Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Photography a hip-hop job

For Michelle Grace Hunder, the best part about photography is the moment when her subjects let their guard down.

CHLOE WARBURTON August 28, 2014 4:17am

Former Shepparton resident and photographer Michelle Grace Hunder.





‘‘My favourite part is getting to know the people I shoot and sitting down with them — that moment when they drop their guard is just amazing,’’ she said.

Michelle grew up in Shepparton before moving to Melbourne, where her studio is based.

For the past two years, Michelle’s subjects have been artists in the Australian hip-hop scene.

The end result is Rise, a book she calls a photo documentary — 118 photos of 182 hip-hop artists Michelle travelled across the country to meet.

One of the artists is Shepparton rapper Briggs — the little brother of one of Michelle’s friends at Shepparton High School years ago.

She reconnected with Briggs and began going to hip-hop shows in Melbourne, quickly falling in love with the scene.

She began photographing concerts, then setting up portraits of artists to gain more experience.

The idea for Rise first came when hip-hop artists Grey Ghost and Mantra encouraged Michelle to take her portraits further.

‘‘Originally it wasn’t meant to be as long as it became — I was doing portraits of Melbourne artists, people I really admired and whose faces I wanted in my portfolio,’’ she said.

‘‘It was really overwhelming at first. I wasn’t really familiar with the hip-hop scene at the start, so I had to talk to a lot of people.’’

Michelle’s trips across Australia were self-funded, but publishing the book was another matter — she began a Pozible crowd-funding project and was surprised when donations came flooding in.

Almost 250 supporters pledged more than $20000 to get the book published.

Michelle is in the middle of a national tour to launch the book, which began in Melbourne on Thursday last week and will finish in Adelaide on Saturday, and she said it was an honour to be so involved with hip-hop and live music.

‘‘The whole hip-hop scene really got behind it and was so supportive,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s some amazing talent in Australian hip-hop and it’s been undervalued for a long time, but I think it’s getting there now.

‘‘I love shooting portraits and there’s so many artists that I call friends — I can’t pick a favourite out of the portraits, they’re my mates.’’

Although she jokes photography was not her strong suit in high school, Michelle said a hobby quickly turned into a passion, and now a full-time career.

As well as working with musicians, she shot the 2014 Santa Cruz Look Book and has been the head campaign photographer for iconic clothing label Zoo York Women, along with campaigns for New Balance and New Era.

‘‘I threw myself into it once I realised it was my passion — I found my true love,’’ Michelle said.

‘‘It’s such a great job, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I love being on the road with my best friends.’’

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