Seriously, they are the most gorgeous couple! You may have seen them model for one of Jstar’s workshops. The military couple? Yup, that’s them! Michelle is a photographer with such a classy, simple style. I really want you to meet her so here ya go!!! Have fun meeting Michelle and happy Friday!!!! And Michelle, I can’t thank you enough for getting all this to me ahead of time! You are the BEST and I want to come visit!! Ok? Ok!!
1. Who are you?! Where are you located?! And if you could have a $1000 giftcard to ANY store, what store would that be?!
My name is Michelle Cross and I’m based out of Orange County, California. I recently moved to Southern California just few months ago and I stumble over those words every time I have to tell someone I’m from The OC. I’m really just a small town girl who grew up on a farm in the Pacific Northwest.
I know I’m roughly a decade late to the party, but I just discovered a solid appreciation for West Elm. Add to that the fact that I’m in desperate need of a couch for my office, I could use a $1000 gift certificate to the store. I also wouldn’t mind using it toward Horchow, but, you know, $1000 wouldn’t get me much further than half a candlestick.
2. Tell us about your business! How did you get started? When did you fall in LOVE with wedding photography?!
I was a Biochemistry major in college and I was stressed. And miserable! I worked in a research lab and on any given day I would only see one, maybe two, other people all day long. It really was just me and the rats! I took pictures as an outlet for my stress and as time went on I found myself loving photography more than I loved what I was studying. I had been reintroduced to the artistic side of my soul and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this aspect of my life wasn’t being nurtured through my degree. By fall of my junior year I knew that immediately following graduation I would pursue photography full time. And that, well, made for a long last few years of college!
3. Tell us about your ALL TIME FAVORITE wedding that you have shot in the past! What did you love about it?
I know you won’t like my answer, but I really, truly love them all. The wonderful thing about weddings is that despite having the same venue and vendors, no two weddings can ever be completely alike – the couple and the guests will always make it unique. I happen to have great clients who are not only wonderful people but who also have great taste. It makes my job a breeze. The only thing better than shooting a gorgeous event is shooting it with two people genuinely in love with one another. Fortunately for me I almost always get to do both.
4. How did you decide on your branding!?
Goodness, the branding process is quite the evolution! For me it started with talking to people whose opinions I trusted. In the end it really came down to asking myself who I was. In case we’ve never met, let me give you this quick taste of what life as Michelle Cross is like:
If it were up to me I would own every black blazer Calvin Klein has ever made. Three quarters of my jeans are dark washed and straight legged. Eighty percent of the photos I have printed in our home are in black in white – as are the personal photos I take and edit. Our wedding song was ‘These Arms of Mine’ by Otis Redding. My favorite flowers are tulips, ranunculus, and peonies, in white. And I swear by my Ray-Ban Aviators as I adventure across the world. I also fiercely love my friends and family.
Most of these things are physical, I realize this, but I think it’s a good reflection of who I am. Every time I buy an article of clothing, frame a photo for the wall, or cut my hair, I wonder if I’ll regret it in a week, a month, a year, or a decade. I really, really, (annoyingly so) like things that last forever. I love my grandparent’s wedding photo because it looks just as stunning and clean as it did when they married in the early thirties. It only made sense that my branding represented my zeal for all things timeless. You’ll find my materials, both physical and online, are pretty basic and simple. I never want to take away from the product with overwhelming designs or words. I’m one of those people who thinks less is more.
5. During your first year of business, what is one thing that you would have done differently?
I wouldn’t be in such a rush to make it. It took me a few years, but I feel like I’m finally growing into my own skin. For me, photography is a passion. It’s part of my soul and it’s the way in which I see the world. There are things I can say through a picture that I’m not able to say in words. Because my job is so closely intertwined with who I am, it’s important that I do what I need to in order to protect it. This means saying no when I need to (and even saying yes when I need to!). I would rather shoot five weddings per year and be completely enthralled by those weddings, than shoot 25 weddings that I’m hardly excited for. If I’m not excited about a wedding it will reveal itself in my pictures and that’s entirely unfair to the client.
6. What is your favorite part of the wedding day!?
Easily the portrait time. Not because I’m overly eager to add more bride + groom portraits to my portfolio, but because I can relate to what is going on. On my own wedding day I experienced the whole gamut of emotions. There was none of this waking up, getting a massage, and drinking a nice calm mug of hot tea. I woke up with more anxious energy than I knew what I do with. There were people everywhere, doing my hair, fixing my make-up, hugging me every four seconds – the world was crazy! And when the world gets crazy all I need is Colton’s hand to make everything right. On the wedding day, though, I had to wait forEVER for Colton’s hand. By the time we finally saw one another I think I collapsed in his arms due to a strange combination of exhaustion, excitement, and relief. Portrait time isn’t about taking pictures (though they’ll naturally happen), it’s about those 30 or 45 minutes when the bride and groom can finally be themselves, together. It’s about savoring those moments and just being. It’s quite emotional, when you think about it.
7. List two goals you have for 2011! They can be as big as “Shoot a wedding in FIJI!” or as small as “Reorganize my craft closet”! haha
Over the past few months I’ve been exploring the world of film. It scares me beyond belief, but I really want to shoot an entire portrait session with the medium. As in, leave my 5DMKII at home so I don’t back out at the last minute and shoot digital. Oh! It’s so scary! But every time I get scared I know something absolutely lovely has the potential to happen. I’ve still got six months to reach this goal, right? Right?!?!
I also want to start journaling. And by journaling I mean writing. Even if my writing takes the form of describing the day’s events, I’d like to make a point of, well, making that happen. Sometimes writing can be just as much of a release for me as taking pictures is. If an art comes out of that, that’s fine, but I’ll be equally as happy just documenting our life. Just me, Colton, and our lovely little enormous puppy, Conway.
8. Who has been your BIGGEST supporter and encourager for your business? Who is your cheerleader?
Colto. He reminds me to love what I do, and to keep loving what I do. His encouragement inspires me to work harder, get stronger, and be better. I would still be a miserable Biochem. major working in a lab if it weren’t for him believing in my ability and encouraging me to live a life I love.
9. How would you describe your style?!
Timeless, classic, and clean. And a bit comfortable, too, don’t you think? When I was working on the revision of my blog someone said my brand reminded them of a good, solid, worn pair of jeans that are completely broken in. I like that. It’s something dependable.
10. What inspires you?!
Film – more so than I ever thought or imagined would be possible for me. Shooting in film requires me to think about what I’m doing. I breathe more. I relax (partially because I have to!), I take the time to look at the big picture and I really try to understand what is happening between the couple, the guests, or even the tiniest of details. Film makes me feel what I always wanted to when shooting digitally but never knew how. I know it’s not for everyone, and I think each person needs to find the medium that works best for their style, but it’s amazing to me that I didn’t try film from the start. It really just makes my heart sing.
Be sure to connect with Michelle! :