Darth Vader Just Flew in From Planet Hoth...and, Boy, Are His Arms Tired {Melyna Fang Portraits, North Phoenix Photographer}

12:30 AM

Last week I had my first celebrity client in my studio for his official portraits to be made by me! 

Okay, so it wasn't actually THE Darth Vader, but a Star Wars-obsessed fan who wanted to be photographed as Darth Vader. He had purchased a Darth Vader mask which only covered the face, then added his own paper mache and black spray paint to make it a complete helmet. I was impressed with his creativity, and knew I could add the drama to his official portraits that would match his creativity.

I photographed my client as if he was required to have an official portrait for the Empire...

The official Lord Vader portrait.

But I felt that Lord Vader's portrait needed some more Star Wars drama, and put him in a galaxy far, far away...

Then Lord Vader, himself, a fan of the cult movie, Napoleon Dynamite, requested a 1970's Olan Mills double-exposure nod to the ones of Napoleon Dynamite and his brother, Kip, that hang on the wall at their house. I have to say, it's one of my favorites from the session.

I took creative license with the Darth Vader session, styling some portraits to look cinematic rather than a simple portrait sitting (like the featured portrait of this post). I took my cues from the movie franchise in which Darth Vader always seems to be enveloped by or leading a trail of creepy, ominous mist, or surrounded by the absence of light, with the exception of some bright lights.

If you are into cosplay, and would like similar portraits, please contact me to discuss a creative portrait session for you! This was fun, and I'd love to do more. Also, I am now calling myself the "Official Sith Lord Photographer."

365 Project

The End of One Project, the Beginning of Another {North Phoenix Photographer, Melyna Fang Portraits}

8:12 PM

Last year at this time I decided to begin a 365 Project. Proudly, I did complete my project, missing only one day (which I made up for by posting twice the next day) due to complete and utter fatigue. This may be the first ever New Year's Resolution I have ever fulfilled! However, by focusing on my 365 Project and posting the photos to my Instagram page, I focused less and less on the business end of my photography, barely touching my website/blog this past year. I had intended on updating my blog with selected photos from my 365 Project as I progressed through the year, but, frankly, I just found it tedious. All my creative energy was going into my personal photography, and some business photography. I had reverted back to a hobbyist-level photographer.

The last few years I have been disappointed by the commodification of photography and the trend of consumers looking for bargains rather than purchasing out of "brand loyalty,"  or for style and quality. A personal friend even advised me to lower my pricing, but I do not want to sell my photography based on being a "good deal." Rather, I wish to attract clients who enjoy my style of work & appreciate my business ethics, and are willing to pay a little more in order to make me their personal photographer for the long term. 

As I began photography as a business, I found that much of the inquiries I received were requests to copy some photos seen on Pinterest. While I enjoy perusing Pinterest for inspiration (and I do have a Pinterest page of my own), I don't like photographing some of the "cheesier" photos, nor being required to photograph outside of my style. I don't like my body of work looking like that of every other MWAC (mom with a camera) in my market, either. I want to be unique, set apart from other photographers. I became resentful of my business after a while and found no joy in my photography. I would sneer at my cameras in disgust as I walked passed them. I barely even photographed my own kids as their childhood disappeared through the ravage of time.

Before I started my 365 Project, I never considered myself an artist since I cannot draw or paint or sculpt. I simply have the knowledge to operate a camera that most people do not. At least, that's what I used to think about my photography. Through forcing myself to photograph a subject and post it every single day, I find that I do have an artist's eye. I certainly have the artist's personality: constantly wavering between self-assuredness and self-doubt. I, like other artists, also wish the world to see my photography and appreciate it, but would also like to see that appreciation convert into dollars in my bank account. I also take my photography extremely personally and enjoy having loyal clients who continue to return to me for their photography--for I take that as proof they appreciate my photography more than they appreciate any random photographer providing a better deal. I treat my loyal clients like family, and show my appreciation of their appreciation by under-promising and over-delivering. Much of my photography I have gifted to clients because I want to lift them up and offer a simple kindness through my photography. 

Through my 365 Project, I have found joy and fulfillment in my own personal photography again. I actively looked for inspiration in researching other artists--including Renaissance painters, Greek statues, Victorian photographers, turn-of-the-last-century photographers, modern photographers, pin-up artists, 1980's & 90's avant garde photographers, Hollywood glamour photographers, and commercial photography and fashion models from the 19th century till now. I have been inspired by friends who are, what I would label as "natural artists," who draw and paint and post their work on social media. I have found that I want my work to be more artistic, but, conversely, I wish my work to also be marketable as commercial work. I desire for others to see my portrait work as skilled, and to remind the viewer of vintage portraits or classic paintings. I want to improve my photography and learn more about the art of photography. It seems the current generation's appreciation for photography has devolved to the lowest common denominator: the most photos one can get for the cheapest price. I truly desire, by people seeing my work, to contribute, in some small way, to the appreciation of photography being elevated to a higher level. 

In 2017, I have several goals. I will continue to develop my style of photography while providing heirloom/gallery quality photography and portraits, including style and boudoir portraits, to clients, friends, and family. I will learn how to attract commercial clients in need of marketing photography or custom blog/social media photography. I also would like to work more on photographic still-lifes and other artistic photography for clients' custom wall-art. I will focus less and less on family photography, as that market is flooded at this time, but will, none the less, be happy to provide the service upon request. 

This year I will be photographing the less-demanding 52 Project, in which I post a photograph once a week for a year on my Instagram account. I hope to do more than once a week, but I don't know that I can make myself stick to another 365 Project. This way I'll still be doing regular shooting, but I'll have more time to think about what I will be photographing. And, perhaps more time to devote to my website/blog. I invite you to continue following me on my Instagram page to see my 52 Project this year. And, of course, if you haven't already, please "like" my Facebook page to receive the most current updates and special offerings.

Adventures of Super Sammy

The Adventures of Super Sammy {Melyna Fang Portraits, North Valley Photographer}

5:47 PM

This spring, I posted about a family portrait session I photographed for a very special family. This was the third session I'd photographed for them, and had gotten to know them a bit. I had even had them over to my house for brunch. I discovered we had some things in common (as both our families come from military and law enforcement backgrounds), and in my blog post, I even wrote, "My client's family is much like my own in some important ways--albeit younger--in our love for family, God, and country." Unfortunately, this fall, we discovered their family and my family have one more thing in common that we wish we hadn't: a young son diagnosed with childhood cancer. 

My son, Sean, was diagnosed in December 2008 at age 3 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Fortunately, after nearly 3 1/2 years of chemotheraphy, blood transfusions, and spinal taps, plus all the needle pokes, compromised immune system, side affects of treatment, hospitalizations for dangerous infections, etc., etc., he is now cancer-free, healthy, and thriving because of the great care he received from his pediatrician and the staff at Phoenix Children's Hospital

I was in utter disbelief when this fall, their 4 year-old son, Sammy, was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma--brain cancer. We had been down that long, dark road of a child's cancer diagnosis, and I never wanted to have that in common with anyone I know. I was heartbroken that such a sweet, smiley little boy like Sammy had to go through this.  

Sammy's parents, family, and friends are doing as much as they can to support Sammy through this rough road. His mom has set up a website where you can follow his progress: . You can also follow him on Facebook at:  . The following link will take you to a piece ABC15 did on Sammy and his family which discusses more of the side affects from his treatment: .

Not only is a cancer diagnosis physically & emotionally devastating for the patient, and emotionally devastating for the family, it is also financially devastating. Unfortunately, while top of the line cancer care is often miraculous, it is not cheap. Even with insurance coverage, everything is not covered: family members miss work, quality childcare is a new cost, etc. All the extra costs are in addition to the normal bills the family must pay--not to mention the fact that it is Christmastime!

If you'd like to assist Sammy and his family with some of the costs related to his care, there are a couple of options at this time. You may donate any amount, no matter how small, to: . There is also a fundraiser in the form of a yard sale on January 20 & 21 at Desert Hills Baptist Church in Buckeye (

There are also a couple of ways you may support Sammy in spirit. Constant prayer for Sammy and his family are always needed and helpful. Coming from a military/first-responder family, his parents have requested military/first-responders to send Sammy their favorite challenge coin. There is more information, including his mailing address, is in this Adventures of Super Sammy blogpost:  Finally, Sammy's birthday is coming up soon--he will be turning 5 on January 16. A friend has set up a campaign requesting birthday cards for Sammy (

God Bless you, Super Sammy! So many people are thinking of you and praying for you, buddy!

Like my friends