Matt Payne Photography Blog: Plastic Cameras And Creativity - A Conversation With Michelle Bates

December 23, 2020

Welcome to episode 192 of the F-Stop Collaborate and Listen podcast.

This week on my landscape photography podcast, I was joined by Michelle Bates.

Michelle has been a passionate photographer since she was young, and learned her way around a camera in 1991 at the Maine Photographic Workshops, where she first discovered the Holga. Since then, Michelle has shown work in solo exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest, New York, Los Angeles and Israel, and in group shows around the US, Italy, Germany & Thailand. She has photographed for weekly newspapers, album covers, performers, artists, and many others. Michelle loves teaching, and has given lectures on plastic and toy cameras to groups all over the US, including the Society for Photographic Education, SF Camerawork, Powell's Books, and the Creative Center for Photography. She has taught at many photo schools & centers, including Photographic Center Northwest, Newspace (PDX), Maine Media Workshops, the Julia Dean Workshops (LA) and International Center of Photography in New York, among others. Her book, "Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity" was published in late 2006 and the second edition in October 2010. Michelle lives in Washington State, and frequents Seattle, Vashon Island, Bellingham, Portland (OR), San Francisco and New York. She loves to road trip and fly away with her Holgas whenever possible.

Michelle and I discuss some interesting topics this week, including:

  • What a plastic camera is,
  • Plastic cameras and how they distill the photographic process down to creativity,
  • What makes a good photographer,
  • Advantages of toy cameras,
  • Quirks of toy/plastic cameras,
  • Performance photography,
  • Collaboration with other artists,
  • And much, much more.

Over on Patreon this week, Michelle and I talk about the importance of honing our skills of writing to improve our photography.


Here are the photographers that Michelle recommended on the podcast:

1. Ted Orland (sorry, no website).

2. Teru Kuwayama.

3. Anne Arden McDonald.

4. Susan Burnstine.

5. Jill Enfield.

6. Elizabeth Opalenik.

7. Louviere & Vanessa.


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Thanks for stopping in, collaborating with us, and listening. See you next week.


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Please find a transcript of this week's episode below: