Michelle Seivers is a self-taught photographer living in Louisville, Kentucky, and she is just as comfortable shooting rural landscapes as energetic skylines. She is the is one of the moderators of @igerslouisville, an account like many others in cities worldwide that unite Instagram users of a particular place.
How did your interest in your medium begin and how did you arrive at your current style?
Photography started out as a casual hobby - photos taken on hikes or trips, with the occasional family portrait. When I moved back to Louisville, I used photography as a way of reacquainting myself with my hometown. My obsession with the skyline and bridges has carried me into the realm of cityscape photography. My style is definitely influenced by the trends and photographers I follow on Instagram - mostly trying to adapt images of big metropolitan cities like New York and Chicago to my little city of Louisville.
As my technical understanding of photography and artistic development has grown (I am self-taught with peer assistance), I have begun focusing more on experimenting with light and shadow and portraits. Eventually, I would like to marry my passion for photography with my background in policy and social justice. I am drawn to documentary photography and photojournalism as a means for visual storytelling, in which I hope to contribute to the storyline being made about and for Kentucky. My style, therefore, likely appears to be all over the place. I enjoy pristine landscapes, Stephen Shore-esque images, and high fashion portraitures equally. In developing my style, I seek to draw inspiration from all forms.
How do you feel about the relationship of an artist to their city or surroundings?
I am acutely aware of the sense of place in my art, especially because it is obvious in so much of my images. How I move in and out of spaces has influenced - and has been influenced by - my photography. Living in a city, but having a passion for hiking, I spend afternoons on what I like to call urban hikes, in which I walk around downtown Louisville, climbing the stairs of parking garages, weaving in and out of city blocks, and crossing bridges on foot. I want to get a complete sense of the place that is Louisville by taking both panoramic images of the city from afar but also intimate images of individuals within the city and their interactions with their surroundings. I love the city at night, and get a kick out of turning downtown Louisville into Gotham through my rooftop images.
Who have been some of your biggest influences or your best teachers?
My biggest influences come from folks on Instagram as well as various famous photographers. I have learned so much from my fellow Louisville photographer friends. My fiancé is also a photographer, and has enriched my photographic education through his experience with film photography and drawing inspiration from photographers like William Eggleston, Dennis Hopper, Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, Vivian Maier, etc.
One of the most valuable experiences I’ve had as of yet was to participate in The Mountain Workshops photojournalism workshop in October 2016. Western Kentucky University coordinates an annual workshop that is based in a different Kentucky town each year to highlight stories of local people and to gain experience in photojournalism, video storytelling, etc. The biggest lessons I learned were to be patient, to take time working a scene, and to be bold.
Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of?
I am part of a casual but wonderful group of photographers on Instagram called @igerslouisville. What started out as a photo-sharing platform for Louisville Instagram users has turned into a supportive community that gets together quarterly for photo walks throughout the city. Photography has brought people from all sectors and demographics together, and I consider many of them good friends. Many of us are self-taught and are eager to help each other learn new techniques.
Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.
I will be showing some of my work at a local coffee shop, Day’s Espresso & Coffee, in November and December of this year. I have also had a vision to hold a group show for my fellow Louisville Instagrammers, and hope to find a location to host us.