Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Oben.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My story isn’t so much about how I became an artist– I think it’s more about how I came to eventually accept the label.
My career has been in business & tech. It hasn’t been in the arts. I’ve always considered an artist to be one who created as a career. Because photography has always just been a creative outlet (and recently, a side hustle) for me, I’ve always just classified myself as a hobbyist. When people called me a photographer, creator, or artist– I’d always feel like I had to correct them: “aw, thanks….. but no. I just do this for fun.”
Recently, though, I realized that my thinking was flawed. Photography is an integral part of my life. Without it, I’d feel… off. It was this realization that shifted my definition of an artist. An artist is someone who creates because they need to. Because they want to. Because it’s a natural extension of themselves. I don’t shy away from accepting that label now.
Please tell us about your art.
Photography is how I choose to create, and I do that in two ways: commissioned and non-commissioned.
My commissioned photos include professional portraits, engagement photos, and even photos for dating apps (yep, that’s a thing). I love this type of work because you really get to connect with someone and tap into their spirit. Like a little soul connection I guess.
My non-commissioned work is what I love the most. My photos are a unique take on street photography. Like other street photographers, I like my photos to have an element of city grit– but I take that grit and scale it back a tad while focusing on color and geometry.
I hope people take away a sense of fun from my photos. I hope they’re prompted to see normal things in a different and slightly more whimsical way.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Seek out groups of people who share the same passions– they tend to understand you and share your idiosyncrasies. When I discovered @igerschicago (a community of Chicago Instagrammers) and went to my first meet-up, I immediately felt like I found my tribe– everyone was shamelessly taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I mean, I do this all the time anyway, but instead of doing it while annoying my non-photographer friends, I was doing it within a warm community of like-minded people who shared in that same type of joy. Game changer.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Instagram (@michelle_oben)! At this point in my journey, I’d like to be able to share my work with more people, so I’d ask that people follow my account and share it with someone!
However, if you’re in the market for a portrait, you can check out my portfolio (http://www.michelleoben.com/)