Main Street Mondays: A passion for portrait photography | Local News

LEWISBURG — Melanie Ortiz, owner of Lewisburg Studio and executive photographer, discovered in high school that she had an interest in photography.

However, Ortiz also found that creating original images was as interesting as being in front of a camera. After modeling at fashion shows in New York, New Jersey and the Philadelphia area, Ortiz began to befriend photographers.

“I just met some great, artistic people who really loved their jobs and adored their jobs,” Ortiz said. “I want this, this is what I want in my life.”

The enthusiasm for photography was buoyed by a college professor who made it clear that it could be a big part of a lifetime.

Otiz said his first job was with a “mall photographer.” It was fun, but the work was for someone else and became frustrating.

Ortiz worked with preschoolers for about five years and made friends with the parents. She said they had seen how she was with the children and had heard that she was taking pictures.

“They started paying me to do family portraits,” Ortiz said. “Then one of my colleagues said that (their) daughter was getting married.”

Ortiz said she had never had a wedding before. But she accepted, it went well and she found a “niche” in the company.

“Talking to people all day and seeing everyone at their best,” Ortiz said. “Seeing their best attire, their best emotions. It was so awesome.”

Photography was not a full-time activity at first. Ortiz worked at Lowe’s for a while, but learned “do-it-yourself” skills useful in setting up a photography studio.

Ortiz said the goal of portrait photography is to reliably portray the person on camera. Feeling the energy coming from the person and reciprocating was one way Ortiz went about it.

“I make them forget the camera is there,” Ortiz said. “If you’re having a conversation with someone and you’re focused on that gift with them, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the room. Like when you have a really great first date.”

Ortiz thanked John Gardner, former owner of Lewisburg Studio, for his support when the 419 Market St. business changed hands. The studio has two employees, a retoucher and a studio manager.

Stewart C. Hartline