“I’m not passionate about photography.
I know every bio on every photography page is supposed to say how passionate the photographer is about photography, but I’m not.
I enjoy photography. I’m very good at it. I’ve had a lot of education. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and it has been a blessing to me for more than 20 years now.
But I’m not passionate about it.
I’m passionate about people. People are the core of my business.
“But Michelle, don’t you photograph pets?”
Yes. Even pet photography is about people, about the people who love their fur babies, about the people who will miss them when they are gone.
I grew up on a farm. Of course we had animals. But like many farm families, animals were a utility: there to work, to serve, or to be consumed.
I was that strange child who tamed the feral cats, who became bosom buddies with the dogs. Our pets weren’t abused or mistreated. They were well fed, sheltered (not usually a problem in Mississippi, where it’s the rare night that the temperatures get below freezing.) They slept on the porch or in the barn. But there was no coddling, no soft beds, no vet visits (we couldn’t afford it.) I was the child who wondered: why? I would have sprung for vet visits, heartworm medicine, expensive flea collars. Why wasn’t this a priority to anyone else?
I would cradle my dog Bear when he had tick fever, hoping this wasn’t goodbye, lulling him into rest with tales of woe from my teenage worries. I idolized the cats, spent hours socializing the litters.
I was home from college one night when wild dogs attacked my Bear. My parents wouldn’t let me go out to help him (probably to keep me from being mauled). I wept myself into exhaustion. Bear, who had always been weak from his bouts of tick fever, didn’t survive, and I vowed to never again love an animal like I had loved him.
Many of you have been there. The heartbreak is awful. I was not going to love another pet.
Then my college boyfriend was murdered and Meeko came into my life. Meeko was the runt of a near-feral litter, a tiny ball of grey and white cat fluff that looked at me and said with that look: “You need me. And I need you.” For the toughest seven years of my life, Meeko was my sidekick. He made it okay to love again. He moved with me to Arkansas, got me established first in Pine Bluff and then in Little Rock. He died of cancer at the age of only seven, but he had changed my life. A line of cats succeeded him: Gandalf the Grey, Panda, a fluffy tuxedo cat, and my current kitty, Grace.
On the same day in 2017, two pairs of blue eyes came into my life. I received a message on a dating app from a guy who sounded (and would actually turn out to be) amazing, my Tom, the love of my life. That very same day, I walked out to see the new puppies and Hallie looked straight into my eyes and I had a puppy! I’m apparently a sucker for blue eyes! Tom, my kids, Hallie and Gracie Poo are my world.
So that’s my story. What’s yours?