Michelle Pragt is a lifestyle photographer from the seaside suburb of Mount Eliza in Australia. Michelle started her creative journey working as a wedding and portrait photographer, teaching herself the tools of the trade along the way. Her early dedication to honing her craft paid off as 15 years and 4 kids later, Michelle continues to indulge her passion for photographing people and capturing candid lifestyle images.
This working mum successfully balances her busy family schedule with running her own photography business. Life after the pandemic has seen Michelle happily trading weddings and events for working from home where she has relished having her own ‘in-house’ photography studio.
Through a partnership with content creation platform Creatively Squared Michelle has had the opportunity to work with many well known Australian and international brands such as Panadol, Commonwealth Bank and Sunraysia. Michelle has a knack for bringing warmth and authenticity to her lifestyle snapshots which often feature her family, light filled home and beautiful seaside location.
Scroll down to meet Michelle and find out how she has found her creative feet in photography.
Hey, I’m Michelle! Like many, what started out as an interest soon became something that I realised I could turn into a small business. Working as a photographer suited me perfectly as a stay-at-home mum of 4.
I would work my way through ‘Photoshop for Dummies’ when the kids had gone to bed - there wasn’t much in the way of online resources or courses back then. I’d photograph families and weddings and I loved it.
I had a creative outlet, autonomy, and an income whilst being able to be there for my family. There’s been a lot of changes in the industry over that time, but that’s what kept it interesting!
I found Creatively Squared on Instagram and followed them for a bit before reaching out. I’m glad that I did!
Although I’ve done food styling, interiors, and other genres, I know my lane is lifestyle photography and using natural light. So shooting product in situ or with people is my jam! I’m a little eclectic with a love of natural elements, tones and textures.
One of the most memorable projects I’ve received from Creatively Squared was shooting for Bundaberg. That gave me an excuse to get out for a hike because the brief included the outdoors, but they all make me think outside the box which is great.
I love all the CS projects too, but my top favourites would include the Panadol and Sunraysia projects.
The biggest challenge I’ve encountered when working on a project was having to fulfil the jobs while in lockdown or during restricted periods. Luckily my family is always there to model for me!
I shoot with my Nikon D800 and my go-to lenses are 35mm and 85mm primes. I prefer to keep things simple and use natural light (with modifiers if needed). For post-production I use Lightroom and Photoshop.
My favourite props would be any kind of natural or textural elements such as a beautiful linen hand towel in a bathroom setting or foliage in a room setting. I like locations where I can get some depth in the scene and backlight, always golden hour backlight!
Because of COVID, my shooting location is now at home, so my kitchen, bathrooms and backyard have been featured quite a bit.
Firstly, I do a quick Google search to check the current content of both the client and their competitors. I want to make sure that the images I provide fit the mood, colour schemes and look of the brand, while at the same time providing them with fresh content that differentiates them from others in their direct market.
From there, I start to develop different concepts and will use inspirational images found online to begin to plan out those concepts in preparation for the shoot, making a list of props, accessories, clothing, models and locations required.
This preparation is crucial and mostly done on my phone so that I can take it with me easily, and communicate my goals with my models visually if required.
When working with people, it’s particularly important to have a plan and work efficiently so you’re not wasting anyone’s time or good nature.
If I’m feeling a bit uninspired ahead of a shoot, I’ll do a quick search to see how other creators have handled a topic. That’s usually enough to get the creative juices flowing and for me to then imagine how I might take an idea and adapt it. Having background music while working sets the mood too.
I mainly work solo, but I’ve got a family member to call on if I need a model or someone to hold something for me.
One of the best ways for me to learn and gain confidence in the beginning was by finding a mentor willing to teach. I’ve learnt so much through the generous sharing of others.
While it might be really hard to hear, be open to getting some honest critique on your work. Sometimes we can be really attached to the things we create and might be missing out on areas that could be improved. Be adventurous and keep working the scene until you get it right.
Never stop learning and chasing that dream!
I’d love to explore alternative photography techniques and work with Polaroid film. Just for fun!
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