Michelle Moore, known for her unique talent in senior photography, as well as creating the well-known Posing Guide, has been gracious enough to allow me to interview her! I’m all for helping photographers grow and learn, and I thought it would be unforgivable not to include an interview with Michele in my new “photographers” series. So, here goes!
You’ve made a name for yourself in the senior portrait industry. Was there a specific time in your life when you made a decision to go with that niche? Tell us about it!
Thank you! I stumbled upon senior portrait photography at first by accident, with my first senior that I photographed in early 2007. I had been doing fashion and other photography shoots with a makeup artist and knew it would be something I wanted to offer in my senior shoot. After that first senior, things slowly started to make sense to me. People were coming to my blog and going back to that one senior shoot I had done over and over and I decided that maybe it was time to give it a shot! Later that fall I started looking for senior reps and photographed a good number of seniors in the graduating Class of 2008. I started from day one including makeup application and it was something no one else was doing at the time – and it really took off from there. By 2009 I had quit doing weddings and other genres of photography to focus solely on my two passions, senior portraits & fashion photography. I knew it was my calling because it gives me so much joy to photograph teens and help them see how incredibly beautiful they are inside & out.
What are your goals for the next year, as far as photography goes? Also, do you have any personal goals?
Next year will be big for me as I grow the commercial photography side of my business. I have been working more with retail brands and publishers, photographing lookbooks, author profiles and my first book cover this past June. I’ll still be doing seniors – but will keep expanding my client base.
You travel between Seattle and L.A. a lot, among other places. Do you enjoy traveling often? Does it ever get tiring? What was your favorite place to travel to?
I actually really enjoy traveling and being in exciting! This past year I have gone to some really fun places, my favorite being Santa Ynez/Los Alamos (about 45 minutes outside Santa Barbara) for a client. There are so many rad places I’d love to see and visit – and if I get to work and travel, it’s a win/win for me! I’m even more excited about the places I’m already planning to visit for work in for 2015!!
Do you have a few favorite blogs to peruse through? What makes them unique enough to stop by on a frequent basis?
Sadly I don’t visit ANY blogs these days!! Maybe the readers out there can share some cool blogs with me? I usually spend my time online reading the news or checking out my Pinterest feed.
Do you have any advice for beginner photographers out there? Something you wish someone had told you when you first started?
Everyone is given their OWN set of tools, resources and circumstances. Everyone has different opportunities. Really REALLY try to remember that you are on your own journey and that is truly special and meaningful. I still struggle with this, but I have to remind myself of my own achievements and goals to realize how far I have come on my own journey. It’s hard to not compare yourself but if you can take one thing away from this piece of advice, is to really try to focus on YOU and NOT what everyone else is doing.
While in LA, have you had the chance to meet anyone interesting?
I’ve met & worked with some AMAZING people there! It was fantastic to finally meet and work with makeup artist Amy Clarke –she is the sweetest gal ever and I’ve been following her work for years since discovering her via Amelia & Justin Lyon.
In the past, have you ever had a less-than-ideal experience with a client? How did you learn from it?
Yes, of course I’ve dealt with difficult clients in the past, and the biggest thing has been learning how to communicate efficiently, lay out expectations well in advance, and adjust wording, contracts, and communications so everyone is on the same page. I think the biggest thing is learning how to be confident in your business practices, knowing when to bend rules, and how to manage expectations so you have happy clients!
It’s clear that you are very knowledgeable about photography; you’ve been doing it for quite a while. When you first started your business, though, were there times when you felt as though you didn’t know enough? Were there ever moments when you were frustrated because of it?
Thank you!! I’ve been shooting professional for 10 years now, which is pretty crazy to think about! I think when you’re young and starting out you’re not thinking too much about what you don’t know – because you don’t know what “you don’t know” yet! The biggest period of frustration for me was when I was trying to figure out my photographic style and then allowing that style to naturally evolve. Once I figured out who I was as an artist, and embraced my talents and skill set, all that frustration dissipated.
I’ve always enjoyed looking through your work, as I know many others do. The way you pose teenage girls (and boys!) is so unique that you’ve created a posing guide to help other photographers achieve the look! What gave you the idea to create that posing guide?
I think this ties in to the previous question, as one of the biggest skill sets I noticed myself developing was being able to make my clients feel comfortable in front of the camera and pose them in very natural ways. I have received hundreds of questions over the years from photographers asking me for tips and tricks about posing and once I felt I was in a place to write a guide I started working on one. I wanted it to be different than other posing guides, as I wanted to actually explain how to relate to your clients, rather than just copying poses from an image. Posing is so much more than just copying something you see – it’s about relating to your client, understanding their personality and bringing out their confidence on camera. My posing guide speaks on that and then goes into posing details, rather than just being a surface level “copy and re-create” guide.
In this competitive market, you’ve proven time and again that you’re willing to help other photographers learn by creating guides and authoring tutorials. Not every photographer is willing to put their post-processing and posing secrets out there, and at times it can be quite competitive. I know I’m not alone when I say that there have been times when I’ve been greatly discouraged with another photographer and the cut-throat intensity about our industry. Have you ever experienced a harsh remark or negative comment from another photographer? Were you able to learn and flourish because of something that was said?
In the past few years I have really just put my head down and focused all of my energy on my business and my clients. My clients are my number one priority and without them I would not be where I am today. I want to give them the best experience possible and as long as I’ve made my client happy – that’s all that matters. I love to teach and am happy to share knowledge because it only helps elevate our industry and educate others. There are plenty of clients to go around (I mean think about it –there’s no WAY I could photograph even a single high school’s entire graduating class all by myself!) and if you focus on YOUR clients and making THEM happy – you will be successful.
Thanks so much for participating, Michelle! I’m so happy to be able to learn from you, and I know I’m not alone!
All pictures of Michelle Moore, posted above, were taken by Kristen Marie of [Kristen Marie Photography].