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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
Melissa Alicia Photography

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

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