I have been following our next featured photographer since I started my own photography journey ... her photos are beautiful and timeless. I love her clean processing and simplistic view of newborn photography! It is very clear that her focus is on the precious little newborn. And I must say that she is one smart cookie ... she photographs weddings ... and, well, you know the song "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage" :) And I am one lucky chickadee because she is taking our family photos next week! Woop woop! :)
Meet the fabulous Michelle of Michelle Newell Photography ...
What inspired you to become a photographer?
Like most photographers, I picked up a camera at an early age and
learned how to develop my own film back in High School. Shortly after
getting married in 2005, my husband and I attended my cousin’s wedding
where I took over 200 snapshots, because as a new bride, I knew how
extremely important it was to have images… any images of my wedding day.
I gave all of the images to my Aunt and she later expressed that a lot
of the images I had taken were better than the images they had received
from their hired photographer and that I should really consider becoming
a Professional Photographer.
My husband and I began discussing this idea at the same time that my
brother was getting ride of all of his professional camera equipment…
And so, we decided to invest in his equipment and explore the
possibility while I built up my portfolio.
When did you start your business?
In 2006 I started to do a TON of research. I became of member of
Digital Wedding Forum and began having my images critiqued, which is the
only way, in my opinion that you will grow and be challenged as a
photographer. Joining DWF was one of the BEST investments I made as a
new photographer because I got to ask the best of the best in the
industry all sorts of questions ranging from business to posing. It also
gave me an opportunity to start working on a business plan.
In 2007 I booked my first wedding, having never shot a wedding before, and my business took off from there.
And what drew you to newborn photography?
When I first started my photography business, I photographed
everything, but specializing only in weddings. I took family portraits,
senior portraits, even animal portraits and QUICKLY learned what I loved
and didn’t love.
In 2008 we found out that we were expecting our first child and
that’s when everything started shifting for me. I started researching
newborn photographers (and believe it or not, there weren’t that many of
us) and landed on Carrie Sandoval’s website, Captured by Carrie. I
immediately became obsessed with her images, I mean seriously, who
hasn’t?! and knew that I had to try newborn photography. I also began
researching maternity portraits, which also became a FAST love of mine
Once my daughter was born I tried posing her and it was an epic fail.
I did, however, capture a few images of her that still hang in my house
to this day.
At what point did you specialize?
After my daughter was born everything started to shift and I started
realizing more and more that the three areas that I loved photographing
the most were weddings, maternity, and newborns. Those three areas in
life are, in my opinion, life’s most amazing moments… And to be able to
capture those for my clients is a true privilege and honor.
I still photograph families on occasion and also have collections for
Baby’s First Year, but advertise heavily on my website, blog, and
Facebook, the three areas I specialize in.
What is in your camera bag?
2 (two) – Canon 5D Mark II bodies
1 (one) – EOS 40D (that I never use)
15mm f/2.8 Fisheye EF
16-35mm f/2.8 L EF USM
24-70mm f/2.8 L USM
50mm f/1.2 L IS USM (which I use 95% of the time)
100mm Macro f/2.8 L IS USM
70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
580EX II Speedlite
Gary Fong Collapsible Diffuser
What has been your best investment for your business? Camera upgrade, lens, prop, etc...
One of the best investments I made early on in my career as a
photographer was joining DWF. I received SO – MUCH valuable information
for some of the TOP wedding photographers in the world, which helped me
focus on posing, business development etc. Another valuable investment
has been joining Professional Photographers of America. This is another
fabulous organization that is swarming with professionals to help take
you to the next level.
Staying current with my gear and software has also been a really
important to me so that I can run with the best of the best. I still
have so much growing and learning to do, but want to make sure that my
gear and software isn’t holding me back from creating high end images
for my client. This to me is invaluable and a no brainer.
I have yet to upgrade to the Mark III’s but it is on my list =)
What was the last book you read (not photography related)?
The most current book that I am reading is called Crucial
Conversations. HIGHLY recommend reading this book for personal reasons
and professional. It teaches communication skills that are so important
to know. And as a photographer, communication through an image goes hand
in hand with being able to communicate to my clients in person.
Do you use natural light or studio lighting?
In my studio I use one continuous light, which is a 2ft x 3ft
Westcott Spiderlite TD5, which I LOOOVE for all of my newborn sessions.
Now that we are in a new studio space, I am planning on purchasing a 4ft
x 6ft continuous light as well. Seriously loooove continuous light,
especially for those dark winter nights. It allows me to really control
the lighting and keep my images looking consistent throughout the entire
How do you "get away" from business? What is your escape?
I love to garden… And so being out in my yard tends to be my escape
from things. It allows me to rejuvenate and rest. I also love just being
with my family. I am a major homebody and there is nothing more
relaxing than just being outside and enjoying a lovely afternoon with my
husband and daughter.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I love looking through my Professional Photographer Magazine, which
introduces me to so many photographers who are working in fields
drastically different from mine. Their work inspires me to create and
thing outside of the norm of what I am currently doing and thing of ways
to push myself to the next level.
I also look to photography books for inspiration, which are another
area that really help challenge and push my thinking. Some of my
favorite books that I have purchased over the years are:
AnniLeibovits At Work
Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig
Fine Art Wedding Photography by Jose Villa
And of course… Pinterest is such a great place to find inspiration!
When did you figure out your own style? How long did it take to find YOU?
Gosh… developing your own style can definitely take a while… but I
would say it was around 2009 that I started falling into a consistent
patter with my editing; so, probably a year and a half.
Re: shooting style, I feel like that is always evolving for me. I try
to push myself to think outside of the “normal” to take things to the
next level creatively.
And are you self-taught or did you take classes to help you get where you are?
Apart from taking 1 photography class in High School, I would say I
am a self taught photographer. =) Some of the BEST books that I read
early on to help me learn my camera and to shoot 100% on Manual are
Bryan Peterson’s books: Understanding Exposure and Thinking Creatively.
Shameless plug (share links to workshops and such) ...
In late 2010 I started working on a Baby Safe | Newborn Posing Guide to
help educate aspiring and beginner newborn photographers on the
importance of newborn safety. It has been SO much fun to watch see so
many photographer from around the world purchase a guide.
I hope to begin working on an guide for moderate to advanced
photographers which will give more detailed information on how to edit
We also developed a website, which has featured photographer from
around the world who are willing to teach aspiring photographers the
importance of newborn safety.
baby safe website: www.babysafephotography.com
thank you so much Michelle! <3 Amanda