January 16, 2012

Interview: Mishelle Lane

The first time I came across photographer Mishelle Lane's website, I said to myself "Who is this Secret Agent Mama?" I totally wanted to get to know her because her photos were amazing, telling story after story of her life. A few emails later, I now have the opportunity to introduce her to you!! Have a seat, peeps and please welcome:

When did you begin to develop an interest in photography? Take me back to those first years and if you could, tell me about the paths you explored to expand on your craft.

I was a little girl, probably around eight or nine years old, when my grandfather asked me to take some pictures of our Easter dinner gathering.   There's one picture, that he always tells me about, that I took of his brother and him while they sat at the head of the table toasting and singing songs, each with a shot glass of homemade slivovica in their raised hands.  From that year on I was always handed the 35mm Canon to take pictures.

In retrospect, I always was fond of cameras.  I can still vividly remember the way the flashcube went off on my parents' Kodak Instamatic, that whole dynamic ingrained within me just like the familiar shake-shake-shake of Polaroid pictures.

The love of taking pictures, as a little girl, led to me taking a high school elective in photography, which led to working as a yearbook photographer in my senior year, which ultimately developed into a job at a portrait studio.  I photograph because I can't not photograph---it's who I am!

Do you feel as though your photos reflect or reveal pages of your own story? How so?

I personally love to document my life--and the life of our family--through photography, from the big events to those minute, everyday ones.   I love that I am telling my story, but most importantly I love that I can look back and feel gratitude for those moments that were captured.    

I think that with the advancement in personal cell phone technology, and the fact that we are readily equipped with cameras at our fingertips, it's easy to tell our stories on a daily basis.  For me this is special because we live far from our immediate family, so they can look in our lives and relish in all that I share.  Another aspect that I feel reveals my story are my self portraits.   Being the photographer often means that there aren't many photographs of the one behind the lens.  I have remedied this by turning my camera on myself in various self portrait projects; ultimately they tell my story through the feelings, settings, and quirkiness that is conveyed.

What do you love to photograph most? If you had to step out of your comfort zone, what would you photograph?

I just love how photography can bring out the beauty in everything and everyone.   I especially love to photograph nature and people, and I am a huge fan of using shallow depth of field when doing so.  I love how unique every [leaf, tree, person, set of feet] is, how different from the next.   I love the way raindrops gather in the folds of leaves or how they collect and drip off the end of a delicate limb, or how wrinkles can look so beautiful when I smile spreads across a beautiful face.].   I love that nature and mankind can bring me to my knees (quite literally) allowing me to take notice of all the wonders around us.   I also love how abstract nature can reveal itself to be, just like the uniqueness discovered in every portrait photography session.

If I had to step out of my comfort zone I would say that would be working exclusively with artificial lighting.  While I do use an external flash, effectively, it is still quite different from natural light where I feel my photography shines (no pun intended).

Would you share three of your own tips to capture a great photo with the readers?

Tip #1:  Stop the overuse of the Dutch angle (aka tilt).  Sure, sometimes, it's beneficial to add dramatic effect to photo by tilting, but otherwise it's just plain wrong.

Tip #2:  Learn your equipment and technique.   Do all you can to learn how to get of the green square by reading your manual, taking online tutorials, reading photography blogs, and, most importantly, practice-practice-practice.

Tip #3:  Strive to get the right exposure in the camera as opposed to relying on post-process.  This one goes hand-in-hand with Tip #2.

When do you feel most inspired to go shooting?

I absolutely love the golden hour when the sun is near the horizon, reducing the intensity of direct light.  It's no wonder they call it the "magic hour"!

Would you share the links to the photographers or books that have guided or inspired you?

I am inspired by so many photographers out there, really all too many to list, but one of my favorite sites to gain inspiration from is Shutter Sisters.  I've recently gotten into Google +  and it's really amazing for photography inspiration.   I am also severely addicted to photography magazines like Popular Photography and Digital Photographer.

***Mishelle! Thank you so much for sharing bits of your photographic journey here with me today. I'm so looking forward to the work you will create in 2012 :)

Bio: Mishelle Lane, a born-and-raised Buffalonian, is a 37 year old, wife of fifteen years, mother of four, and professional photographer who currently resides outside of Atlanta.  Online she has been writing on her personal weblog, Secret Agent Mama, since 2005, with a mix of photography, self exploration, poetry, and quirk, as well as playing with social media on twitter.   While she is passionate about many things, nothing makes Mishi--as she is known to her friends and family--happier than when she is behind her camera, snapping away.  And, very rarely will you see her without her camera, and now her iPhone 4S.  Mishi also writes for the popular online woman's magazine, Curvy Girl Guide, and you can find her daily photos on Instagram where she "shoots from the hip" as @secretagentmama.

A few more photos:


Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

Mishi is my favorite photographer ever.

thea said...

Great photographs and advice. Thanks for introducing me to a great photographer.

Donna said...

I love Mishi's work! She is always such an inspiration. So happy to see her featured here!

Cheryl said...

She's sensational. I prefer shallow depth of field also. And she's right about learning your camera and learning how to take the photo in the camera and not rely on the computer.

Angie said...
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Angie said...

Beautiful work. I love how you create tension in your photographs. I do this myself as well. And what I mean by that is, you look for and find the beauty in the things most people would overlook. The littered papers on the concrete stairs, the rotting tomato, both create this gorgeous tension begging the beholder to look for and find the beauty within the image. Brilliant work. I love it.

Katie said...

Terrific interview! I wholeheartedly agree with Tips #2 & 3. Camera manuals are the most boring things on earth to read, but if you read them one section at a time and then apply that knowledge to your camera, they do wind up making sense in the long run. I've had plenty of "OHH! So THAT's how it works!" moments while reading mine. Thank you, Bella, for introducing us to Mishelle!