Secrets of A Full Time Travel Photographer: Q&A With Sara Melotti
Sara is an Italian photographer, content creator, storyteller and world traveler, currently based in New York City. Sara’s work has been featured by many international brands and publications including the New York Times, Vanity Fair and Glamour.
In 2015 Sara created Quest for Beauty and began traveling the world to photograph women immersed in their everyday life “to show that real beauty can be found in every woman no matter the age, size, bone structure, skin tone or background”.
(We have also featured Sara before with her sensational article: Instagram Created a Monster – A No Nonsense Guide To What’s Really Going On.)
DIYP: What is your specialty? What do you love to photograph?
At the moment I am doing two completely different kind of photography: my specialty is travel portraiture but I also create dreamy (staged) travel pics on IG.
I love to capture glimpses of the essence of the countries I visit.
DIYP: How long has it been since you first started taking photography seriously – what has that progression been like?
I started doing photography about 5 years ago after I was gifted a canon 60D. I always had a very feminine and romantic vision so I started out in Fashion photography. Within 6 months from my first click I turned my newly found passion into a full time job, moved to London and then a year later when I was more established I moved to NYC. After 3 years working as a fashion photographer I realized my work was contributing in creating unrealistic beauty standards, killers of self esteem that make many women suffer, so I quit the fashion industry and started traveling the world photographing and interviewing women—asking them what is beauty to them—for my project Quest for Beauty. In the meanwhile I transitioned to travel photography and I started using Instagram as a business tool and now I travel full time, going wherever my camera brings me.
DIYP: Are there any particular images you’ve captured that stand out as being especially meaningful or satisfying for you?
My Instagram pics are pretty but they are all constructed, and tough they inspire many people to visit the places I show, my portraits are the work I’m most proud of. There are a few that are particularly meaningful because of what they represent. One that comes to mind is an image I shot in Ethiopia of a Woman and her child both carrying a very heavy load of wood on their back, it captures and represent perfectly the hard reality women have to face in certain parts of the country. It was the first time that I felt like I was shooting something that had purpose.
DIYP: What challenges do you face capturing the shots you want to capture?
I’m not a technical photographer, I follow my heart and my instinct when I shoot (and in life generally) so, beside the weather and the light the biggest challenge for me is to have people agreeing to be photographed. The connection between me and the person I’m photographing is vital for the outcome of the shot, without that connection the picture always sucks.
DIYP: What motivates you to put in the effort to overcome those challenges?
What I get out of that connection. It’s something I can’t explain, it makes me feel more human, more humble, more like I’m part of something bigger.
DIYP: What gear do you use? Why?
I usually use a Canon 5D Mark II but lately I’ve been shooting with a 1DX and a 5Ds R (courtesy of Canon Italia). I use two different lenses: a 24-70 mm 2.8 and an 85mm 1.2. And I vlog with a Canon G5 X.
DIYP: Is there a market for your work? How do you make money?
Yes there’s a market for everything today I think! I make a living working with brands, travel companies and NGOs.
DIYP: How do you promote yourself and your work?
I wish I had a brilliant answer for you but the truth is that I’m the typical artist that sucks at anything business and marketing and—beside having a website, writing a blog and posting regularly on IG—my only approach is that if I’m interested in working with someone I contacted them and ask them if they want to work with me.
DIYP: What are your goals for your photography career in the next year, 5 years, long term?
Though I love photography and I will always take pictures I feel the stories I can tell through photography are limited. I hope that in the next 5 years my career will move more towards writing and towards video/documentary as those are medium that allow for more in depth storytelling. Ideally one day I will have my own travel show :)
DIYP: Do you have any tips or advice for photographers who love your work and would like to photograph something similar?
Learn about the culture of the places you visit and try to go beyond photography. Don’t even take the camera out for the first few days. if you want to create something interesting look at the world through your eyes and your heart before looking through the viewfinder.
Find Out More
To find out more about Sara Melotti and to see more of her work, you can view her website here: SaraMelotti.com
To see Sara’s Quest for Beauty project you can visit the website here: QuestForBeauty.co
Let Us Know What You Think!
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JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.