Photographer Melissa Stemmer has a sense of magic about her photos that translates very well.
“The conversation is everything,” says Photographer Melissa Stemmer when working with models for portraits. “So I talk a lot with my models. Saying what is good and what can be improved.” Ms. Stemmer is pretty new to photography and has that Je ne sais quoi many of us have when we just start out. In fact, she got into the craft from watching a lot of YouTube videos. After a while, she knew this was the creative medium for her. The spark is brighter than ever with her as she finds inspiration all around her. Based in Germany, Ms. Stemmer works a lot with people, and that’s the basis behind a lot of her work.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Melissa: I watched a lot of videos on Youtube. I had so much motivation and I bought my first camera. I tried a lot of different things just to get in touch with my camera. I knew really early that it’s my passion.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into portrait photography specifically?
Melissa: I was really shy in the past. So I wanted to improve that. And it makes me really happy to see people using my images. It gives me a good feeling and I love seeing people smiling. I want to show them their Beauty.
Phoblographer: Where do you feel your influences come from with the portraiture you do? Advertising? Books? The subjects themselves?
Melissa: Mhm, I think I get inspiration from everything I see. But mostly from Instagram. Sometimes music inspires me to take pictures in a different mood. You know, it’s a vibe.
Phoblographer: How did you learn to work with models and portrait subjects? What’s your process like? Is there a conversation of some sort?
Melissa: Most of the time, I have a result in my head–what the picture should look like in the end. So I talk a lot with my models. Saying what is good and what can be improved. The conversation is everything!
“It gives me a good feeling and I love seeing people smiling. I want to show them their Beauty.”
Phoblographer: What about planning for shoots? How do you go about doing that? Do you use mood boards? How much adapting and pre-planning is done beforehand?
Melissa: I don’t plan so much. I have a mood in my head as I said. But most of the best pictures happen spontaneously.
Phoblographer: You’re very big on warm tones and specific color usage to make your subjects pop more in the frame. What attracts you to this aesthetic?
Melissa: I love the colors of the sunset. It creates a feeling that I can’t explain. I want to transfer this feeling to my pictures. To feel the moment once again. Maybe going on vacation for a second or so.
Phoblographer: You mostly photograph women, though there are also a few guys in your portfolio. Why is that?
Melissa: Women are way more aesthetic for me. They’re so convertible. Powerful. Beautiful. Hot. Sensual. Men are just cool. I feel women more. I can’t really explain it.
Phoblographer: Where are some of your favorite locations and times for portrait photography? Why do they specifically add to the magic in your images?
Melissa: I love reflections. I always search for big windows, it adds a nice vibe. And I love the blue tones I get from them. Some deep sunlight and I am happy.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear you use. It seems like you shoot a lot of Fujifilm film emulsions, right? How does the gear help you specifically get your creative vision?
Melissa: I love the design of Fujifilm. they look so retro. It feels like you have an analog film camera in your hand. I use the Fujifilm X-H1 with the 16mm f1.4. It is my favorite combo! And I love the filters in the camera. I always use classic chrome to get a light blue tone. So beautiful!
Phoblographer: How much post-production do you usually do to your images? Retouching?
Melissa: I don’t like unnatural retouching like d&b etc. When I find something that I don’t like, I remove it, but I only edit the colors. It takes like 5-10 minutes or so.
Phoblographer: Do you feel you’re more of a creator or a documenter when it comes to your portrait photography? Why?
Melissa: Mhm it depends on how I feel. Sometimes I like to create something with a vision. I love being creative. But sometimes I like to show how it is. Just pure emotions.
Phoblographer: What are your goals this year as a photographer? How do you plan on achieving them?
Melissa: Never give up! I’d love to work with my favorite brands and people! I want to see a little bit more about this world. Mountains, Sweden, Norway, Italy. Work step by step and believe in yourself.
You can find more of Melissa’s work on Instagram and her website.