Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Michelle Kane Photography - Creator of MK Hearty Actions

I am so excited to post this Interview with Michelle Kane, owner of Michelle Kane Photography and maker of the fabulous Hearty Actions. I not only love her actions and use them in every one of my images, but I find her so inspiring. Both professionally and personally. Her images really speak to me; sometimes with a beautiful rich color pop, and sometimes with a soft,warm feel, radiating with a beautiful ethereal yummy light.  It is proof to me that as an artist you can explore outside of  your " style " and just go with the flow, try new things, forget about lines and boundaries ... Just be inspired! 

I love how real she is, and how she has her priorities straight. New photographers this is an interview you won't want to miss. 

Michelle, thank you so much for sharing a little of you with all of us, 


Maria Alexandra

Name: Michelle Kane

Business Name: Michelle Kane Photography

Location: Sheridan, WY

Questions for you ... You fabulous photographer, You ! 

Name: Michelle Kane

Business Name: Michelle Kane Photography

Location: Sheridan, WY

 Meet Michelle...

What is in your camera bag ? 

Canon 5D Mark2 with battery grip
Canon 50mm f/1.2 L 
Canon 85mm f/1.8
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L
Canon 135mm f/2.0 L
Canon 100mm f/2.8 L Macro
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II
Canon 580 EXII Speedlight
Lastolite TriGrip Reflector
Hoodman Loupe 

What is your favorite lens and why ? 

135mm f/2.0 It's sharp and buttery and removes the clutter from backgrounds. 

Tell as a little about your journey on becoming the Michelle Kane we all love :) 

Hmmm... well, I'm definitely a work in progress both in life and in business. I certainly have not "arrived" by any means, as I'm constantly growing, evolving and hopefully improving, not only as a photographer, but on a personal level! I started out shooting clients 3 years ago. I've always loved to be creative, but found it hard to find my niche. Photographing my children and even my own maternity images made me want to learn more about photography. I've always loved Photoshop and would spend countless hours playing and trying to teach myself about it. I gained clients through shooting friends and family, which cause the buzz to spread by word of mouth. I'm probably your typical mom turned photographer who spent many late nights at the computer learning anything I could online for free, or with my nose in Photoshop and photography books and playing in Photoshop until I felt I had enough skill to charge people. Those late nights eventually became problematic and I felt obsessed with the business like many of those just starting out do. That's when I realized that I desperately needed more balance. If that meant not taking on as many photo sessions or mentoring sessions, then so be it. I never felt so happy as I did when I decided to cut back and prioritize my personal life as a mom and wife above photography. It changed everything for the better. Once I released the HeARTy Photoshop Actions, it changed even more. What an unexpected blessing that was. I've just been riding the wave, uncertain of where it will take me, but confident that God has a good plan for me. I pray for the opportunity to use this skill and business to bless others and somehow bring glory to the One who gives so generously to me. 

When did you first decide and how were you inspired to develop the wonderful Hearty Actions that we can't live without ? 

I found myself doing the same repetitive steps in Photoshop during editing. It finally dawned on me one day to write them into actions to speed up the process. When I began mentoring other photographers for post processing, I didn't have them fine tuned. I discovered over time that it was easier to teach people post processing when there was some semblance of consistency to the steps. So I began to write actions that mimicked my editing process to help my mentees. From there, I added more and more and tried to think of every possible editing tool that a photographer would need in order to create their OWN look, whether it be classic and simple, rich and colorful or airy and delicate. It was always my intent to make actions that allowed photographers to still be artists, using my time saving tools to handcraft their desired look. I didn't want actions that when you play X action you get X trendy look. Again, my actions are time saving creative building blocks. It's up to the photographer to combine them and build their own masterpieces. 

What are your favorite HeARTy actions out of both sets ? Silly question since we all love them all !! So I will rephrase. Which Hearty Actions do you find yourself using the most ? 

From the Creative HeART set:
Bland to Brilliant is my all time favorite go-to action for giving the perfect contrast and clarity boost. I start 99% of my images off with it. You could really edit an entire image with just Bland to Brilliant, tweaking the internal layers. I do that a lot. 
Sumptuous Smolder is perfect for giving a soft richness to images. Love it. 
Brown Sugar, Kiwi, Daffodil and Cosmic Ray are among my favorite tones. Tones make all the difference in creating or amping up spot color or giving an overall polish to an image.

From the HeART & Soul set:
I can't really live without the Digital Makeup section. I use all the actions in that section on a regular basis. But, my all time favorite is Flawless Face. Once I wrote that action, I've never taken a photo into Portraiture again. It's the quintessential skin smoothing, background creaming action. 

What is your favorite thing to shoot and why? 

I enjoy photographing teens and high school seniors the most. I find that most teenagers, girls especially, have never seen themselves the way that others see them. Most often, they are overly critical of their bodies and smiles, and are self-conscious to some degree. I love being able to capture them the way they really are and help them see themselves as beautiful, confident young adults. I love to watch their faces light up when I show them the back of the camera and they see how their movements, posing and interactions with me and the camera are translating into lovely images. They radiate with a new-found confidence and gain a fresh sense of ease in front of the camera. The best part is I've had so many parents call to tell me what a great experience their teenagers said they had working with me... that it was fun and easy. They say their teens walk away feeling special, beautiful and more self-assured.

What stresses you out the most and what brings you the most happiness and peace ? 

Stress comes mostly from not knowing where to take my business in the future. Where do I put my energy? Who should I market to and how? A lot of stress was released when I decided to focus my business on seniors, kids and couples. I dropped the family, maternity and newborn sessions. Once I did that, I felt a huge sense of relief. 

I find the most happiness when I'm in the moment with my kids. When I'm just wearing my mommy hat and being totally invested in my playtime with the kids. More than anything, I love that time of night when I lay with the kids in bed, cuddling and tickling their arms. We giggle and chat and pray. There's nothing more meaningful and precious. Peace comes with prayer. When I'm at my wits end and am stressing and worrying, I can always count on God's peace when I drop my worries at His feet. Plus, my husband is very calm and supportive and is my constant source of encouragement. He grounds me. 

Will you share a quote that inspires you ? 

It's a Bible verse actually. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." When I feel lost and in the waiting place of wondering what to do or what's life all about, I read this and am reminded that even if I don't understand it all, I'm in the hands of the One who does.

What is the best advice you can give to new photographers who are just starting out ? 

I'm always asked this question. Here is my stock answer. ;-P
Really learn your camera and how it functions (the basics of photography) before you get caught up in trying to make crappy photos look good in post processing. Do what comes naturally from within your own creative spirit instead of trying to recreate everyone else's ideas. Keep up with your bookwork or hire an accountant. Hire out your branding (logo and marketing pieces) to a professional. 

In the world of Photography there can be many stepping stones and hardships ...  Many photographers feel defeated before they even get going. What would you say to those who have the potential to become great, however want to throw in the towel due to the trials the industry brings and the intimidation they may feel towards successful photographers around them? 

I've honestly been there many, many times. This industry can be harsh, plain and simple. First, I'd say if they are unsure if photography is really something to turn into a business, pray about it. I know that if I'm not in God's will with my business, then it's fraught with obstacles, stress and hardships at every turn. I'm not saying that I have instant clarity about what to do the moment I pray about it, but I do feel that sense of peace knowing that the right doors will open and the wrong ones will close. Once someone knows they are to pursue photography as a career, yet they face frustration and intimidation, I think they need to go slow, focus on maybe one niche and not try to be a jack of all trades by shooting anything and everything that comes their way. When photographers specialize in one or only a couple types of sessions, they will gain more confidence in those areas and develop a style and workflow that promotes success. If they constantly feel icky inside the moment they book a family session or when they drive away from a stressful newborn session, then they need to listen to their gut and maybe cut those kinds of sessions out. When it comes to editing, it goes back to a previous answer... learn the ins and outs of shooting in manual and perfect your exposures. The better the images are out of camera, the easier the editing is and the frustration level goes down. Regarding feeling intimidation, that's a hard one. It's really difficult to not compare yourself to others and I think we all do it to some degree. One thing that helps is to not spend too much time looking at other people's work. I know once I stopped doing that, I felt a million times more confident and came into my own more with my style and look. But let's be honest, I can still get caught up in feeling like I'm a crappy photographer compared to so-and-so. And honestly what is that? It's envy. It's wanting someone else's skill, creativity, perspective, style. That's when I need to turn off the outside influences of blogs and Facebook, focus on my own work and try harder to shoot with intention from my own creative place. If you really want it, you'll have to work at it. I don't think big success just drops into the laps of those sitting idly by hoping for it. Work hard, but be vigilant not to lose sight of the most important things in life, your faith, family and personal life. Without those things, a thriving business or popularity won't ultimately fulfill you.


  1. Michelle, Thank you so much for your honest and inspiring answers...I walked away from this feeling so motivated and so inspired! It's a great reminder that we don't have to do anything alone, that we've got the Man upstairs by our side every step of the way. THANK YOU!!!

  2. LOVED this article! Michelle, is a blessing to the photography community...she's genuine, good hearted and her actions speak for themselves! Totally one of a kind!

  3. Michelle is always such an inspiration!

  4. Michelle you are truly one of the most beautiful people I know inside and out! LOVE this interview!!! I know I have told you this a thousand times but you are AMAZING!

  5. I love, love, LOVE how you put God first in your life, and business, and aren't shy about saying so.

    Great interview!

  6. Michelle, you are such an inspiration! Loved this article!!!

  7. it was so lovely to see your photos. they are so professional and so beautiful to look at.