“The universe of my work comes from a wish to see and a wish to narrate.”
Mel Karch was born and raised in Germany and studied art and graphic design in Paris. Her first steps into photography were, with a black and white reportage on the Kings of the Ivory Coast in Africa, where she developed her passion for photography. Mel moved to Paris to assist internationally renown photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger before beginning her own career in fashion photography. After winning the Fuji Prize for Young Photographers in Paris, followed by a prize of the Canon Award in Germany, she gained exposure with the success of two exhibitions of her private work. Mel’s spirit of adventure and travel has taken her to spectacular locations around the world on assignment for publications such as The New York Times, Vogue US, Vogue Nippon, Vogue Spain, D la Repubblica, Stern, Lufthansa, Panasonic, Nike and Kenzo.
In a written interview with Vanessa Nastro from the Port Washington Public Library (PWPL), Karch delves into her process of photographing her subjects.
PWPL: At what point did you realize that photography is what you wanted to do as a career?
MK: I think every photographer or artist has his own universe. This universe is built from a mix of experience and perspective, from emotion and from a combination of ideas. This creation comes from a passion, from a willingness to create something like a painting, a poem, a photograph. When I felt this passion I new it would be my work for the rest of my life. Creativity is the desire to express ourselves. To describe these expressions, one must collect experiences, dreams, and desires together and mix them with past, present and future. It’s a way of seeing the world. The most satisfying thing is to find people who have the same or similar way of seeing the world. In my few years of working, I’ve have been fortunate to meet several special people, and I am more than glad to have had this rich experience. I think the most important thing is to find and keep your own style, your own language and your own way seeing things.
PWPL: What does photography mean to you?
MK: What I am photographing is an imaginary story that never existed, but is connected to something that has already been. It is such a wonderful thing, telling stories. My passion is to tell stories, preparing storyboards, putting stories together by searching for the location where I want my story to take place. I think the fashion photographer assumes a position similar to that of the film director within a team of contributors including hair and make-up artists, stylists, set-designers, etc. The director may have a very specific vision, but must also draw on the creative and technical expertise of others in order to realize the end-product.
PWPL: What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
MK: I think I’m most inspired by the history of photography. Over time, I have collected a kind of ‘reservoir’ of images based on memories and dreams, but also different film scenes and dated photos which are part of my inspiration …. as is everyday life, its minor details, scenes, and light; all these things are a part of every one of us. Although I have been inspired a lot by several painters such as Balthus, Edward Hopper and David Hockney. The universe of my work comes from a wish to see and a wish to narrate. Photography is my passion and after all these years of experience every new project or client is a new adventure for me, it‘s a pleasure every time.
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