We had the good fortune of connecting with Michele Cardamone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michele, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My kids were getting a little older and I had always had this idea that I would start my own photography business as photography has always been a passion of mine. I spent 3 years, in my late 40’s, going back to school to study all the technical aspects of shooting as well as to learn more about business. CMC/Spring Valley offers a comprehensive associate degree program and I learned so much! I wanted to open a studio but I also wanted it to be financially successful as well as a meaningful pursuit in my life. I believe it’s important to always be growing and learning while always thinking of ways to give back to the community. A portrait photography business has allowed me to do both!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I feel like my portraits have been evolving over time and I’m really proud of where I am today. I am always looking to expand creatively and to visually speak the truth of what I see. I feel that my portraits are compelling and natural and maybe even a little “off”. I always try to think a little differently, that is, get an unusual angle, capture an in-between moment or just create something totally unexpected. I worked incredibly hard to build my business. I constantly watched tutorials, took workshops, and just worked all the time. Things would get a little bit out of balance and I would have to remind myself that a healthy body and mind would only make my business better and stronger. Now that I’ve had my studio for about 8 years I want to say no to more commercial projects in order to work on more personal projects. Some of the personal projects are about giving back to community such as my collaboration with Allison Daily and Pathfinder where we are doing a project about loss and grief. These portraits are incredibly powerful and have been healing for those who have so far participated. We are documenting the process of grief and what it looks like, visually as well as with interviews, for those who have experienced the deep pain of loss. I am also working on a project with women where they come in to my studio and we give them a complete makeover and help style them before taking a stunning portrait where they see how beautiful they are. Who isn’t craving time to connect with others and to dress up and feel good about ourselves?! Another thing that I would want you to know about my approach to my work is that I want to show connection and love between family, Husband, wives, sisters, brothers and a parent and his/her child is an incredibly powerful and beautiful bond and capturing this special relationship with my camera is such a gift! Most importantly. I am so happy and get so much joy from what I do. I really think that this shows up in my photographs!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh wow! There is so much that our entire valley has to offer! And there are so many different things to do depending on the season! My studio is in Aspen but I live in Basalt so I take advantage of everything up and down the valley. In Aspen, this time of year (winter) I love to ski, skin up Tiehack or Snowmass Mountain or hike on the snowy winter trails. I also love nordic skiing to the Bells or hiking up Smuggler Mountain at sunset. My favorite place to hang out or do take out is at Meat & Cheese, Campo di Fiori or Free Range in Basalt. Check out the hats at the Aspen Hatter! Rent a fat tire bike! Walk or ski around the Aspen Golf Course with your dog! Of course, the most fun thing of all is to do an outdoor photo session with your family or friends! Or just do it for yourself!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Jim, always encouraged me to follow my dream of opening up a studio although, especially in the early days, it often meant kids left at bus stops and no dinner on the table! Also, the photography degree program at CMC was phenomenal. It was incredibly challenging as they set a very high bar, but incredibly rewarding.
All taken by me! And I so appreciate you checking!