Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Artist Spotlight - Michelle Black

Greetings Everyone!

Welcome to my first "Artist Spotlight" here on the blog. (Please see previous post for details if you've not yet read about this fledgeling feature). Today I am 'spotlighting' the young and multi-talented Michelle Black! To lay out this post with some preliminary detail, you will first find below a Self Portrait of this wonderful artist, followed by a one on one interview (Q&A), and finally selected works chosen by Michelle that she feels best represent her style, and vision as a Photographer. Without further delay, lets begin!

The Artist, Michelle Black...

Q: What is your full name?
Michelle Black, aka “Photo-Obsessed” (heehee)

Q: Where are you/your business located?
The small area of Eastern Ohio that some people (excluding myself) like to call ‘The Bridge’… Cambridge, Ohio.

Q: How would you describe your work? What kind of Photographer are you?
I can only describe my work as emotion based, somewhat impromptu, and very much ‘in the moment’. When I am working with people, I like to design a basic conceptual outline based on a current feeling or emotion I want to evoke, then observe and capture how my subjects react to their surroundings. Right now I am photographing a variety of subjects anywhere from Children to Musicians. I like to experiment with impromptu shots, and with giving an edgier look to classic portraits. I also focus on building my personal collection in between working with clients to help me keep a fresh perspective on the world around me. I do a lot of location scouting and am inspired by unusual settings; I have done Photostudies concerning abandoned structures, unsuspecting Landscapes/Waterscapes, and cities at night.

If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, which would they be?
A: Empathetic, Spiritual, Passionate.

Q: What is your single greatest inspiration as a Photographer/Artist?
There really isn’t a way to for me to pinpoint anything particular, but to break it down into categories, makes it a bit more clear. My son inspires me to keep moving, on a daily basis, and teaches me so many things; Life experiences are next in line I’d say; loss, love, lessons learned. That’s a lot of ‘L’s! When it comes to people in general, I am inspired by the natural energy of a person’s spirit. It is truly amazing to me how differently people express themselves in front of the camera. I have never worked with any two people that express themselves the same way. As I mentioned before, I am also largely inspired by unusual settings and how they evoke emotion within myself; I think there is a distinct connectedness between the energy of a particular environment and how it can be moving to a person’s spirit, which to me is, directly, and sometimes immediately, inspirational.

Q: What motivates you to keep on creating?
My drive to create is centered largely upon an acute passion to learn more about myself, about others, and the world around me - to continue growing, and to hopefully inspire others to do the same when they look at my work. There is a beautiful cycle in the world of art; when I look at others' work, I feel a passion to create again, and from what I express through photographs, others have the opportunity to view it and become inspired, also. I think this is the essence of creating; sharing ideas as a means to grow and inspire others to grow in turn.

Q: What was the first camera you ever owned/started taking pictures on?
I started out with a generic point and shoot film camera, photographing my son constantly after he was born. I got a Minolta Maxxum 5 with a 28-200 lens a couple of years later, along with a Nikon digital point and shoot… and my passion really took off. I loved the freedom I found with shooting digital – being able to see immediate results. It really helped me to focus on finding my voice in the way I composed shots and in using different viewpoints to create different feelings.

Q: When did you first know you wanted to pursue Photography as a Career?
Strangely enough...after I started working in a salon in 2004, I decided that the environment wasn’t exactly for me. I realized how passionate I had become at that point in my life when it came to picking up my camera(s). I began assisting a local Portrait Photographer, and helped with basic studio work, digital processing, and basic film development for about a year. However... I was often stuck in the back building frames and realized that what I really wanted to be doing was framing MY OWN work... hehe! I took the plunge, quit my job, and here I am, 3 years later as a Freelance Photographer. I know there is a lot of persistence involved in achieving the goals I have set for myself, especially in this area of the hemisphere :)

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ahhhh! In five years... I would like to see myself shooting 3-4 child sessions per week, along with a more regular flow of freelance work, possibly in the editorial field, as well as more creative work with musicians. I have quite a few goals that are related to Photography - one being: writing royalty free music for photographers to use on websites, and another to grow my current Photographer’s Resources business... (creating more design elements for marketing and image processing). I would LIKE to be too busy to do it on my own and have an extra hand in things – hiring an employee or two. We’ll see what happens! I am very excited to see what the future holds...

Q: What is your favorite subject to photograph? (Personally or Professionally).
My favorite subjects are: a) children and b) musicians. Children radiate with so much natural, uninhibited energy that is just waiting to be captured. I like working with musicians as well, because they already have a knack for expressing themselves, so it is interesting to see how they react in front of the camera - how they want to be portrayed and/or described, etc. I really like to show people for who they really are, and these subjects are just oozing with that natural element of wanting to self-express.

Q: Who is your favorite Photographer/Artist?
This is such a hard question for me to answer because there are so many incredible artists out there, and not just Photographers either! Aside from Photography, I am also into textured paintings, mixed media work, and illustration. I am VERY inspired by Andrew Wyeth, and the strong moods he creates in the simplest scenarios. I admire artists who can create an honest, very ‘raw’ atmosphere in their work. I am taking a growing interest in street and Candid Photography as of late. Sooo…. To stop beating around the bush and answer your question, my favorite artists (currently) are: Yelena Yemchuk, Lilya Corneli, Snjezana Josipovic, Pete Revonkorpi, Agata Dudek, Andrew Wyeth, Paul Klee, and Pablo Picasso. :) And, my favorite author is: Edgar Allen Poe.

Q: Hobbies and Free Time - How do you fill them?
I am a closet musician. I play piano, keyboard, and sing. I can also play the flute and guitar. I started writing piano pieces on my own around the age of 8. When I have any extra time, I devote it to continuing on with my music projects. I also write poetry, and have done so since about age 10. I have notebooks (upon notebooks) full of the stuff! ;p

Q: Name one thing most people don't know about you. (Either personal or professional).
I have struggled most of my life with occasional bouts of sleep paralysis (“night terrors”) and intense, sometimes grotesque nightmares. My dreams are VERY vivid, and although not always nightmares, there is almost always something very intricate and detailed going on..., and I experience regular ‘waking visions’... but don’t talk about any of it openly. I just observe their significance, and reflect upon their meanings...

Q: What is your favorite piece you've ever taken? Why?
My favorite pieces are candids of my son, in his natural element. There is nothing greater or more moving than being able to discern my memories of him.

Q: And lastly...What advice would you give Photographers, or someone just starting out?

A: Just don’t put the camera down! Look through the viewfinder whenever you get the chance! Write down your ideas… Generate a business plan and outline your goals for the next five years... (and how you plan to get there). Work with models! A realistic schedule is to set up a session with one model per week. This gets you used to working with people. Use other peoples' work to help inspire you in the beginning. Learn all the basic functions of your camera and if you need to take a class or two to understand lighting and other technical issues, go for it! Something I still don’t do enough of is collaborate with other photographers and attend "go-to’s". Gathering groups of people with the same passion as your own can be a great way to inspire one another. AND, last but not least... BE PERSISTENT! Get on a schedule for marketing yourself... as well as practicing… and stick to it! :)

To learn more about Michelle Black, you may visit her:



Flickr Gallery

Selected Works by Michelle Black...


Anonymous said...

What a powerhouse.
Thanks for bringing her to light!

Melanie S.
Chicago, Ill.

Anonymous said...

I love the one of the man crying...
So gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Wow is right! I'm looking forward to seeing what other artists you put on here!

MichelleBlack said...

Ash.. this was a fun and reflective experience! I feel so revitalized and ready to take on all of my ambitions now :)

Thank you for making me a part of your wonderful project.


Anonymous said...

This was such a great read! Glad I followed the Flickr link!

They are all beautiful photos, but I am so impressed by the candid approach to the interview. Really enjoyed learning more about Michelle.

Even saw some photographic examples I do not believe I have yet seen?

Anonymous said...

so amazingly great!
really enjoyed that. :)

Sarah H.
Mpls, MN

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed learning more about Michelle. Love her pictures of children. Very expressive!!~Nita

Anonymous said...

Great job, Nice new feature

Barbara said...

GREAT choice for a first featured artist. Michelle Black is one of my personal idols and inspirations. Thanks for a great interview and insight into this talented artist.

Bottle Bell Photography said...

It's been a pleasure as well, and a warm thank you to all for your lovely support thus far.

Anonymous said...

This was a really interesting interview. I loved hearing Michelle describe her art.
Thanks to the both of you!

Keep up the great work Michelle!

Anonymous said...

So incrediblle.

I really love learning the softer side of Michelle, and love your art as well.

Great stumble!, and Great Read!

THank you !

Biron G.

Anonymous said...

She is so talented, and articulate, and so are you, Miss Bottle Bell.
Great collaboration.


Anonymous said...

michelle black is by far my most influential photographer at this point in my life. her work is so moving..and such an inspiration! i'm glad you had this interview with her! it's good to read her thoughts and heart.

Anonymous said...

Michelle is amazing at what she does! I'm looking forward to seeing what she has to come!


MichelleBlack said...

Just wanted to say thanks again to all of you!!!


Urban LifeStyle Decor said...

Thanks for highlighting crazy-talented Michelle Black...

Anonymous said...