Singer, actress, photographer: Michelle Garthe is talented. From a Nikon point-and-shoot in 2007 to a high-end Canon DSLR and a portraiture business, Michelle has come a long way in a short time. Her work has graced the covers of several magazines. In her own words, her passion is capturing people and still life. What drives Michelle Garthe? How did she get started? What is her vision? Learn more about Michelle in this week’s edition of Photog Friday.
Name: Michelle Garthe
Country of residence: United States
Brief Bio: Michelle is an award winning professional singer and actress for nearly 18 years (see www.michellegarthe.com). She runs Garthe Photo Arts which specializes in babies, children, family and maternity photography in Hong Kong. Her works are seen on the cover pages of American Women’s Association of HK magazine, The List magazine, Sassy Hong Kong website, Kanga News (Australian Association of HK magazine), Time Out Magazine, walls of US Consulate Hong Kong and Hong Kong Cultural Center. She also does graphics designing and photography for Community Advice Bureau.
How did you first get interested in photography?
It all started when my husband Lou and I took a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand in 2007. Armed with a point and shoot Nikon camera, I was fascinated in capturing its enthralling landscapes, picturesque towns and fascinating culture. I purchased my first DSLR Nikon D40 and experimented on still life photography. Then I realized I needed a camera with bracketing capabilities so I sold my D40 to my brother and purchased a Canon 450D. I experimented on HDR (High Dynamic Range), clone effects, Dave Hill effect and high speed photography. I also began studying lighting techniques as well.
During my brief hiatus as a singer (due to pregnancy), I became fascinated with portraiture. I took advantage of my free time and purchased photography books and subscribed to magazines. I didn’t stop learning new techniques.
After my baby Ava was born, I thought of ways to capture her images in a more unique way, and thus I experimented on props. I designed my hand knitted and crocheted props and had them custom made by my friends from the US. Since then I became hooked on portraiture and decided to run a portrait photography business in Hong Kong.
What do you like to shoot?
My passion is capturing images of people and still life.
What’s your approach to photography, your philosophy? What do you look for? How do you set-up a shot?
I intend on creating works of art, not just photographs. I love pushing the envelope and I never stop learning new techniques. I always pre plan my shots by doing sketches before each session with my clients. I also apply a very flexible approach, particularly with babies and children, as you’ll never know what to expect. I learned that as much planning and preparation I do, I always have to leave room for other possibilities.
I always look to capture the different moods and candid moments of my subjects, as capturing them in their most relaxed, natural state creates the best shots.
I make sure that my subjects are well-rested and fed. Then I proceed with my plans and proceed with Plan B or C when the situation warrants it.
What is the best photo you have taken? Why? Background and details, please…
This is difficult to answer, although I love the photo of Ava sitting on the glass and staring down on her reflection (above). She was 7 months old at the time, and it’s a very innocent image; capturing her in that most unguarded moment.
What gear are you using? What else do you want to buy?
I’m using a Canon 5D Mark II with 24-70mm F2.8 and 50mm F1.4. I use mostly Canon EOS gears, filters and some slave flash units. I think I’m set right now.
Which area of photography would you like to explore further (macro, landscapes, portraits)
I intend in continuing what I’m doing and follow my heart’s desire.
Where do you see your photography 5 years from now?
I see myself still doing portraiture and just enjoying the fruits of my hard work.
What the best advice you would give to fellow photographers?
Vision is what’s more important, the equipment is secondary.