We all have our favorite Instagram accounts, the people we tell all our friends to follow to liven up their boring feeds. New Orleans seems to have a higher concentration of interesting artists and influencers than most locales and they’ve found their digital fanbase. But beyond their photos and videos, it can be hard to glean a lot of info about the person. In IG Q&A, we’ll sit down with your favorite NOLA social media stars and learn a bit more than can be gleaned from a double-tap.
Our first Insta-favorite is beloved local photographer Patrick Melon (@melontao). In a relatively short amount of time, Melon has gone from photography student to the go-to shutterbug for PJ Morton and his series of street photographs capture his hometown from the ground level.
How did you get your start in photography?
Honestly, from skateboarding. It started out when I was in high school taking photos of my friends while they were skating.
How did you get to the point where you were shooting professionally?
I just started going for it. After I graduated, I moved back to town. I was living with my parents and working at a shop on Canal Street. I started using Instagram just to vent, as an outlet to express myself. Eventually, I started to see that people were willing to pay me for it and it got consistent enough that I could do it full-time.
You shoot a lot on actual 35mm film? Is there a reason for that?
Yeah. I like analog photography because it feels more tangible, loading the film and shooting. Even the shutter click feels a little heavier, you know? We use all this technology just to mimic the feeling you get from an analog photo. The photos have a certain grain to them. It’s almost timeless.
How did you get into street portraiture?
I was living in New Jersey [as part of a school exchange program]. I would catch a bus from school into the city and just walk around and be in awe of everything that was going on. When I came back home, I realized that this is a place where special things happen. It allowed me to see New Orleans with fresh eyes… I love shooting New Orleans, the city in general and the people here, particularly the African-American community… There’s a photographer named Jamel Shabazz and all of his photos sort of look like a family photo album. He’s inspired me a lot and that’s similar to what I’m trying to do.
How did you end up working for PJ Morton?
That was by sheer coincidence. He was looking for a photographer when he first moved back to town and a mutual friend recommended me to him. He reached out directly to me…He liked the results of that so much that he asked me if I would like to work with him long-term.
What advice would you give to people who want to make it in photography?
Stay consistent. Everything is consistency. I have a lot of people asking me this and the truth is people don’t want to do the work to get the work. I’m gigging, I’m doing things to make money but whether I’m getting paid or not, this is what I’m doing all the time. I’m creating photos whether I’m getting paid or not. I’m always honing my skills. I’m working on personal projects. I feel like that keeps me ready for the work that I do get.
Do you have any personal projects that we should look out for?
I’m working on getting a photo book together. I have boxes with over 300 rolls of film in them shot over the last 7 or 8 years and I’d like to put them together in an anthology.