Getting to know Michelle Pragt of In Photography
Today we sit down with Michelle Pragt of In Photography, an experienced and talented photographer based on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
When it comes to talented photographers, we love Michelle’s fresh and natural flair for capturing candid moments as well as the true beauty of the people she works with – you can see the sense of ease and comfort that her clients feel with her as it’s portrayed in her stunning imagery.
We wanted to learn more about Michelle and find out what inspires her photography, how her passion came about, as well as getting her advice when it comes to choosing the perfect photographer for your wedding day.
Michelle, when did your passion for photography begin?
I remember pouring over my mum’s photo albums as a kid. I loved being able to see what my parents looked like as a child my age, and the little glimpses into what their life was like. I loved being able to see my own progression from baby to the present, recorded in pictures and placed with reverence in an album. So I think that’s when it first started. I remember when mum first gave me her camera to take on a school camp. It was a brownie box camera, and just holding it gave you a sense of the possibilities. From then on, taking photos was always something I loved doing, and still is.
But it was only when I travelled in my early twenties that I realised and made it my promise to myself that I wanted always to be able to see the world with the eyes of a tourist. That is, to be able to see things around you more consciously, as if for the the very first time. It would be like my portal to happiness, excitement and child-like wonder in the world no matter where I was.
And photography helps me achieve this.
How did it become a career for you?
It started with my friends and family asking me to take photos for them. My first job as a photographer was in Beaver Creek, Colorado as a resort photographer during the ski season. I couldn’t believe that I was being paid so well to have so much fun! When I got back to Australia, I worked in a portrait studio for a while, but I found the space and working for someone else limiting. That’s when I decided to do it on my own.
It was a long process back then. The internet was nothing like it is today, and everything you learned was done the old fashioned way – trial and error. Plus the transition to digital was just starting so it was still film. So it was a slow burn for me for a long time as my first baby came along, then another, and then 2 more! I was a busy stay at home mum but I was never short of a muse, and I kept up with all the developments within the industry as it became computerised, watching my children play with a ‘Photoshop for Dummies’ book in my lap!
My first wedding was for friends and I was so nervous I made myself sick. But it was the start of a love and a turning point for me to start taking my career more seriously. That was 15 years ago now.
Can you describe to us your style when it comes to photography?
My style is lifestyle which sits between documentary and posed and has elements of both. The photographs that I am drawn to have movement and expression, and I always try and achieve that.
My editing style is fresh, clean and natural.
Divulge to us some of your most favourite locations to shoot at.
Definitely the beach. It’s my happy place, and for most people a more relaxed place to be – somewhere you can take your shoes off and let your breath go.
I just love the colour palette of the beach especially when it’s a bit moodier, the textures in rocks and sea grasses, light reflecting off the water, and if there’s a breeze to lift a veil or move some hair, it’s heavenly!
But I have to add that the beach in the middle of summer and in the middle of a sunny day is like a photographer’s worst nightmare!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Movies. I love seeing how other people use the camera to tell a story.
Books and songs. Sometimes words just resonate and become the inspiration for an image.
Other photographers. There are so many talented photographers who inspire me daily to be better!
My children. Watching them grow and seeing the world through their young eyes is the greatest inspiration of all.
What’s your favourite moment/s to shoot on a wedding day?
Oh my gosh, there are too many! I love the getting ready part of the day. It’s a fun time with the bride and her girls, and such a big part of the tradition of the wedding day. That moment when the bride is finally fully dressed and ready and the girls stand back gasping! And being a parent myself, I can fully relate to the emotions of mum and dad as they look at their happy, excited and beautiful daughter about to be married. I love to get a great shot of them with their daughter on this day. It’s the one shot that she will always look back on and see the love of her parents for her. And it’s much easier to do this before getting to the ceremony venue.
I also love sneaking the bride and groom out from the reception for a couple of shots of just the two of them. It gives them 5 minutes to be together away from everyone and take it all in. I do this just before sunset, which is the best part of the day when the light makes everything look magical, and they always thank me afterwards.
Give to us your top tips for choosing your photographer?
1. Do your research. Look around thoroughly on photographer’s websites and blogs until you find work that you think speaks to your sense of style. Read their client testimonials and make sure that their style of photography reflects a good body of work that is just what you are looking for. Do the images tell a complete story? Do the couple look real? Relaxed? And comfortable? Any sort of unease will translate in the images (especially in the couple portrait shots). You should be able to feel the emotion in the images as you are looking at them.
2. It’s important that you love the photographs, but you are going to be spending a lot of time with your photographer on one of the most important days of your life, so its equally as important that you love the person behind the camera as well. You need to feel that you can trust this person to capture all of your memories, as well as be somebody that you are comfortable with.
3. Email communication between you should start to build trust, but it’s a good idea to meet with them in person, or at least Skype before you book.
4. The last deciding factor is usually cost related. I cannot tell you how much you should be spending on your photography for your wedding, but I can tell you that like anything else, you get what you pay for and when the wedding day is over, all that will remain will be your photographs and your memories. Your budget is entirely up to you, but it would be a mistake to weed out photographers based on cost alone.
To learn more about Michelle and to obtain further advice on selecting the perfect wedding photographer, click here.