Melinda’s incredible journey from faffing with flatlays to styling for global brands

Post by
Marisa Young
Melinda’s incredible journey from faffing with flatlays to styling for global brands

Melinda Lee is a quiet achiever who has turned her hobby into a full-time profession that complements her home life as a busy mother to two boys. The former teacher from Indonesia found her passion for product photography through her love of ‘flatlay faffing’ in the early days of Instagram.

Always up for a challenge, Melinda’s Creatively Squared journey actually started by playing along with our original challenges encouraged to enter by our Co-Founder Ruth. She was quite the shining star with her flatlay works of art, holding her in good stead to sign up to our platform as one of our early paid content creators. Nowadays Melinda’s love for flatlays still remains strong but her growth in technique, style and versatility has given rise to a more polished and refined aesthetic. She sits proudly amongst our top tier of high-performing content creators. Specialising in beauty and skincare products, Melinda can credit herself with styling some of our most memorable assets for global brands like Cetaphil, Vaseline and Ponds.

A humble and modest creator, Melinda lets her vibrant visuals speak for themselves and her talent shines through. Her eye for composition, her wonderful use of colour and her ability to effortlessly switch between styles as the brief calls make her an easy and adaptable creator to work with. Not to mention her resourcefulness to recreate virtually any ‘scene’ needed in her home studio, from poolside vibes to on-trend bathroom designs, is extraordinary.

She does all this whilst still managing to enter our monthly challenges to further flex her creative muscles and continuously level up her skills.

Keep scrolling to get to know Melinda more (or perhaps reacquaint yourself with an old community friend) and learn about the evolution of Melinda as a Creatively Squared creator.

Let’s meet Melinda

Hi, I’m Melinda! I used to be a part-time English teacher. Photography was just a hobby that I did for posting on Instagram. In 2017, a phone case brand approached me asking me to photograph their products. I was hesitant at first but grabbed the opportunity. Since then, I decided to make product photography as a business. When the pandemic hit, I quit teaching English and became a full-time product photographer.

I love to shoot beauty products! Although, I'm also open to shooting other things, such as bags, and beverages. I'd like to explore what I can create for different kinds of products. For now, I enjoy shooting beverages. It has unlimited styling techniques and I've been enjoying exploring it.

I'd describe my personal aesthetic as bright, vibrant, and fun. Dark and moody style has never been my thing. I love styling and playing with props and coloured backgrounds to make the object 'shine'. These days, I also love doing minimal shots, as more brands demand them.

Melinda’s recent work for Love, Beauty & Planet embraces the brand’s colour story. Source: Creatively Squared

Journey with Creatively Squared

I had no idea about Creatively Squared until Ruth commented on one of my Instagram posts, asking me to join their themed challenge. It was then around 2018. I started following Creatively Squared and instantly fell in love with the variety and the fun challenges, and I won many prizes from them too! :) In 2019, I joined as one of Creatively Squared's creators.

Some of Melinda’s earliest Creatively Squared projects were for global brand Pond’s and this allowed her flatlay skills and colour appreciation to shine. Source: Creatively Squared

The most challenging project was Cetaphil Clear Core. The brief asked the talent to apply the lotion to their hand. And you know what, I was both the talent and the photographer. :D It wasn't easy as I had to manage the camera angle, pose effortlessly, and hit the shutter remote using my toe! LOL.

Melinda has consistently delivered standout assets for Cetaphil over the past few years allowing her to flex her muscles as a hand model and have fun with teeny tiny poolside styling. Source: Creatively Squared

Tools of the trade

I use Canon EOS M50 MarkII with 22mm and 32mm lenses. I've wanted to buy a macro lens for a while now, soon! For a tripod, I use Fotopro XGO and use Godox FV 150 and SL 60W for lighting. For editing, I use both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Every photo requires different props, thus, I don't think I have any specific favourite prop. My favourite location to work with is definitely my home studio. As a one-woman team, I like working at home while looking after my boys. Though sometimes, I get help from my husband or even my boys. For example, when doing water shots, my boy loves to help pour or splash the water. Sometimes they help when I need a hand model too.

Melinda makes water play is a family affair with stunning results. Source: Creatively Squared


Melinda’s creative process

I plan a photoshoot by writing down the brief (and everything else) in my notebook. Then I look for inspos on Pinterest. I either save them to my mobile or print them.

On the photoshoot day, I refer to the moodboard and creatively create it on set. I don't do sketches because most of the time I end up not using them. I like doing trial & error of styling during shoots until I find the styling that fits the product. So, a sketch won't work until I'm on the set doing the work.

We loved Melinda’s fake bathroom scenes she created for Zenduim. Pop to our Home Hacks blog article to learn more about how she sets the scene from her home studio. Source: Creatively Squared

I always listen to music when doing photoshoots and retouching. I love listening to indie music and jazz to keep in the 'creative zone'. To overcome a creative block, I'll take a total break from shooting and retouching. I put down the camera and do things I love, like playing video games and watching Netflix. After taking a break and having a relaxing mind, I usually have creativity flowing again. I am inspired by creators such as @marissaaldencreative and @anetalauradotcom among many others!

One of Melinda’s top performing assets for Vaseline. Source: Creatively Squared

Melinda’s top creative tips

Invest in time to learn. There are a lot of tutorial videos on Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram. Next, practice, practice, practice! No matter how slow your progress is, just as long as you don't stop practising. Lastly, don't compare yourself to other creators! Every person has a different timeline to grow and succeed. Enjoy every little achievement!

What’s next for you?

I want to learn more about making videos this year.

Thank you Melinda for sharing your Creatively Squared journey with us. It has been so wonderful to see you evolve, grow and flourish as not only a Creatively Squared content creator but as a product photographer in your own right. We can wait to see you delve into videography and see what moving magic you create.

We are so grateful you are a member of our creator team as well as a supportive and engaging community member. We really do appreciate you!

To keep up with Melinda and her creator journey, pop over to her Instagram to show her some love and give her a follow.

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