Lulu Escapes meets traveller & photographer: Sara Melotti
Sara is a talented Italian photographer and blogger who spends her days travelling around the world and capturing its beauties to share on her blog Behind The Quest. A few years ago, Sara started a fantastic project to showcase the beauty of women from all over the globe during their everyday lives and is hoping to write a book about it in the future. My interview will allow you to know more about this kind, inspiring and wonderful women. who's mission is to make a positive change in the world.
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What is it about travelling that makes you want to explore more and more of the world?
I love cultural diversity and I'm seeing many cultures disappearing and getting lost in modernization and globalization so I feel the urge to see as much as I can of this planet as fast as possible before all this beautiful diversity disappears and everything looks the same. Plus I'm an awe-junkie and totally hooked to that feeling of amusement I have when I see something new and beautiful!
Do you sometimes find it hard to travel solo? Any down moments?
No not really, I like traveling solo because the experience is always much more intense and meaningful, I meet more people, I get to live experiences that maybe wouldn't happen if I wasn't alone and I get time to think more. I'd like to have someone helping me with my work though sometimes, it would make it a lot easier!
What’s our advice for someone who’s never travelled solo and thinking of doing so?
Use common sense and you'll be fine. Don't be afraid, trust your instinct and soak it all in!
Where are you originally from in Italy? Do you tend to go back home often?
I am from a city called Brescia that not many people knows so I just say Milan because it's nearby! I used to visit a few times a year but now I just opened my own agency Rise & Shine with two friends from back home and I go back more often.
What’s your favourite Italian dish?
Pizza (of course!)
Tell us a bit more about your project ‘Quest for Beauty’. What are you hoping this project will achieve in the long run?
After working as a fashion photographer for 3 years I started to feel torn inside as I realized the kind of images I was producing were contributing to create very unrealistic standards of beauty that made countless women suffer, making them feel they aren't good enough. I didn't want to be part of a self-esteem-killer-machine anymore so I decided to put my skills to use and actively do something about the issue. I created the project and started traveling, photographing and interviewing women in different countries to find out what beauty really means to us. After two years I covered 12 countries and the interviews I'm collecting are showing that for 99% of women beauty has nothing to do with outer appearances.
I am hoping to cover 20 countries and finish the project by the end of 2018 to then make a book about it, have a few exhibitions and tour around speaking about what came out of the research I did.
Quest for Beauty: website
How do women around the world react when you ask to photograph them? Do you find any differences depending on their cultures and/or religions?
They are generally shy but most the time they agree to be photographed. It's the same pretty much anywhere. The country I had most difficulty was Morocco, women are not very keen to be photographed if they don't know you but a friend brought me to his native village and I took most of my portraits there.
How would YOU define beauty in general?
Beauty is an emotion. It's something you feel. When you are looking at something and you feel your heart tingling, that's beauty!
Do you prefer photographing landscapes or people?
People, I actually don't like taking pictures if there are no people in it!
Which encounter emotionally affected you the most?
There were many. I interviewed some women that were victims of acid attacks in India, that was pretty heart breaking, but there was a moment I'll never forget: It was a woman in Morocco; she was my friend's nanny when he was a kid. When we approached her she was washing clothes, we were in a field filled of olive trees, there were a few donkeys and white birds were flying around and some kids were playing in the field. My friend asked her what she thought Beauty is and she answered "Look around". It was just one of those moments when you appreciate life and people so much!
Which country is next on your list?
It's not confirmed yet but very likely I'm going to Burundi at the end of the month for a gig with a charity foundation. With the entire media storm I was in after I wrote my article "Instagram created a monster" I felt I needed to do more meaningful work than what I am doing. Burundi is one of the 16 most dangerous countries in the world at the moment and I thought it was a great way to start!
If you had the power to change something in this world today, what would it be?
Ahh there are so many things I wish I had the power to change, stop every war, end poverty... but I think the most useful one at the moment would be to get rid of all corporations that are exploiting us and the planet!