I fell in love with Melissa Forde's photographs before I knew she was taking them, via my obsession with her best friend Rihanna's Instagram account. We all know Rihanna's IG is a wonderful place to go if you want to feel like you're wasting your whole life wearing clothes in public. But there's something about many of her photos that feels especially intimate and playful, which is unusual for a massive celebrity account. They are not about pandering to some perceived male gaze but instead about embracing the fun of being young and in your body.
It turns out the photos that really evoked this feeling for me — of female friendship and intimacy, of causing trouble on the run — were taken by Melissa, Rihanna's No. 1 stunner and full-time tour buddy. It's not an exaggeration to say that I stalked Melissa through multiple channels to ask that she share some of her work and the methodology behind it with Lenny readers. My favorite thing about her pictures is their cheerfulness, their sensuality (man, I don't use that word a lot), and the way she appreciates and captures both the natural world and the artifice of stardom. Her work has an authenticity and a spirit that every clothing website aimed at millennial women is trying to capture and just can't. RiRi makes for a pretty delightful muse, but Melissa is already on a rich creative journey all her own.