Women in the Workplace – A series by Carmel Kelly Palmer

Service with a smile Michelle smiles a lot. Perhaps it is because she is very much aware of it in her job. Michelle Hurson conducts her business, Hurson Photography, from her studio in Athlone Road, Roscommon town. She was born in Lanesborough and went to boarding in the convent of Mercy, Ballymahon. After leaving school she moved to Dublin. ‘I went to do a PLC course in Ballyfermot College, the course was Art, Design and Mixed Media. While in college I was introduced to photography and decided to go and do a City and Guilds course in Dun Laoighaire. While there I learned a documentary style of photography which was part of the course.’ By now Michelle knew the path she was taking and attended a three-year BA Photography Degree course in the University of Surrey in Farnham, England. On leaving university she worked for a local newspaper in the area for about two years and then decided she would like to travel, going to places such as the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and South Korea. On and on she travelled clutching her camera, collecting vast material and gaining valuable experience. However, she always dreamed of returning home. ‘I enjoyed travelling to different locations, but knew that I wanted to come back home and settle here. I was fortunate in the support I got from my family and also that of the people of Roscommon when I opened my photography studio here in Roscommon town in 2005.’ ‘Roscommon people extended a very warm and welcoming hand helping me on my way.’ Even though Michelle came from ‘out the road’ in Lanesboro and Roscommon was her town, nevertheless it was very daunting for a young girl in her early twenties starting out on her own. She may have been familiar with her work but there was still a business to be built up, and experience to be gained. ‘The first year business took off fairly quickly but of course this meant working late into the night, going out making new contacts and building up good client relationships.’ Through hard work and perseverance she had to forge ahead to gain her place in a competitive market. Michelle Hurson did just that and is now running a very successful photography business. ‘The business takes in the counties of Roscommon, Galway, Leitrim, Sligo, Westmeath. The bulk of my work would be wedding functions and this would commence with a consultation with the couple. We would look at their requirements and spend time discussing their preferences.’ ‘It is customary for the bride to have photographs in her home before proceeding to the church or registry office. After the ceremony sometimes couples have photographs at a particular location en route to the designated venue. This could be anywhere like Roscommon Castle, the river Suck or a woodland scene.’ Weddings now can be in various venues throughout the country and Michelle has been to locations such as Kinnity Castle, Lough Rynn House, Killashee House. Hannon’s Oakwood Hotel, Athlone Road, Roscommon, is now facilitating civil marriages to take place there. She is prepared to go to any location. It is normal for her to see the groom and groomsman step down from a helicopter and Michelle is always there for the first ‘shot’. ‘Every wedding is different. There are now so many choices, the kind of photographs one would like, the various locations. There is always a sense of excitement for me as much as for the couple and their family.’ ‘In the past it was probably just the bride and groom, now it is very much a family occasion. Young children feature a lot and I just love being around them, they can be so fascinating.’ Not all her clients are from Roscommon. She has photographed at Indian, Japanese, Polish and Spanish weddings and with the influx of foreign nationals these are increasing in number. Many of her clients return from America and the UK to have their wedding here. Wedding albums and CDs are available and last year Michelle introduced a new 21st century album ‘The Digital Story Album’. In addition on the Hurson Photography website  ( www.hursonphotography.com ), with worldwide access, it is possible to load photographs on to our personal website. This is particularly advantageous and means that a couple on honeymoon anywhere in the world can access their wedding photographs. The studio opening hours are from 10 – 6 pm Monday – Saturday and the telephone number is (090) 66 30543. In addition to weddings she would offer her photographic services at many other celebratory occasions. ‘Much of my work includes various business launches, local club functions, medal presentations, dinner dances, graduations and of course many of my customers come to the studio at an appointed time for various types of personal photographs. These vary from a First Communion, Confirmation, commercial product photograph or it could be for CD covers, local musicians, or a model who needs photographs for a portfolio. There is a range of albums and frames on display for clients to choose from and myself and my receptionist are always on hand to help and advise.’ Michelle also does pet portraits for the many local pet lovers. The word ‘photography’ is derived from the Greek words photos (light) and graphein (to draw). The word was first used by the scientist Sir John F. W. Herschel in 1839. It is a method of recording images by the action of light, or related radiation, on a sensitive material. On a summer day in 1827, it took eight hours for Joseph Nicephore Niepce to obtain the first fixed image. About the same time a fellow Frenchman, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, was experimenting to find a way to capture an image, but it would take another dozen years before he was able to reduce the exposure time to less than 30 minutes and keep the image from disappearing