Saturday, 10 March 2012

Melina DeSantiago Interview

Dream-like, vintage, breath taking! that's how I can describe the work of Melina DeSantiago!

A closer look,

introduce yourself please.
Hi, my name is Melina, currently residing in Southern California and I'm a self-portrait artist who tells stories through my photographs. I love to let my dreams inspire my art, which is why all of my work looks so painterly and dream-like; it's how I see them.

Who has inspired you the most in terms of photography?
I have always been inspired by artists all around, but it wasn't until I knew of Lara Jade and Brooke Shaden's work of art that truly inspired me to be so passionate in the art that I create.

What is your favorite style of photography?
I love digital art and fashion. I can spend hours on end researching and getting inspired from such work!

What style of photography do you find challenging?
Honestly, I find every style of photography has their own challenges. It makes any obstacle in photography all the more exciting to overcome and accomplish.

Where do you hope to go with your photography?
I hope to be an inspiration to others. I want to be able to successfully sell my fine art prints, as well as make a living offering my service to create unique portraits for other people to have of their own, to be a part of my dream-like world.

What do you look for in a model?
I absolutely admire natural beauty. From time to time, I will use makeup on some particular sets, but for the most part, I rely on the natural look of a model.

Name other photographers you admire.
I definitely admire Richard Avedon, who really knew how to see a moment in time, and to capture that moment so naturally. And Nick Knight, who creates such strong imagery that convey more than just fashion, but speaks of controversial issues, going beyond just a pretty picture.

Who are your biggest supporters?
My friends and family are truly my biggest supporters and they're actually fans of what I do. Any fan of my work honestly gives me the motivation to work as hard as I do.

What do you enjoy doing other than photography?
I love anything that has to with art, so I really enjoy painting and scrap-booking, creating my own art in any way that I can.

What are some of your favorite films, books and musicians that keep you inspired?
I absolutely love the movie, Moulin Rouge, it has so much artistic value with its use of color, angles, and unique direction in telling such a beautiful love story. In addition, I always love a good Tim Burton movie, like Edward Scissorhands or Big Fish; his movies have such dream-like quality to them.

You're doing an amazing job both in front and behind the camera, would you be interested in modeling?
Oh thank you so much! I have modeled for fellow photographers in the past and I find it to be quite enjoyable, because I understand the photographer's perspective and would practically do anything to get the shot. So I would be pleased to model again.

What scares you the most?
To become a disappoint to my family. I strive to always work hard and continue pursuing my dream career and I want to continue doing so to never have to rely on anyone for financial support. I love to make my family proud of what I do and how far I've come, the last thing I'd want is to let them down.

Tell us a weird fact about you.
Well I'm not sure if this is considered weird, but I have major obsessive compulsive disorder, which leads me to be the perfectionist that I am. I tend to do odd things at times, which I'm not going to specify what they are because I find them to be a little embarrassing, but for the most part, I get super obsessive on editing my work. I will always make several versions of edits on each piece that I create and I continue doing so until I am happy with an edit.

What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty is all around. It can be found anywhere, all depending on how it's portrayed and by whom.

What is your favorite location to shoot in and why?
Whenever I shoot indoor, I love to shoot in a vintage, old-looking house with old detailed interior, otherwise I love to find a simple background, like a blank wall or unique drapery and create something more with it, more-so in the editing process and make it my own vintage scenery. When shooting outdoors, I always look for giant fields, lovely pathways, unique looking trees, or just any unique element in nature that I could use to my advantage, and bring out the beauty in it. I look for these certain elements because I find so much beauty in nature and old, vintage scenes; I love aging my photos and giving them that dreamy, painterly aesthetic.

Do you like answering questions regarding your photography or do you like to keep your secrets to yourself?
I don't mind answering any question regarding my photography, but I wouldn't say that I'd necessarily answer in full and expose all of my secrets. Some things are best left unsaid.

Do you recommend any websites for photoshop tutorials?
Well, I actually never look up any tutorials or sites for editing, but I heard is the place to go if you want to learn about using Photoshop or Lightroom. I'm a self learner for the most part. I learned my basics in editing from the school where I studied photography, which was at the Art Institute of Orange County, California. Other than the basics, I picked up everything that I know so far, slowly but surely, on my own, and I'm still learning.

What is your favorite photo taken by another photographer?
Oh my goodness, this is probably the toughest question to answer thus far. There are so many great artists out there and to have to choose one particular photo is quite difficult. Although I have to say, whenever I see other dream-like imagery, I get beyond excited to see other artist's approach, and an image that particularly stands out to me is a photo by Lissy Elle called, Battle for the Kingdom. It is so playful and so dream-like, it takes me into a kid's perspective of imagination and I love that!

What is your favorite photo taken by you?
I would have to say that I'm particularly proud of my photo, Behind Closed Doors. It doesn't have so much of that dream quality that I love to create in most of my work, but it has an aged look which is something that I also love to create in my photos. It was one of my more simpler shoots, because I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of this shot. It took me ten minutes to shoot, which is how I wish all my shoots were like, and the reason for that is because I knew straight away what I wanted to get out of my shot and what I had to do to get it. So I'm really just proud of the fact that I had complete control over the concept, with no other influence but from the room itself and came out of the shoot getting what I had originally planned for.

Do you think its hard to be unique and have your own style in photography? How do you manage to stay creative?
I undoubtedly believe it's always challenging to stay unique and be original, only because there's an infinite amount of inspiration surrounding us daily. Art is all around us and we're influenced by it whether we are aware of it or not. Regardless, I just keep a notebook for myself and write down every idea that comes to mind and store it away for a time whenever I feel like I'm at a loss for creativity, and I go off those notes and expand them into something more. Otherwise, I'm always inspired to get creative, whether it's a grass field I'm passing by when driving, or a prop that inspires an entire shoot for me the moment I see it. It truly is my passion, and I love pushing myself and seeing what I can do creatively.

Do you prefer shooting indoors or outdoors?
I honestly love working in either setting. When shooting indoor, it's a little bit more controlled as far as lighting, but shooting outdoors, the weather and light constantly change, so sometimes the light influences the direction my shoot. Light is an important aspect and it can make or break a photo.

Is fame important to you?
Fame is not an importance to me. What is important is that my work becomes more known to the public and hopefully inspires others to get creative and use their imagination to the fullest.

When you first started as a photographer, what were the mistakes you made a lot?
When first starting out, I had created these crazy little fashion portraits and looking back on them, I can laugh and just be proud of myself at how far along I've come. I wouldn't say that I made any major mistakes, only to be experience that I've grown from, because I've always put 110% of my heart in soul in everything I did when it came to art, and still do to this day. 

Name people you enjoy working with models or other photographers, or people you wish to work with both models or photographers.
Getting an opportunity to work with my sister, Christina DeSantiago or one of my close friends, Breauna Phillips, is always an exciting experience because they understand my passion for what I do and are always willing to go to the extent I would to get my shot. Also, I love working with my fellow photographers, Devan Perez or Michael Tremaine. Sometimes we go out on trips to use as a photo shoot opportunity and we always have each others' backs, helping one another out. To my excitement, I recently worked with Brooke Shaden on a shoot for one of her workshops and I definitely have to say that was an amazing experience just filled with so many artistic people. 

Any new project you're working on?
Yes, right now I am working on a 365 project, where I am doing a shoot every day for the next 365 days. I love pushing myself and I know that once I finish this project, I'm most-likely going to pick up on another project; I never stop shooting no matter the circumstances.

Is there a photo you regret posting online?
I don't regret posting any of my photos. Some I favor more than others, but every photo that I post is something I'm proud of in some way or another.

How do you feel about not getting a lot comments and views to your photos?
I'm not going to lie, I wish I received more notice to my work, but I don't let it bother me. This is what I love doing, and I continue to work as hard as I do because it makes me happy.

Some of your photos are inspired by Greek mythology, have you always been into them?
I have. Greek and Roman mythology is so incredibly beautiful to me. It is it's own art form. I absolutely loved creating this mini photo essay inspired by Pandora's Box, it was so much fun to get as creative as I could, shooting at this gorgeous location on a beach and overcoming all the challenges that went on in the event of that particular shoot. I wrote about my experience and the reason for me even shooting this photo essay on my blog if you would like to read about it Here I actually plan to create more images inspired by Greek or Roman mythologies, after finishing the photo essay that I'm working on now, which I hope to finish within the next few months.

How important is wardrobe in creating the perfect image?
Absolutely important. I always take time to plan out every detail that I include in my shoots. Wardrobe makes all the difference. There are even shoots that I've done where I had to compromise and use clothing similar to what I was looking for but it wasn't exactly what I wanted and to this day, the clothing in those particular shoots still bother me, but not to say that I am dissatisfied with the overall image, it just proves that I continue to work hard and be as resourceful as I can be considering the lack of materials that I have or can afford.

Your photographs have a lot of interesting use of light, shadows, textures and natural elements, would you say that these four combined are your (signature)?
Absolutely! These are all elements that I absolutely love to incorporate into my work. Lighting especially, because it defines the image entirely. The way I make use of my lighting, textures and shadows definitely define me as a photographer. Overall, I would say my painterly aesthetic is my signature. I have never been so passionate about anything other than creating art. I love what I do and I'm going to continue telling my stories through photography until the day I die.

Don't let others get in the way of your dreams. If what you do is what you love, then you're on the right path. Don't doubt yourself for a moment. :)


Melina DeSantiago

Links you should know:


  1. Wonderful interview, yet again, Reem... I especially love this:

    How do you feel about not getting a lot comments and views to your photos?
    I'm not going to lie, I wish I received more notice to my work, but I don't let it bother me. This is what I love doing, and I continue to work as hard as I do because it makes me happy.

    Great job!

    aka HazyLeaf

  2. thanks a lot Sebastian !

    a lot of photographers are not recognized! and they can have different reactions to that!
    some people don't really care but others let that get to them and effect their excitements to their work!

    I wish every talent was recognized!