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Alumni Profiles

Michelle Neumayer

Michelle Neumayer

Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Year of Graduation: 1985
Program: Graphic Design

Lighting Her Path

Michelle Neumayer loves photography. She enjoys working with light, using it to express what she wants to show about her subjects. “When I’m photographing, I’m actually energized because I love it so much,” she says.

Despite her devotion to this art form, Michelle admits she wasn’t always sure about pursuing it. That’s why she chose to study Graphic Design at Sheridan. “I kind of overrode my passion and went with functionality,” says Michelle, who says she was unsure if she would be able to support herself with a career in photography.

The Graphic Design program included one or two photography courses, which Michelle says she loved. The program was labour-intensive, particularly since she was taking it in the mid-1980s, long before today’s computer software became commonplace. Everything was hand-done, recalls Michelle. On top of that, she worked three jobs, paying all her expenses on her own.

Following graduation, Michelle deliberately directed her career toward the marketing industry, so she could use her skills to hire designers. She has worked for various companies, including the Stewart and Morrison Design Firm, Molly Maid Franchise Headquarters for Canada, and Dun and Bradstreet.

Five years ago, Michelle made a career switch to pursue her passion, becoming a freelance photographer. Through an early client - a fashion designer - Michelle was able to break into commercial photography.

After mentoring with a wedding photographer for about a year, Michelle developed the skills and portfolio to market herself. She is now a successful wedding and portrait photographer in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Michelle also teaches creative photography for adults and teens at the 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, New York.

Although she changed career paths, Michelle says her graphic design background has helped her as a photographer. Not only are the design aspects of colour and composition relevant in photography, but the skills she learned at Sheridan enabled her to design her own website and promotional materials. She also designs special coffee table books for her clients.

Recently Michelle finished a project for a client in Southern France designing promotional material for high-end custom vacations catered to the Asian market. Creating these pieces was a way for Michelle to pair up both her photography and her design skills.