Photographer Michelle Payne-Gale is enjoying a successful career combining her two greatest loves.
Michelle’s enthusiasm for her two loves: her family and for the art of photography is infectious. Always wanting to work for herself, Michelle got into photography by accident. She took some business photos for a friend as a favour and then started getting calls. The rest, as they say, is history.
Specialising in baby and child portraits, she has enjoyed success for some years running photo sessions with families. Her passion is for black-and-white photography, “because of its mystery”.
A recent expansion of her business (www.michellepaynegale.com) to include black-and-white photography for subjects of all ages means she is now able to indulge in this medium. It’s not just Michelle’s creative side that gets to benefit – a major bonus for the subject is that black-and-white photography is very flattering and can hide a multitude of sins.
Her informal shoots are what makes Michelle’s business special. The focus is on relaxation and fun. With her warm smile and effervescent nature, she soon puts people at their ease.
Working using only natural light means no studios or harsh bright lights. She will do a session at a location of the client’s choosing, whether that is at their home or a local park.
Michelle understands that a shoot is a family investment that offers them a memento to look back on. She says it feels ood to get photos of families looking relaxed and enjoying themselves.
Families have thoroughly enjoyed their sessions. Michelle’s favourite shoot involved a family with two young children. To get thebest shots of the children, the committed photographer crawled on the floor – despite being eight months pregnant at the time! Her efforts were worth it as the family was ‘blown away’ by their photographs.
For Michelle, it is the best part of the job, as she explains: “It makes me feel good about what I do for a living. It is so inspiring when the family is moved by the results.”
Family is a special motivation for Michelle. Her business revolves around her family: husband James and two-and-a-half year old son Tyler. The flexible nature of the photography means she is able to juggle shoots with the commitment of caring for her son. That often means working late nights and weekends. She reflects that “running a business and raising a child is very hard – but worth it.”
Both Michelle and James are very close to their families. Michelle credits her ‘very wise mum’ for her balanced business philosophy.
With her strong family values, there is little surprise in learning that Michelle’s dream shoot would involve photographing the Obamas or Will Smith’s brood. Both of these families are renowned for being strong family units despite those little challenges of running a country, or fighting off aliens. Of the Smith family, Michelle says “I admire their family unit and how they have held things together in Hollywood.”
Becoming a photographer once seemed an impossible dream because a teacher told Michelle the profession had ‘no future’. She enjoyed the last laugh after being engaged to photograph the teacher’s newborn grandchild.
Michelle’s tenacity shows that following your dream is attainable. She enthused: “when you get to do what you love, it’s amazing.”
The next step for Michelle’s business is to promote her work through social media such as Twitter (@mrspaynegale) and Instagram. She uses her blog to share her inspirations for her work. Naturally, her greatest inspiration and passion – her family – is a regular feature on her engaging blog.
As Michelle observes, social media makes the world smaller and will help her achieve her goal of more people being able to see her work.
An invitation from the First Lady (from one Michelle to another…!) or the Fresh Prince to provide some extra-special images for their family albums is surely not far away.