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An Interview with Michelle Fritz

Michelle Getting a Landscape Shot An Interview with Michelle Fritz
michellelynnfritz Instagram.JPG Michelle Lynn Fritz @michellelynnfritz
Find Michelle Lynn Fritz online

You are a local, is that correct?

Yes

You now live in Strasburg, but where did you grow up?

Purple Flower Macro Michelle Fritz You now live in Strasburg but where did you grow up?

I was born in Lancaster City and lived there until I was in 5th grade. We moved to Lampeter-Strasburg, and I graduated from there in 1984. We lived in Lancaster County until 1996, when we moved to Jennersville, PA for 15 years. After our youngest daughter graduated from high school, we moved back to Strasburg. In July, it will be three years since we moved back home.

Where in Strasburg did you live before you do now?

South Decatur Street.

That's right off the Square, correct?

Yup!

You have a really amazing view from where you live now, don't you?

We live at the top of hill, so there's an amazing view of farmland out the front of our house, and a great big valley in our backyard.

So you were saying that you like to get low when taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets.

Flower Infront Of A Moon Michelle Fritz So you were saying that you like to get low when taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets.

Yeah, anyway I can do that so it ends up being a silhouette, or highlighted somehow by the sun or the moon.

Your eyes are always looking for that?

Yes.

More of the macro, zooming in on something.

I like macro and I like the silhouette photography, yes. I also like landscapes and architecture.

Where did you get your start in photography?

I had a huge garden at our old house. It was 6000 square feet! I started taking pictures of the flowers in my garden to know what they looked like in the winter time so I could paint them.

You've painted before?

I aspire to be a painter, but I've only painted a few paintings since I fell in love with taking pictures.

So let me get this straight, you wanted to be a painter, so you were trying to figure out what to paint and you went around taking pictures?

Blue Bird On Log Michelle Fritz So let me get this straight you wanted to be a painter so you were trying to figure out what to paint and you went around taking pictures?

I love flowers and the flowers in my garden. I wanted to capture the realistic detail of them to call upon in the winter.

What camera are you using at this time?

An Olympus digital camera.

Did you go out and get it for this purpose, or did you have it already?

My husband bought it so we could take pictures of the family. I quickly began taking pictures of my flowers.

This camera existed as a tool to document your life and your kids, but now you're picking it up with purpose to create art!

That’s right, and now I am never without it. It's almost always in my right hand.

It's digital...did you have a hard time picking it up then and trying to figure out how to get the pictures off and make something of them? Use them? Send them?

flower michelle fritz It's digital...did you have a hard time picking it up then and trying to figure out how to get the pictures off and make something of them? Use them? Send them?

There was a learning curve with it. It's been about eight years since I started, around the time I joined Facebook in 2008.

Was Facebook a good way to share photos?

It became that very quickly. I have a strong love of gardening, so I began documenting my garden progress in albums called "As the Garden Grows". People liked seeing what I'd planted and started picking my brain about gardening, but then as I got better at taking pictures, they began to really enjoy my flower and sunset shots.

(Michelle pauses to take photographs of something)

I walk this way often.

It's a big circle! You walk, so a lot of your photography seems to be local.

Leaves In The Puddle Michelle Fritz It's a big circle! You walk so a lot of your photography seems to be local.

Yes, I often walk to see the sunrise, or the sunset. I've really come to enjoy walking in local parks, and nature trails. The Lancaster Conservancy has many locations I've explored, and hope to see. I enjoy walking around Lancaster City to see the gardens, and the architecture of the old buildings.

Back to the garden. Did you do flowers and vegetables? Was it all photogenic to you, or more so just the flowers?

I think it all is, but more of the flowers, in general. Also, bugs and butterflies. All the things that end up in, and around, the flowers.

Peaceful things, like being in, and around, your garden and watching.

Nature, yes. That's why I enjoy walking so much, because you're right there nose to nose with what's there. When you're in a car, you miss so much!

Do you find you get tired of your path at all?

frozen bubble Do you find you get tired of your path at all?

Mostly in the wintertime. I reach a point in late winter when I just need to see green and flowers, and I'm tired of the dead, and the browns, and the grays. Which is how the bubble photography has inspired me at a time of year when I'm getting bored.

Is that new this year?

No, it's the second winter I've been doing it.

This year it got a lot of attention! Do you know anyone else who's doing this? Have you seen another one?

Online I have, yes. I saw a post online where somebody had shot some frozen bubbles and I said, “Shoot! I want to do that!”

How was it for you?

Moon And Tree Michelle Fritz How was it for you?

It's actually a pretty difficult thing to do. The conditions have to be right, and there has to be almost no wind. I've learned through research online that it's best to add a little bit of glycerine, or corn syrup, as a stabilizer, just to make the bubbles sturdier. I learned that the bubble itself has to land on snow, or crushed ice, or it's just a half bubble. When it lands on a soft surface of snow, or crushed ice, then it will stay whole. I've experimented with what the best temperature is, so it doesn’t freeze up too fast, or too slow. It seems like the best temperature is in the twenty degree range. It's best when light comes through it, either sunrise, or sunset, to illuminate the frost crystals.

Are you finding that a lot of the stuff you're learning is through experimentation?

Absolutely.

When did you upgrade your camera?

About three years ago, for my birthday, my husband and daughter bought the Nikon P510 for me. I would like to upgrade at some point, but this works for me for right now.

Your husband has provided both cameras for you at this point. Is he very supportive of your hobby?

Yes.

It does take a lot of your free time, I’d imagine.

Tulip With A Bubble Michelle Fritz It does take a lot of your free time I’d imagine.

It's something I love so much, so it doesn’t feel like effort, or time wasted. It's my passion, and love. Uploading, and editing, the pictures is the only effort for me.

Do you do any shots with cell phones?

Occasionally, I do. If there's something I want to be able to quickly post.

For a lot of people, that's the camera they always have on them. It allows for not carrying the bigger camera, or if they forgot it, at least they have a good shooter that way.

Cellphones have come a really long way, and people take beautiful pictures with them, landscapes and stuff like that. But, for shooting macro, I just can’t. Maybe there's the capability, but I don’t know of it.

With macro photography, is there anything you haven’t done that you still want to try?

I always want to get more intense, more close up than my camera allows me to. I see people post really close ups of bugs, where you can see all the facets of the eyes, and it amazes me!

What is it that you like from that? Afterwards, do you like to discover the picture, or the insect?

Moth Close Up Michelle Fritz What is it that you like from that? Afterwards do you like to discover the picture or the insect?

I'm in awe of the detail of things that go unnoticed. The paintings of Georgia O’Keefe inspired me with the deep focus into a flower. When you do super macro on a flower, and just focus in on an area, there are so many colors, and details, and patterns, and intricacies that people don't take time to notice. It's fascinating to me.

So you're showing your audience...look at this.

Yeah.

Are people receptive of that?

Very much so! I have so many people contacting me saying that my pictures of scenery, and nature, and things that are peaceful, comfort their hearts in a dark, or sad, time. Poppies are one of my favorite flowers to photograph. A girl recently went to an appointment to find out if she had breast cancer. She was in the waiting room and there was a vase of poppies sitting there, and she thought of my pictures, and it just gave her comfort in that moment. She messaged me just to tell me that, and sent the picture of the poppies. It thrills my heart when people are comforted, or encouraged in some way, by the pictures that I take.

What meaning do you find in photography? What do you enjoy about it?

Creating art and enjoying the beauty of our world. And, being able to share inspires me immensely.

Tell me about your workflow process. Are there photos you're more reluctant to share?

Poppies In A Field Michelle Fritz Tell me about your workflow process. Are there photos you're more reluctant to share?

I've become much more selective in what I shoot. I've learned, for instance, not to take thirty pictures of the same shot, so I don’t end up spending forever editing through pictures. It's a daunting task, I just shot a wedding on Thursday, and I have 700 plus images to go through. I usually try to keep up with it. When I get too many, I get overwhelmed.

When you get home with 700 shots from a wedding, what do you do with them?

I pull them from my camera to the computer, and I wait a day or two to start going through them.

Just to have fresh eyes?

Yeah. I looked at a few of them. I pulled one up that I knew I was really going to like, and I did post that, but the rest will only be for the eyes of the bride and groom. I usually take a day or two to wait to go through them.

How many weddings have you shot now?

I think this was my 6th. I have four more scheduled for this year.

Do you enjoy that kind of work?

Michelle Taking A Picture Do you enjoy that kind of work?

I do. Honestly, I enjoy the nature photography better, but I'm learning to love it. At first, these just started to randomly pop up, people asking me if I could shoot this wedding, and I still always get very nervous before hand. But, then in the moment when I'm there, I'm completely relaxed, and I'm really starting to enjoy it. Capturing special moments, and searching for special moments within the people's interactions, and things like that.

It's much different from macro, and stopping to smell the roses, so to say.

It's basically macro in a big group setting. It's the same kind of zeroing in, just in a people aspect.

That's an interesting take on it. Do you like the candid aspect over the posed?

I do. There are the set pictures that you know you are supposed to take, but the special moments are the ones that excite me. When I get home, I get excited over this one shot that I got, or I happen to notice an interaction between a grandmother and a granddaughter, something like that.

How do you edit? What do you use to edit?

Whatever came with our computer. It's called Photos. That's what I generally use. There are two or three programs on my computer, but for now, that's what I use.

If you have 700 you will edit all of them?

Sillouette Of A Farm Michelle Fritz If you have 700 you will edit all of them?

No, I usually scan through. I take a grouping of burst shots and pull the best one out of those and edit that. I go through and isolate the ones I want and edit those. I don’t do a whole lot of editing other than sharpening, I sometimes play with the color just a little bit but I am cropping and using selective focus on the areas most interest in the image.

And that goes for both of your types of photography whether it is paid work or art?

Yes.

Is that by artistic principle?

There are certain things that I will play with more. If something is just a nature setting, like a landscape, or a sky, then I like the color to be as accurate to what it actually is. I don't like the color bumped up so it looks really artificial. Sometimes with the frozen bubbles, and things that are more whimsical than just a natural flower, I will play with the color. In the frozen bubbles, I'll often oversaturate the colors, but it's color that's already there. It's just for dramatic effect in something that's just for fun.

When you're shooting, do you have any rules you like to follow?

I’m pretty spontaneous, and my eyes are always watching, always looking.

Is that in everyday life too?

Yeah, it probably is. (laughs)

One would say you are more in the moment.

Snowflakes Piled Up Michelle Fritz One would say you are more in the moment.

I am. That's why I appreciate my fixed lens camera. I look at people with the big lenses and feel a little bit of camera envy, but for me to have to take off the macro lens, just because I quickly saw a landscape, would be really annoying. I like the flexibility of being able to be shooting a landscape, and noticing something like a butterfly, and being immediately able to turn a button and be ready to shoot it on the spot. There's freedom, and spontaneity, for me in this type of camera.

You said it is fixed lens, what's the length?

If I start to tell you how little I know about the details of photography, I'll embarrass myself. I know what my camera does, I know how to turn the things to get what I want, but in honesty, the details of it, I don’t know.

(we're both in awe of something on the side of the road and pull over to shoot it)

You also do photography for Central Market. Tell me more about that.

Two years ago, a friend in town contacted me because she was overwhelmed with her workload shooting local business Facebook pages. We made an agreement that I would get the images, and then feed them to her. She writes the copy, then adds my Michelle Lynn Photography watermark to the image. Our posts go up on The Lancaster Central Market Facebook page on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday each week...the days the market is closed.

So this keeps you at the market often.

I’m there once a week, or every other week. I just take a bunch of pictures and send them off the Kathlene Sullivan to put online.

Do you make a morning of it at the Market?

Yeah, I usually walk around and take pictures in town. I have several spots in town that I enjoy shooting.

Fans of the Central Market see your work a lot. Do you cater to that? Do you find what gets good reception and deliver more of that? Or, is it always just what you're thinking about?

Sunset Through A Tree Michelle Fritz Fans of the Central Market see your work a lot. Do you cater to that? Do you find what gets good reception and deliver more of that? Or is it always just what you're thinking about?

I'm usually looking for something a little different, and I try to get each stand covered. Some of them are hard for me to shoot. I obviously gravitate toward the flower stands, and I look at the meat stands and wonder how I'm going to capture raw meat to make it look appealing to everybody. I don’t know, I try to get a little of each stand if I can.

Do you get to know the stand people that way?

I do. It's almost been two years now that I've been doing it, so I am getting to know some of the stand holders.

Do you ever shoot them?

Yes. The first year we focused on product, and this year, the market master asked that we try to work with more people interactions, like stand holders working with customers, and that sort of thing. I initially was worried, because my comfort level was not with shooting people. It's been a growing experience for me...interacting with people, and trying to get those shots.

Tell me how you found Instagram, and Lancastergram, and how you became part of the local community.

I posted a picture on Weather Channel’s Facebook page, and they asked if they could post it on their Instagram page. That was my first exposure to Instagram. I'm sure I stumbled onto the Lancaster Instagramers page through Facebook, and I sure am glad I did. What a great bunch of supportive people!

What picture was that?

It was of cherry blossoms last spring.

Did they credit you?

Yes.

And this happened again with BBC One?

Through A Window Michelle Fritz And this happened again with BBC One?

It was kind of amazing how the frozen bubble thing happened. There was a Caters news agency in the UK that somehow saw my photos of bubbles and contacted me. They wanted twenty images, and a video if I could produce it for them, of a frozen bubble forming, and then they sent it out to the local news agencies in the UK. It also was shown on TV broadcasts in Japan, China, Sweden, and even Bulgaria! I started getting all these Instagram people liking my page from other countries. It was really bizarre.

How did this little explosion of followers make you feel?

It's exciting! My husband was thrilled! He kept on saying, “Did you see it's being shown here?!” He did say to me at one point, "How do you feel about being known as 'The Bubble Lady'?"

This is now giving you worldwide exposure. The Weather Channel is worldwide supposedly, too.

You do a lot of shots of your family. Are you the family photographer? They can all sit back knowing you're capturing all of the moments.

Yeah, pretty much.

Do you enjoy that?

I do.

Some people say they'd rather be behind the camera instead of interacting. Are you shy in that way?

Michelle Getting A Shot Of A Sunset Some people say they'd rather be behind the camera instead of interacting. Are you shy in that way?

Yeah, I am. The camera is a comfort, I suppose. I enjoy being behind it rather than in front. I’m an introvert. I have certain people I like to talk to, but I won’t walk into a huge room full of people and feel comfortable.

(We stop again, because Michelle finds a heart in the sky)

Good eye, Michelle!

The hearts in nature thing is something I do as well. I have people continually posting that they found a heart and thought of me!

How did that come about?

I have no idea, but I do love it.

Are there any flowers that you've not yet shot that you want to shoot?

I'd love to shoot flowers all over the world!

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