2013 Career Training Assistant Michelle Gustafson

In the run up to the beginning of our Career Training program every year, the activity level usually gets cranked to 11 around the halls of RMSP. We get busy making sure our facilities are prepared, curriculum is dialed in, and everything is in order. Part of this process is welcoming our incoming assisting staff and conducting a thorough training process with them. Since Summer Intensive 2013 is right around the corner, the assistants are either already in Missoula or are making plans to get here.

Since we think they are all pretty darn cool, we want to introduce each of them to you. Between today and June 3, we will highlight each assistant so you can get a sense of who they are. To kick things off, we would like to introduce Michelle Gustafson. Michelle is a 2011 Career Training graduate who stuck around Missoula after graduation. This summer will be here second year as an assistant.

Here are a few words Michelle submitted which explain who she is and how she got into photography.  Take it away Michelle …


GustafsonMichelle_BlogPost_0007The photographer Garry Winogrand is famously quoted as saying that he photographed in order to see what something looked like photographed. I suppose this is the innate reason why I photograph, that it’s beyond just the visual, but to find something out that’s psychologically and anthropologically true to what’s in front of me. When something is frozen in time through an image, we have the ability to study it, make assumptions, look for clues in the way all the visual elements are placed together in order to find an answer as to what the photograph is saying to us. The longer time passes, the more meaning and attraction of the image comes to the surface and is somehow deemed more important. I find photography fascinating in its relationship to time, history, emotion, society, nostalgia and communication.

Photography had always been in the background of my life in some capacity, whether that was seeing whatever photography exhibits that came through Albuquerque where I grew up, or had a family friend whose daughter was a photographer for the AP, or had someone show me photo essays in Time or in Newsweek. I started to seek out photographers that had defined perspectives of how they viewed the world such as W. Eugene Smith, Mary Ellen Mark, William Albert Allard, James Nachtway, Annie Leibovitz, David Burnett and others that showed me how to really piece together a story and a moment. When I finally started to photograph, film was still being taught at the university I went to, and from that moment on I spent 7 or 8 hours at a time in the darkroom. I basically ignored my original major doing just enough to graduate, but my heart had spoken and it belonged to the visual arts. I started out in newspaper photography for the college paper and have been cutting my teeth ever since. When I came to Missoula in 2011 to go to RMSP, I was ready to walk into the abyss of what was in front of me. It turned out to be a very moving experience in my life and has influenced me exponentially. I find social documentary to be the closest category I could fit myself into, but really, I just want to photograph in order to see what something looks like photographed.

Currently, I am working on a year long project here in Missoula tentatively titled The First Year It Was Spring, about a family raising their first child and when the idea of “family” actually becomes a reality.



One thought on “2013 Career Training Assistant Michelle Gustafson

2013 Career Training Assistant Robert Allsion : Paper Airplanes

[…] week we introduced you to Career Training assistant Michelle Gustafson here on the blog. Today it’s Robert Allison’s turn to step into the spotlight. Robert […]

Comments are closed.