Details Make the Details

Details Make the Details

Details Make the Details

Artist Interview with Melissa Tokariwski

Melissa Tokariwski is a photographer based in Canada who loves to focus on the smallest of details in her work. We had the opportunity to interview her and learn more about her process!

Melissa Tokariwski with Lensbaby Edge 35

Q: When did you start taking photographs and why did you continue?

A: I started shooting about 10 years ago but didn't get really serious about it until 4 years ago when I fell in love with macro photography.


Q: Which is your favorite Lensbaby lens and why?

A: This is a hard question! It depends on what I am shooting... but I love the Velvet 28 and Burnside 35 for their ability to be a great walk-around lens. You can go from macro to landscape and everything in between with a turn of the focus ring.

Melissa Tokariwski with Lensbaby Sweet 50

Q: What tips do you have for beginners just learning how to use Lensbaby gear?

A: Ask your Ambassadors questions! We are here for you and want you to love them as much as we do. Definitely spend some quality time with it. Do a #30dayswithlensbaby and only shoot with that lens. Lensbabys can take time and patience, use your live view, direct manual focus, and focus peaking to find your focus.


Q: What professional photographers have influenced your work, and how do you incorporate their techniques into your photographs?

A: My fellow Ambassadors inspire and influence me, They are so creative and inspiring. Each one is different in their own way. They make me swoon with their bokeh and blur and their use of light. There are so many wonderful and inspiring photographers out there it's hard to name a few, but Jon Golden has inspired me on many occasions. He makes me think differently and I love to hear about his adventures!


Melissa Tokariwski with Lensbaby Sweet 50

Q: Give us the BTS of the photo below!

A: Milk Drop Collisions captured my eye several years ago. Once something catches my eye I am determined to do it. I use the Pluto Trigger and water drop valve. The valve is on a tripod that drips into a shallow bowl, which is in a bigger bowl to catch splashes. I use whiteboards with a plastic finish on them as a reflector on one side and off-camera flash on the other. The camera and my Velvet 85 are on another tripod right in front to capture the action. . Sticking a knife in the bowl of milk where the drop will fall, I get my focus at F8 or F11. You then have to figure out the timing of the first drop to the highest point, then you release a second drop to collide with it in mid-air. Everything is done in milliseconds; the first drop, the second drop, and the off-camera flash. Any change in those will result in different shapes that you capture. While testing the collision I use straight white milk. Once my collision timing is good I add food coloring to the bowl and another color to the dropper. The Pluto trigger is operated by an app on my phone and I start shooting. Each capture is done in the dark on a 2-second exposure. The flash freezes the motion. After I shoot I look through them all and see what images I see so I can name them appropriately. This one is a shell!


Melissa Tokariwski with Lensbaby Velvet 85

Q: What is the most difficult part of being a photographer?

A: Oh definitely culling and keeping my LR catalog at a respectful number. I want to keep every piece of art I create just in case. I'm pretty sure I have an image available for every MacroMonday theme possible without shooting anymore. check out #macromondayloop for inspiration!


Q: Do you have formal training as a photographer or are you self-taught? What was that journey like?

A: Oh let's see. I wanted a camera. I bought a camera and it evolved from there. I learnt how to shoot in manual mode with Shultz Photo School many years back. Now I write courses for them and share my knowledge. Anything I have done since then has been self-taught and lots of experimenting.


Q: What details do you believe make the best photographs? How do you go about focusing on them in your work?

A: Details make the details! I have trained my eyes to spot things that most people don't see and don't notice. The tiny curve of a leaf or petal, the insides of flowers, the fuzz on bees, the eyes and tiny hairs on those bugs and the light that gets trapped and makes beautiful bokeh. I like to share that with my friends and the world.


Q: What inspires you most?

A: When your health becomes questionable, you look at life a bit differently and appreciate the tiny things. The smallest things will inspire me. Frost, snowflakes, bugs, tiny curls. Lots of people don't see, appreciate or recognize the details and beauty in life they are missing. Don't sweat the little things in life. Capture them.


Melissa Tokariwski with Lensbaby Velvet 85

Q: What is your favorite subject to photograph?

A: My love is in macro photography and capturing the details. There are so many different subjects and details to see and share through my eyes. And the subject doesn't talk back. My second love is capturing Grads/Seniors and their accomplishments and happiness!


Q: How would you describe your photography style?

A: Colorful! I love colors and details and purple.


Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?

A: I love to see the amazement in people's faces when I capture those details. Something they don't see and don't notice on a regular basis. It makes them look for things too! Even my kids have opened their eyes to their surroundings to see things like I do!


Q: What tips do you have to bring the best out of your models?

A: When I do shoot people, I explain the pose and show them what to do. I will also tell really dumb jokes to make them laugh.


Melissa Tokariwski

Melissa is an award-winning photographer in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her love is Macro photography but will capture anything that comes in front of her camera from babies & grads, families, Aurora & astrophotography, landscape, and wildlife. She experiments with photography and her brain is wired to "what if I do this". Her desire to try different things is displayed in her Instagram feed, but she will always revert back to macro photography.



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