Michelle is an Auckland based photographer who enjoys shooting with people in fashion, beauty and editorial based assignments. She shoots with both natural and flash lighting and likes to give a good deal of thought, planning and inspiration to each shoot.
Where are you based?
I'm from Tauranga and based in central Auckland now.
What initially interested you into photography?
I always loved painting and everything visual and our parents taught us the basics of using an SLR from early on. At age 16 I asked the photographers at the local newspaper in Tauranga if I could do some work experience with them, after watching them work and assisting for a week I thought it was the most fascinating and exciting job. It was also my first experience with using digital cameras and I was amazed.
Tell us a little about your style of photography.
I mostly photograph people because I like to interact with them while getting a shot. I consider myself lucky to be meeting all kinds of people on the job. The style is dependent on the job I've been asked to do but it usually involves setting up some lighting.
What gear do you use?
I use Canon gear a 1DmkIII and a 5DmkII with a 16-35mm f2.8, a 24-70mm f2.8, a 50mm f2 and a 70-200mm f2.8. In lighting I like to use Bowens Esprit flashes with multiple fittings and a Profoto Bat Pack (which is a portable battery to use with lights on location).
If you had to choose only one lens, what would it be and why?
That's such a hard question. I use the 70-200mm so much for magazine portraiture and the wide angle when shooting houses so I'd have to choose those two
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
I'm not a very organized person so when GST and tax returns are due I really have to focus on getting them done. I also find it hard to self promote, it's a Kiwi thing I'm sure.
What do you feel has been your greatest photographic achievement to date?
I'm very proud of a shot I did of six Olympic athletes before they left for London, it was logistically difficult as all the Athletes had different schedules and couldn't be shot at the same time, plus the studio wasn't big enough even if they had all been available. I needed to convince the magazine to let me shoot it on grey (even though white would've been easier in post production). So the plan was to shoot each person at a different time and then montage them into the final shot. It took hours of research: position sketching, lighting planning and then combining them in post. It was very different to my regular work and I was very happy with the end result.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
I would have a secondhand retro and collectables shop.
What would be your dream job or assignment to shoot?
To shoot Isabeli Fontana and Natalia Vadianova, on the salt flats in Bolivia for an Editorial in Harpers Bazaar.
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
Play with your equipment, experiment with your settings, assist other photographers and learn as much as you can about the whole process including the business side of things.
What are your thoughts towards videography - do you see yourself moving on to shoot more video than stills in your work?
At the moment I shoot only stills. I'd love to learn more about and practise video this year. The publications I work for are print-based so I can't see video taking over at this stage.
Are you a fan of using flash in your work?
Definitely! I love using lights, especially in outdoors locations. I like experimenting when I have time and using a combination of natural light and flash. I purchased a beauty dish a few months ago which I'm really enjoying using.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
Something that grabs my attention, perhaps it has a story or a feeling about it or is just beautiful. I think Photoshop is great but it shouldn't be detectable. I'd rather see a photograph that has had a lot of work go into the taking of the shot than into the "Photoshopping" afterwards.
What do enjoy doing to take a break from photography, what recharges you?
I love trail running and coffee. I very rarely have a complete break from photography because I'm always looking for ideas around me or thinking about ways to improve my business or the functionality of my website etc.
Who/What motivates or inspires you to keep doing what you do?
I love being a photographer. I still get excited when I take a beautiful shot. I'm inspired by a lot of things, locations, interesting looking people, old movies, beautiful light. I have an inspiration folder on my desktop that I drop things I find interesting into. Then when thinking about or planning an upcoming shoot I reference the folder. It also helps to show others like a makeup artist and stylist before a shoot so everyone is on the same page.
Visit Michelle's website