29-year-old Californian photographer Michele Bisaillon's ingenius use of mirrors to make feminist portraits has earned her a large following, and she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Her surrealist images capture the beauty of ephemeral moments while sending a deeper message about the nature of perspective and its relationship with reality.
When (and where) are you most creative?
I think I'm the most creative when I'm having fun and feeling comfortable. I like to experiment, so I need time to try different things. The more time and space I have the more creative I feel. I can feel creative anywhere. I'm always looking out for things I find interesting and that inspire me.
How did you get your start?
I've always shown an interest in photography and I had originally considered it as a career option in high school (I wanted to be a band photographer). I remember I mentioned this to one of my teachers during a discussion and she lit up. After class she stopped me and told me she could definitely picture me being a photographer. She told me I should hang on to that. I remember how confident that made me feel. After college I decided I really wanted to work on sharing my creative self with the world. I had spent so much time in school, I just felt ready to take time to do things that made me feel more like myself, like an individual.
What are you working on right now? Can you describe any current projects or activities?
I have a few really cool collaborations in the works! I'm looking forward to creating more products in the future. I'd like to spend more time traveling so I can capture some of the beauty of the rest of this world.
What is success to you?
Success is really hard to define. I find success in small victories most of the time. I try to set small goals for myself that lead towards a larger dream or idea. I do feel I've had a certain amount of success but it's hard for me to feel satisfied. I'm always hoping for bigger and better things.
Do critics matter?
They do and they don't. It's a good thing to receive criticism, especially valuable criticism, but sometimes it's really not constructive and instead it's just meant to be hurtful. In those cases I would say those critics really don't matter.
Do you think about legacy?
I do. I think about how people will remember me often. Mostly I try to imagine how people who know me personally will remember me, but I do have a desire to be remembered beyond that. I would love to be remembered as someone creative, as someone who served a purpose and made people happy.
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into your industry?
Hang on to what you love and make sure you're creating things that you like (at least at first, you might hate it later) and that reflect who you find yourself to be at that moment. Keep going. Don't let the bastards grind ya.
Did you ever give up (or want to give up)? What were the circumstances?
I go through periods where I feel like I'll never be able to take another good photo and I often worry that I won't be able to take my work to the next level. It's pretty scary. Sometimes I wonder if that's me giving up. It comes in waves. A week later I'll have a newfound energy and feel a lot more creatively fueled.
What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career"?
I'm still working on transforming what I do into a full time career. It's hard to sustain yourself doing something like this because you're basically just hoping that people will help support what you do and give it value. The Internet is really tricky that way. Businesses will often use your photos to promote themselves for free. There's this idea that images and videos found on the Internet aren't created by an actual person, like they were generated by the Internet itself. Even though these images and videos carry obvious value to people, they are often seen as free material.
What's been the biggest choice you've had to make in your career so far?
I think the biggest choice I've made is sharing myself in the first place. It's difficult to get past that fear of embarrassing yourself. You just have to jump in.
What is your morning routine like?
Historically I've considered myself a night owl. I've always felt a lot more creative and energized at night. In recent years I do get up a lot earlier for work and I'm definitely a coffee drinker. I shower, do a face care routine, and drink a big glass of water but for the most part I would say that's about the extent of my morning ritual.
What are you most excited about for the future?
I'm excited to see where life takes me. It's always been hard for me to envision my future. I can only hope that good things are in store. I hope I'm surrounded by people who love me. I hope I can support myself and possibly others. I hope I'm healthy and a little bit wiser.
What are you most worried about for the future?
I worry a lot, as you can probably gather by my answer to the previous question. As much as I hope for the things I mentioned previously, I'm just as worried that they won't happen. I worry about losing people. I worry about losing my ability to do things I love.
Are you good at giving advice? What is the best advice you've ever given?
That's not really for me to say. I try not to tell people what they should or should not do unless someone specifically asks me that. I don't think it's my place to tell people what to do with their lives. Instead, I try to share my own experience and how I've responded to similar situations.
Are you good at receiving advice? What is the best advice you've ever received?
I try to be. It depends on who the advice is from a lot of the time and why they're giving it. To be honest I don't really enjoy receiving advice I didn't ask for. For better or worse I often don't really like being told what to do.
What makes a person beautiful? What makes you beautiful?
I think most people are beautiful. It's hard for me not to see the beauty in people unless they do ugly things. Beauty comes out of caring for people and leaving hatred aside. I try to treat people with respect and kindness. I hope that others find me beautiful but it has been hard for me to see my own beauty, especially my own physical beauty throughout my life.
What are you most proud of?
I'm proud of the fact that I choose to express myself openly, and the amount of love I have for people. I think I'm someone who cares a lot and I'm proud of that.