Meet Elise: Photographer, Educator and Creative Influencer

Photo: Jake Kramer

This year we wanted to introduce you to some of the people we work with or admire in the Greensburg community. First up is a local creative, Elise Michaux, an amazing photographer, educator and all around just kick ass person.

We sat down with Elise to learn about her photography, working for a local university and what she likes about living and working in Greensburg. Elise helps out the Downtown Greensburg Project at many of our events like Yoga Under the Stars, Greensburg Craft Beer Week and Luminary Night, capturing the moments and helping to spread the word about our area!

You can see more of Elise’s work in her gallery showing at the Seton Hill Art Center which runs from January 22 – February 7th. Join her at the exhibitions opening reception, Friday, January 25 from 6-9pm!

So, tell us about yourself.

I’m a 29 year old black woman from Connellsville, PA who has a passion for people and I fuel that passion through my work as an educator and photographer. I have very much been influenced by my twin brother Blake, my father who was a pastor and mother who was a teacher and principal, both now are retired and loving life. As the Director of Student Leadership and Involvement at Seton Hill University, my job is ensuring that students’ could-curricular experience is enriching. When I’m not collaborating with students, I am pursuing my other passion: photography. From shooting the National Society of Black Engineers convention to hosting meetups with aspiring (as well as professional) models and photographers, photography keeps me busy meeting fascinating people.

What do you like about working at Seton Hill?

The real question is what do I love about working at Seton Hill? The minute you arrive and before even interacting with anyone, you will sense a presence and realize you’re somewhere special. Our students just add to the fun! Being around them gives me such an energy. It’s a pleasure to celebrate their successes and work through their failures,  all contributing to making them better people in every aspect of their lives. My colleagues are also inspiring, because they making work not really feel like work. Seton Hill is unique.

What made you get into photography?

When you’re finally just working a 9 to 5, you have this thought, “I’ve got a lot of time on my hands,” coupled with spending too much time on Instagram, watching inspiring local photographers photos go by on my timeline, I thought I could do it too. I began taking photos on my phone, putting them on social media and people actually liked them.  It encouraged me to spend more time developing my professional eye. It has truly been an awesome ride.

Your website  has a wide variety of work, do you prefer taking photos of people or landscape?

Please don’t make me choose!  Both portrait and landscape photography remind me of how awesome God truly is.  When I shoot with people, I see their beauty. It warms my heart when I share photos I’ve taken of them and smiles come across their faces.  When I shoot in the mountains and notice a flower I’ve never seen before, it reinvigorates my appreciation for creation.

What do you like about being a photographer?

I love that my camera has gotten me into spaces and introduced me to people I never would have met otherwise.  For example, last fall I was hired by Susie Meister, former MTV Road Rules contestant and current co-host of the Brain Candy podcast, as she interviewed Sally Wiggin of WTAE and Bill Isler, President of the Fred Rogers Co. from 1987-2016 during a live recording for the podcast at the University of Pittsburgh.  It was a stellar event. I got to have dinner with Susie, her mother and friends prior to the event. Afterwards, I got to meet and chat with Sally Wiggin. I would not have been there if I hadn’t asked for a camera for my birthday in 2016.

Obviously we follow you on Instagram and you often post about Exposure Pittsburgh. What is that project?

Exposure is a meetup I co-founded with Ray Carrington in September of 2017 meant to bring together experienced and inexperienced models and photographers in the area.  There is power in learning from one another and that is what our meetup is designed to accomplish. We permit no more than 30 people to participate. Ideally, 15 models and 15 photographers, allowing them to work together one-on-one for fifteen minutes or so throughout the event. In other words, it’s speed dating without the dating part.

Photo: Jake Kramer

What is next for Exposure Pittsburgh?

We’re looking to get into unique spaces and adding more to the experience for folks! For example, we want all types of creatives to feel included–not just models and photographers. That said, we’re the only meetup with a cost attached and we want to ensure that people are getting the best bang for their buck.

As you know, we’re huge on collaboration and working with other creatives. How do you think collaboration is beneficial to you or creatives in general?

Collaboration is everything. I’ve learned so much from fellow creatives in just the short time that I’ve been part of the collective. I’m a learner by nature so hearing the different tips and tricks is really fun for me. Also, two minds are better than one. Some of my favorite projects, exposure being the main one, has come from collaboration. It’s the key to success.

You have a gallery showing coming up. Congrats we can’t wait to go! What can we expect in your exhibit at the Seton Hill Art Center?

A little bit of everything. You’ll see my love for chasing fog and looking up to capture the beautiful architecture in Pittsburgh to the stunning models and beautiful people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths. It will display my deep love for people and places that are dear to me. (runs January 22 – February 7)

Can we purchase anything at the gallery showing to show our support?

Yes! We’re going to be holding a silent auction and a portion of the proceeds will be dedicated to a local charity. I’m really excited to give back in this capacity.  

You know we had to ask you some things about Greensburg. What do you like about living and working in this area?

Greensburg is the perfect little town.  As a bit of a foodie, it has some great places to eat and drink.  I’ve lived here for almost four years now and every year more exciting activities are taking place. I appreciate all of the local businesses while also having access to chains and the mall. I have faith that things are only going to get better.

There seems to be a shift happening in Greensburg, or at least we see it. What do you think could make Greensburg better or what you would like to see?

I’d like to see more folks my age (the “20-somethings”) doing more around town.  I think it’s up to us to begin to shift things around here; we just have to put our heads together to make it happen.

Support Local Creatives

Elise’s portfolio ranges from urban landscapes, to lifestyle portraits to weddings and families. Visit her website for more of her work and to hire her for your next event or occasion!

Make sure to give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up with her and how she’s involved in the community!

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