On Our Radar | Michelle Perry Photography

Welcome to the seventh installment of our new column “On Our Radar”

Is there a photographer whose work you find yourself going back to again and again?  Maybe you have never heard of this photographer?  Perhaps they are “flying under the radar”?  It happens but I want to find those photographers. I want to celebrate their work.  2017 is the year of discovery at Senior Style Guide and I am counting on our readers to lead the way!

Each month we will be featuring an artist who is inspiring others, who may not necessarily be someone you have heard of.  From time to time I will be enlisting the help of the SSG community to nominate an artist.  I want to hear their story, share their triumphs and hear what they are doing to make this dream of theirs a reality.  We can learn from others whether it be through inspiration, education or everything in between.

This community will only get stronger if we are there to uplift and give as many people as possible a voice.

Our “On Our Radar” artist this month is Michelle Perry of Michelle Perry Photography

Nominated By:  Vickie Black

Michelle’s work is something that I always stop scrolling and look at. It draws me in deeper.  I appreciate it. Lately she has been evolving her game ahead of the game and I have taken notice. It is like she has a crystal ball or maybe that is where her heart leads her to create.  I want our readers to get to know her a little better because she is doing things a little differently.  Her work will speak to you many different levels.

Tell us a little about yourself…the things that make you YOU!

My name is Michelle Perry. I’m a 40++-year-old senior portrait photographer from Phoenix. I’ve been living in the valley of the sun for over 14 years. The dry desert heat has grown on me, but only because the people that I have surrounded myself with here in Arizona are loved like family. My husband’s career sent us west. We’re both from Maine and I travel back every summer with our teenage daughter. We spend our time back in my coastal hometown of Bar Harbor. My heart is full.

How long have you been shooting seniors?

I have been photographing high school seniors for over 7 years.

What is your favorite style to photograph and why?

I feel most connected to portraits that capture a range of emotion. Whether it is an image full of life with a bright and playful vibe or an image that has a deepness that connects the viewer with the subject on a more personal level. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than capturing that honesty with a senior.

Your work is stopping me from scrolling in my newsfeed!  Tell us about it and why us senior photographers need to take notice! 

My work doesn’t speak to all. Nor should it. Just as every senior isn’t your client, neither is every photographer going to be a fan. But if a portrait of mine makes you stop and notice then I have, in some way and on some level, allowed the viewer to connect with my senior as I have. I think wanting everyone to ‘take notice’ detracts from the art form and —for me anyway— would have crippling effect on my creativity.

What is your motto for work/life balance?

One of my blessings is that our home life has found it’s own balance. I don’t have a teenager who is involved in multiple activities, so we’re not rushing from one commitment to another. As much as we have encouraged our daughter to be outgoing, she is happiest at home with a close group of friends. So my work/life is generally very balanced. This doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. I work best in the late part of the day into the evenings. If I could figure out how to become a morning person when I have the house to myself I’d be far more productive.

Your super power is?

My super power is an innate sense of curiosity and a desire to learn. I spent the first several years seeking those elusive answers to my questions about what it takes to become a successful photographer to no avail: How to shoot better, cleaner, how to run a business, how to get those ideal clients. Each time I looked outside myself for the answer I became lost, hopelessly lost. The answers led to a compare fest and it took a while for me to understand that I’m not that other person whose work I admire, I’m me. Oh the misery we can self inflict. I realized that in order to move forward I needed to look within. Deep within, which is what I did for almost a year and over that period of time so many personal aha! moments occurred and those spilled over into my work. Had I kept looking outside of myself I would never have discovered what was inside. We all have super powers, and we all deliver them in our own ways. The art you can create when you’ve connected with a part of yourself is powerful.

What was your aha moment in the senior industry with your business?

My aha moment occurred several years ago when I asked a sweet high school girl who modeled on the side for Ford to join me and my makeup artist for a day in Sedona. Until then I hadn’t really had many opportunities to photograph teens. I was too busy taking the work that came my way. I was shooting families, newborns, personal stuff and one small wedding. All good work, but I wasn’t connecting at a level that truly excited me. After returning from the Sedona shoot I downloaded my images and cried… this was what I wanted. It was the most rewarding shoot I’d ever had and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was what I wanted and what my soul needed.

Tell us about those adorable dogs of yours!

The naughty nuggets, Georgia and Harley, are two of the most loving pups and best companions. I know almost all of my photographer friends have their fur babies with them during the long hours of editing. These two are siblings and turn 3 in December. Georgia is all business and very serious. Her tail wags low and she’s a momma’s girl. Harley would leave me for the UPS driver. He is the happiest boy ever. He’s all in all the time, on every level!

What are your top 3 goals for 2017? Are you achieving them-if not, why?

I’ve been pretty successful in achieving most of my personal goals for 2017.

As for my business goals, well yes, I’m on track…kinda. I have pushed to learn more and have not made excuses as to why not.

1. Editing – I’ve become more efficient with processing my workflow and gone deeper into retouching my portraits.

2. Studio Lighting – Becoming more comfortable setting up and producing images using lights.

3. Headshots – Here is where I’ve stalled a bit. I truly enjoy photographing professionals and want to master this.

What is the one thing you want all of us to know about YOU?  What will you be doing differently in 2018?

I strive to be a work in progress so that I can constantly evolve. I embrace the process of finding new things to get excited about. I am comfortable saying “this isn’t working for me” and moving on; both personally and professionally. As for what 2018 holds for me and my business, I hope it continues to be rewarding and that I embrace the business side of the photographer’s life more willingly. Overall, it’s focus (pun intended). It’s about mapping out a successful workflow and having the self-belief that what I’m doing will work best for my business philosophy.

Michelle is genuine, humble and an artist at heart.  This is why she stands out to me.  I hope you love her work as much as I do!  Want to see more?

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