We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie White and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melanie, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking has been essential to me growing as a creative. I started off in college, walking up to other students I did not know and asking to take a photo of them. To my surprise, 90% of people I asked said yes and really did not care at all. This took off a lot of the pressure and made it a little easier each day.

Taking risk to me is all about betting on yourself despite the odds. Before I take a risk, most of the time I’m nervous because it’s unfamiliar. I try to take off the edge by asking myself what is the worst that can happen? Most of the time in the creative space, the worst that can happen from taking a risk is you never hear back or you don’t get the gig, but the best part is you can always keep going until you do get a yes towards opportunities you have always dreamed of. Taking risk is essential to growing as a creative.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My journey from drawing to photography has always been centered around portraits, specifically women. I think there is a familiarity with being a woman myself and telling the stories of other women through art. My goal has always been to not only be a part of telling the stories of women, but also other communities that represent who I am and the communities that I have been closely connected to. That is one thing that I am most excited for in my art. I am trying to be more intentional in the work I produce and trying to emphasize a specific story with one or a few images.

Where I am right now in my career is only the beginning. I have been a photographer for only 2 years so there is a lot more work to be done. It hasn’t been easy getting opportunities and finding ways to be more unique in my approach to the lens, but I am determined to keep pushing myself. Everything ties back into taking risk. I genuinely feel like the only way I will get to where I want to be is by continuously taking risks and doing things that are uncomfortable.

I believe that being a risk taker will probably be a part of my end story as a photographer. I’m dedicated to telling the story and seeing the vision through. Lately, I have been telling some of the people I work with it’s okay to be uncomfortable and to be vulnerable in front of the camera because it leads to some great moments.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Day 1: Riverside, CA

If a friend was visiting me for the week we would go to a few different cities. Overall it would be a mixture of tourist attractions and small business that you may not find on google or top things to do in the city.The first stop would be the current city I am in, which is Riverside, California.

Breakfast: Mimi’s cafe, pancakes with berries and mimosas
Activity: Mission inn Galleria Shop which is a cool vintage shop that you can easily spend between an hour to two hours.
Snack: Donut Bar, across from mission inn galleries
Lunch: Anti Dairy Fight Club, amazing vegan asian cuisine. My go to order is any of the specialty items with steamed gyoza and banana samosas.
Activity/ Dinner: we would end the night off with one of my favorite pandemic activities, the drive in movie theater at Van Buren Drive-In

Day 2: Los Angeles, CA

Day 2 would be in the city I was born in, Los Angeles California. Growing up I did not explore LA as much as I wished I would have but now that I have gotten older I have a few favorite spots that have a special place in my heart and stomach.

Breakfast: Blue Jam Cafe, their Crunchy French Toast and the Blue Jam Benedict
Activity/Lunch: Volunteer with Lunch on me and visit their sister company Larayias bodega and get some vegan food, merch and other cool items.
Activity: We would end the day off with a picnic at Santa Monica pier and try a new food place together.
Alternative Activity: Array Now film premiers.

Day 3: Random City

Day three we would pick a random city and explore it together. I think there would be something fun about discovering some cool places that we could create our first memories at together and introduce other people to.

The rest of the trip would just be relaxing and doing things at random as well.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A person who would like to give a shoutout to is one of my college art professors, Lynne Marsh who planted the idea in my head of using a camera to bring my ideas to life. I was working on a concept for an assignment and at the time I was drawing pen portraits, I figured that would be the best way for me to go about the concept by doing something I was used to. She had asked me if I had considered trying photography? The thought of it was scary but once I picked up a camera it became very freeing and fun. She would always push me to think a little deeper about my ideas.

I would also give a quick shoutout to the people and organizations that say yes to working with me while I continue to grow as a photographer.They give me the motivation I need to keep going.

Website: https://mkwportraits.myportfolio.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mkwportraits

Image Credits
All images by: MKWportraits, Melanie White

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.