Interview with Melanie Lemahieu

  • How did you start your business in photography in the first place?

 

My father was an amateur photographer, I have learned analog photography on the fly, helping my father to process photos in the darkroom. When digital photography started to be accessible, I decided to go to a photography school in order to learn digital photography, Photoshop techniques and to become an “official” photographer. After a few years taking assignments on the side next to my office job as a customer service specialist and after graduating from the Dutch photography school Fotovakschool in Amsterdam, I did everything in my power to turn my passion for photography into a full-time occupation

 

 

  • What makes Melanie Lemahieu different from other professional photographers?

 

I’m a passionate and enthusiastic photographer, I think every person is photogenic, capturing feelings, small moments and interactions between people quickly became a passion and I also always had an insatiable creative itch. I truly love helping people and capturing their emotions and the connections between them. I know how to capture the memorable essence of each event and to offer imagery with a vibrant twist to my clients, imagery that has real heart & soul.

With a background in marketing and customer service, I truly love helping people and have the mission to provide my clients with a great experience, I am dedicated and work as a fly on the wall!

 

 

  • What kind of camera gear do you use?

 

I am using 2 Canon 5D Mark IV bodies together with different prime lenses.

 

 

  • What is your favorite lens and why?

 

It is difficult to say, I love all my lenses, depending on the situation and the requirements I need different lenses, but if I have to pick one, I would choose my zoom lens 24-70 mm 2.8 L II USM

 

 

  • What’s your favorite tool/software to edit your pictures?

 

Lightroom

 

 

  • When you go on travel, what are the essentials you take with you in your bag?

 

My Canon 5D Mark IV with my 24-70 mm lens for landscape as well as my 70-200 mm lens for close-ups when I cannot approach the subject, for street or wildlife photography

 

 

  • How do you keep improving your photo skills? / How do you educate yourself?

 

I am part of many professional photographers groups where many new techniques and ideas are discussed, I am reading professional press and follow different tutorials online

 

 

  • What picture that you have taken, you are the most passionate/proud about and why?

 

Tough question! A lot of photos I have captured have a special meaning for me! If I have to pick one, I would choose a shot I took from a small Cessna plane without any door flying over the Island of Ameland. Without passion and love for discovery, I would not even have stepped into that scary little plane! I took that photo before I actually dared to “jump in the void without a parachute” to become a full-time freelance photographer. When in doubt or in a difficult time, it reminds me of how turning a passion into my work is a blessing and even if it sometimes things are challenging, it is important to persevere

aerial view of the mudflat coastline at low tide with water wind
  • Who is your ‘mentor’? / Who is someone your look up to (photography-wise)? 

 

There are so many great photographers who inspire me as Martha Holmes, Linda McCartney, Mary Ellen Mark, Vivian Maier, Reza Deghati, but not only, also painters and filmmakers as Rembrandt or Truffaut. 

 

 

  •  What is your favorite location in Amsterdam to shoot?

 

NDSM, Amsterdam Noord, my favorite playground, so many possibilities to create!

  •  What is the one thing that takes a picture a good picture, in your opinion? 

 

There are different ingredients for a good picture. It is like cooking, 100 g of technics, 100g of attention to details, 100g of patience, 100g of composition, 100g of luck being at the right time at the right place with that perfect light, 100g of courage to approach a subject or guide your model, 100g of talent but overall, as much as you need of passion!

 

 

  •  What tip would you like to give to people who just started in photography?

 

Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away, keep your camera with you when going around and keep on shooting

 

 

  • Since everybody nowadays has a camera in their pocket, what makes a professional photographer different from people who just take photos for a hobby?

 

It is true that nowadays cameras are able to produce very fine quality images. A professional photographer is well aware of this. This is why, even if a professional photographer very likely uses the best possible professional equipment, he/she advertises the images he/she took, not the gear he/she uses. It is also very true that what even the best camera on the market doesn’t feature are experience and knowledge.

Experience and expertise are primordial and there is not any shortcut to it. Not only a professional photographer has followed a proper training, thoroughly learning photography techniques and concepts, building up skills and expertise, he/she has also spent many hours taking pictures in various environments, exposed to many settings, lighting conditions and subjects and has been able to cope with many different situations.  He/she is able to adapt and act on-the-fly, ready to capture that unique moment.

He/she knows posing techniques, is able to guide large groups, and a crucial requirement in photography, he/she is able to master lighting techniques.

 

 

  • What is your favorite discipline within your photography skills? For instance; do you like wedding photography more than event photography? Why?

 

My favorite area is to photograph events whether it is corporate events, private events such as weddings, or concerts and festivals. I really blossom when I have the chance to meet people from all walks of life and cultures, but most of all because I truly love looking for, sharing and capturing unexpected moments, portraits emotions and the connections between people, like a fly on the wall.

 

 

  • What are your goals as a photographer in the not too distant future? What is the first step you would take to achieve this goal?

 

Well in this particular period with coronavirus, I would say that expectations and goals have shifted a bit, I would love to be able to work and live again as before, to capture a big event with a lot of smiling people!

 

 

  • On what event would you like to take pictures as a professional photographer? / What is the number one event (as in a big concert for instance) you would like to take pictures of as a professional photographer?

 

Unfortunately many artists I really wanted to photograph passed away before I had a chance to get there or even before I was born! But I would love to take pictures of a concert of Iggy Pop or Bruce Springsteen, and not from the sound tower 100 m away! From the pit or even better the stage! (Dreaming is allowed right?!)

I would also dream to be an official photographer at the Cannes festival!

 

How to get the successful business portrait you deserve!

Having modern and professional Corporate Portraits on your website or your online social media profile as LinkedIn is one of the best ways to get noticed and find the success you’re looking for. Investing in corporate headshots will help you to strengthen your brand and online presence, impress your clients and grow your business.

 

But I know, like many people when it comes to standing in front of the camera, and I am part of this group, the first thoughts that probably come to your mind are : “I look awful on pictures”, “I don’t like having my photograph taken”, “I find it awkward”

But take a deep breath and relax, here are a few tips to help you get the most of your professional portrait.

1- Your clothes

What you are going to wear is important, it needs to reflect your personality. For the best result, it is recommended to avoid busy patterns or thin stripes. Also, avoid clothing with large logos or a text as is also distracting.

Bear in mind that for close up headshots, inscription or logo may be cut off appearing only partially leading to a strange render.

If you have to make a choice, also prefer plain clothes with colors that enlighten your skin tone, go with soft color tones and avoid either all white or very flashy colors as they tend to not turn nice on photos.

business corporate professional portrait headshot of a man
business corporate professional portrait headshot of a woman

Also take the background into consideration and adapt the color tones of your outfit accordingly. Will it be a plain white wall? then avoid a white shirt so that you will blend in, will it be outside with green trees in the background? Accessories (a tie, earrings, a necklace, a scarf, etc.) with a touch of green can then give a harmonious render!

On location corporate professional portrait headshot of a woman outside

2- Your hair

Professional headshots are often taken on location in the middle of your busy day, maybe rushing over to the photographer through the wind from outside. It is less concerning with people with shorter hair, but longer hair can look messy.

And the first thing that can be noticed on a portrait is a bad hair day!

Make sure it is well brushed and neat around the edges, photoshopping away all the little hair that goes in all directions is a very long and difficult job that most of the time is not included in the photographer fee.

A quick trip to the bathroom for a last check is recommended and you can also bring a brush with you to the shoot.

For people with long hair, the hair also has to be “posed” the hair. Do you prefer your hair up or loose behind your shoulder?

business corporate professional portrait headshot of a woman

3- Shiny skin

The photographer who comes to your workplace will most likely set up a studio with flashes to ensure to obtain a constant lighting and result and flattering images. However, artificial lighting, like direct sun, can produce a shiny effect on the skin, on the front head, or on the chin for example. This is something you don’t want.

Particularly when it is a nice warm summer day. For the ladies, a bit of concealer is recommended, but men can also use some for the portrait session like a presenter on a TV set or a comedian would use. Otherwise, as you may be going to the bathroom to check your hair, while you’re there, you can also take the opportunity to freshen up.

4- Make-up

For a professional result, the use of too much make-up is not recommended. A natural look always appears better. Your corporate headshot has to reflect your personality. If you normally do not wear make-up at all, I would suggest keeping it that way, except for a bit of natural concealer to avoid the skin to shine.

And the same thing applies if every day you are wearing make-up, for example, a strong lipstick, it is also fine. In the end, the result we want to obtain is a faithful professional representation of yourself.

5- Glasses

The same applies here, if you are wearing glasses on a regular basis and they are part of you, people are used to seeing you with them, then wear them.

If you are using your glasses randomly, for example, to read or work on the computer, decide before the shoot whether you prefer to wear them or not. If you choose not to wear your glasses, then take away enough time before the shoot so you do not have marks on the side of your nose.

If you are going to wear your glasses, here are a couple of tips that lead to way better results.

Make sure they are spotless, clean your glasses carefully before your portrait is taken, dirty lenses do not look flattering on photos. Particularly as dirt or fingerprints can be enhanced by the artificial light of the flashes.

Another tip is to position your glasses properly on your nose, you do not want them to be right in front of your eyes. Eyes are very important if not the most important part of a portrait. Make sure your glasses did not slip down your nose, push them back as much as possible.

on location corporate portrait
on location corporate portrait
on location corporate portrait

6-  Pose

The last thing you want is to get a portrait that you like those standard passport photos. Here you can smile, you can take the pose, no need to look straight on to the lens.

To feel more relaxed and dynamic, a good posture to adopt is one leg in the front and one leg in the back. When resting on your back leg, you are placing your body weight on your back leg. Then turn your shoulder a bit to give some dynamism to the image.

Also make sure you lift your shoulder a bit, either by placing your hands on your hips, pocket or crossing your arm on your chest. In that way, your hands are also occupied, and it will prevent you from feeling uncomfortable and awkward not knowing what to do with your hands.

Last but not least: bring your chin (or your ears) forward. When we are standing in a normal relaxed position, no matter how skinny we are, we always have a bit of flab under our chin, this posture will prevent this.

on location corporate portrait
on location corporate portrait
On-location business corporate professional portrait headshot of a woman outside

7- Posture, smile and best side

First of all, the question of the “best side”. Some people already know how they look at pictures, how they like to look at the camera and what side of their face they prefer.

But some people do not know.  A useful thing to do before your session is to take a few pictures positioning your face in different ways, looking both to the left and to the right, and see what you prefer. You can also ask family and friends what they think!

And on the day of the session, ask your photographer, let her or him know that you are not sure so he or she can take a couple of test photos and check together with you what suits you the best.

Likewise, for the smile, some people prefer lips shut, some lips open and some people do not know. Same as for the best side, test photos before the session and at the start of the session with your photographer is a good way to determine what the best looks.

But either with full teeth or your lips closed, smiling is important, not as much with your mouth than with your eyes.

As a photographer, I prefer not to force a smile that would look fake.

I do not ask people to smile and if it does not come naturally, I always ask the person to think of a pleasant and funny moment or a hilarious joke told by your most funny friend that makes her or him laugh. So if you have difficulty smiling in front of the camera, apply that trick, it will look much more natural and spontaneous.

In any case, if there is a feature or a part of your face you do not like, you do not like to smile showing your teeth, let your photographer know. Your photographer is here to listen and to help you have an enjoyable time and a nice portrait, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about!

8 – Be creative!

Depending on the type of photo and style you would like to achieve, if you are looking for a bit less formal portraits, you do not necessarily have to be photographed in front of a plain white background and to take a formal pose.

You can also use your professional surrounding as a background or be photographed whilst you are performing your job.

It is a great way to highlight your brand and field of activity and stand out!

business corporate professional portrait headshot of a man in an office
on location corporate portrait
On-location business corporate professional portrait headshot of a woman

If you need any help or advice to organize your business portrait session, do not hesitate to reach out to me!