They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the paradoxical role of the photographer after all, striving to successfully portray lively emotions in still images. Truly an art form, photography is a soulful mission, constantly uncovering the raw beauty of our surroundings and ourselves. Thus, the respectable role of the photographer is one of both free expression and great responsibility.
Meet Melodee Zappitello, a Logan High senior who has accepted the arduous mission of ‘the photographer.’ Signing up for Logan High’s beginning photography class simply to fulfill an art credit requirement to graduate, she never expected to discover a new passion. Now, she has continued to cultivate her talent by taking advanced photography classes with Logan High while pursuing her interest outside of the classroom, constantly seeking to capture animated, authentic moments.
“I fell in love with photography almost instantly,” Zappitello said. “It speaks to me. It’s fun, it’s mysterious, it’s something really personal. Have you ever been so mesmerized by something that you weren’t excited about it, but instead, you instantly felt calm and at peace? You were just purely intrigued by it, and you just wanted to learn everything you could about it, but not because you wanted to tell people about it, but because you wanted to know for yourself? That’s how I feel when I’m trying a new part of photography or exploring with my camera. It’s magical. It really is.”
"I feel like so much in today’s society, too many people are rushed and hurried. I want my photography to make them stop and think. I want to make people feel something.”
Zappitello admitted that she had initially underestimated the level of skill needed to be successful in the activity. Photography, she learned, is so much more than “just snapping a shot.” Rather, it is an effort that is simultaneously artistic and technical.
“Actually, for the first half hour I used the camera, I couldn’t figure out how to lighten up the picture, and I ended up leaving the lens cap on for about a half hour before I even thought to take it off!” she laughed. “I took it into my dad asking what’s wrong, and he said, ‘The lens cover… has that been on the whole time?’ and I just played it off like, ‘Of course not, silly goose… huh, it’s working now!’ but I don’t think I really fooled anyone.”
Over the span of two years, Zappitello has carefully crafted her talent while continuing to develop her own signature flair. At this point in her photography experience, she is eager to learn new techniques and experiment.
“I don’t really know how to describe [my photography] yet,” Zappitello explained. “I still consider myself somewhat of a beginner. Photography, when you’re starting out, is one big ‘try a little bit of everything and see what works best for you.’ I haven’t found a certain niche yet. If I like how it looks, then I take a picture. But I know I really like to shoot things that just focus on people and what they do, as well as landscapes.”
Zappitello has even launched Xqvisite, her own small photography business. Since its conception, Xqvisite has covered studio portraits, senior pictures, homecoming and prom photos, dance action shots and a wedding. In the future, Zappitello hopes to not only continue her photography business but provide the means for fellow aspiring artists to pursue their own passions in photography.
“This really is what I want to do with my life,” she said. “When I’m older, I want to have this little shop, and I want to have old cameras and new cameras and parts for the old cameras and parts for the new cameras and like, you can buy straps, you can buy lenses, you can buy batteries, you can buy anything your little heart desires. You can buy film, and I wanna have a dark room that you can develop your film in, and I want to have a studio people can rent out. As soon as I graduate high school, I don’t have access to those things anymore, and those are such a huge part of photography. I just want to be there for other people.
Some may argue that over the years the art of photography has been tarnished by unconvincing Snapchat filters and a startling lack of genuity saturating most Instagram feeds. The pressures to meet impossible beauty standards and present picture-perfect lives can often become overbearing. A big believer in body positivity, Zappitello hopes her photography can empower and inspire others by capturing her clients’ unique personalities in their purest form.
“I genuinely believe that there’s some beauty in everyone. I’ve had a couple people tell me, ‘Because of your pictures, I just feel so much better about myself,’” she said. “I’ve definitely gone on that journey where I’ve hated how I looked. Even I still have my moments, but it’s gotten to the point where I know my worth. I hate knowing that other people think so terribly about themselves, and I want to do every single thing in my power for people to not think that. I want them to look at pictures of themselves and think, ‘That’s me. This is who I am, and I am beautiful.’ I just want people to love themselves.”
Ultimately, Zappitello hopes that her photography can make a lasting impression.
“There’s this quote that I love. It’s by Robert Frank: ‘When people look at my pictures, I want them to feel they way they do when they want to read the line of a poem twice.’ That just sends shivers down my spine. That’s how I want my photography to be,” Zappitello explained. “I feel like so much in today’s society, too many people are rushed and hurried. I want my photography to make them stop and think. I want to make people feel something.”
To stay up to date on Melodee's photography, check out her official photography company on Instagram @xqvisite, or follow her personal account @meloddeeeee.