Pro Files: Meet Michelle Gifford

January’s feature photographer is:

Michelle Gifford



Describe yourself in your own words?

I’m a fun, passionate momma who turns up the music loud and dances with her kids whenever possible.  I like to work hard and inspire others to reach their potential.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

My father-in-law!  Can you believe it?!  He had a professional camera and I had always wanted one.  When I asked him if he thought I should get one, he told me that I would never regret it and I never have!  I saved all my birthday and Christmas money and bought a DSLR on Black Friday and have never looked back.

What do you feel sets you apart as a photographer?

My ability to make my seniors feel beautiful.  This is the most important thing to me during my session and it affects all aspects of my communication with them before, during and after the session.

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What is your current favorite image and why?

My favorite picture I’ve taken in the last few months is the one of my two-year-old daughter lying in a field.  It is so hard to capture the essence of a toddler and in this picture, I did.  It is a snap shot of who she was at that moment and I know I will cherish it always.
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My favorite senior image I’ve taken recently, is the black and white picture of one of my seniors.  The moodiness of the black and white coupled with her bright beautiful eyes and soft expression leaves me speechless every time I see it.
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Describe your dream session?

My dream session happens in the desert at sunset with a long flowy dress.  Every time I visit my childhood home in Utah, I envy their open landscapes and beautiful mountains.  I also have loved beach sessions at sunset here in Southern California.  Ha!  I guess, I just like sunsets anytime, anywhere.

We absolutely love Beauty Revived. Tell us about it and what inspired you to create it.

Beauty Revived is a site dedicated to tell the stories of real women with real beauty through the medium of photography.  Photographers donate sessions to these women and their stories and pictures are featured on and in our quarterly magazine. For the past 10 years I have worked with young women in my church and also as a senior photographer.  The result of these years, is an all-out admiration for these young women. They are facing crazy things and coming out beautifully.  They are accomplished.  They are smart.  They are kind.  They are beautiful.  But guess what, if you listen to what the world is saying, you would think they were lazy and unmotivated.  Well, I wanted to shine light on the stories of these young women.  It wasn’t just something that I thought would be nice and lovely, I felt compelled.  I knew that this was a way that, with God’s help, I could help others see the good in the world.  I hosted a Beauty Revived campaign in my local high school and donated a session to four girls.  After the session, I could tell that being recognized for the good they were doing changed them and I knew that it couldn’t stop with just me.  And so, Beauty Revived was born.

Since that session almost two years ago, Beauty Revived has grown into an international photography movement and has involved thousands of photographers and featured more than 300 women.  I’m in awe at the goodness of the photography community and fell blessed to be a part of it.

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What has surprised you the most about your photographic journey?

Photography isn’t just photography.  It can become so much more.  It isn’t just a picture or a business, but with the right education, you can change lives.

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What photographer has inspired you the most on your journey?

I’ve had so many mentors along the way and different photographers come into my life when I need them most.

Sarah Allred (TPE founder) was there in the beginning to cheer me on, give me encouragement and believe in my dreams and continues to be an amazing friend and example.

Vickie Black (Senior Style Guide) believed in Beauty Revived from the beginning.  She has allowed me to be a part of her dreams and in so doing inspired me to follow my own.

Jamie Larson (The Snap Society) When I feel stuck or uninspired, she is there to pick me up and push me forward.

Cyrissa (Immerse Photography), she has taught me that giving is key to happiness and encouraging others always brings good things to you and your business.

What’s the biggest mistake you have made thus far?

Taking advice from others without checking in with my gut.  We put a lot of credit in what other people tell us and that can cause us to forget what we already know.  We know more than we think we do.  Follow your gut!

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It’s no secret that balance between personal and work is tough. How do you nurture both?

This is always tough!  The key to it for me is to be aware of how I’m feeling.  If I’m feeling frustrated as a mom or as a business owner, I ask myself why.  Usually it is because I am unbalanced in one aspect of my life.  I then take the necessary actions to correct it.  And when all else fails, I take a nap.  Entrepreneurs tend to wear themselves out!  Make time for yourself!

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Meagan Opel

Meagan is a wife, mother of three, animal hoarder, and passionate photographer. She hates wearing shoes, loves Murder She Wrote, and is starting an adventure in dutch oven cooking.

She started down the road of photography with a gentle push from her husband and hasn’t looked back. She loves being able to capture those “real life” moments that can slip by in the blink of an eye. Like most photographers with kids, Meagan became fascinated (obsessed) with photographing her children from second she laid eyes on them, and loves helping others hone their photography skills to better capture their own children.

Meagan is our instructor for Get Grounded in Photoshop, and is also our official Operations Queen. She keeps everyone organized, scheduled, and on track with blogging, Happy Hour, Extra Credit, communication, customer service, and anything else that keeps TPE operating on a day to day basis just for you!

When she isn’t working for TPE, running her own business, or running after her own three small kiddos she enjoys being outdoors, cooking, spending time with her animals, and swimming.