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Daily Inspiration: Meet Michelle Strickland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Strickland.

Hi Michelle, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Thank you for having me. I’m so grateful to be featured in your publication.

I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was ten. My wildest dream was to be a National Geographic photographer, but I played it safe instead, earning a degree in Social Work from Campbell University in 1992. Photography found me when I donated four art pieces to an art fundraiser in 2008 and these four pieces were the first to sell and people wanted more. After that, there was a smattering of local art gallery exhibitions and dabbling at most genres from weddings to newborns to corporate events. I’ve met so many generous, inspiring people along the way that introduced me to opportunities that shaped my path. In addition to working with my own clients, I worked with a national “neighborhood” magazine for six years and found what I love doing most of all – headshots, visual branding, and self-image coaching. I found my “home” in headshots and personal branding because I love the flow of creative energy from the first consult to the delivery of final images. With my background in social work, it comes naturally for me to ask the right questions to uncover my clients’ vision for themselves and their career or business. That sets the tone for the way we approach their project. Everyone has a story. I love helping women claim their inner confidence, think about new goals and find their “next steps”.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Not at all! I am a single parent and I was an only child, so when my elderly parents became ill, I was taking care of everyone except myself. My mom passed in 2014 and it was a struggle getting through that. In 2017, I was rear-ended by a truck, which totaled my car and left me in chronic pain… then Covid. All that being said, I am grateful for the challenges that helped me grow personally and professionally. I am certain that this is what I’m meant to do for as long as I’m able to pick up a camera.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a professional photographer specializing in personalized headshot experiences, personal and business image branding, and mindset coaching. I’ve been called a unicorn, a breath of fresh air, next level, and “evolved”. I love getting to know my clients and helping them feel comfortable and confident! Microexpressions are everything in a professional portrait/headshot because we get a feel for a person’s energy right away. It’s important to know how to capture that. What I’m most proud of is that my clients feel comfortable with me, enjoy their experience and results, then refer me to their friends and colleagues. That is the highest compliment! During our time together, many clients share things with me that they may not share with anyone else about their self-image. That gives me an opportunity to show them how *I” see them and I love to hear “Wow! You made me look beautiful!” And I can honestly say, “I didn’t do anything, this is how I SEE you. This is how you ARE.” Many times my clients become dear friends. I love that.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I love the Raleigh area! It’s diverse with people, food, entertainment, art, festivals, and businesses! As a photographer, I could spend days shooting in the downtown area alone. Every block has something interesting to work with. I’m looking forward to more things opening up post-Covid – especially live music! What do I not love? Ongoing highway construction and rush hour traffic.

Let’s connect!

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