Interview by Samo Šajn

Elsa Melero is a photographer and director. Born in Barcelona, but now based in Los Angeles. She is known for constructing genuine environments that serve as canvases for conveying the distinctive narratives of individuals. Her work is filled with honesty and a love of storytelling.

Elsa, how did your passion for photography start? And what were some of the first photographs you remember taking?

My passion for photography started when I was quite young. I remember being fascinated by my parents’ old film cameras and always wanting to play with it. I then started to make home videos filming myself being different characters or documenting things around me like I was a journalist. I bought my first camera when I was 17 years old and felt like I was spending millions. One of the first photographs I remember taking was in Hawaii where I was traveling with my twin. It was our first trip outside of Europe. I was mesmerized by the colors in the landscape, the ocean and the people. I was a little obsessed constantly looking to document everything.

From living in Spain and studying law, you moved to Los Angeles to become a photographer & director, walk us through that exciting journey.

It was indeed an exciting and transformative one. While studying law, I always had a lingering passion for the arts, particularly photography, filmmaking and acting. I eventually decided to pursue my dreams and make the leap.

The decision to move to Los Angeles was both daunting and exhilarating. I was drawn to the city’s vibrant creative scene and its reputation as the entertainment capital. Upon arriving, I immersed myself in the culture, networked with fellow creatives, and honed my craft through various opportunities. Adjusting to a new culture and industry required resilience and perseverance. However, each obstacle served as a learning experience, shaping me into a more versatile and determined artist I believe.

What would you highlight as some of your biggest career accomplishments so far and do you have any cool projects coming up?

Reflecting on my career so far, there have been several milestones that I’m pretty proud of. One of my biggest accomplishments was to shoot stills on film on the set of the Grammy-awarded music video TKN starring Rosalia and Travis Scott. It was a culmination of creative collaboration, and it reaffirmed my passion for what I do. Another highlight for me was to shoot Latin artist Karol G during her recent tour. Considered one of the most influential reggaeton and Latin trap artists, she received several awards including five Latin Grammy Awards and four Billboard Music Awards, with nominations for two Grammy Awards. She was recognized with the Rulebreaker Award at the Billboard Women in Music, with the Spirit of Hope Award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards and her works broke five Guinness. This project allowed me to push the boundaries of my creativity and reach new audiences. These experiences have not only shaped my career but also taught me invaluable lessons about perseverance.

Looking ahead, I’m thrilled about some upcoming projects that I have in the works with Siesta which is a Creative Production for contemporary visual narratives. Siesta produces and executes ideas for Brands, Artists & Events.
Additionally, I am excited about upcoming opportunities to collaborate with music artists and accompany them on their creative journey. My aim is to document their process in a way that not only showcases their talent but also encapsulates the essence of their artistic expression, capturing the raw emotions, moments of inspiration, and the sheer dedication that goes into their craft. From the studio to the stage, I will be there to visually narrate their story, offering viewers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes magic of the music-making process.

What in life inspires you most and how do you incorporate that in your work?

What inspires me most in life is the beauty and diversity of the world around us, as well as the human experience in all its complexity. Whether it’s the inspiring landscapes of nature, the rich tapestry of cultures and traditions in other countries when I travel, or the raw emotions that define our shared humanity, I find inspiration in the everyday moments and extraordinary stories that surround us even if that sounds like a cliche. Incorporating inspirations I get when watching a movie or going to the Opera into my work is part of my creative process too. I strive to capture the essence of these experiences and characters that call my attention through my lens.

Moreover, my interactions with people from different walks of life also serve as a constant source of inspiration. Each person I meet has a unique story to tell, and I’m passionate about capturing their narratives with authenticity and empathy.

How would you describe your photography style and what is most unique about it?

I would describe my photography style as a blend of storytelling, authenticity, and nostalgia. In a digital age dominated by instant gratification and perfect pixels, I find beauty in the imperfections and timelessness of analog photography.
I choose to shoot exclusively on film, I believe it adds a unique depth and texture to my images, imbuing them with a sense of warmth and nostalgia that is often hard to replicate digitally, at least for me. Each frame is a deliberate and thoughtful capture, requiring patience and intentionality. From the initial composition to the final development process, every step is a labor of love, resulting in photographs that feel organic and authentic. Shooting on film requires a level of trust and surrender to the medium. Light leaks, grain, and subtle variations in color become part of the narrative, adding a layer of storytelling to each image.

Elsa Melero Portrait