Pushing Boundaries: Melvin Mapa and the Petzval 85 Art Lens

Filipino LomoAmigo Melvin Mapa now shoots in Singapore, his current residence. He is familiar with the Petzval 85 Art Lens as the perfect fit for portraiture and wanted to push the lens' capabilities by taking it out for some street photography.

Melvin shares with us his experience and skillfully taken photos in this interview.

© Melvin Mapa

Please introduce yourself and your team to the Lomography community and the readers of the Online Magazine.

Hello! I am Melvin Mapa, Head Photographer of The Photography of Melvin Mapa, a startup I’m running in Singapore. I worked as a Creative Director in advertising for a little over two decades, only to discover that the path I was truly passionate about was that of a full time photographer. I felt it was my calling.

What is your origin story as a photographer?

My enthusiasm for photography came about at an early age of 7 when my parents gave me a KODAK 110 camera which I use to take pictures of my family and neighbours. I fell in love with photography and realised that there is so much more than just taking pictures — I want to tell stories through my photographs and show the world what the human eye sometimes can't see.

© Melvin Mapa

How do you develop your creative eye?

By being mindful, determined, and talking to people who see the world differently.

Tell us a little more about your Petzval lens experience? Any challenges or interesting stories?

The Petzval is an outstanding portrait lens—just for portraits. I know it’s designed for that specifically but I pushed myself and took it out to do street photography. Although it attracted too much attention because of the shiny brass, and it’s impractical to change aperture, and it’s way too heavy to carry around, I really had fun shooting with it! But if given a chance to shoot with it again, I’d go for it. This time it will be indoors.

© Melvin Mapa

Any photography tips you can share with our readers?

Tips on what lens to use to shoot a particular subject, what chemical is the best to develop a particular film, is artificial light better than natural light, all of these are accessible knowledge. You can simply Google them and learn quickly. There’s nothing wrong with that, really. You can also join groups with similar interest, or attend photography workshops.

But for me, the most important aspect in photography, is to find something you really care about. Whether you have a plastic or top-of-the-line camera, the most crucial thing is to produce a body of work that matters. Spend your time and energy in creating photographs that are necessary and substantial. It’s easy to get caught and get lost in a trend but you have to be mindful of the type of work you will be creating. Decide whether you want to create an impact using your photographs or just add to the unnecessary clutter. Our life is short, so create work that matters.

© Melvin Mapa

Do you have ongoing or upcoming projects that you would like to tell the community about?

I do have a list of projects to work on— both personal and commissioned. For personal projects, I’m currently busy with a long term work called Fragments: Portraits of Love, Hope and, Pain. It’s about understanding ourselves and our nature as human beings. Another one is my Film Photographer Interview initiative the idea of the project is to keep the momentum of film photography rolling. Also, I’ll start on my research about the issue on suicide. I plant to do a photo-documentary on this. It’s a very sensitive subject to deal with, so I’m planning it really well.

Melvin used the Nikon D800 with the Petzval 85 Art Lens for this shoot.

Explore more of Melvin's work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

written by crissyrobles on 2018-08-08

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