10 quick questions, 5 professional and 5 random, with people you should know.
Melissa Scheetz didn’t find photography. Photography found her.
She enrolled in a dark room class for the sole purpose of completing her college credits. Her love and passion for the art form were instantly born during that six week period.
After assisting various fashion photographers in London, Scheetz returned to NYC and began focusing her talents in beauty and cosmetic still life. Her work has appeared in such magazines as Cosmopolitan, W and Harper’s Bazaar.
Scheetz visits London and Paris annually to witness trends and meet with clients.
Q. Describe the moment when you first felt validated for your work?
MS. The first time I saw one of my photos on a bus while walking down 14th Street in Union Square. Oh, what a rush. I was doing some shoe shopping and was not expecting to see it for the first time. I almost dropped by bags running toward the bus to take a photo. I immediately called my Mom. She is a great supporter of my career and I could not wait to share the news with her.
Q. If you could be equally as happy in a different career, what would it be?
MS. I always thought I would really enjoy being a hairdresser. I really enjoy working with my hands.The play-doh barber shop was by far my favorite toy as a kid. I would equally enjoy it now. I still cut my friends hair and sometimes my own. It started in college when some male friends needed a trim but were on the student budget. I set up a pop-up beauty/barber shop outside my apartment and the fun began. $10 got you a trim and a beer. There was one insistence where I cut a hole in a boyfriend’s haircut but creative combing on my part he never really noticed. Don’t tell him.
Q. How do you know when a piece is finished/accomplished what you wanted to? When to pull back? Have you ever ruined anything from going too far?
MS. Wow. Loaded question….it is difficult to know when it is finished. I am trying to stop being a perfectionist and realizing I am my worst critic. If I do not notice something that needs fixing after a few minutes, such as last minutelighting weaks or rearranging the composition then it is time to move on and finish shooting or else you can find yourself spinning in circles. After all the photos have been taken and placed into layout and retouching has been completed, I put the project aside for a few days and revisit it one more time with fresh eyes. If I do not notice anything immediately at this stage then I wrap up the project. Retouching is very subjective and can drag on forever if you don’t start the entire project with a clear vision of the outcome. There have been personal projects in the past I definitely destroyed which is why I storyboard everything now. All my previous mistakes originated from not being prepared. After years of practice, I think I have found a really good system for myself.
Q. Best advice, personal or professional, you’ve ever gotten? What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to have your career?
MS. Never give up. You will spend more time “working” than with your friends and family so I think it is important to enjoy what you do. Some days may be easier than others but I am always excited to work on my projects. That alway keeps me going.
Q. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime/career? When you reach it, how will you feel about your work? How do you think other people will feel about it?
MS. I want to be respected in my professional community and always try to challenge myself and how I deliver my concepts. Once this no longer inspires me then I will look to do something else that challenges me. But all my interests lie in the visual department…still and/or moving images. I have so many ideas to still pursue so I don’t see myself changing directions anytime soon.
Q. What is your Spirit Animal? Why?
MS. Definitely the dolphin. Or the manatee. Or maybe a turtle. I love the water and all the creatures that make up this completely different world happening around us. I scuba dive for fun and have always felt like the “fish whisperer” as sea creatures have always taken a liking to me and the feeling is mutual.
Q. Last thing you took a photo of?
MS. I small corner section of a window advertisement that had an interesting graphic. The colors gave me an inspiration for a new photo shoot idea.
Q. Party tricks? If required or requested, what can you do to entertain a crowd?
MS. I am still trying to master Shadow Puppets with your hands… always a crowd pleaser.
Q. Would you rather be able to change the past or see into the future?
MS. The future for sure! It is all about living in the now and being excited for what is to come. But the journey there is almost more exciting and gratifying than the destination.
Q. Most irrational fear?
MS. Fears Schmears. I left those thoughts behind in my 30’s. The time is now.
Q. What is the oldest technology device do you own? Do you still use it?
MS. My oldest device is probably my Mamiya RB67 medium format camera with a polaroid back…I still use it just for personal photos because it is completely manual and you really have to slow down and work in the moment. I love combining modern technology and vintage techniques. There are so many possibilities. A very expensive camera in conjunction with a household flashlight or candles or vice versa. It is a challenge and a pleasure to include them both.