Student Success: Student Profile Michele Taras

By Sarah Van Arsdale on October 27 2011

Student Name: Michele Taras
City: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Photo by NYIP Graduate Michele Taras

1. How did you first become interested in photography?

I was passionate about photography ever since I got my first camera. I guess I must have been around 12. I always wanted to study photography and pursue it as a career, but my parents didn't think photography would be a viable career at the time and pushed me to study something else.

2. Why NYI for your training?

When I was older and living on my own, I couldn't help but go and take night classes at a local school here in Ontario. I finished a degree in that and then one of my friends, who is now a well-known nature photographer, told me about NYIP and how good the program was.

3. What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?

I love everything about photography. I have such a passion for it, and I love being able to express myself in this way.

4. What are some of the more difficult challenges in your work?

Well, since I do a lot of baby and toddler photography, I guess some of the biggest challenges are accepting that you just have to go with the flow!

Eat you veggies photo by NYIP Graduate Michele Taras
Eat you veggies photo by NYIP Graduate Michele Taras

5. How did you get your first paying job in photography?

At first, I thought photography would be just something that I love doing and something I could do as a gift for others. My manager at the time asked me to come photograph her granddaughter for her baptism. I was going to just do it as a gift, but she insisted on paying me. And from there it all went by word-of-mouth, and next thing you know I was getting quite busy.

6. How has your NYI training helped you?

I find that NYIP is really good at helping you see what the key elements are in making a good photograph. Without a solid foundation, it is difficult for you to grow, and NYIP has certainly provided that.

7. How did you come up with the idea for doing the fund raising? Why is this important to you?

In 2005, my grandmother passed away from cancer. She was such a strong woman who could inspire others with her strength, so I wanted to do something in her honor. Since photography is my passion, I thought to combine the two, so I came up with the idea of photographing breast cancer survivors and recording their stories. I wanted to do this to help give hope to women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and help the world understand that a woman is still 100% woman and 100% beautiful even without her breasts. With the photographs we have already hosted 3 shows, and helped to raise funds for various breast cancer charities. I also put together a calendar for SickKids hospital in Toronto, called "Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables." The calendar featured cute kids eating healthy foods, enabling us not only to raise money for the hospital, but also to encourage young kids to eat fruits and vegetables. With the 2 charities combined, we have raised over $30,000.00.

Photo by NYIP Graduate Michele Taras
Photo by NYIP Graduate Michele Taras

However, the best thing about it is how photography has been able to change peoples' lives. Mothers who bought the calendar have approached me, happy that now their children are interested in eating vegetables. Many of the women I photographed for "The Breast Cancer Project" say they now feel more beautiful, and to some, the photo session was very cathartic. I also learned tremendous amounts from these women, about the importance of cherishing every day, and doing something positive with your life. I am very proud of this, and happy that I have been able to do something important with my photography.

8. What’s next for you?

We are already preparing to host more shows of "The Breast Cancer Project" here in Canada. Hopefully, one day the show can travel across North America, and maybe even Europe. I am also hoping to transform the photographs and stories into a book. I just have to find the time to sit down and send out submissions to publishing agencies. I am also planning a second calendar for SickKids hospital as the first one was so successful, selling close to 2000 copies.

I live in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. My website is

Thank you sooooo much!!

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