Photographer Spotlight Monday: Melinda Griffith
TOAN Magazine Photographer Spotlight Monday Featuring: Melinda Griffith
Where you are from: Guyana
Current area of residence: Brooklyn,NY
More Work: melindagriffith.tumblr.com
TOAN: Do you have a focus on one specific area of photography, i.e.: fashion, landscape, portraiture, events, etc? If so, which?
Melinda Griffith: My focus is portraiture. As open as a person may seem at a social gathering or on social media, A lot of people are shy and have insecurities that they don’t want documented on film. With that being said, most of the time I lean toward photographing men. Men aren’t usually concerned about masking a blemish or two on their face or posing a certain way to appear to look “sexy”. Just stand there and turn your head, now look this way, look that way is all I ask for. They’re also a bit more adventurous when it comes to locations they don’t mind walking for a long time or getting a little dirty. Literally. Recently, I started photographing women more. The challenge is just FINDING the right girl who I know wouldn’t come with a face full of makeup and ask “can I see it?” after every picture is taken. I only shoot film, so NO you cant see it.
TOAN: What are your thoughts on saturation in the photography industry due to social media?
MG: I have a love/hate relationship with instagram. Everything on it is fake. It allows anyone to create & curate a life they don’t actually live. Its all about numbers and who you appear to know and rarely about talent anymore-a popularity contest. Its also become a digital resume in a sense that because everyone, every brand, magazine photography agency,modeling agency etc is on it-ANYONE at any given moment can see your work and offer you a job just based off of your profile.Theres rarely any need to have an official website for your work these days. I hate the fact that I feel like I NEED to keep it updated and follow a certain “format” so my page could look as “professional” & “ tasteful” as possible at all times in the hopes that someone who may want to hire me for a job could take me & my work seriously. As a “photographer” I also think I have the worst “photographer Instagram compared to other photographers I know. You cant tell whats going on, on my page anymore-I only share about 15% of my work on there. It’s also a bit nerve-racking that creative jobs & even some basic retail jobs nowadays are asking for your Instagram handle when applying. So now your online presence matters in the real world? Its sickening. I thought we used social media sites to escape it?
TOAN: Because of its origin and some specific knowledge of settings, numbers and so forth, do you consider photography an art, science, or skill/talent?
MG: Well let me tell you a little story: I was a Cartooning & Animation Major in HS and when it came to applying to colleges I applied to The School of Visual Arts for Photography. I got accepted-the first few months where hell for me because I was so behind everyone else. Everyone already knew their way around the dark room, how to use a film camera & how to develop roll films-all I knew was how to point & shoot but I used that to my advantage here and there, and I was still managed to produce amazing work that my professors and peers enjoyed. I didn’t get to finish art school, but here I am, years later still creating images that people love. Most people usually classify “skills” under things you are taught-like driving, or riding a bike. “Talent” is something that you are born with. In my case I guess its safe to say That photography is my skill and my talent is making good pictures?
TOAN: How did you decide on photography as something to commit your time to?
MG: I decided when I got accepted into art school for something that was foreign to me. Somewhere down the line a professional looked at my crappy portfolio and said “hey look we’ve got a winner here”. A stranger saw something in my that I didn’t quite see in myself. Even after my school career was over, I was granted some great professional opportunities which kept me motivated to keep going with it.
TOAN: What do you imagine to be doing with photography in 6 months? 5 years?
MG: Hmmm this is a tough question. I’m not really sure- I recently fell in love with cartooning & illustration all over again so I haven’t picked up my camera’s in a while. Theres a few people in mind that I’ve been scoping out that I’d love to photograph but I’m in no rush. In 5yrs I hope to be on a farm in the caribbean or teaching global history in a High School.