Interview with Fashion Photographer Melodie Jeng

During fashion week, there is an emphatic outbreak of street style photographers on the scene, lamenting on how to get the perfect shot of the perfect outfit. It is both a cacophony of nerves and creativity. Street style photography has changed the way we see fashion, not just as being on a runway, but alongside the everyday person who is determined to dress in a peculiar or ardent manner for work, Sunday brunch, or study. Melodie Jeng is one of those photographers, finding her photographic voice amongst the buzzing noise.

In the digital age, street style photography is becoming an ever-expanding ambitious game. So, I asked Jeng to give some advice for all aspiring photographers. Having worked in both editorial and street photography, including with Karlie Kloss, Harper’s Bazaar, Wall Street Journal and more (including the fashion forward people on the streets of New York City!) Here is a behind the scenes look into the lens.

Photo Credit: Melodie Jeng

How would you describe your photography? 
Right now it’s a lot of street style or street fashion. Photographs documenting the outfits and styles seen outside the fashion weeks. I like to take a portraiture approach to my work. A lot of my more known photographs are of models made through the relationships I have with my subjects.

What draws you towards street photography? 
That it’s an everyday photograph you can relate too. It’s something you can do anytime, any day. There is no set schedule. I also like the “realness” and the spontaneity and humor street photography can bring.

Photo credit: Melodie Jeng

What equipment do you usually use on shoots?
I have a Canon 1DX and often shoot with a 85mm lens. The 85mm is great for portraits. The 1DX great and fast for fashion week but most other cameras are fine as well. I try to use as much natural light as possible.

Is there a certain visceral attitude you like to convey in your photography? 
During fashion week, I like to have a little fun with my photographs. I don’t mind a girl laughing or smiling. Sometimes street style or fashion can be so serious. There’s no need for that all the time. I’d like the reader to be able to connect with the subject or realise something new about the person or how they are dressed.

Photo Credit: Melodie Jeng

What has been your most profound experience in this industry? 
I recently photographed the campaign for New York Fashion Week Men’s Fall 16 and the images are around New York City on banners and bus stops and that is very exciting. I hope to shoot more campaigns and it’s a great feeling to see an image of yours on the street.

Photo Credit: Melodie Jeng

Did you face any adversities upon transitioning photography into a career?
I studied photography which helped but is not necessary to become a photographer. Most of my jobs have come from internships I had in colleges and various relationships and connections I made through time. I am very fortunate I was able to study photography in college and that I live in New York City. Living in New York really helps. It was/is definitely difficult at times. You often have to work very hard for not much money but when you really love something, it doesn’t matter. You have to be self-motivated and you will make mistakes and learn from them. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of mistakes to make!

Photo Credit: Melodie Jeng

Any advice for getting jobs within the photography industry? 
Always do the best job you can and be professional. You never know what can come from a job. Communicate well and be nice!

How do you intend to expand your career?
I like photography but I could also creative direct, cast, or produce. We will see. Photography itself is changing. Many photographers direct videos or create other types of imagery. In terms of my work, I hope to work with more people, better my work, and shoot more editorials and campaigns.