Interview with a Photographer featuring Michelle Valberg

Interview with a Photographer featuring Michelle Valberg

Cotton Carrier: Where do you call home?

Michelle Valberg: I have lived my entire life in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. For the past 20 years, I have also had the great fortune to spend time in Sharbot Lake, Ontario at our cottage property (our second home).

CC: How long have you taken photographs for unprofessionally and professionally?

MV: I have been a self-employed professional photographer for over 30 years. I feel extremely lucky to do what I love every day and to have my entire career-life based on making imagery of people, the wildlife and the planet.

CC: How would you define your style as a photographer?

MV: A wonderful woman named Carol wrote this on my IG page (I was quite taken by it) and I think it reflects my purpose and style perfectly - “I find your portraits of animals are vivid with a sense of inner aliveness. You provide a meeting of equals full of self-presence and wonder.”

CC: Have you ever gone to photography school?

MV: I studied at the University of Ottawa in the fine arts program in photography and then I went on to Algonquin College (also in Ottawa) in their photography program. I have continued to learn online through various outlets and I look forward to attending more workshops in person when it is safe to do so. I am a student for life 😊

CC: Where is your favorite place or thing to shoot?

MV: My favourite place or thing to shoot is whatever is in front of my camera at any given moment.

CC: What Camera(s) / Lenses do you use?

MV: I am a Nikon Ambassador, so all my equipment is Nikon of course. Almost three years ago, I helped launch the

Z 7 and since then, I have been full-on in mirrorless. I even sold all my DSLRs including the D850 and D5, so you know I am committed 😊. My go-to camera right now is the Nikon Z 7II with my other bodies being the Z 6II and Z 7. Typically, I have 3 cameras with me.

My lenses are:

S line – 14-24mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8

F mount – 500mmPF, 200-500mm 5.6, 800mm 5.6 (wowzer of a lens) and the 105mm 1.4 for portraits

I also carry 2x extenders for both S and F mount lenses.

CC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get “The Shot”?

MV: Jumped in the Arctic Ocean to photograph Narwhal

CC: Who has inspired you as a photographer?

MV: There have been many photographers that have inspired me over the years. To name a few…

Karsh brothers, Ami Vitale, Jodi Cobb, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Annie Leibovitz (my list goes on and is long)

CC: What advice would you tell an aspiring photographer?

MV: Live it, breath it, be consumed by it. Work really really hard, never give-up, go out of your comfort zone often and believe in yourself and your work. Put yourself out there too, do not be afraid and make mistakes. Many mistakes. Continue learning, expanding your creativity, define your style and love every second of it. Dream big.

CC: Can you share a photographic resource you personally use?

MV: Being grounded and home because of Covid has allowed me to do a lot of online learning and teaching.

CreativeLive and Santa Fe Workshops are two photo-based learning resources I like to use. I also listen to a lot of podcasts by photographers.

CC: How has photography shaped your day to day?

MV: Photography has shaped my everyday life since I was a teenager. I am obsessed with learning, experiencing and creating. It fills up my heart, my mind, my soul. If I am not shooting, I am likely on my computer editing. If I am not editing, I am posting. If I am doing none of the above, I am spending quality time with my family and friends (and maybe drinking wine).

CC: Where has photography taken you, and made you experience?

MV: I have been lucky to travel to all 7 continents. I am particularly fond of the Arctic – I have visited Canada’s north 60 times. That is the wonderful thing about photography, it is our driving force to experiencing the beauty and wonder of our world.

CC: Any exciting photographic events in coming up you’d like to share?

MV: Well, that is also a hard question right now since our world has changed and continues to change daily. I look forward to (and remain hopeful) about upcoming adventures to the Northeastern Arctic, Antarctic, Great Bear Rainforest and Chilko, British Columbia for the grizzly bears. I also have a photography exhibition (postponed from this April until October 2021) at Wall Space Gallery in Ottawa – it is called Eye to Eye.

I am also doing a variety of online presentations, most are listed on my website if you are interested.

"The natural world mirrors what we see in ourselves... our beauty, our simplicity, our complications, and our responsibilities. Nature is a part of us and reflects who we are. As a visual storyteller, it is my mission to educate, inspire, and immerse my viewers in the beauty and wonder of planet earth.”

Please follow me on my social channels:

IG - @michellevalbergphotography

Twitter - @michellevalberg

FB - @michellevalbergphotography

Youtube - @michellevalberg