March 4, 2015 by Mathieu Bourgeois
Photographer Nina W. Melton‘s work with children, adolescents and adults alike is best described by the word “Pleasure”.
On a thin line between her clients’ demands and her creative freedom, Nina captures the textures and details in a picture as well as the fun in play, provoking the innate joyous expressions of each of her models.
Each of her sessions is a new journey into exploring the possibilities of taking a brand of clothes or a product to the next level. Her recent work for Sfera has been recognized as the best campaign the brand ever launched.
Graduating from Europe’s most prestigious photographers’ school, the École Lumière in Paris, Nina worked in the US and Europe before settling down in Barcelona, Spain, and can also be booked in Miami and Hamburg. She frequently works for clients including Boboli, El Corte Inglés, Ese O Ese, Hipercor, Sfera and magazines such as Babiekinsmag Magazine US.
Production Paradise: Have you always been keen on photography ?
Nina: Let’s put it that way: I have always aspired for a creative career. My first intention was to be a musician, In my band called “Fünf Freunde”, some of the members became photographers, some still play in well known bands in Germany.
Production Paradise: When did you become a professional photographer, how did it happen ?
Nina: During an internship at a Hamburg based fashion magazine, I became really attracted to the idea of being a photographer. The teams came back from exotic destinations and brought these amazing editorials from all over the world to be printed…, talking to them and seeing their efforts to become successful it became clear that it will be no easy feat, but my great dream of the future. After high-school I went to Paris, the capital of photography, the place where it was invented. Studying at École Lumière as the first non-french scholar, learning lab techniques, physics and chemistry which at that time was required to graduate as a photographer made the dream of taking pictures for a living even harder. But besides the studies, I started to assist fashion photographers in Paris, worked at “Daylight Studios” and during holidays I even started to travel with some of them. After three years and graduation from École Lumière, I traveled for a couple of years as an assistant to a German photographer and eventually settled in Miami, one of the top destinations for fashion photography. I worked as a local assistant to many well known photographers. In assisting I became more and more confident that one day, I would be independently working and just needed to wait for the right moment to come.
Production Paradise: Your lifestyle and kids photography is really remarkable; what exactly made you to adopt this kind of photography?
Nina: In the process of learning fashion photography one of the basic intentions is to idolize the models. Make them sophisticated and create a look that is difficult to adopt. That can easily lead to a rather unnatural look at human beings. Kids are the opposite. You need to understand their intention to be playful, to have fun and be simple. That´s a different approach, more natural, easier to relate to. I find it to be true that there is the inner child in everyone of us, rather than what we understand as a fashion model. So when I work with adults, I also look for that. Simplicity, playfulness and fun. Guess what? It is there! Even in the sophisticated, successful and well paid models.
Production Paradise: You’ve shot in campaigns for several big companies and internationally established clients over the past few years; which one are you the most proud of ? Could you give us a background story on your favorite shot(s)?
Nina: Pride is not one of my big assets. I am grateful for the trust that clients put into my work. And if I should talk about pride, I feel proud of all the people who make the jobs possible. Being it my reps in Spain and Germany or be it my team of stylists and makeup artists, my producer and last not least the kids and parents, the models and their agencies. It all has to come together on a high level of focusing for a memorable shoot. Like the day my German rep calls my producer in Spain and says she recommended me to a big company, because they needed a photographer in Barcelona to shoot their 2015 campaign immediately. I was in Miami at the time shooting an for a U.S. editorial. Since the client needed to discuss his ideas and layouts I ended up shooting pictures during the day and at night preparing the job for Barcelona that was confirmed to be starting upon my return. I couldn’t believe they booked me for this massive job, without children, but with ten international models. But that shoot was such a short notice and still: the organization went so well upon millions of unforeseen details that I was so proud of my team and the focus everyone was giving into it. The client even sent me to New York right after to shoot more. This is what my dream of the future became. And I keep dreaming…
Production Paradise: Is there any advice that you would like to share with aspiring Kids photographers?
Nina: Just this: on the set the kids need to be happy AND photogenic!
Production Paradise: What have you found most useful being a Production Paradise member?
Nina: My work can be displayed to a world wide network of professionals, clients and people interested in the business. What else can you want from a Internet platform. It’s great, it’s interactive, the more I work with it the better it gets. And our long term relationship is steadily positive.
Production Paradise: What is the funniest anecdote that you could share with us about the photo-shoots you have done with kids so far ?
Nina: One of my favorite picture series is about a character that I love since childhood. I was such a fan, that my mom was painting freckles on my cheeks during sleep so I could wake up and see Pipi Longstockings in the mirror when I went to brush my teeth. So when I was first commissioned on a job for a big warehouse in Spain, they gave me the freedom to choose the topic and it was clear I wanted to shoot a Pipi story. We scouted a house on Mallorca that resembled the “Villa Villekulla” and getting there we needed to find a “Lilla Gubben” – the white horse with black dots. We asked the makeup artist to bring black food coloring to paint the horses “freckles”, found a white horse and as we were organizing a transport to our location we got word that we couldn’t bring a horse there. For sanitary reasons they wouldn’t allow animals. Literally one day before the shoot we needed to find a second location to shoot the horse scenes. Clients would arrive in the evening and we had to start almost from scratch… Then my producer remembered a horse stable with a field and tree where we could style the lemonade tree. Guess what: we went there and looking around I saw my own aunt riding a white horse with black dots in one of the riding stables in the middle of Mallorca. To cut the long story short, you may think I got lucky. But I tell you: since that day I know what I like in my shoots: Magic !!!
Many thanks to Nina for her time and for sharing her story with us, we hope she inspired you as well and can’t wait to see more of her work !
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