Michelle Grace Hunder // Her Sound, Her Story // Music Photographer

Photo Credit, Michelle’s Feature Image: Oli Sansom

Congratulations on your success with Her Sound, Her Story! Can you tell us about it and what inspired the project?

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Her Sound, Her Story; an inspiring free photographic exhibition.

My previous project that I worked on, that came out two years ago, was called Rise, it was a photo documentary on hip-hop in Australia. At the end of that process I was looking at what I wanted to do next and I realised, that I’d worked with 180 people over two years and around ten of them were female.

There were a lot conversations happening about the [gender] split across all genres in music as well as behind the scenes, so I wanted to explore that further from an artistic point of view. I thought that just having portraits wouldn’t do that justice and I really wanted to give a voice to the women, so I asked Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, who is an incredible film maker to come on board to do some interviews, and that’s where it all started.

Describe a normal day (and night!) in the life of Michelle Grace Hunder in the last 8 weeks.

Oh man, its been pretty hectic. I guess the most amusing thing is that I am a photographer & Claudia is a Film maker, but with this project, both of us had to be literally doing everything  you can imagine to curate an exhibition, a concert that was opening night of Melbourne Music Week, a cinema showing and now a small vignette series coming-out next week.

Vera Blue and Montaigne at Her Sound, Her Story exhibition at Emporium, Melbourne
Vera Blue and Montaigne at Her Sound, Her Story exhibition at Emporium, Melbourne

Everything from all admin and accounts, to travel agent, event manager, promoter, marketing coordinator, councillor to each other, and everything in between. We are literally doing the job of 50 people, as my husband reminded me after a small melt down a few weeks ago. But we have almost made it through! 🙂

How did you get your start in the music industry? Did you choose to work in music or did it choose you?

When I picked up a camera about 6-7 years ago, I naturally gravitated towards the music scene. I didn’t realise why at the time, but I think its because I grew up as a musician, and its my way of staying connected to the people I always felt I got along with best. Music Photography is incredibly competitive and tricky to make a living out of these days, but Ive been really fortunate to carve out a little niche first starting in Australian Hip Hop, which really gave me a big foot in the door to the rest of the industry.

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Taken from the RISE book website; RISE, a book dedicated to portraying musicians within the Australian Hip-Hop community

What is your absolute favourite part of what you do?

Working with artists and musos’ is the best. I think probably the moments where Im shooting live shows, when you’re allowed to be shooting on stage and backstage is one of the most privileged positions you can be in.  I never take that for granted. Also that I work for myself, I make my own hours, which means I can work as hard as I like and I only have myself to blame if Im not getting any work done or slacking off!

“I would love for there to be some real legitimate value seen in great music photography again. There are some incredible photographers in Australia.”

What do you like to do to unwind and relax?

I love hanging out with my husband and our dog Calvin, we both lead incredible, busy lives so I love having days off doing stuff around the house or hanging out.

What issues/potential issues do you think the current Australian music industry face?

Honestly with my particular area there is a huge issue with online music media and photographers (and writers etc) not being paid for their time. I believe its lead to a huge influx of people who are not in it for the right reasons and sub-par work floating around. I would love for there to be some real legitimate value seen in great music photography again. There are some incredible photographers in Australia.

What change would you like to see in Australian music culture in 2017?

I would love the whole landscape to be more inclusive and supportive of artists from all backgrounds, sexual orientations and be more equal across gender. The only thing that can happen from that is more interesting and diverse music being made. That’s a GOOD thing.

Who are your role models in the industry whether they be international/Australian?

My two favourite music photographers are Janette Beckman and Jonathan Mannion. They’re both renowned Hip Hop photographers and I’ve always looked to the both of them for inspiration. Particularly in the way they shoot very simple and classic photographs. 

What advice would you give someone who is at the beginning of their photography career?

Don’t copy trends, work harder than anyone else, take your craft seriously, and always be grateful for the positions you find yourself in.

What new skills have you had to develop that you didn’t know you’d need when you started out?

I’m 37 now, I have had so many different careers in my life that I think its kind of the opposite. I feel like skills I had in past roles are event management, or, in marketing or film production and they help every aspect of my photography business. Maybe, learning to deal with the crippling anxiety you feel as an artist before you release your work to the world.

Top 3 Artists to watch in 2017?

Sampa the Great

Montaigne

Ecca Vandal