Multi talented Michelle
In the course of my professional career I’ve had the opportunity to work with a myriad of photographers from all different fields from all over the world. I have always been in awe of the often exquisite imagery that is produced by these talented individuals whether they are portrait photographers, landscape, commercial or otherwise. I had never given child and family photography a second thought until I became a mother and now I have a whole new respect for this particular genre of photography. The child as a subject is probably one of the most challenging projects to undertake. From my experience it takes an individual who has all the redeeming qualities of their photographer counterparts plus extraordinary patience, lightening quick reflexes and an insurmountable amount of bubbly energy and tricks to keep the child subject focused and interested and happy.
When you meet photographer Michelle Garthe, she sweeps you away with her infectious energy. I thought it was just a natural part of her personality (which it is) but her energy level is also enhanced by a raw food diet (more on that later). Michelle’s aim with her photography is beautiful images that translate into beautiful memories. She combines her passion for photography and digital effects and enhancement to turn every shoot into a unique experience. Michelle gives you the freedom to be yourself, as her style is natural, flexible and versatile which puts everyone at ease. Her unobtrusive photography intends to capture her subjects in a series of candid, thoughtful photos. I love Michelle’s photos and style especially since she was the first professional photographer to capture my beautiful baby at the tender age of 6 weeks old.
There are many interesting footnotes in Michelle’s history. One being that she is an award winning Filipina singer and stage actress. She is also an avid blogger. A raw vegan enthusiast. A hiker and dancer. And Michelle is the proud mum to her darling daughter Ava. Michelle discovered her love for photography when she took photos of her trip in New Zealand and with the birth of her daughter, she eventually ventured into portraiture, landscapes, still life, high dynamic range and high speed photography.
She has been published in the pages of the South China Morning Post, Time Out Magazine, the American Women’s Association Hong Kong Magazine to name a few.
Here, Michelle tell Amanda Griffin-Jacob about her passions and how they all symbiotically complement one another. She also gives a few tips on how to capture those beautiful images of your child.
G-O-M: Tell us about your singing.
I started singing at a tender age of 2. Became a professional singer at 14 and competed in Tanghalan ng Kampeon (Grand finalist, Stage of the Champions, “American Idol” Philippine style). I played Kim in the German language production of Miss Saigon in Stuttgart, Germany and did the lounge performances in Hong Kong, Philippines and the US. I also performed at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC and had shows all over DC Metro area and Northern Virginia with a 20 piece band from the US Air Force.
What is your true passion? Photography or Singing?
I say both. Although I’ve been singing professionally now for 20 years I find that photography is a different way of self expression.
Does your singing help you in your photography and vice versa?
In a lot of ways, singing did help with my photography. As a singer, I developed skills in terms of precision with my art. I also harnessed my people skills, especially in regards to dealing with different nationalities, backgrounds and ages.
Why did you choose to specialize in children, family and maternity photos?
I found this niche after the birth of my little girl, Ava Monique. She has become my inspiration. I started out doing nothing but baby photography, and then I extended all the way to maternity and family portraiture. I find that specializing in children, family and maternity photos give me instant gratification because I’m surrounded by happy, excited parents and families.
Does having your own daughter help you be a better photographer?
Absolutely! I wouldn’t have been very patient and more “maternal” with my younger subjects, particularly babies, if I hadn’t become a mother myself.
Now onto your lifestyle. Why did you recently decide to become not just vegan but a raw vegan?
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. In April 2011, I was hiking with my husband Lou and I was very sluggish and unenthusiastic, to think that we’re both avid hikers. I thought back then that work was taking a toll on me. He kind of gave me a pep talk and told me to take care of myself because no one else will do it for me.
So that was my eureka moment!
I read books about detoxification and read The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberley Snyder and The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. I was a bit skeptical at first because I love having some meat hear or there, although I eat mostly vegetarian meals. I went full boar one day and didn’t look back ever since.
How have things changed for you since you became a raw vegan? I became more compassionate to animals and most of all to myself. In my singing/acting years I only had one chance to impress the people during auditions so I was very much a perfectionist. When I became a raw vegan, I had better concentration on my work and I became more laid back. I would strive for precision, not perfection. And I couldn’t even tell you all the physical benefits that I experienced…no more mood swings, no cravings for caffeine (I was a coffee drinker for 20 years), clearer complexion etc.
You even had a blog specifically dedicated to being a raw vegan. Why are you so passionate about it?
Raw foods healed me beyond the physical. I became a better thinker and more in tuned to myself and to others. And I love the fact that I don’t need to wash a lot of greasy pots and pans :)
So how does everything relate?
They are all related in that I make people happy- be it with singing, photography and raw food “uncooking”. It’s ingrained in me to inspire and make people feel good beyond than just capturing their photos for instance.
You are relocating to the States. Will you miss Hong Kong?
Oh I will absolutely miss Hong Kong. This place witnessed pretty much all of the highlights of my life. I met my husband here in 1999, gave birth to my little girl in 2009 and launched my photography business. I met so many wonderful people from different countries and backgrounds. Here I also transformed from a junk food eater to a healthier, more compassionate person.
What are your tips for mums out there who are trying to take those beautiful photos of their children?
Don’t force them to smile! Let them be themselves and capture them naturally. I’m a big fan of natural light so the best times to capture are in the early morning and late afternoon. Learn and harness your techniques by attending classes or simply browsing through Flickr.com and You tube. Don’t be so hyped about equipment…technique is all that matters.
August 27, 2011 by Glam-o-Mamas