Quarter Moon Co. is a local studio made up of a team of women who provide photography services for female-focused brands, they also specialize in women’s portraiture, family photography, and weddings. As their website explains, “… like the Quarter Moon, women are often in a state of balance, between one phase and the next, between life roles, and between other people’s expectations of us.”
Quarter Moon’s mission is to celebrate the multi-dimensional qualities of women, find beauty and balance in the chaos, and illuminate women of all varied sizes, shapes, colors, and walks of life. Their work is a balance of bright, quirky, light-hearted images, and deep, reflective, powerful imagery.
We spoke with co-owner Michele Suits about working with women-focus brands, finding the perfect pose and how her own self-love journey inspires her work.
What inspired you to get into photography?
I have always loved photography for as long as I can remember. I got my first camera in middle school, and my passion has grown since then. I later went to college for Advertising Art Direction and took what I learned there to eventually direct my photography efforts towards supporting female-focused brands. I always loved creating art, and the idea of being able to create art directly from life, with a photograph, really spoke to me.
What does it feel like looking at people through a lens?
It feels like turning a moment into art. Freezing time and capturing it just the way you want to remember it.
How are you with getting your picture taken by others?
Pretty bad, ironically! I think everyone (with the exception of professional models, of course) is awkward in front of the camera to some extent. Most people don’t love to have the spotlight on them, myself included, but I think my own awkward tendencies have been critical in helping me have empathy for what my subjects are feeling, and therefore be able to adjust my presence behind the camera to make it a better experience for my clients.
Can you speak about your personal self-love journey? What challenges are you proud to have overcome? What are you still working on?
My self-love journey is one that I will most likely forever be on. I can remember being self-conscious about my body and appearance as young as first grade. There are things I will be forever learning to love about myself, but I am fortunate to have come as far as I have, and to find beauty in my curves, freckles, and unruly hair, some of the things I used to despise the most. An internal shift is ultimately what we need to find that self-love, rather than an external change.
We are what we believe ourselves to be, whether that’s a miserable, hideous monster, or a radical, beautiful unicorn. Whatever you decide to be is the energy you will perpetuate, and ultimately, what you will become. Decide to stop hating things about yourself and to start believing you are awesome, that you are beautiful, and that you are kicking ass, and suddenly, you WILL be!
What I personally need to continue to work on is self-care, physically and mentally. This is another dimension of self-love, beyond aesthetics, that is SO critical, and often overlooked. I’m currently focusing a lot of energy on finding a good work/life balance.
In your own words, define body positivity?
For me, “body positivity” is treating all bodies as equal, beautiful life vessels, despite size, color, markings, wrinkles, squish, age, ability, etc. It is celebrating all bodies, supporting all bodies, and loving all bodies. It involves breaking stereotypes, and erasing years of learned discrimination, in order to be able to silence your inner critic and perpetuate positivity.
How do you think photography can help people feel more comfortable in their own skin?
Photography, first and foremost, can push you out of your comfort zone, whether you’re the person being photographed or the person viewing the images. Photography can provide you an opportunity to see beauty somewhere that you may not have seen it before. That could be in yourself, or maybe in a stranger, or maybe in a person who you’ve seen 200 times before but never stopped and really appreciated.
Photography can “normalize” different bodies, and therefore help us to become more comfortable in our own skin, and more appreciative of those who are different from us.
Do you think that Social Media has influenced photography? How do you think it affects body positivity?
Social Media has influenced just about everything, including photography. Social media provides us an amazing opportunity to open ourselves up to things we aren’t used to seeing. Essentially, we choose what we see, so we can choose to be flooded with images of unrealistic, photoshopped supermodels, that make us feel inferior and perpetuate the idea that we will never be good enough, or we could choose to surround ourselves with images of all diverse types of bodies — thick, thin, dark, light, wrinkled, smooth, athletic, disabled — and see the beauty in every single one!
Social media is an opportunity for us to spread body positivity, create community, and make a change in the way future generations view themselves and others.
In terms of posing and light, do you have tips for our readers?
When I’m shooting, the first thing I look at is the light. I look for light that speaks to me, and then introduce my subject into that place (rather than putting my subject in place, and then trying to make the light work for me).
As far as posing, I think it’s important to give flexible and unstructured posing by giving some direction but allowing that direction to be open to interpretation. All bodies move differently, and all limbs lay their own way. I will usually start directing someone into a pose but ask them to take what I said and move to make it most comfortable for them, which prevents me from posing them in a way that looks and feels uncomfortable or unnatural.
What’s the most surprising thing you experienced during a shoot?
The most surprising thing I can think of that has happened during a shoot, is one of our models got touched by a boy riding by on his bike, who thought he was really cool and wanted to impress his friends. Little did he know, we weren’t the type of people to let that sort of thing slide, and he got grabbed by the hood, made to apologize, and then handed over to the police. We have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone disrespecting our clients!
What messages do you hope to convey through your work?
Our ultimate goal is to empower women to live their best lives. Whether it be by helping them create a kickass, thriving brand, or by documenting the precious family they’ve created, or by redefining traditional beauty ideals and helping them discover their own self-worth. Everything we do revolves around conveying the message that we as women are magical, powerful, and deserving of happiness.
On your Instagram profile is says “empowering visuals for brands + life…creating imagery for women by women.” Could you go into more details about that? How you choose the brands?
We work with brands who echo our message, typically brands who cater to women. We think there is nothing more important for women than other women getting out there and supporting them. We have strength in numbers, and by working to uplift brands who share the same ideals as us, we amplify their message and our own message, and create power in the female community.
When a brand reaches out to us, it often begins with them telling us how they resonate with our mission, because we are so outspoken about it — so we don’t typically have to look too far to find brands who share our vision. Our favorite brands to work with are brands that value highlighting diversity, who try to give back, and who like to receive relatable GIFs in their emails.
Quarter Moon Co does photography for brands and life, which is more fun to shoot? Which is harder to shoot?
They are both fun and both pose challenges! Because most of the brand work we do is lifestyle-based, shooting for brands and life actually end up being incredibly similar. Often when you look through our Instagram feed, you can’t really tell which photos are of brands and which are of life — which is our goal! We want all of our photos to feel like “real life” moments, that just may or may not include some of our amazing clients’ brands in them!
How do you get your clients to feel comfortable during the shoot?
We keep our shoots very low-key and laid back. We are able to read our clients’ energy and adjust our approach accordingly to by taking the pressure off, and just bonding on a human level, we’re able to get our clients’ personalities to shine without forcing any moments.
I noticed some shoots with children and animals, any secret to keeping them engaged?
The best secret we have is to play by the kids’ rules. We don’t ask too much of kids during shoots — we just let them be kids! We prep the parents ahead of time for what to expect, and how to be the most helpful to us, so that while we’re shooting the whole team is on the same page. Animals on the other hand, there’s not much you can do there! Most of our clients only bring their dogs if they are really well-behaved, so we’re lucky in that respect!
Has photography given you insight to how your clients see themselves? Do you see some of yourself in your clients?
Absolutely! I can usually gauge right away how they feel about themselves from the things our clients say and their body language. We are very clear in our booking and on-boarding process about our feelings on body positivity, so anyone who works with us knows coming into the session that we are not going to change them, we are going to document them as they are. Setting that expectation right away puts them in a position to decide they are going to trust us and work towards overcoming their insecurities, or they are going to find another photographer who’s willing to change them. It’s about taking a leap of faith, and that’s a feeling I can totally relate to.
What’s next for Quarter Moon Co.? How do you see the business growing in the upcoming years?
We just welcomed another photographer to the team this summer, so that is super exciting! From here, we look forward to spreading our reach, continuing to share our message of empowerment, and creating more opportunities to give back to the community and the world.
Lastly, is there any advice you would give to someone looking to get into photography and branding?
My advice would be to find your niche and serve it the best you can. Photography is so broad, and it’s easy to spread yourself thin and never really get to settle on one thing that sets you apart that you’re truly passionate about. Find what makes your heart feel full and focus on that. It may seem silly to cast a smaller net when you are getting started, but if you put your heart into it, you’ll get back all the same good energy that you put in, and get to work with people who share your mission.