By Kelly Baughman
With an amazing eye for detail and the ability to capture a moment that will become a lasting lifelong memory, Michelle Stancil has established herself as one of the Gulf Coast’s premiere photographers. Originally from California, this West coast beauty began her career almost by accident.
In 2010, Stancil found herself at a crossroad, and was looking for new ways to reinvent herself. “I was going through some changes in my life, and I had always loved photography as a hobby so I picked up my camera, not really knowing what I was doing, and started teaching myself to shoot and edit. I found that taking pictures kept me busy and allowed me an outlet to express myself,” Stancil said.
While taking her camera with her just about everywhere she went, Stancil said through a lot of trial and error, she not only learned how to operate various equipment, but learned how to observe the world around her in a way she hadn’t done before.
“While working for Coast360 during the oil spill, I was surrounded by such amazing and talented people. It sparked my creativity and allowed me to take in my surroundings and appreciate it for what it really was. Learning to capture that feeling in a photo with just the right lighting at just the right moment was empowering,” Stancil said.
With her new talent tapped into, Stancil began photographing musicians at the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, the Hangout Festival, and many more, establishing her reputation as the go to music photographer on the coast. “I started learning how to work with the lighting in these places, which can be very difficult in music venues. If you can take a good shot in a place with lighting like the Flora-Bama, you know you’ve got something special,” Stancil said.
When Stancil met Lynn Oldshue in 2012 at the Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm music venue in Silverhill, things took an interesting turn in making Stancil’s hobby a career. Together, the two started ‘The Southern Rambler,’ a music and art magazine telling the stories of artists, musicians, and writers living and working on the Gulf Coast and beyond. During her time with The Southern Rambler, Stancil photographed and interviewed legends like Emmy Lou Harris and helped with fundraisers to give back to communities along the Gulf Coast.
Now, Stancil has made her passion her primary mission. “I was able to quit my full time job in February to focus completely on my work as a photographer. It’s exciting that I’m out there making a living doing what I love, and I feel blessed to be able to wake up every day and follow my dreams,” she said.
Still taking pictures of the world she sees around her and pursuing music photography, Stancil is working as a professional real estate photographer, partnering with ID360 to provide commercial real estate and 360 degree walk through photography tied to Google street view all along the Gulf Coast.
Stancil said, “Photography has given me the time to reconnect with my creative side; and the journey has not only expanded my world, but it has expanded me. Time behind the camera is like a vacation… a time to make memories while seeking enjoyment in the unplanned, in the moments in-between.”
For more information about Stancil or her photography, visit www.michellestancil.com.