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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Beauty Has No Expiration: Tucson Photographer Celebrates Women Over 50

Sep 30, 2022 07:30AM ● By Suzie Agrillo
Michelle Beaumont-Owens

Michelle Beaumont-Owens

Michelle Beaumont-Owens has always had a flair for photography. Despite her innate talent, she didn’t pursue a career as a professional photographer until she turned 50.
   
Born in Canoga Park, and raised in Solvang, California, Beaumont-Owens bought her first camera—a Kodak 110 instamatic pocket camera—when she was 11, with money earned from her paper route. Even though it was an expensive hobby for a young girl, she continually bought film and paid to develop the pictures. She never stopped, at least not until she purchased a digital camera in her late 30s.
   
Beaumont-Owens’s parents convinced her that photography was not a lucrative career, and instead she worked in the high-tech industry for 30 years. In 2001, she moved from San Jose, California to Tucson. In 2018, after caregiving for her oldest sister who died after a brutal fight with breast cancer, Beaumont-Owens reevaluated the meaning of her life and decided that it was time to pursue her love of photography as a business.
   
“I had crossed over the threshold of 50 years old, and I ruefully considered that my life might already be two-thirds over. I spent the summer portfolio-building while simultaneously doing a deep dive into Photoshop to learn portrait retouching techniques,” she relates. She joined a weekly networking group, Business Networking International, had business cards printed for Artifact Photography Studio and opened her calendar for bookings. And she has never looked back.
   
Beaumont-Owens found that she really enjoyed photographing women, and refers to herself as a “styleographer”, a word her publicist coined to describe her unique work as a stylist and photographer. All clients receive a consultation to design the photo shoot of their dreams. It’s important for her to understand the client’s goals and how the photos will be used, in order to select the perfect wardrobe, accessories, lighting and backdrops to complement the desired looks.
   
“We are capturing my client’s legacy. The portraits we capture will outlive both my client and me and will be enjoyed by future generations. I want my clients’ portraits to be an authentic representation of who they are and who they aspire to be,” she says.
   
Most of Beaumont-Owens’s clients elect to get their hair and makeup done on-site from professional artists that she works with regularly. Beaumont-Owens feels this service makes clients feel more relaxed and confident during the photoshoot sessions, noting that, “Everyone enjoys being pampered and feeling like a celebrity for a day.”
   
Being both a stylist and photographer together helps clients look their best. Beaumont-Owens loves any opportunity to expand her creativity, and to create a mood for the portraits. She perceives that having her own studio is a huge advantage in capturing the photos that clients desire.
   
Beaumont-Owens has full control over all the elements in her studio, which gives her the ability to focus on guiding clients into flattering poses and capturing beautiful expressions that reflect their true personalities. “One can never predict the weather when photographing outdoors, but conditions are always perfect in my studio,” she says.
   
“A photographer coaches expressions from people during a photoshoot, so it is important that a client clicks with the photographer to feel comfortable and have an enjoyable experience. A thoughtful photographer will help clients feel empowered in front of the camera. That is my superpower—to instantly connect with people, which allows them to relax, be themselves and have fun during the photoshoot,” she opines.
   
Beaumont-Owens earned an Associate level accreditation by The Portrait Masters, which recognizes some of the world’s best photographers. Whether you need a well-crafted headshot for business, eye-catching personal branding photos, engaging visual content for a website or a boudoir style portfolio, Artifact Photography Studio will create magazine quality portraits for you.
 

Q&A with Photographer Michelle Beaumont-Owens

When you do a portrait, what are you looking to capture?
Connection. A successful portrait evokes an emotional connection between the viewer and the subject of the photograph.

Can you give us an example of a portrait with meaning and an emotional appeal?
Absolutely. I photographed a participant for my 50 Over 50 project as a Phoenix rising from the flames. During our pre-photoshoot consultation, we discussed how she had recently been through a painful divorce and was in the process of starting a fitness business. As I listened to her experiences and how her story was evolving, I had a vision of her in my mind as a Phoenix rising from the flames.
   
I shared the idea with her, and we both loved it. Next thing you know, we were collaboratively figuring out how to style her into a Phoenix complete with wings and flames. She cried tears of joy when the artistic portrait was unveiled to her. The portrait, Phoenix Rising, will serve as a reminder—a touchstone if you will—that she can transform herself and rise above adversity, time and time again. Plus, what an amazing piece of artwork to include as part of her personal legacy.

Is the lighting of the individual or the background more important?
Lighting. In photography, the photographer paints with light. When the lighting is perfect, it sculpts the face and makes the portrait look three-dimensional. I have many lights and modifiers. My favorite setup now is natural light combined with a strobe. This combination creates a luminous look for the portrait.

Is it important for you to be recognized as a portrait photographer?
I think when you do anything well, it’s wonderful to be recognized for it. Recently at a networking event, a woman approached me who recognized me from social media, told me she followed my work and was a fan. I felt like a celebrity!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Clients will constantly lament that they are not photogenic when we initially meet. They are so surprised at their viewing sessions when they love their portraits. It’s the best feeling for me when I can shift their negative thoughts into positive experiences.
   
Women walk out of my door feeling better about themselves than when they walked in. I will never tire of helping people feel better about themselves. I find that both personally and professionally rewarding.

Where did the idea of your 50 Over 50 project originate?
I would love to say it was my brainchild, but it’s not. The first project started in Australia, and now it’s a global sensation. In 2021, the idea went mainstream when Forbes magazine published its first 50 Over 50 Vision list. In fact, one of the women on that list, Tucson’s Carlotta Flores, was the 50th woman photographed for my Wise Women: The 50 Over 50 Project.
   
Initiating a 50 Over 50 project excited me because my life significantly changed when I turned 50. Women over 50 deserve recognition. It’s a time in most women’s lives when they begin to feel invisible and not as valued as we once were. We are a culture that celebrates youth. Women 50+ are a wealth of knowledge and they are making huge impacts in their communities and the world.
   
A different component to my project is that I will also be publishing Wise Women: The 50 Over 50 Portrait Magazine. Every woman in the project is worthy of having her own memoir published, so I am thrilled that each participant will be spotlighted with a feature article and photos from her portrait collection.

What can you tell us about the Wise Women: The 50 Over 50 Portrait Gala?
The Portrait Gala will be a truly special evening. Meet and mingle with these 50 amazing women. Enjoy talking with them and viewing their creative portraits. The venue has both indoor and outdoor areas with plenty of seating and plentiful, free parking.
   
The Gala will be at the Savoy Opera House on October 13 at 5 p.m. In addition to the portrait gallery, the fun-filled evening includes a buffet dinner with dessert bar and a no host bar; magic by master illusionist Rodney Housley; dance music by DJ Jonas Hunter; magic by Neal Kreuser; and a special raffle to win a makeover, photoshoot and portrait portfolio with me.

How much are tickets and where can you buy them?
Tickets are $55 until October 12 and $75 at the door (if available). They are available at The50Over50Experience.com.

Do you have any favorite quotes?
“Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gismos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.” ~ Peter Adams

How would you describe yourself in four words?
Creative, determined, problem-solver and fun. I am known to bring the party!

Connect with Michelle Beaumont-Owens at 833-277-8721, [email protected], ArtifactPS.com or The50Over50Experience.com.

Suzie Agrillo is a freelance writer in Tucson and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Magazine. She focuses on the arts, inspirational people and the human connection.
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