“Leaves – Heading to the Abyss” – 18″x 24″ – photograph
Falmouth photographer Julie DeMello does not seek out pristine beachscapes or exotic locales to shoot. Instead, she is drawn to bits and pieces of nature that others might pass right by—decaying flowers, a single leaf on a tree branch, or a close-up of frothy green seaweed visible through rushing seawater. “I’ll go to a pond or an estuary, and I’ll be walking and get that feeling,” she explains. “When I see something that entices me, I spend a great deal of time observing it. I really feel like I become connected to it. It’s beautiful and mesmerizing.”
For DeMello, who particularly loves to photograph in the dark, creating a picture is a meditative process—a chance to connect with her subject, with her surroundings, and with those who have inspired her over the years, especially her late mother. “I feel like she’s been a guiding force,” DeMello says. “She was an avid photographer herself.”
Despite an early love for photography (she took a photo class in high school), DeMello spent most of her professional career as a full-time bookkeeper. She loved the job, but the camera was always there. “My kids have always teased me for taking photos of oddball things.” On a very subconscious level, DeMello began to “see” things in a whole new light in 2012. She took a break from her career and made art her priority. “I allowed myself to take some time to explore—explore myself and my photography,” she says. “Some major life events affected the way I see the world. I see things in a really intimate way now. Five years ago, I had no interest in abstract art. It’s been really enlightening.”
A class with photographer Jon Moore at the Falmouth Art Center proved pivotal for DeMello’s artistic growth. After the class, Moore became her mentor. “I’d bring boatloads of pictures, and we’d meet and talk about them,” she recalls. “He really pushed me.”
DeMello has only recently begun showing and sharing her work publicly, and her exhilaration is palpable. “I love to hear what other people see,” she says. “You have this conversation with someone you don’t know, and it gets them thinking, and who knows—maybe they’ll pick up that camera that’s been sitting there for too long.”
Julie DeMello is represented by Rice Gallery at Woodruff’s Art Center, 1 North Market Street, Mashpee; and Watershed Gallery, 1 Shipyard Lane, Cataumet. Her work can also be seen at What-A-Grind @ The Hub, 634 Route 28A, North Falmouth, and online at juliedemellophotography.com.