Catching up with the woman who captures the essence of what it’s like to be in love (and more!) with a click of a button
When you meet photographer Michelle Proctor in person, you wonder why she isn’t in front of the camera instead of behind it. Her infectious smile and expressive eyes exude cover girl model, not photographer. She’s beautiful, smart and clearly loves her craft (she shot her own images for this article!), which is why she prefers doing the shooting rather than the posing. We got the lowdown on how she got started, what advice she’d give her younger self, and what her favourite curse word is…
Who are you and where are you from?
I was born in Montreal, Canada. When I was 7, we moved to Saltspring Island on the West Coast. I still feel ties to both places. As for who I am, give me a few more decades and I’ll get back to you.
How long have you lived in Hong Kong?
Where do you live? What do you like about your neighbourhood?
Sheung Wan. I love the mix of modern and traditional Hong Kong and the fact that we’re in walking distance to everything.
How did you become a photographer?
I’ve been taking pictures since my early teens. Opportunity presented itself when we moved to Hong Kong. I had nothing to lose so I went for it.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to do your job? (What have you learned along the way?)
Shoot as much as you can; it’s the best way to develop your eye and style. Don’t get too caught up on equipment; understanding basic functions and light are more important. If you’re starting, say yes to everything. The more you put yourself in different situations, the more you stretch yourself and find out your strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, assist other photographers when you can – it’s like a paid lesson.
If you could have another career, what would it be? Why?
With everything that’s going on in the world it would be a policy maker – one that worked off of facts and science.
Who do you look up to (personally, professionally – it’s up to you)?
My mom, dad and husband for their work ethic. Professionally, there are so many photographers to admire, from Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh to Norman Seeff, all the way to photographers I’ve discovered on Instagram, like Dan Tom and Joe Greer, just to name a few. The list is endless.
How do you describe your personal style?
Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
The shops along Aberdeen and Gough Streets are full of treasures. I’m also a big fan of Grana.
What places and experiences have inspired you?
We went to Cuba when I was 15 and that was the first place that really inspired me to shoot. Working with other talented photographers inspires me, beautiful images inspire me, light inspires me – there’s a lot to be inspired by.
What is your favourite thing to do at the weekend?
My friends would say work. But that’s just the way freelance goes. If I have a day off I like to get outside, go for a hike and end up at a beautiful beach.
What is your favourite restaurant in Hong Kong?
The Limewood. I always feel like I’m on holiday when I go there.
What’s your favourite getaway destination? And what are the “must have” items you take with you?
I love Hoi An for a quick getaway. Vietnam has great culture, scenery and most importantly, delicious food. [I bring] just the necessities – bathing suit, shorts and a T-shirt, a good book, and my camera.
What are you most excited about in the near future?
Weddings! A few of my dear friends are getting married this summer.
If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?
The only person that lives your life is you – forget what everyone else thinks and go with your gut.
What’s your favourite curse word? How often do you use it?
Fuck. Probably too often!
What quality do you admire in others?
Who’s your biggest fan?
Apart from my husband, who’s a bit biased, my girlfriend Amber is the very first person I shot. I’ve been lucky to photograph all the big milestones in her life and she’s always supported me. Even after all these years she still asks what I’m shooting and how it’s going. I think that’s pretty amazing.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone gave you?
When we decided to move to Hong Kong my dad wrote me a note saying “Live big. Adventures are hard to come by.” He’s the wisest man I know.
What’s your go-to outfit?
Jeans and a t-shirt.
Thanks to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleProctorPhotography.