photos by MATTEO MOBILIO
STORY by NICOLE KING
A photographer from New Bedford, Massachusetts, Melissa likes to capture narratives that are otherwise overlooked. She likes “exploring and showing places that are unconventional, but always there.” To her, this means parking garages, industrial spaces, and other “undiscovered spaces”. Discovering a space, to Melissa, means not only seeing it, but also understanding it within the context of who occupied it and why. In the future, she would like her photography to take on a path of documentation. In other words, she would like to photograph the spaces of people whose narratives are otherwise undocumented and unnoticed. For this reason, Melissa prefers not to shoot photos on College Hill in Providence because “everyone already knows it is beautiful.” Instead, she goes out of her way to capture scenes that are more unpolished and raw.
Because of Melissa’s affinity for shooting in forgotten spaces, her camera has “become a tool to access new places.” In the future, Melissa wants to connect her architectural photos with the people who live within the photographed spaces. Because she is a senior concentrating in Urban Studies, she has been able to explore the connection between space and people in her academic studies, as well.
Melissa started out with her first point and shoot camera at twelve years old and began taking landscape photos around New Bedford. As a teenager, she felt safer exploring natural landscapes, rather than venturing into the downtown and industrial areas of New Bedford on her own. But, when she came to Providence for college she upgraded to a DSLR camera and finally had the opportunity to explore and shoot urban and industrial spaces. She discovered her love for shooting architectural photographs and began exploring more urban scenery. Taking art classes was a nice way to push herself artistically. They gave her more structure and made her more deliberate in her photography.
After uploading her photos onto her computer, Melissa uses Adobe Bridge to sort through them. She batch edits those with similar exposures, but generally goes in and edits each photograph individually. She says that the editing process varies depending upon the edits that the photos need. She is constantly in the process of looking through what she has shot. Melissa has a Cargo Collective page where she goes through a very selective process to choose the best ones. The time to edit and print her photos varies depending on how she is sharing the photograph. If she is posting a cool photo on social media, she only takes about five minutes to edit and upload it. But, if she decides to print her photographs, she uses the photo printers available at the Brown multimedia labs, which can take up to an hour after all the edits are done. She typically prints in bulk and says that she gets “meticulous about color.” In fact, after going out west this summer, editing forty photographs took about four hours, almost the entirety of her flight.
Prior to applying to Folkmade, Melissa had never tried selling her artwork before. She believes that “the art world in general is very flawed and elitist and inaccessible to so many people”. She says, “Income is nice, but if people don’t buy my stuff I’ll still be happy with the exposure. Everybody should be able to afford art. Everyone should have access.” She encourages people to explore Providence because “there is so much going on and so many interesting people.”