projects, but it’s impossible for me to start with them, at least until I have a new PC to edit.

Recently you started to branch out in the genres of photography that you participate in, such as newborn & baby photography. Is this something that you plan to continue working on? And is there any other types of photography that you would like to try?

I don’t really know‚Ķ that newborn photos were for my girlfriend’s cousin, as a favour, it’s not a “real” job. But I enjoyed it, so I do not discard working on something like that on the future.
About other types of photography‚Ķ I’m happy with the conceptual & Fine Art genre, but there’s something special for me in architectural photography that I want to try‚Ķ

What obstacles have you had to overcome to get to where you are now?

Basically… Money. I have a second hand camera and only one lens, I edit with a 6 year old notebook that barely supports the RAM requirements of Photoshop. All my images are made with practically the same equipment, so I constricted limitations every time, to create something different than everything I created before.

What inspires you?

Practically everything that has a story behind it. My own life, books, movies, series, video games, other photographers’ images‚Ķ There’s a lot of inspiration out there

What is your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken?

That’s a hard one, haha. Two of my favourites are “fire wings in a wood body” and “The infinite dreamspace”

Any big plans for the future?

Working on advertising or cinema, dominating the world, being able to live properly whilst working in the field of photography… you know, typical stuff. But I will try hard to conquer any of these things (evil laugh)

Where would you like to see yourself and your photography go within the next 5 years? (also, what is your “dream job”?)

I always dream on working in advertising. Being paid for creating original images… wow. I would be in the studio 24/7, haha

To keep up with Ruben and his work you can do so on his Flickr, Facebook Page, Twitter, and/or 500PX.
Interviewed By: Angela Butler, thanks for reading!


user image You
(will not be published)