PHOTOGRAPHER | ARTIST INTERVIEW ///
Central Coast wedding photographer, Michelle Warren is a fine art photographer in every sense. She is one of my few photo friends I know who actually went to camera school to learn the ins and outs of photography. However, she didn't go to school to learn to take good pictures; I believe that is something she was born with. She has an eye for natural beauty and candid emotion. Her style is timeless, rich with reality and elegant. She truly captures the essence of her subjects through playful movement, quiet stillness, and with her arsenal of cameras. Michelle shoots on everything imaginable; 35mm, medium format, vintage polaroids, digital; you name it --she's probably shot someone with it. Her husband Ben is an incredible partner and compliment to her fine art style. He is a savvy business manager when it comes to customer service and has an adventurous spirit. He second shoots for Michelle at most of her weddings and is often seen juggling her plethora of cameras while Michelle works with her subjects. I'm thrilled to feature Michelle as our first interviewed Central Coast photographer on The Wedding Standard; enjoy!
How did you get your start?
I first fell in love with photography printing in the darkroom when I was 14. I became a "professional" when I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 2003 and started my own business.
What or who continues to inspire you?
Life and family. Relationships. Love. Kindness. Honesty. Realness. Other artists...not just photographers.
How do you normally begin your day?
At 5am when my 2 year old jumps into my bed and climbs all over me saying "wake up mommy"! Which is then quickly followed by about 3 cups of coffee.
Describe a pivotal moment that led you to be an artist.
One of my best friends was killed in an accident when I was 15 and I had just taken some beautiful b&w portraits of her that they used in the funeral. It was at that moment that I felt the true power and gift of photography. I was extremely sad and confused but I was able to produce a beautiful piece of art to give her parents that I'm sure they felt was priceless.
What is your favorite flower?
Peonies, dahlias, and ranunculus. Ok, that's three I know.
Favorite movie or documentary?
Favorite part of a wedding?
I love seeing happy tears and witnessing when people become so present in a moment and realize the amazingness unfolding before them.
What makes your business unique?
I am me. I don't try to be anyone else and I'm real with people. I'm down to earth and humble and people feel comforted by that. By being honest, true and fun I often hear from clients after an event that they thought I was just another friend enjoying their wedding with them.
What is your ideal couple?
Couples who are also down-to-earth, honest, humble and fun. I love the amazing big weddings with the dripping details just as much as any other photographer but sometimes the best weddings are the smallest, sweetest little events where the couple's very closest friends and family attend and the true meaning of the day beams through in every moment.
Song that makes you get up and dance?
HAHA...currently my son and I dance to "i like to move it! Move it!" from the movie Madagascar. I guess my life is a little consumed by a wonderful toddler right now!
What do you enjoy doing on your day off?
Driving around with my husband and our boys enjoying the central coast.
What's your personal business philosophy?
Take great care of your clients and vendors and work will always keep coming your way. 100% of the work I get comes from referrals of past clients and vendors I work with. I don't advertise. Also, KISS (keep it simple stupid). And keep it small. I never want to be so booked up that I can't give my clients the attention and quality they deserve.
Why do you do what you do?
Photography is my life. It is as much a part of me and my family as anything. There is no separation between my business and my life.
When I'm not shooting, working or caring for my children and when I have OTHER personal time (which is rare) I like to crochet. It calms my nerves. I can't watch TV or read...my mind just moves too fast and I often can't slow down.
Something that moved you deeply at a wedding or with a couple recently?
I photographed a couple who had lived long distance for years while the fiance is a captain in the Air Force. He flew home for 7 days to have a sweet little ceremony with his wife and it was the most beautiful little 6 person ceremony I have ever witnessed. We all cried. The day and the photos were so meaningful and powerful.
My first "paid" photo job was photographing houses for an interior designer. My first "real" photo job was assisting wedding photographer Tom Styczynski while I was attending Brooks in Santa Barbara and shortly after I worked for Jose Villa.
My Children. My Family. Succeeding at being a "working mom".
How do you sign off on your emails?
Usually with a lot of :) :) :)
If you had to move to a foreign country, which one?
If you were in a band, what instrument would you play?
Shell or Shelly or at times, Shell Bell
What's your favorite wedding food?
Anything hot and edible that is actually served when the guests are eating so I can eat too (rather then being served when everyone's done and I have no time to eat it).
Sunrise or Sunset?
Either; I'm awake for both since my munchkins prefer I never sleep in.
Wedding trend that you're loving right now?
Honestly I've never been a fan of trends. I love classic and beautiful. Timeless and original.
Wedding trend that will hopefully be out next year?
Balloons and goofy props that have absolutely no meaning to the couple.
Read the book or watch the movie?
No time for books....or movies unless they're cartoons that my kid will watch!
Stranded on a desert island, what would you bring?
Favorite song on your iPod playlist?
Too hard to choose. I have lots of favs.
What's one of your favorite quotes?
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
What chore do you absolutely HATE doing?
What sound do you love?
Click, Click, Click! Especially the clicks that come from actual FILM cameras like my contax or rollei.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
An amazing mom.
What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or tear up?
I cry at everything. It could have been a silly commercial.
What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do?
What's the greatest gift you've ever given or received?
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Nothing. I didn't like being a kid or a teenager or even 21 for that matter. Adulthood is way better. But I LOVE watching my kids be kids! They make me laugh and smile all day, every day.
What's in the top 5 of your bucket list?
ITALY. Photographing for more non-profits that are directed towards helping children and families.
What is something you learned in the last week?
Picking up the phone is always better then e-mailing.
At what age did you really become an adult?
What question do you always ask the bride & groom?
What their top priorities are on their wedding day. What and who are most important to them on their day.
Where do you see yourself or business in the near or distant future?
In a beautiful house on a couple acres with lots of room for the kids to play, a big beautiful garden and with a detached studio for my office and my own real film darkroom.
Anything else you want to add that we didn't ask?
I heart FILM.