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Melissa Richard: The magic of childhood

An interview with photoED Magazine


photoED magazine spoke to Fort McMurray–based photographer

Melissa Richard about chasing light and the magic of childhood.


Preteen at the arcade. The Alley, Fort McMurray, AB. Shot with the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 lens at ISO 320, 1/200s, f/2.8, 28mm.

Melissa Richard is a photographer based in Fort McMurray, Alberta. She is a Click Pro Elite photographer and a Hello Storyteller mentor. Her days are spent teaching young minds at the local school, and her nights and weekends are spent behind a camera. Melissa is a self-proclaimed “light chaser,” and a storyteller inspired by nature, her family, details, shadows, and the quest for dramatic light.


 

A teen digital drawing in the dark. Fort McMurray, AB. Shot with the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 lens at ISO 1000, 1/160s, f/2.8, 28mm.

photoED: You had a very unique motivation to get started in photography. Tell us what motivated you to pick up a camera and begin taking your photography seriously.

Melissa:

Our family home, and everything in it, was lost in the massive wildfire of 2016. Prior to the fire, I often booked family photo sessions with talented local photographers and plastered our walls with canvas prints and framed photographs from those sessions. To replace the memories and images that were lost, I may have gone a little overboard and started booking photoshoot sessions almost monthly. The cost was starting to become a burden, and I began to feel like the photographs were just not capturing what I envisioned in my own mind’s eye for my family. My husband had an entry-level DSLR and suggested that I learn to take photos myself.

While the fire consumed everything we had, it also opened a new world of creativity to me that I may not have fallen in love with otherwise.

Playground fun. Fort McMurray, AB. Shot with the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 lens at ISO 50, 1/1000s, f/2.8, 34mm.

photoED: What is it about creating stories through photography that you love most?

Melissa:

I am most passionate about photographing my family and the magic of childhood, although for one of my kids, life is turning towards an emotional teenage phase, which is shifting my images to a whole new mood. I see what I’m doing as being our family’s visual historian. I strive to capture not just the big milestone moments, but also the little ones that showcase their personalities. I love that we can look back through my images and reflect on these fleeting moments. One day our kids will move away, and these documents will keep our hearts full when we are apart.


photoED: Whose work has influenced yours?

 

Melissa:

In the beginning of my photography journey, I was completely in awe of Meg Loeks’ work and wanted to be just like her. After I dabbled into many types of photography genres and found my own photography style, I started drawing inspiration from many different photographers. I am mesmerized by Niki Boon’s black and white photography, and I love Kirsty Larmour’s and Joni Burtt’s work. Burtt’s images remind me of my home and my own childhood. I always get waves of nostalgia when scrolling her images. I am also in love with Robin Fox’s work. Her points of view and use of colour is outstanding.



Window light and movement. Fort McMurray, AB. Shot with the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 lens at ISO 500, 1/1000, f/2.8, 65mm.

photoED: What makes a good photograph?

Melissa:

I am personally drawn to dramatic light, lines, reflections, interesting points of view, and emotion. A good photograph makes you feel something, reminds you of something, or makes you wonder what the photographer was thinking when taking the photograph.



photoED: How has working in photography influenced you personally?

Melissa:

Photography has really taught me to be more observant. I feel like I’m constantly looking at the world as though through a camera lens. I notice and appreciate little things like the way dust sparkles when the light is shining through the window just right or how little pockets of light can totally change the atmosphere of a location. I love finding leading lines, shadows, and reflections, and seeing how the quality of the sky and clouds can add untold levels of drama to a setting. I didn’t realize how much I loved creating and looking at the world with fresh eyes until I threw myself into photography.


photoED: What has been your favourite photography project so far?

Melissa:

My favourite photography project so far has been creating online courses to inspire more creative folks. I teamed up with Hello Storyteller and wrote a course focused on shooting creatively every day. I poured my heart and soul into that project.


Walking on the hill to the park. Fort McMurray, AB. Shot with the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 lens at ISO 50, 1/320s, f/13, 28mm.

GEAR UP

What camera and equipment do you most use? What’s your favourite lens? Can you tell us about your experience using Tamron lenses?

Melissa:

I have two Sony camera bodies and love playing with my GoPro HERO and DJI Mavic Air for drone photography.


Prior to having the opportunity to use Tamron lenses, I used to be a prime lens person who never used a zoom lens. Instead, I used to carry two camera bodies with different lenses to all occasions.


This recent opportunity to test the Tamron zoom showed me how easy and convenient it was to switch back and forth from 28mm to 75mm. I loved the 28mm for tight spaces and the 75mm was ideal when I wanted to create a portrait with a beautiful bokeh. 


I almost always shoot wide open (F/1.4 or F/1.8), so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved shooting with an F-stop of 2.8. The Tamron lens made shooting different scenes and getting different looks quick, easy, and lighter without having to switch camera bodies back and forth (which is what I always end up doing). 


Melissa Richard

See more of Melissas' work - HERE.











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