Through her photography, Pixsy Featured Artist, Australia’s Michelle Grace Hunder is amplifying the voices of female-identifying creatives in the music industry. She signed up for Pixsy looking for help with her stolen pictures, so we took the chance to talk to her about what inspired her groundbreaking project, Her Sound, Her Story.
Building a creative career relies on hard work, creating a network, and becoming known in a niche. Michelle Grace Hunder is one of Australia’s premier music photographers, specializing in capturing Australia’s hip-hop scene. This is a natural fit as she says, “I have a passion for portraits and getting the best shot I can of a person in the moment.”
Like many creative people, Michelle’s talents aren’t limited to photography. In fact, her career history reads like a working wish list. She began working in sports marketing at 21, before segueing into corporate event management, and moving across to film production. She was managing a dance company when she discovered photography. Work wasn’t going well at that point, and it was the Christmas gift of a camera which really turned things around for Hunder.
After some photographer friends noticed her obvious aptitude, the camera brought about a career transition. She starting shooting what she knew- which was hip-hop. “For me, the reason I gravitated towards hip-hop was being involved in the culture from a really young age. So I understand the aesthetic and genuinely love the music”
She quickly became known for what she was doing. “It happened really organically. I started photographing my friends who are artists. The first person was Briggs, who is from Shepparton like myself.” This was where she worked for about four years, learning her new profession, before branching out. She credits this experience, and her focus on projects that felt personal, with her rise within the industry.
Through her career, she has become a tireless supporter and advocate for female-identifying creatives in the music scene, which has culminated in the creation of a film: Her Sound, Her Story. This is the product of a collaboration with her friend and artistic counterpart, Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore.
The project began as a response to the gender imbalance that Hunder saw first-hand in the music industry. She began to focus on capturing shots and stories from female-identifying musicians, but she “soon realized that it was a bigger conversation and that photos alone would not do it any justice.” So she asked Claudia to begin interviewing the musicians she shot: “We really had no idea what we were doing, no agenda. It was a few years down the line that we even thought was possible to make a film out of the interviews.”
The resulting film features over 50 female-identifying musicians, including Tina Arena, Jen Cloher, Julia Stone, Mama Kin and Mojo Juju. The conversations probe the personal experiences these people have had within the Australian music industry, ultimately asking ‘Where do we want women’s voices to sit in the world today?’
The two turned out to be natural collaborators, as Hunder reflects: “we describe our relationship like a marriage, and as I am married, I can tell you it’s very similar.” She describes Sangiorgi Dalimore as “hugely creative, the most creative person I know, and always pushing herself to create the best possible art at all time.”
Their film was self-funded, which is, of course, an incredibly challenging way to create: “Doing a self-funded project like this really takes its toll, and there were super low moments for both of us. But it was about reminding each other why we were doing the project, and that it was so much bigger than the two of us.” Now that the film is being released and audiences are able to engage with the perspectives of these musicians, it’s a chance for everyone to understand just how big this really is.
Find out more about Her Sound, Her Story: www.hersoundherstory