T.E.S.T. interview: Melanie Hillier

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the sixth in our series, an interview with MelanieHiller.

Your photographs are travel shots from around the world, and I've noticed some similarities between the pictures despite their geographical differences. The bold colours that you capture, both natural and manmade, are just wonderful. Are you drawn to bright, bold hues? Are there certain palettes that you find more attractive, as a photographer?

It's funny, because when I first started taking photos on a regular basis, on my first trip to Australia, I remember thinking how lucky I was because Australia's landscapes are just so beautiful. The bold red of the Outback, the beautiful tropical blues of their almost unending coastline...all I had to do was press the shutter! It wasn't really a choice to choose those colours. They were everywhere I looked. I think as a photographer I am just trying to capture what I feel. If something makes me stop dead in my tracks, I capture it. It doesn't always turn into a great photo, but I like to lead by intuition. If anything, I am drawn to architectural shapes and forms more than particular colours.

Contrasts between nature and man-made structures are also evident in your work. In "Paris Pink", for example, Notre Dame Cathedral is viewed through the gorgeous pink branches of April blossoms. Do you often combine or contrast these elements?

I do like to see these elements together. I'm inspired by architecture, and can get carried away photographing the shapes and lines of the structures. I love how nature softens them, and how well man-made structures and nature work together. I believe there is an interesting effect that manmade structures have on people, and nature has that same awe inspiring quality.

I noticed, also, an absence of people, even in the busy cityscape "Tokyo Nights". The bustle of nighttime seems somehow peaceful. Can you comment on this absence?

It's funny that you mention this, because it is something I discovered after taking a closer look at my body of work. I am trying to allow the viewer to feel like an observer through the lens, and I do my best to sneak photos without people noticing. When someone looks directly into the camera and isn't the subject of the photo, it almost ruins the mystery. I suppose it's a bit of voyeurism. I want the viewer to feel like they were exactly where I was when I took the picture. To disappear into the background and just enjoy it.

Is there a geographical location that you would deem more photogenic than any other?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I am a traveller by nature and can usually find something I love about every place I visit. But most photogenic? I'd have to say Australia. Its cities are just as beautiful as its vast deserts and beautiful beaches. It my favourite place on earth!

When did you first take an interest in photography? Can you tell me a little about how you became a photographer? Are you inspired by the works of any particular photographers or artists?

I have loved art my whole life, and first took photography classes in high school where we learned dark room techniques and all. I enjoyed it, but always loved painting more. I really got into it when my mum bought me a digital camera to take with me on my year abroad in Australia. It was meant to be used to document my trip, but became so much more! As for inspiration, I would say I am more inspired by architecture, nature, fashion and graphic design than any particular artist, although artists of all kinds inspire me just by being honest about what they are doing and seeing.

You mention in your Etsy profile that you are not travelling at the moment. Do you have any future plans for travel and/or artistic works?

Once a traveller, always a traveller! I don't have any firm plans to travel at present, but I am taking advantage of staying in Toronto by capturing this city as if it were a foreign place. I have always loved Toronto and it lends itself beautifully to photography. I plan to include some of these local photos in my etsy shop, and also on my new blog.

Check out Melanie's work in her etsy shop, on her blog and follow her on twitter.

Interviewed March, 2010, by foundlingsvintage

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