We had the good fortune of connecting with Elise Michaux and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elise, what’s your definition for success?
I have actually been thinking about this quite a bit lately and because I mostly think in song lyrics, The Carters line in their song “Boss” comes to mind: Over here we measure success by how many people successful next to you
Here we say you broke if everybody gets broke except for you
I love this because we are who we surround ourselves with and that is beyond important. Therefore, if whatever you are doing has you with other people who are winning at life too, well then you are doing something right. I wholeheartedly believe we should always be reaching back and helping others to be successful. That is why folks like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Oprah, continue to be able to do great things. When Oprah got on, it wasn’t shortly after that she helped her best friend Gayle King do the same. Beyonce always incorporates her girl gang and sister when given the opportunity. Elevate your people when you climb the ladder too!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
So in the city of Pittsburgh, there are very few Black photographers and even fewer who are female. Therefore, it makes me different from the jump, but in a great way. All the meetups I was attending to meet fellow photographers and models had very few people of color and I wanted to fix that. Along with my colleague Ray Carrington (fellow Pittsburgh photographer), we were able to start a photography group called “Exposure” that brought people of different races and genders together. We ran it like a speed-dating setup. Folks would sign up and we only accepted so many. At the event, we would pair everyone up and they had 10/15 minutes to make magic, they would then come back to home base and pair up with someone else until everyone worked together. We really had some fantastic events around our beautiful city of Pittsburgh.
I think Black women have a particular strength of noticing gaps and filling them. This was one that went well and was a success! Lots of folks got noticed in and around the city of Pittsburgh for our work.
I also work at a local university with students helping them to develop their leadership skills. I have been in the profession for about eight years now. It is so rewarding and allows me to make an impact on many lives. I am blessed to do the work that I do.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Pittsburgh is everything. We’d have to go to the Mattress Factory, hit a Pirates game, then go to Cinderlands for a beer and burger. Saturday means we stop at Pamela’s for brunch, then hit the Andy Warhol Museum, for lunch we go to Coop DeVille for some good southern eats and walk it off by going to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art, then PitaMyShawrma for dinner. Sunday is brunch again at Hotel Monaco’s The Commoner or Federal Galley in the Northside. One thing about Pittsburgh – you’re gonna eat good and enrich your mind too.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents are truly my rock. I love them with my whole heart. My many mentors: Dr. Jessica Mann, Dr. Molly Mistretta, Dr. Cindy LaCom, Dr. Stacy Jacob, Dr. Brad Kovaleski and Sam Goodge. My best friends: Hannah Glass. Dana Miller. Erika Johnson.
bell hooks book “Ain’t I Woman” changed my life. I spell my name in lowercase letters because of her influence.
Last and certainly not least, my grandparents Frederick and Dorthy Reynolds. Thank you for being an example of Christ.
Linkedin: Elise Michaux
Erin Panosian, Joe Lowrey, and Jake Kramer.