Michelle, tell us what's been happening with your photography since we interviewed you in November 2019 for NZPhotographer magazine...
The article in NZP made me realise that photography IS my passion and that I should do more with it; try new things and to actually make the time to enjoy it. So I signed up for some field trips with my favourite Women in Photography group, including one amazing day spent literally immersed in acres of sunflowers at Franklin Flowers in west Auckland, and penciled in a few more which, thanks to Covid-19, didn’t actually happen. Not all was lost due to lockdown though as you'll read below - I finally had time to do some online courses, could watch hours of YouTube tutorials, and try out a few new ideas just for fun like selective colour, focus stacking, and B&W conversions of fireworks photos.
Has your photography direction changed in any way since November?
I have recently had three photography commissions; two paid ones taking stock images and headshots for websites which I found very challenging and rewarding. The other, unpaid, was taking photographs of a cousin’s wedding. This was my worst nightmare - You know that old chestnut, “You’ve got a nice camera, will you take our wedding photos?” The wedding was at their home, outside at noon on a chilly day. No matter where I put the bride, the glare made her squint, the cold made her face blue, and in the background was a wall, a window, and a drainpipe. They ignored my advice about these because “you can always fix that on Photoshop”. Er, no, actually.
What have you discovered with your recent photography ventures?
The more I experiment the more I discover how much I don’t know. Instead of giving up, I watch dozens more YouTube videos, try different techniques and (sometimes) crack the code!
We enjoyed seeing and reading about your trips in the magazine, have you taken any more trips abroad?
I visited Australia late last year. It was my burning ambition to see a real panda and there are two in Adelaide Zoo. It took a lot of time and hundreds of dud shots to get the perfect one, but I was extremely happy with it plus, I got a great bonus street shot in the panda play area!
Tell us more about your photography practice during Covid19 Lockdown... Sounds like you were super busy with the camera! Lockdown brought me much photographic joy. An intended one-off photo for Facebook of my husband and I at the end of Day One became, at the insistence of my FB Friends, a 33-day Diary Project which got 'Likes' from lockdown friends all over the world. Each photo shoot required careful planning: a timer, a tripod, a clipboard noting the day and theme, costume and props preparation, a lot of laughing and some arguing; then post-shoot there was the final image selection and editing, and the story to write. I became expert at pressing the shutter, running to my spot and posing and smiling naturally within 12 seconds. Usually it was just the two of us, but we managed to include the entire street for our Anzac Dawn Parade shoot.
During Level 3 the most exciting photo event was the arborists, a husband-and-wife team, who came to work on our trees. With social distancing and a zoom lens, I shot them all day long and finished with a posed portrait of the two of them, which they have used on a digital billboard recently.
Are you enjoying being an Excio member?!
Yes! Excio is all about the inspiration to try new ideas, visit new places, look at topics in a new way and to marvel at the work of those who have made their passion into an art form.
What's next for you?
I have so many grand plans: to become competent in Lightroom and Photoshop, to improve my landscape technique, to go on more field trips and courses, and to give my MiVo website more regular attention.
I am spending a long weekend in Taupo soon and am researching sunsets and astrophotography; then there is a field trip to Tekapo in November. I have a lens ball that has never been out of its box, some ideas for miniature photography… the list is endless!