Creative Conversations with Fine Art Still Photographer Melanie Kern-Favilla

Written by Casey Cosley and Pratik Naik

Melanie Kern-Favilla is the type of photographer you never forget. The way she captures the world around her makes you want to stay for a while and look longer. The colors she dresses them up with compliments the scene perfectly. Melanie is a member of our Infinite Color family and we love the way she captures her subjects!

Be sure to follow her on Instagram, her website, and Facebook.

Your photography is so lovely and entrancing! We adore your uniquely brilliant eye for color, composition, and presentation. How do you go about selecting your subject matter, scouting locations, etc.?

For my still-life images, including my floral photography, I tend to choose subjects that lend themselves to dark, moodier lighting.  For my floral work in particular, I tend to choose blooms which have broad, flowing petals and lots of texture. I love when the subject is gently touched by the light, with gentle fall-off leading into shadow.  I also tend to choose my subjects that have a more sensual feel to them, a la Georgia O’Keeffe.

For my landscape images, most of them are severe weather images.   I travel with a storm-chasing company called ‘Silver Lining Tours,’ and they put me right where the action is, and they do so in a safe manner. I think of it like going to a photography workshop, where the landscape always changes and I’m constantly awarded with great subject matter.

In terms of still-life work, it seems as though you are drawn to many things but especially flowers. Please, if you would be so kind, elaborate on the connection between you as an artist and flowers as an individual and collective subject?

I am simply fascinated by nature.  I love that there are so many different species of flowering plants, all with unique shapes, colors and sizes.  As I continue to develop my eye as an artist, I notice the shapes and lines of many flowers can be so striking, in coordination with bold, bright colors (or completely lacking in color).  I love the challenge of taking something as ubiquitous as a flower and elevate its appearance using light and shadow.

Your art has a lovely surreal quality while still retaining familiarity. In terms of color, do you strive to enhance what is already present, or opt to reimagine  and present your subjects in a more abstract sense?

As a photographer, I tend to grow weary of subject matter easily.  That boredom tends to push me to experiment with color, in order to get different results on a repetitive subject.   I am an artistic photographer, as opposed to a documentarian/journalistic photographer, so I have no fear of changing the color in an image to get the final result that I desire.

Regarding your workflow, how do you integrate and utilize the Infinite Color Panel? Has the panel had an impact on your aesthetic, process, or efficiency?

ICP is always my last step in editing my images, just before final output.  I have such a blast rolling through all of the choices. Many times I have trouble choosing just one!   I usually reduce the opacity of the layer by quite a bit, as I tend to love the boldness of the more intense, heavy-handed colors at the beginning and then realizing that it’s just too much, only ten minutes later!  ICP saves me a lot of time, allowing me to avoid the creation of layer after color-editing layer.

What do you enjoy most about using the Panel?

The ‘Shuffle’ button rules!  I bounce back and forth between all of the shuffle buttons, trying tons of different combinations and adjusting the individual layers.  I tend to gravitate toward the ‘medium’ and ‘intense’ buttons, but I find that I end up landing on the low-opacity end of ‘medium’, even though I yearn for ‘intense!’

BEFORE

AFTER

Do you have any advice for those who may went to explore or delve deeper into still-life and landscape photography? Any thoughts or words of wisdom regarding developing one’s own visual voice and style?

Whether someone enjoys landscapes or still-life photographs, there is really only one sure-fire way to get better as a photographer:  practice, practice, practice. If you find that your images are lacking in some way, then shoot more of them. A lot more of them. The more you shoot, the more you figure out little things that can be improved.  

Another way to improve your photography is to study photographers whom you admire.  Go to the top of the ‘Popular’ page on 500px and see the best of the best. Then try and figure out what they are doing to make those photos so great.  Are they shooting at high noon in July? Or are they shooting with the most amazing golden-hour light? Are they shooting from eye level or are they shooting from a different perspective?    Are they shooting with harsh, direct light, or are they diffusing that light beautifully? When you start to analyze other artists’ work, you start to see things that they are doing right and that you might be doing wrong.  

Once you find out what those photographers are doing to make their images sing, try to replicate it yourself.  And don’t give up if you fail the first 50 times. The more you shoot, the more you will learn what is working and what needs improvement.  I still have so much to learn and I will continue to push myself to get better as an artist and as a photographer.

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