Today's P&C Questionnaire comes from Julie Michelle of Femme Fotographie, I Live Here:SF, and CALIBER SF. Where do I even begin? As @TheSoniaShow recently said on Twitter: "We could play six degrees of Julie Michelle. She is the Kevin Bacon of SF. We are all connected thru her." Truer words were never tweeted. For my own connection to Julie we go back to last winter (not even a year!) when I discovered the incredible San Francisco photography blog, CALIBERSF. Julie reached out to me after I posted about the site, and asked that I be a part of her I Live Here: SF project. We then became acquaintances and now friends. Apart from those two artistic endeavors, Julie also developed a group of local businesswomen, artists, and entrepreneurs all gathered from her adventures with I Live Here: SF. Through this group I've made countless new connections and friends, and have been inspired by every single one of them.
It is rare that you meet someone as gifted as Julie; not only is her artistry remarkable, but her ability to connect people on multiple levels is something unheard of in today's world. I think of her as one of those legendary hostesses from the Parisian salons or Greenwich Village in the 1920s - she unites artists, thinkers, and afficionados and has become the hub of a new (and much-needed) cultural wheel here in San Francisco. Julie is certainly someone who has touched my life and someone I'm so proud and grateful to have met.
The SOMArts Cultural Center is showcasing Julie Michelle's I Live Here: SF work beginning on November 5th. This is one show you will not want to miss!
What is your occupation and how did you arrive at it?
I am reluctant to ever label myself anything, especially around the area of work/life. I make my living right now as a photographer and by working part-time in an administrative/office management capacity for a nonprofit/think tank.
Both were accidental and both were a result of my late-blooming love of photography. I started earning my living as a photographer first, because my "real" job disappeared in the recession on 2008-09. My love of portraiture expanded into a project called I Live Here:SF (iliveheresf.com) and now I do headshots, family portraits, small events and corporate photography too. You can see more of my work at femmefotographie.com
I realize every day that I am extremely fortunate to earn my keep by practicing an art that I am passionate about and that is always teaching me something.
Name three things that inspired you this week.
- The rain! It stopped being Indian Summer this week. I found my favorite umbrella and walked halfway across town in the rain to celebrate.
- Visiting my incredibly artistic friends that had Open Studios in town (Rachel Znerold, Soad Kader, Nancy Ewart) and my lovely friend across the bay, Katayoon Zandvakili. Being in the presence of kind, brilliant, generous women who also happen to be hyper-talented artists never fails to make me want to create more myself.
- Working on the prints for my I Live Here:SF show at Dickerman Prints Photo Lab in the Mission. I have this big retrospective of my portrait project coming up (fast!) in November. Seeing my photography come off the internet and turn into large format photographic prints has been a revelation. Plus, the people who work there have been so incredibly supportive of my work, which is hugely inspiring and humbling.
From ILiveHere:SF - Meli and the Lyon St. Stairs
What is your personal style "uniform"?
Whatever is practical for what I am doing. If I'm at my desk, normally leggings, boots and a comfortable sweater. However, my street uniform is generally something I can get on the ground in, if need be. I do a lot of street photography and my portraits are often taken outside, and I need to wear something that I can get on my knees or even stomach in, even if it's in the middle of the street. So that means jeans and t-shirts: stuff you can wash a lot.
My bf recently bought me a pair of UGG suede oxford sneakers because he got tired of seeing me leave the house with Keds that had holes in them. I guess that's as fashion-y as I get these days, but I do love my new UGGs, to the point where I want to get a backup pair!
The CALIBER team: Stuart Dixon, Travis Jensen, Julie Michelle & Troy Holden
Name one type of clothing, shoes, or accessory that always makes you stop and stare, and explain why.
Is hair an accessory? I am infatuated with the perfect Louise Brooks' haircut on the right person. I am infatuated with Louise Brooks too, so that's not too surprising. But seeing that perfect haircut on the right person is a wonderful thing, and yes, I'll stare.
Do you buy vintage? If so, what piece in your collection is your favorite?
I don't buy vintage but I have some wonderful handbags, gloves and hats that belonged to my grandmother that I pull out from time to time. Whenever the Noir Festival rolls out at the Castro Theater each January, I love being able to dress like a gun moll for a day or two, and having real white gloves and period accessories is fun.
Do you ever feel like you were born in the wrong time? If so, what era would you like to have lived in and why?
I appreciate many other eras for their historical significance (Jazz Age, between the world wars), artistic achievements (Paris in the 1930s), and cultural significance (San Francisco in the 1960s). I think I'm lucky to be living in a time where I can look back and appreciate history as fully as I can understand it. I don't believe in an idyllic time when things were better. I do wish we learned and appreciated our past more to incorporate it into our present.
What current trend do you like the most?
I don't know if you call this a trend, or merely a San Francisco observation, but I am appreciative of the diversity of styles you can wear at any given time these days. It seems like there are so many more choices offered in how you want to express your personal style and there are many right answers. Less pressure, more freedom.
What current trend (in your opinion) cannot disappear fast enough?
Low-rise jeans and pants. I hate feeling like my pants are falling down all the time. It's infuriating (and why I only own one "mistake" pair of these jeans.) I don't know how people wear them on a regular basis.
What film could you watch over and over and still find something inspiring? Why?
It's an impossibility for me to choose a single film, so I'll choose a director. Stanley Kubrick, his work and his vision, are wholly inspiring to me. I've seen every one of his films several times and the documentary about his life, A Life in Pictures, is highly worth watching. Kubrick's brilliance in "seeing" has made such a huge impression on me, compounded even more now that I'm so obsessed with photography and that was how he started his career, as a photographer. Watching his films makes that quite clear to me now. But the sheer intelligence and quality of his work, from Barry Lyndon to Full Metal Jacket, those are movies that make me think and see.
Self-Portrait with a Leica III Camera by Stanley Kubrik, late 1940s for Look Magazine
If blogging didn't exist, how would you fill your extra time?
Writing. I started blogging because it was the perfect medium to inspire me to write and keep me writing (although I do that less these days with the load of photography work in front of me). If I didn't have access to a computer, or the ability to blog, I guess I'd take it Old School and get one of those black art sketchbooks that I used to keep in college. Hmmm, maybe that's a good idea!
Images: 1) Welcome Home by Julie Michelle on CALIBERSF; 2) Paintball by Julie Michelle on CALIBERSF; 3) Morning on Yosemite Slough by Julie Michelle on CALIBERSF; 4) Meli & the Lyon St Stairs from ILiveHere:SF by Julie Michelle; 5)CALIBERSF team photograph by Stuart Dixon; 6) Louise Brooks, photographer unknown 7) Poster for Out of the Past, 1947; 8) Happy Birthday, Red Vic by Julie Michelle 9) Self-Portrait with a Leica III Camera by Stanley Kubrik, late 1940s for Look Magazine