Jamel “Mel” Lewis is a 22-year-old self-taught photographer from Maryland, who attends ODU in Norfolk, VA as a communications major. It was my pleasure to talk to him about his craft and himself. As far as photography goes, Mel started in 2006, which marks his years in middle school. His first experience with capturing moments on camera was recording the services in his church. Despite this, it wasn’t until around 2011 that he began to get more familiar with his camera and photography and in 2014 is when he began to take it seriously.
Everyone has different reasons for getting into the craft of their choice. For Mel, his reason was rather simple.
“I’m a visual person.”
He believes that seeing visuals can resonate with an individual forever. A lot of the things that we see throughout our everyday life, no matter how simple, have lasting impressions on us. Mel feels the need to create things that have a past, present and future, and we all know that photographs can last many lifetimes. Understandably, he wants his photography to create a legacy for himself. A good artist never dies! His favorite kind of pictures to take are street photos, or portraits.
“They’re spontaneous and more authentic.”
When asked if he always had a camera on him, he admitted to carrying one everywhere at one point but then the routine slowly fell off. Now, he does always keep his instant film camera in his car, just in case.
Others have already started to take an interest in Mel. He spoke to me about his first showcase in which he strung 15 prints on a cable in an artistic display. He has also been featured by companies like Visco and organizations like Society X. Aside from having an undeniable talent in photography, Mel revealed that he is also in the process of learning about film. Unlike his process with photography, Mel wants to learn film the textbook way and then turn it around and finesse the rest! After college, he hopes to intern for a Virginia film office, but he doesn’t want to stay in Virginia forever. Like most creative types, Mel hopes to travel outside of where he grew up and work on his career path.
Career & Goals
Mel wants to start as an assistant director and then work his way to the top. The top for him is building his own film company and producing his own films. But for now, his goals for himself are to have a steady group of clients, create a core fanbase and of course, have his artwork seen by the masses.
“I wanna submit films into film festivals and have my photos in museums one day.”
Mel has big dreams for himself, and like we all should, he also has a plan to get where he wants to go. I definitely admire how set he is in his goals!
Mel leaves aspiring photographers with an important piece of advice! He stresses the importance in believing in yourself and your dreams. “You will get some criticism,” he states, “but you have to have faith in yourself.” He believes that anyone planning to follow their dreams must work hard and never let themselves get discouraged.
Want to keep in touch, book the artist or just stay in the loop? No worries, I got you. Find him here!