Get to Know: Alma Melendez!!

We are so pleased to announce a most exciting addition to our roster - Alma Melendez!  After graduating with a degree in film and spending time in film production, Alma has since brought that depth of vision to her photo styling.  With over 12 years in the industry she brings that poise and sensibility to even the largest projects - be sure to check out her completely updated portfolio! Do you remember your first big shoot that you styled on your own?  Tell us a little about it...
The first shoot I styled on my own was for Estee Lauder perfume and cosmetics back in 2002. I was covering for the stylist I assisted at the time and just beginning to branch out on my own. Prior I had worked on indie films in the art department. Photography was a new medium for me. The photographer was Bill Steele and his studio was in Chelsea. I don't recall any setbacks but I was a bit nervous, and not because I felt I needed to prove myself, it was more an excited nervousness that I still find I get with jobs that are challenging. What I remember most about that shoot was Bill's use of film and polaroid. Every shot took longer and the assistant constantly checked the polaroid for focus and details. Bill also had a darkroom in his studio and never emailed photos to the client. It was the last of the non-digital days and looking back I'm glad I got to experience a little bit of it. He was a very good photographer and a great director. He also nurtured talent, something I don't find happens much. He knew what he wanted and I enjoyed the times I worked with him.
Do you have any secret shops that you can always rely on for that perfect gift?  When you go - what do you buy for yourself?
Secret shops would be Exit 9, Calypso Au Marche, Dean & Deluca housewares in the back of the store, Moon River Chattel (Bkyn), John Derian I guess not that secretive but all have good gift items. I always buy myself something silly, like a vintage lightbulb or a wood spoon. I'm not a big shopper since I shop for a living.
What photographer (past or present) do you really admire, someone that always has a great sense of their set and truly does justice to the stylist?
Presently I really enjoy working with Darrin Haddad and Ashton Worthington. Both are talented photographers who know what they want and are not afraid to experiment. They also have a great rapport with their crews, and awesome studios. I'm psyched there are more women photographers than say 10 years ago. They've been working hard and putting the hours to make a name for themselves. Burcu Avsar and Alison Gootee are good examples of talent and moxie.