Skylum Behind the Seen Podcast: Frederick Van Johnson Interviews “Badass” Photographer Michele Grenier on how she built her Action Sports Photography Career

Being shy and an introvert has not stopped Canadian Michele Grenier from changing her career at 30, stepping into the world of action sports-related photography and making her mark in that career. In this podcast/video interview by Frederick Van Johnson (photographer, podcaster, marketer, and founder of “This Week in Photo aka TWiP”), she recounts how she got bitten by the photography bug, enrolled into photography school, taught herself (what the school did not teach) in the gym, and shares that she shoots more bad shots than good ones.

She started with the camera she could afford: a Nikon D5000 APS-C DSLR, then upgraded to a full-frame Nikon DSLR for the higher ISO capability, and eventually switched (her word, not mine) to a mirrorless, the switch to mirrorless being the greatest (as in “best”) investment she made in her sports photography.

She tries SO HARD not to mention the mirrorless camera brand, but credits the “amazing autofocus, like it recognizes the face, it recognizes the eye. I can just press the button and basically tell my camera, Look, I want you to follow this athlete, and I’m pressing a button and as long as I don’t release it, it’s gonna follow the ahthlete wherever he or she goes in the gym. It’s amazing and the autofocus’s been a big game-changer for me. Also, the ISO quality or the ISO capability are even better than my DSLR full-frame… If I go up to 12,800, there’s no noise at all.” [What better ad can a camera get from a pro photographer!]

Eventually, Frederick (what a smooth talker, you) at the 20:20 mark gets her to admit she switched (“I made the big leap“) to the Sony full-frame mirrorless and only shoots with basically two fast prime lenses: the 55mm F1.8 on one camera, and the 135mm F1.8 (her all-time favorite lens) on a second camera. In confined spaces, she will switch to the 28mm F2 (?) lens.

She can easily shoot between 2000 to 4000 images at an event, which is an insane number of images to download to your computer. So, following the lead of photojournalists, she uses Photo Mechanic to quickly import the images from her memory cards onto her computer, checking off the ones she likes, then going through those selections and paring the good ones further. Then, it’s on to Photoshop Camera RAW for editing. The magic happens when she creates a “look” for this specific day/event/local on Luminar, then runs the best (500 or so) images through that filter and let Luminar’s AI engine do its “magic.”

She sells her images/services two ways. She zips her pictures and transfers them to the gym or to the organizer of an event, and gets paid for the day’s work. Or, she sells the images directly to the athlete by uploading the images to Pixieset. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected her business (most lucrative season is summer), so she is now writing articles on Photofocus, as well as doing tutorials, videos and podcasts.

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