SA heaps good photographers #004 – Mel McKinlay

Without even looking at the username, I can invariably tell when one of Mel’s shots appears in my feed.

She has a remarkably consistent style and skilfully uses filters to produce calming, ethereal images that are beautifully composed and feature deep, rich colours.

Mel is able to translate the emotion of a gorgeous sunrise into a photograph like no other photographer I know.

You can find more of her beautiful work on her Instagram page, @mellymac_photography. It was a pleasure, Mel!

1) Describe your style, are you inspired by any type of photography or specific photographers?

This was a difficult question for me to answer. I’ve never really stopped to think about my style before.

Clearly, I have a preference for landscape photography, but to call myself a landscape photographer doesn’t really gel with me either.

I think I have a lifestyle rather than a photography style. I spent my younger life training for sport at dawn and dusk.

These days, I still get to set my alarm to be up and out before the rest of the population, but rather than pounding pavement, I’ll be out in a paddock, on top of a mountain or a seaside somewhere taking photos. It’s blissful.

My photos, my Instagram page, are a journal. A diary of what I’m doing and what it is I am seeing in front of me at any given moment.

2) What message do you want people to come away with when they look at your images?

My photos are an expression of my love for the earth, my companions and the expansive quality of our world and relationships.

Hopefully, that somehow connects with people. I have a minimal understanding of why we’re here or how we got here, but what I do know is that our days are not infinite.

My message is simple. Lead a considered life and be sure to live before you pass on.

3) What motivates you to continue taking photographs, even when you’re unmotivated?

FOMO (fear of missing out)😊.

The world is unpredictable so you never really know if you will get a glimpse of the sun or some pretty pink clouds until the very last moment.

I don’t always feel like rushing out the door in the dark hours of the morning, but what if I don’t go and it’s the most beautiful morning ever? Those opportunities aren’t as regular as what they may seem.

4) What is your favourite location/image and why?

I don’t really have a favourite location, rather favourite conditions. Colourful sunsets or foggy sunrises are so beautiful to be out in.

But the absolute pinnacle for me is to be on a mountain somewhere above low lying clouds, watching the sunrise.

While we do travel considerably around Australia, photography for me isn’t about going to beautiful locations, but looking for the beauty that happens to surround me.

5) What is one piece of your kit that you couldn’t do without?

I always have a couple of ND filters on me. That gives me the flexibility to capture fast moving clouds, water flowing or maybe just smooth out an ocean if I wish.

6) What is the worst thing about photography?

All those mornings of getting up at 4 am to be somewhere for sunrise only to be presented with dull grey skies can get fairly frustrating.

But nothing is more frustrating than being in a beautiful location with excellent conditions, but feeling like you cannot adequately capture that moment or do the scenery any justice.

In moments like these or on those grey sky days, I always would rather be in the fresh air, listening to the birds, cows or ocean, than at home on the couch or in bed.

7) What advice do you have for fellow aspiring photographers?

I’m very young in my photography journey, so it feels odd for me to be giving out advice. But I can apply the same principals from my sport.

If I wanted to race fast, then I had to train consistently hard.

If you want to learn to take nice photos, then you have to go out with your camera often and take many photos.

Sure, you can watch all the instructional clips on Youtube, which are great for motivation and hints, but nothing will teach you faster than shooting and failing.

However, you never really fail. You either get the shot you hoped for, or you will have gained experience for next time.

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