I met Michelle a little over a year ago at an event held at the Museum of Australian Democracy. Straight away I knew I liked her, she was wearing jeans, had her hair in a pony tail and kept taking pictures of everything and everyone, while captivating people with her infectious laughter and welcoming smile.
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to have my initial assessment of her verified – she is a beautiful human being who has a willingness to share and learn and who is passionate about photography.
Since the age of 17, Michelle knew she wanted to be a photojournalist. To help her achieve this dream she joined her yearbook committee at her high school in Kenya, but life had different plans for her at that time, as she found herself just 1 year later, studying teaching at an Australian university, and her passion was shelved.
Years later, in 2007 Michelle had the opportunity to fall in love with photography again as she held a Nikon DLSR in her hands. With a voracious appetite to learn how to produce the kinds of images she had in her mind, she poured over photography forums and YouTube tutorials learning about photography from beginning (framing, light, equipment) to end (post processing and editing).
If you follow Michelle in social media, or have stumbled on one of her blogs or website, you will immediately recognize her photographic style. Her portraits are a tribute to how an individual interacts with their environment. She loves capturing the innocence and magic of childhood, and when photographing people outdoors, she recommends doing so in the gorgeous glow of the soft light that comes just before sunset.
Michelle’s personality allows her to make her clients feel at ease (she is naturally a very likeable and trust evoking person, and there is nothing she will ask you to do that she is not prepared to do herself), and as such she creates portraits that show a glimpse into who they are, and see a beautiful, authentic representation of themselves.
Michelle also loves photographing landscapes, and this came about quite accidentally as she was challenged to do a ‘photo a day’ and was running out of subject matter. ‘Landscapes, unlike people, don’t move or complain’, so they can be great canvas if you are looking for photography inspiration. Michelle recommends trying to combine a point of interest with a pretty sky (either interesting clouds or a gorgeous sunset), in an effort to show the amazing world, country and city she is in. Just as she would a portrait, she ensures that she poses the landscape in the prettiest and most flattering light and at the most flattering angle.
As any photographer would tell you, it is not an easy road. In fact, there have been times when Michelle has decided to give it all up. Her family keeps her in check, knowing what photography means to her, how it makes others feel, and what a loss it would be to have her skills shelved indefinitely.
She understands that she needs to find a balance between the pressures she places on herself regarding photography and the joy that she gets when looking through the lens, and seeing raw beauty. To her, taking photos is a way in which she expresses herself, a way that she relates to the work around her, and inevitably a means to release that self imposed stress.
So, I asked Michelle if she had any advice for starting photographers, and her answer was… ‘Photograph, photograph, photograph!’.
She said that for her, the key had been working out what types of images she wanted to take, and from there she asked questions, and joined forums to enrich her understanding of photography. She also recommended to look for photographers in the industry who photograph in the style you like and observe how they do their art. With social media being so readily available, she recommended following people online, on Pinterest, on Facebook photography groups, and even on Google images.
Work out what works for you; experiment, and have the belief to grow from the beginning and develop your own unique style.
A fantastic image is the one where its composition draws the eyes to it, where you are compelled to feel an emotion, where beauty is unearthed