The Melissa Alicia Anderson Interview


images credited to Melissa Alicia unless otherwise noted

Get To Know Melissa Alicia Anderson

Before getting started with the interview, I would like to thank Melissa for allowing me to conduct this interview!

Do you enjoy photography as much as I do? Perhaps upon visiting my blog you have noticed the many posts that include beautiful desktop wallpaper or professional photographs. If you do enjoy great photographic works like me, I’m hoping you will also enjoy my interview with Melissa Alicia.

There is a good chance that we are in the midst of a genius and before she becomes famous, I will one day be able to say, “I knew her when…!”

I would like to say that the doorbell rang and my wife answered the door. In walked a stunningly beautiful young lady. A woman eager to get down to business and excited about the interview. I would tell you how she introduced herself and the three of us exchanged greetings. Then you would hear how I invited Melissa into my office and before beginning the interview, we looked over the stack of photos she bought with her for me to add into this interview.

I would also like to tell you that we had an immediate connection, were both comfortable with one another and the interview went smoothly. I would like to tell you that but Melissa is in Florida and I am in Indianapolis. Unfortunately this was an email interview. I sent Melissa the questions and when she was finished answering the questions, emailed them back to me.

Melissa says she is as comfortable in front of the camera as she is behind the camera. She has enjoyed being behind the camera since 2006. Now Ms. Anderson is studying  Bio-Medical Engineering at a school in Florida and also working as a web consultant for other photographers. Using her photographic talents she has captured pregnancies, weddings and beautiful children. At her young age, she is also a cancer survivor! Ms. Anderson is also a published photographer. Two of her photos, Bubble Trouble and The Devil’s Playground appeared in JPG Magazine, Issue 19. The Devil’s Playground being my favorite of the two.

Regardless of the interview process I do feel like I know Ms. Anderson a bit better than I did before and have come to the conclusion she’s a special person. One who one day I would like to meet. I truly hope you get  a sense of her personality and passion for the art of photography; her favorite being documentary style photography.


Dateline: Indianapolis, IN; December 15, 2010
From The Editor’s Desk

When did you discover your love of photography?

I’ve always had a love for photography growing up. It was the only thing we really had; photographs. But I think it became more of a passion in 2005. I had moved away right after high school, and didn’t see a lot of my friends. I already had a love for art, so photography kind of gave me a way to cope with the loneliness and to make art without the mess.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I hate this part! Haha. I’m a chemical engineering major, minoring in biomedical. I’m an active tennis player. Have a love for anthropology, language (I can speak 3 fluently and 2 conversationally), and human rights law. I’m a cancer survivor. An older sister to 3 sisters and a brother. I live in a studio apartment with my dog. Other than photography, I love designing things (probably why I went into engineering). I want to travel the world, and I’m actively planning a permanent move to Catalonia.

What is it about Catalonia that has captured your heart?

Catalonia is the center of progression. They’re into their traditions as much as they are about advancing ahead. That’s the kind of place I dream of living. It’s also very community driven. Barcelona is a place full of small cafes and shops that are the neighborhood treasures. Everyone knows how important everyone else is to their community. Research is my ultimate career choice, and Catalonia is a place where I can do the research I would love to get involved with.

If a major magazine called you for your services what would be the assignment and for which magazine?

I’ve got two answers to that. It would be National Geographic to do an assignment in Brazil on the indigenous people and the homeless future they face with deforestation in the Amazon. Vogue, to do an editorial fashion shoot for a new line from Issey Miyake or Alberta Ferretti.

Do you have a favorite photographer?

Nan Goldin is probably one of my favorites. James Nachtwey is a close tie. Nan Goldin’s photography caught my eye when I was 16 years old. All her photos tell the story of the people she photographs. They’re not posed. They’re completely natural, like she’s not really there with a camera in her hand.You see, feel, embrace the emotions in the photo. you empathize and feel close to the people in the photos even though you’ve never met them.


Do you have a coffee table? If so, what books are sitting on the table?

I don’t have a traditional coffee table, but the books on my “coffee table” are: The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin, a book on General Chemistry, and Hope Beneath Our Feet.

When photographing people, are you partial to posed photos or candids?

Candids for sure. They tell more about the person than posed shots.

What do you like most about south Florida?

Sunshine! There’s almost never a bad day for photos.

Can you tell us why you chose Desaparèixer as your blog name and what does it mean to you?

Desaparèixer is the Catalan verb for ‘to disappear’. I sometimes feel like I am invisible where I am. Like I’ve disappeared. Catalan is the official language of the country I dream of moving to, and one of the many languages I speak. It fit.

Since you are comfortable in front of the camera, if you were asked to model for charity, which of the major fashion magazines would you want your photo shoot published in and what designer would you wear?

Definitely the Harper’s Bazaar, and I love Issey Miyake.

Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do with the not-for-profit organizations?

I’ve done portraits for kids in foster care, most of which had serious medical problems, for Heart Gallery of America. Heart Gallery’s mission is help get older kids, siblings, and kids with disabilities adopted. I recently also did our first Help-Portrait event with some of the local photographers. We gave away family portraits to in need families.

Have you ever worked with film or is digital the only format you use?

Digital is my primary, but I do use film. I develop it myself as well in my bathroom sink.

What is your favorite iconic photograph? For instance Steve McCurry’s National Geographic cover portrait of The Afghan Girl or Alfred Eisenstaedt’s, The Kiss at the end of WWII (credited accordingly)?

There’s a few, but two photos come to mind immediately. Nan Goldin’s Gotscho kissing Gilles. She had been photographing this couple through their beginning to the day Gilles died from AIDS complications. This photo was their last kiss. It’s the unhappy ending no one ever cares to talk about, but it’s here for everyone to be aware of. The other, James Nachtwey’s photos of the Sudanese famine. One photo in particular stuck with me of a man, incredibly emaciated, reaching up to take a note from another man. The man looked alien. It’s hard to believe that someone can be that wasted away and still be hanging onto life.

What has been your worst assignment so far in your career?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad assignment. Sometimes an assignment starts off a little off kilter but I and whomever I’m working with turn it around.

If you had conducted this interview what question would you ask yourself?  And, please answer the question.

With all the mediums in the world to create art why photography?

Photography is a challenge. It’s easy to snap a picture. It’s another thing to capture an emotion, or the gravity of the subject. A photograph IS the words and never the other way around. Not to trash any of the other art forms, but for me the act of trying to capture more than just a photo was more appealing. As I like a challenge.


If you would like to know more about Melissa, she has agreed to be available for any questions you might have. You have until 9:00 pm (December 15th) to get your questions in but you can always leave comments. Leave them below in the comment section. Ms. Anderson’s answers will be posted a week from today in a separate post. Thank you in advance if you have questions and once again, I do appreciate the time you have devoted to the interview and the process. Don’t forget, I got to interview you before the world knows who you are! Good luck in all you do!

I would also like to thank Blaga Todorova for allowing me the opportunity to interview Melissa when clearly she could have done the interview herself! Blaga uses a lot of Melissa’s photos to coincide with her beautiful poetry.

Please leave lots of comments for Melissa. She is ready and willing to respond to them.


Melissa Alicia’s Online Presence
ModelMayhem
Melissa Alicia Photography
Desaparèixer

Digital is my primary, but I do use film. I develop it myself as well in my bathroom sink.

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  1. #1 by {JeLisa} @ Blogging Ever After on December 18, 2010 - 2:58 PM

    This was awesome, Tom! Great idea {the interview}, and great subject. Love her photos.

    • #2 by Tom Baker on December 20, 2010 - 8:36 PM

      Thank you JeLisa. I considered interviewing you but decided against it. It’s nothing against you and you will see why shortly…

  2. #3 by Kelly Hay on December 17, 2010 - 10:41 AM

    Wonderful interview! I have a great respect for people who view photography as an art form! I’m mostly a “point and shoot” kinda gal, but I have dabbled in black and white photography in the past and I really enjoyed it!

    (Melissa … good luck with all of your future endeavors and may all of your dreams come true!)

    • #4 by Tom Baker on December 20, 2010 - 8:40 PM

      Thank you Kelly. I’m so happy you liked it. She will answer all the added questions on Dec 22nd.

  3. #5 by Cherlyn on December 17, 2010 - 4:31 AM

    This was a great interview! I’ve always been fascinated by photography, but alas, I’m a layman, and have never dabbled in it myself. I just thinks amazing when someone can turn a photograph into a work of art.

    And Tom, a very great interview, you ask some really interesting questions :) I look forward to seeing who you interview next for the Morning Erection Times ;)

    • #6 by Tom Baker on December 17, 2010 - 7:16 AM

      You? I’d like to know who I could interview next time too. Thank you for liking the post. Melissa was very cooperative and a joy to work with.

  4. #7 by barrycyrus on December 16, 2010 - 11:10 AM

    Love this one! :) Nice interview :)

    • #8 by Tom Baker on December 20, 2010 - 8:41 PM

      Thank you Barry. I had fun putting it together and Melissa has great talent.

  5. #9 by Scott Moore on December 16, 2010 - 7:32 AM

    Great interview – good questions and great responses Melissa. Your pictures are very good. Keep us in the loop with your career and move.

  6. #10 by Judy Marie Santiago on December 15, 2010 - 11:05 PM

    Can I just say, Tom’s a professional interviewer??? You can make a good TV host, Tom! Haha! :) And of course, yes, It’s a pleasure to read about your life and your art, Melissa! You’re admirable! :D Good work, great talent! Long live! :)

    P.S.

    Blaga is really making wonders. :)

    • #11 by Tom Baker on December 16, 2010 - 9:52 AM

      Judy, I am a jack of all and master of nothing. It was a great experience and one I will continue to do from now on.

  7. #12 by Cheryl Benson on December 15, 2010 - 4:07 PM

    You have wonderful photos. All of them are great. Of course being pregnant myself I think the photo with the family on the beach is my favorite of the ones listed here. I will want to drop by your own site to see more. I’m having a little boy and if you were here in Indiana, I would most definitely want you to take his first photos.

    What are your aspirations in photography?

  8. #13 by southwindtrails on December 15, 2010 - 3:01 PM

    This was a really interesting interveiw. I always love reading about photographers! Melissa your photographs are beautiful, they have such strong emotional content. You also have a very clear and unique style in many of your photos that sets you apart.

    I have a few questions to ask.

    1) Do you use alot of equipment to set up your shots, or do you like to keep it simple? what is your preferred equipment (camera, lens, lighting etc.)?

    2) How do you come up with your photo concepts? are they planned or more spontaneous?

    3) How much processing do you do in photoshop with your images?

    I look forward to seeing where your work takes you in the future, I definetly think you’re a photographer to watch. Good luck!

    • #14 by Tom Baker on December 20, 2010 - 8:42 PM

      Thank you. Your questions will be answered on December 22.

  9. #15 by Iron Cook Carl on December 15, 2010 - 2:56 PM

    I commend you on for the work you do with charities and your art is great. It’s a blessing to be able to help others. I have a question. Are there any photos by photographers that you have not named, that you wish you had taken? There is one of El Capitan by Ansel Adams that I wish I had taken.

  10. #16 by Jill Hardy on December 15, 2010 - 12:58 PM

    First time visitor, full time photography enthusiast. Melissa I love your images. You have a wonderful eye. The depth of field in the beach photo is wonderful. I like it slightly out of focus. I love the green wall in your bedroom. Great taste.

  11. #17 by PrinceConnoisseur on December 15, 2010 - 9:37 AM

    Great interview. Melissa I have a question or two for you. If you could travel the stars, what celestial body or phenomena would you like to photograph up close for NASA? I’m sorry to hear about the Cancer but very glad you survived. I’ve always wanted to learn to develop my own film. It would be nice if life didn’t have so many would have, should have and could have, but there are lots of things I did get to do and there is still time.

    Follow your dreams always. My second question might be too personal so I won’t ask. I don’t want to be accused of being fresh. Good work Tom.

    • #18 by melissalicia on December 15, 2010 - 11:00 AM

      There is always time! Film development is easy. Tedious, but easy! I really do just develop my film in my bathroom sink! All you need is a tank, which is like $5-10, and the developer and stopper. Follow the development time on the film (you can also look up a chart on the company’s website) and you’ve got your photos! You actually gave me a great idea for a blog post! :)

  12. #19 by Rose on December 15, 2010 - 8:21 AM

    Congrats! You keep expanding on this blog of yours and making it better and better. An awesome interview and a great interviewee. I love all the photos Melissa but I think I love the one with the baby the most. She is so cute!

    • #20 by Tom Baker on December 15, 2010 - 9:23 AM

      Melissa is an awesome person – and humble!

    • #21 by melissalicia on December 15, 2010 - 10:56 AM

      :) Thank you! She’s a doll that little one. I’ve been photographing her since she was 3 months old (she’s 2 now).

  13. #22 by Scent of my heart on December 15, 2010 - 12:22 AM

    Needless to say here I love the post! Tom great questions, you did perfect, I probably wouldn’t do it that good! Melissa always a pleasure to hear from you. I’m sorry about the cancer part … Crossing my fingers for you now and always! And if you ever come to Catalonia I’ll be visiting you very often … I agree about Barcelona :) Gracias mi amiga! Good luck with anything you do! Great job both of you!

    • #23 by Tom Baker on December 15, 2010 - 7:25 AM

      Thank you Blaga. Your support is a godsend. I truly appreciate your friendship! I’m going to make this a regular feature – every other month I will find someone to interview!

    • #24 by melissalicia on December 15, 2010 - 10:55 AM

      Thank you Blaga! You’ve become someone quite dear to me! I hope to meet you soon whether it be in Greece or Catalonia! :)

      • #25 by Scent of my heart on December 15, 2010 - 12:29 PM

        Tom same here! Melissa :) anywhere would be good to meet you!

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