Since 2007 I have been a real fan of Flickr and I have found some amazing photographs and photographers over the years. Oeil has always stood out for me and I love seeing all her new work. I also discovered her love of photoshop actions and have bought and used them myself.
On thinking who I would love to interview Oeil was a no-brainer and was in my top 10 list. I love her strong portraits and her style, as she lives in Florida you have got to love the shoot locations too.
How would you introduce yourself to the Photography Parlour?
Hello, my name is Michelle Dearing. I am a wedding and portrait photographer currently living in Pensacola, Florida. I have 2 boys and I am no super-mom.
How did you find your way into the photography business?
I stumbled across photography during Nursing school. I saw an ad in a magazine for engagement photography and I thought to myself , ‘I can do that!’ So, I went on one of those crazy cheap photography equipment websites and bought myself a $500 camera for about a grand. lol. Right away, I started taking photos for complete strangers for $25 and it sort of took off from there.
How come you work under the name ‘Oeil’?
It’s sort of dumb, but I didn’t want a name like “Michelle Dearing Photography” because I don’t think my name is cool enough. It just doesn’t have a good sound to me, and ever since I was little I had a thing for eyeballs. You know, how sometimes people like faeries or dragons… I like eyeballs.
This was the first thing that came to me. Of course eyeball wouldn’t be a good name, neither would “ojo” or ’Occhio’. French just makes it look great.
I first saw your work on Flickr and your ‘actions’ group, do you find Flickr a great resource?
YES! Flickr is what I owe everything to. All of those great artists on there who I bothered with questions and all of the forums I read. To this day I still ask questions and now I am paying it forward by answering questions when I get them.
Living in Florida what are your favorite locations to shoot? Does it differ dependent on whom/what you are photographing?
Honestly for a while, I thought the beach was cliche for Pensacola, but then I moved to Jacksonville, FL for two years and saw how different and not pretty the beach was over there, so I thought that I took the white sandy beautiful beaches of Pensacola for granted!
Now that I’m back here, I can’t wait to use it as a backdrop. I also love finding strange places. I don’t really have a favorite spot because I tend to find a new location for every photoshoot.
Weddings or Portraits…….. what’s your favorite?
This is a hard question… I went to a workshop (my first and only) and was asked to pick 5 of my favorite images and they tended to be portraits/wedding portraits. And they are usually mainly focusing on a person’s face so I suppose it would be portraits. Even if they happen on a wedding day.
How would you describe your photography style?
Moody and Artistic. Sometimes a little dark.
Who inspires you? This can be other photographers or anyone else you can think of?
Sean Flanigan for his use of color and composition. It’s just eye candy to me. Even if I don’t think I have his style or I cannot imitate it.
Poser (Erik Clausen) in my opinion is one of the best wedding photographers out there.
Music: I love slow melancholic songs like from Elliott Smith, Radiohead, A perfect Circle, Depeche Mode. It can sometimes affect the way I edit something.
Fashion Photographers: Meisel and Tim Walker, Guy Aroch, Akif Hakan Celebi, Pat Ramos! Curently, I’m finding myself researching photographers from the 1940s to the 1960s and street photography.
How important is it do you think that a photographer has their own style? How has your style developed over the years?
I think that at first, you can experiment with all types of styles… Art is subjective. I used to mess up people’s skin tones when I first started but in my mind I thought I had made an awesome photo. Over the years when I look back at those photos now, I still like them but I won’t think they are awesome.
Your own style develops naturally. Try not to obsess yourself with other people’s blogs because they will just confuse you. It takes time and for some that are lucky they find their style quickly. I don’t think I’ve found mine entirely yet, and I’ve been photographing since 2007.
What’s in your bag?
Are you sure you want an entire list?
Hmm. First you should know I shoot Nikon. I did have an affair with Canon in 2010. Although I liked my files, the autofocus system made me come back to Nikon… So as of now I still have a Canon 5D with a 35L. (going to use for portrait sessions)
For weddings, I take a Kata backpack with a Nikon D700, D90, SB600 for receptions Lenses: 50mm 1.8, 24mm 2.8 (MF), 50mm 1.2 (MF), 85mm 1.4 (MF), Sigma 10-20mm, planning on getting the new 35mm 1.4 SOON. but I have loads more because I have become a lens collector apparently.
I have seen and bought some of your actions, how did you get into creating these?
Wow, thank you! When I would buy actions, right away I’d start making variations to them and I usually never use the original version. I think I have a good eye for color and duplicating what I want to.
So, I started saving things and offering them for purchase. When I see what people do with them I usually say,’ How did you edit this?’ And they say ‘it’s your action!’ hehe, so I must be doing a good job. By the way, my stuff is affordable. I don’t think action sets should be $100!
Where do you see yourself going in the future?
Who knows. I am very thankful I am where I am right now. My husband being in the navy is going to keep us moving everywhere so it’s hard for me to start up my business locally. So now, I am trying to book internationally.One thing you should know is that I’m terrible at marketing. So if you’ve heard of Oeil Photography, it’s a surprise to me!
PS. my goal in life is to get one photo of mine in Vogue, but shhh… no one knows this.
Thank you so much Michelle for answering all my questions, the timeless and dramatic feel to your photographs will continue to inspire me!!!