By Ashley Salas
Have you ever heard of the technological eye? Way back when photography was gaining traction in the world, it was believed that the lens of the camera had a natural eye of its own, one that could see things that the human eye couldn’t. The camera could capture beautiful still moments that portrayed a thousand and one emotions, but it takes a special person to bring out this magic from within the technological object. One of the lucky ones to behold such special power is Laredo’s own professional photographer, Melissa Iturralde.
It was 7 o’clock on a very hot afternoon weekend, with a few clients surrounding the place it meant few distractions, which meant a smooth session. It was the perfect “go” for the shoot. Scouting between Texas A&M International University and 2nd & Charles bookstore, Iturralde’s vision remained the same, eager to be produced, and by the end of the day, she beheld our August photo cover. “The idea for the cover was the friendship between two best friends that are in the ‘tween’ stage,” Iturralde added. “It’s before entering adolescence where they still like rainbows and playing dress up but are considered too old to be a child but too young to be a teenager,” she mentioned.
Iturralde’s magic had been in her hands all along. Since she was a little girl, posing and photographing her little nieces and nephews around the beach with a disposable camera was a thing she didn’t know would become a passion in her life. She’s now been doing it for 7 years. “Photography for me is a way of expression, an art and it’s something that stops time. Besides, being able to leave a small treasure in someone’s life is gratifying. I’ve had the privilege of taking pictures of people that unfortunately are no longer here with us,” Iturralde said. That’s the power of photography, it resembles a moment, a special moment in the world that could not be exactly replicated. It’s a still moment to be remembered.
So, thinking about picking up photography as a hobby and creating your own vision? Here’s a word of advice from a growing expert: “It’s important not to compare yourself to others. It’s very difficult trying to live a life trying to be another photographer that has more experience than you. Everybody advances at their own pace… I recommend taking some photography courses and being your best so that clients can open doors for you. Our presentation and our behavior is our best recommendation,” Iturralde advised.
Among your works, which one is your favorite and why?
My favorite photo is one I took of my dad. It was my heart’s desire to photography him and have a memory of how he is, loving and patient and full of God’s peace. In that session we listened to music and talked about many thing. After the session, we both cried and hugged each other. It was a beautiful moment to share with him.
Dead or alive, who is one photographer you wish to collaborate with?
I would like to collaborate with Susan Stippling. She is a New York wedding photographer from whom I’ve learned a lot through her photography courses.
When you go on one of your travels, what type of gear do you take with you?
When I travel, I take my Canon 5D Mark IV and two lenses, usually my 35mm 1.4L and my 70-200mm 2.8L.
Film or digital?
Which is your favorite lens and why do you prefer it over the others?
My favorite lens is the 70-200mm 2.8L. It’s a beauty, so precious. Whenever I do sessions, it the perfect the lens. It separates my subjects from their surroundings and can remove any distraction from my frame.
What, in your opinion, is the most important thing to consider while shooting portrait pictures?
Being able to transmit emotion.
Where do you find your muse in Laredo?
My muse is right at home, my daughter Mia Ivannah. I’ve learned a lot about photography with her.
What kind of gear did you start your career with?
I started with a Canon 7D. It was a birthday gift. Actually, it took me a whole month to get it out of its box. Not going to lie, I was a little afraid of not knowing anything about how to use it.
What type of gear are you currently using?
I have two cameras: Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 5D Mark III with lens 35mm 1.4L, 50mm 1.4L, 70-200mm 2.8L, 85mm 1.2L, Macro 105mm 2.8L and my Canon 600EX flash and flash Profoto A1.
What type of camera do you recommend for a beginner?
For a beginner, I’d say buy a camera that is according to your budget. Buy one that is something you don’t have to necessarily replace within a short period of time.
Black and white or color?
Black and white. For me, they have a special charm about them.
What do you like most about being a photographer?
What I like most is when I see the photos on my computer screen and edit them while I listen to my favorite music. That’s when I go back to live every moment. I am very blessed that people are able to trust me and seek me to document so many special moments. They allow me to enter their lives and let me be a witness and that is more than amazing.
What do you like least about being a photographer?
Actually, I like everything about it. There is always an adventure to live within each session. I am very blessed to be doing what I am doing for 7 years now. I have dedicated myself to photography and I have clients who have become friends and with whom I shared many moments with since our first shoot.
What do you consider the most challenging part about being a photographer?
The most challenging part for me is to search for the light and create a portrait under the pressure of time.
How do you, as a photographer, make sure that the thing, landscape or person you want to shoot looks the way you want it to?
It’s all about patience. Sometimes, a little bit of your time can come a long way; without moving so that way, the light, moment, and frame can align perfectly by themselves. You don’t have to alter anything but simply click a button to capture it all.
What is one project that has been on your mind but hasn’t been brought to life yet?
Melissa: Taking pictures in my professional studio with artificial light. Hopefully it’ll be soon!