Michele Westmorland

Michele Westmorland


Nationality: United States
 

Awards:

- 2015 | North American Nature Photography Fellowship Award
- 2014 | Photo District News 1st Place for Underwater Photography
- 2013 | The Great Outdoors Video short selected to show at WILD Festival
             in Salamanca, Spain
- 2011 | Inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame
             Keynote Speaker invitation - NANPA
- 2009 | Featured in "They Made Their Mark" by Jane Eppinga for
             The Mytinger Project Explorers Club Vancouver Award
- 2008 | Environmental Photography Invitational Grand Prize
- 2007 | Featured in "Adventurous Dreams-Adventurous Lives" by Jason Schoonover for
             The Mytinger Project Neil Shipman Award for Post Production - Headhunt
             Revisited The Mytinger Project
-          | Scott Pearlman Field Award for Science and Exploration - Headhunt Revisited
             The Mytinger Project
-          | Numerous awards for photography including the Grand Prize in Papua
              New Guinea Underwater Photo Competition


Publications:

- | Produced more than 30 stories for magazine publications about Papua New Guinea.
    These articles included travel, natural history and cultural topics.
    Smithsonian Magazine, Asian Geographic, Origin Magazine, Explorers Journal and
    many others specifically

- | Produced more than 40 stories for magazine publications on topics about underwater
    photography education, marinelife natural history, African wildlife behavior and
    photography. Select publications include: Sport Diver, Scuba Diving, Unterwasser,
    Diver Canada, Scuba Diver Australasia


Bio:

Michele Benoy-Westmorland is a freelance photographer with a range of skills, including worldwide travel, lifestyle and underwater photography.

Michele understands the need to tell a visual story, whether it covers exotic locations or the wonders of the natural world.

Her years of diving have led Michele to being an active proponent of marine conservation issues.

Interview:

1. WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS / OR OTHER ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
Chris Newbert, David Doubilet

2. WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER?
One that feels the moment - then captures it in a compelling image.

3. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DECIDING TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PHOTOGRAPHER?
The most difficult part of deciding to change career paths was not the passion or the joy I would receive, but if it would sustain an economic platform to travel. I was fortunate to begin my photographic career in a time when it was possible!

4. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT IS DEMOTIVATING?
The sheer joy of being in the water and encountering a creature or underwater scene I've not experience before is the biggest motivation. In the digital world of today, I find that the amount of time at the computer the most difficult.

5. WHAT ARE THE MOST PASSIONATE MOMENTS IN YOUR WORK?
I have so many special moments it's difficult to choose. That being said, the time I spent with a humpback whale mother and her week’s old calf was so enchanting. The mother allowed me to be within 2 meters of her young calf. All this time the calf thought I was a toy to check out. But there is only so long a mom will allow her baby to play. She placed her pectoral fin under the baby's belly and lifted it over her back, then looked directly at me as if to say "You've had your time, now we need to move on."

6. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
1. Time! There's never enough of it to cover the topics I would like to do.
2. The decline in image value in the digital age makes it challenging to financially afford to access locations and new equipment
3. The labour intense time it takes for all the post-production work.

7. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTRY?
I develop my artistry from a variety of sources. Inspiration comes from those people who I have admired. Many times it is being able to visually assess the scene. A major component of photographing in nature is to understand your subject. The techniques I use, such as slow shutter speed or over/under shots, are a combination of practice, practice and more practice.

8. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR PERSONAL LEARNING IN PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU WOULD CONVEY TO A "NOVICE"?
There is so much access these days through the internet for online courses. This is great for the technical side but one can only develop his/her style by getting out and shooting.

9. WHICH ARE THE DRIVING FORCES FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR WORK?
The driving force for me is to engage and participate in the conservation side of capturing the natural world. In addition, I believe it is important to connect with the local communities who depend on the health of the environment for their own well being. These small and remote villages are many times ignored by the wildlife photographer. There is so much information and collaboration that can be learned and obtained.

10. WHICH FEELINGS DETERMINE YOUR WORK WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD?
It's quite simple for me; it's the feeling that I might discover something new.

11. ON WHICH CRITERIA DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK AS SUCCESSFUL?
I deem my work successful when I have been able to communicate visually to a varied audience.

12. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR PLANET, NATURE: WHAT CONNECTION DO YOU SEE?
I believe in the mission of the International League of Conservation Photographers: iLCP’s mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. We believe that awe-inspiring photography is a powerful tool in preserving the environment, especially when produced in collaboration with our committed Conservation Partners. We aim to replace environmental indifference with a new culture of stewardship and passion for our beautiful planet.

13. ASSUMING YOU WOULD HAVE 15 MINUTES ON A TV BROADCAST AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD COULD LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, WHAT WOULD BE THE CORE OF YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE?
It would be summed up very closely to the mission as stated above for iLCP.

At Work:

»The sheer joy of being in the water and encountering a creature or underwater scene I've not experience before is my biggest motivation.«.

All works of Michele Westmorland