Meet Michelle Rae
ast time we featured a father and son team who make beautiful art together. This time around we have a woman based in the US to talk about photography. We hope that this article will inspire more people to pick up the camera because it’s never too late to start a new hobby or otherwise re-kindle one’s love for taking photos because as you will read here photography has so much more to offer once you put your heart into it. We’ll stop here and let someone who’s already into it do the talking. Let’s meet Michelle Rae.
When you were a kid, did you already like taking photos or looking at photos? When did you start doing photography and did it start out as a hobby?
I don’t remember a lot from my childhood because of my medical condition (I used to get convulsions and epilepsy attacks) but I distinctly remember how I hated being photographed. I guess I knew back then that I’d rather be behind the lens instead of in front of it. Haha So I guess I’m gonna say, going by my memory, that I first picked up a camera when I was in college and my mother sent me one of those automatic 35mm point-and-shoots.
What kind of camera/s have you used? Do you have a favorite? Why? What camera do you use now?
I’ve gone from digital to purely film to digital and film. I’ve used different types – from DSLRs to 35mms and medium formats to Polaroids. I have several favorites but I love shooting in medium format (that’s the 120 film) the best so I would have to say my Yashica Mat 124G and my Kiev 60. I love the brightness my Yashica yields while I love the depth of field my Kiev gives me.
I use those two constantly, along with my Fujifilm X100S (digital), but I use different cameras for different purposes. I’m a camera addict and I have over 40 of them littering my apartment. Oooops….
Photography is very popular nowadays as a profession. How do you know if a person is just a hobbyist or a professional? Is there really a tension between these two kinds of photographers?
As far as tension between professionals and hobbyists goes, I don’t really feel that it’s there. From experience, I find that many uber-technical photographers, whether they’re professional or not, can get a little too particular about dissecting the technical aspects of a photo as opposed to appreciating the creative side of it. Other than that, people are generally accepting and supportive of one another.
Books have genres, is there also a similar "grouping" in photography? If so in which genre or group does your body of work belong?
Definitely! There’s landscape photography, portrait photography, conceptual, HDR (high-dynamic range), fashion, music, studio, action/sports, wildlife… the list goes on. And these “genres” kind of intermingle often. Like a landscape photographer might use HDR or a portrait photographer might include landscape to enhance his/her photos.
The most fun part for me as a portrait photographer is going to awesome locations for the shoot, just cos I love to travel and discover new and hidden places.
The most challenging, I would say, is having this constant need to improve myself and not having either the time or the inspiration/motivation to do it. Photographers get “writer’s blocks” too and we find ourselves in a rut that’s climb out of sometimes. It’s happened to me more than once and there are lots of embarrassingly pathetic self-defeating feelings when it happens. haha
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer? What is the most fun part?
Can you share with us some of your favorite photos? Can you also share the stories behind them?
Can I share 5?
This remains to this day at the top of my faves. It was around the time I wanted to start doing some surreal shots and I found this cool fairytale-like location in Laguna Beach, Calif.
When I first saw my husband’s apartment back when we were still dating, I honestly thought that his apartment looked like a set from a David Lynch movie. It was designed by his roommate, Ted, who works in reality TV production and loves mid-century modern furniture (like in Mad Men). I loved it so much that I wanted to do a David Lynch inspired shoot! This was a shot from that session.
We don’t have a lot of docks with public access here in Los Angeles since most of them are private so when my husband’s parents flew us to Florida to stay at their condo there, I took advantage of their dock access. This shot was inspired by Cat Stevens’ The Wind.
This was a happy accident!! I was photographing my cousin at the beach for the first time and I forgot to forward the camera to the next frame. Now I’m glad I didn’t!
I’m so happy with this shot because not only did it turn out so well – the contrast and the mood are just perfect (in my humble opinion), but also one fellow film photographer commented that it looks like a Caspar David Friedrich work. I didn’t even know who that was before he said it.
What's in store for your followers on Facebook? Please do share with us your Facebook page and what we should expect.
Errr, I really don’t have that many followers on FB yet. So please follow me? Haha https://www.facebook.com/michelleraephotography
I’m super busy with my job as a writer so I haven’t really had time to shoot but I have scheduled a session with my gorgeous friend Angela soon so hopefully I get some good photos from that to share soon. Fingers crossed!
Lastly, what do you think are the three things that are very important characteristics any photographer should possess to be successful?
Keep pushing yourself to be better.
Practice (a lot).
Do you have other interests? Do you think it's important for other interests to be related to your biggest interest, in your case photography, or not necessarily because varied interests promote diversity?
also write. I’m not an author type but I spend most of my days writing. I write for NYC-based photography website called The Phoblographer and for travel website IndieTravel.org.
And I travel a lot. I hate being stuck in one place for too long. I love to see new places and immerse in different cultures. If I could be on the road forever like a nomad, I would die happy.
I completely honestly believe that no person can be just one thing (that’s why I hate labels on people). A woman can be a full-time mom and an entrepreneur at the same time, while a student can study fashion and make money as a photographer on the side. It’s definitely important to expand your horizons, have different interests, and nurture those interests. They will help you grow as an individual and they make you a more open human being. And with all the technology we have access to these days, it’s getting easier and easier to do that.