Welcome to the ninth 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.  2018 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 Ivy of Michelle Ivy Photography

Nominated By:  Vickie Black

“I have had the opportunity to watch Michelle’s work via both my social media feed and in person at our SSG Destination events.  I have always been in love with her work and wanted to showcase it for our readers.”

Tell us a little about yourself… The things that make you you! 
I am married to the absolute love of my life for 28 years, who spoils me rotten even when I don’t deserve it. We have two kids, Courtlyn, who just graduated from Oklahoma State and Connor, who is a junior at the University of Texas.
I am obsessed with succulents, roses, crystal chandeliers, and creating anything! On my craft room wall it says, “ Create art… or why create at all!”  I’m a crafter, a decorator, a huge DIYer.  I know my way around power tools and I’m not afraid to use them.


How long have you been shooting seniors?
Eight years. I have been a senior only business from conception in 2010. Before opening my studio, I was a high school teacher for 15 years. Working with this particular age group is all I have ever known or wanted to do

What is your favorite style to photograph and why?
Well, if I were to be completely honest, I don’t have a particular favorite style. I love shooting any style when it is a cohesive shoot and idea . What I mean by cohesive is that the styling matches the location, matches the mood, matches the lighting and the senior is able to pull that particular mood off.  It does not matter if it is editorial on the streets of New York or underwater, if it is a whole package, then I’m Diggin it!Your destination work is stopping me from scrolling in my newsfeed! Tell us about it and why a senior photographers need to take notice!
Planning and executing destination shoots gives me life. I am a details person, a list maker, a total control freak, planning is my jam!!  Mix those personality traits with my love of styling and my love of location scouting and you end up with a complete cohesive shoot down to the last detail.  Also, I attend all the SSG destination shoots with Brooke Daniels. She is a master and I have learned so, so much from these events.
I think where other photographers may fail is they pick their location, they pick their theme, they communicate it to their model team and then they hand off the baton.  The part that comes after this, is the most important part of designing a destination shoot.  The cohesion!!   I want each model to be styled so the group shots are blended and they all complement each other.  Then when you pull them out individually, they not only have to look amazing on their own but they all need to  look equally amazing to each other… no stars …everyone’s a star.  When you leave this up to your model, some models/moms just put forth more effort than others so I feel like it’s up to me to make sure the level of amazing is the same for everyone.

What is your motto for work life balance?
This is an area of struggle for me. There are days when I feel like my business is running me instead of me running my business. However, I do have a strict no weekend shooting. I only shoot Monday through Thursday. Another biggie is,  I have my business set up so everything is pretty much automated so that I don’t actually speak with inquiries until they have paid their session fee and they’re on my books.  I think that photographers can waste a lot of time and effort communicating with people before they’re actually clients and then they don’t sign up anyway.

Your superpower is?
I have this unnatural ability to remain calm in all situations.  All my clients and everyone who works for me will tell you this… I am calm in crisis.  I’ve been in a car accident and totaled my car during a shoot. I have found myself in the desert in 60 mile an hour winds. I have dropped my camera in the middle of a session and knocked out my auto focus. This list goes on and on, but the one thing that all these situations have in common is that I remained calm so my clients remained calm. Everything was OK and everyone still got great images. It all works out if you just keep your head in the game.

What was your AHA moment in the senior industry with your business?
In the beginning of business, I used to think that if I didn’t shoot OCF or carry 80 pounds of gear with me on a shoot that clients would think that I wasn’t professional.  Until one shoot,  I put a girl in a chair in the middle of the pond, floated roses all around her and went to shoot her, and I realized I left my lights in the car. So I started shooting and chimping, but I just couldn’t tell from the back of the camera whether I had the shot or not. So I ran to the car got my lights, ran back and finished the set. Then when I went home and pulled up the images on my computer, it was from that moment on that I became a natural light photographer.

Tell us about those adorable dogs of yours!
I have an adorable and lovable black and white English bulldog named Ellie. She is two years old and I got her when my real baby was leaving for college. She is my constant companion and goes everywhere with me. I am obsessed with her. Then about a month ago, I decided to get another black and white English bulldog, her name is Izzie. Let’s just say that it’s a really good thing that she’s cute… because she’s trouble!!!

What are your top three goals for 2018? Are you achieving them, if not, why?
Goal 1.   Push myself.
I want to continue to grow and craft my skills and learn from others. We are so blessed to have a community that is willing to educate each other and support each other.  Marci Ralph once posted, “ I have come too far to only come this far.”  This motto sits on my desk and I look at it 80,000 times a day!!
Goal 2. Improve my client experience.
Two years ago, our family moved three hours away to Austin from my Houston studio due to my husband’s job. I decided to keep my studio in Houston because I have awesome clients!!  However, my overall client experience has suffered. There are days when I feel like I’m pushing a wheelbarrow with a square wheel.  I am getting the job done, but Man.. it is bumpy!!
Goal 3.  Learn video and incorporate it into my senior sessions. I have been saying this for five years.  I just purchased Sean Brown’s video course so I’m really hoping that this year will be the year.

10. What will you be doing differently in 2018?
1.  I will be upping my Insta story game.  I just learned animation and I have been having a great time building my own animated Insta story post.
2.  I’ve decided to deliver digitals through an online gallery connected to my lab for all future client purchases in addition to the custom flash drive.
3.  I am going to do a Reveal Wall for every client. I tried it with a few clients last year and it was a huge hit! This will be in addition to Pro Select…no way, I’m giving that up.
4.  Incorporate video. 

Follow along here:






Published by Vickie

Senior portrait photographer serving the Central Indiana and surrounding markets.

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