“Final Moments” with Melvin Cabreja

Melvin Cabreja

IG: @justmelv718

Jamaica Queens, NY

How did you get into photography?

When I was a kid my mom was always photographing us with disposable cameras. I was fascinated holding the prints and negatives. I also blame my grandpa  down in Florida. He would always take me to make photo prints at kinkos. He always had his camera in his hand. So it made me appreciate all the moments that were being saved. When I was 18 I had a friend who had just gotten a Nikon and we would go and shoot. A couple months later I was hospitalized and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The doctors said my sugar levels were so high that I should’ve been in a coma and my blood was so thick from other complications that I should’ve had a stroke. I could’ve been gone and It pushed me to get my own camera to start photographing for real

Thats crazy, good thing you’re still here with us! When you got your first camera did you go the digital or film route and why?
I went digital for my first camera cause it was the cheaper route. I wasn’t working at the time cause I was still adjusting to my medications. I was self taught at first so with digital it was all trial and error with no extra cost. I didn’t start shooting film seriously till I started college 2 years ago

What do you enjoy shooting the most?
Portraits, Because it’s my personal connection with a person for that moment. It could be someone I’ve known for a long time or just met, it’s a representation of how I feel about them or how I see that person in my reality.

So what was the inspiration behind your theme for “portraits”?
Back in June of 2016 my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer at 98 years old. I’ve lived with him and my grandmother since the day I was born. So when they put him in hospice I was the one who took care of him. I saw him going slowly every day and realized that I had to capture his final moments. He knew his time was coming and was happy about me photographing him which was rare cause he hated having his picture taken. He passed in October 2016 and my grandmother took it the hardest. They had been together for 72 years. She lost her soulmate and it literally broke her heart. She needed a pacemaker and I once again stepped up to care for her. I continued the series photographing her through the aftermath of losing my grandpa. She looked defeated which was rare because she’s the rock of my family. She keeps it together for all of us and I witnessed her break down in front of my own eyes. She wouldn’t eat, she cried, she was hurting and I needed people to see what we were feeling cause I know others go through it too. I didn’t like talking about it so my photography was therapy for me. I named it “Ready To Die/ Life After Death” cause it summed it up perfectly while paying homage to one of my favorite rappers Biggie . He told me to take care of my grandma and to finish my photo degree for him in his final days so I made sure to continue this series and it’s still growing every day.

Thats really deep,  So what about on a regular day, what triggers you to turn your camera on and capture a moment?
Honestly anything can inspire me to want to go out and shoot. I can be watching a movie or hear a song or just something clicks in my brain even seeing a color that makes me wants to put in work

Where do you see your talents taking you in the future? 
I do more than just photography, I also make beats, and do video as well. So I see myself doing anything media based.

2 thoughts on ““Final Moments” with Melvin Cabreja

  1. This touched me, this isn’t just to show people where you came from or what you’re about. The way you spoke you spoke in matter of feeling confident within your accomplishments. Being grateful for such little things that sometimes we get blinded from within the reality of life itself. Really inspired me, that photography is much more than just a passion. It’s literally you in different million of pictures. Your emotions, a story behind every photo or film. Keep it up, shall be a journalist i would read your books honestly!


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