Secrets of A Full Time Travel Photographer: Q&A With Sara Melotti

Jan 27, 2018

JP Danko

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.

Secrets of A Full Time Travel Photographer: Q&A With Sara Melotti

Jan 27, 2018

JP Danko

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.

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Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

Next in our ongoing Photographer Spotlight series is 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.)

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara MelottiDIYP: 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.

(Editor’s note: Sara is being pretty humble here – her website, blog and IG feed are all very well done and very engaging).

Photographer Spotlight - Sara MelottiDIYP: 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 :)

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

Photographer Spotlight - Sara MelottiDIYP: 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.

Photographer Spotlight - Sara Melotti

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

You can also follow her on Instagram @saramelotti, YouTube and Facebook and check out her blog: BehindTheQuest.com (highly recommended – lots of no-BS info on photography, travel and culture).

Let Us Know What You Think!

Have a comment on Sara’s work or her Q&A? Leave a comment below.

Have any thoughts on the Photographer Spotlight series, please let us know too!

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JP Danko

JP Danko

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.

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2 responses to “Secrets of A Full Time Travel Photographer: Q&A With Sara Melotti”

  1. Randy Dalton Avatar
    Randy Dalton

    I guess I have to ask how one finances full time travel photography. Did you make enough from your previous work that it now pays all the expenses of traveling?

    1. Sara Melotti Avatar
      Sara Melotti

      here are your answers :) http://behindthequest.com/how-i-travel/