“An element of uncertainty is inherent in any act of observation” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Michelle Gier by ©Lori Maloney

I first met Michelle at a photography workshop a few years ago and immediately liked her…she’s kind, interested, enthusiastic, generous, and genuine.  I felt truly lucky to discover that she had signed up for The Birthday Book Project AND that I would be the lucky Calgary photog shooting her!  

I have asked each of my subjects to think about what aspect of ‘who they are’ – personality, interests, hobbies, work, passions, etc. – they would like to convey most through the portrait we will make together for The Birthday Book Project…I’ve loved the diversity this provides in the portraits I am capturing!  Michelle really wanted to convey her love for a bygone era – when fresh laundry flapped in the wind and cold lemonade was sipped on the porch.  Michelle is a skilled photographer and so I was pretty sure whatever she came up with would be awesome, and it was!  The old truck was the icing to the fabulous vintage pieces she found and put together.  Given that she is a photographer we had A BALL trying out different shooting techniques…including using torn fabric in front of the lens on this particular shot!

Thank you, Michelle, for the insane fun (and great chit chat) we had on our shoot and for being such a remarkable woman – I feel blessed to know you! – Lori M

Image © Lori Maloney

An Interview with Michelle

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. One year a few friends came over to wish me a happy birthday before we left the following day on our holidays. We had some coolers and soon a few more friends came by. We were out on the front driveway sitting on the deck of my camping unit. Before I realized it we had all laughed and celebrated until way late into the night. Completely unplanned and so impromptu. So much fun, I left on holidays the next morning still smiling.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. I don’t remember a particular birthday that stands out as the worst but I do remember many times as a child being sad that my birthday was in the summer and at the times spent on our family holidays without friends. I often planned my own parties as I got older.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. When I was twelve I found a pair of purple corduroy pants at the mall that I just had to have. I must have asked my mom and dad a dozen times to buy them for me. So on my birthday I opened up a small package and inside were two pieces of cord and a note from my dad saying he was sorry he couldn’t find me a pair of purple cords. After all these years I still have those cords, and that note too. 

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist in eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I now love that my birthday is in the summer, barbecue season! I love steak (probably far more than a person should love steak) so I am thrilled to enjoy a barbecue steak dinner with a glass of wine. The only thing to make that even better is to enjoy it all while camping.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Now that I am a mother and grandmother the very best part of birthdays is being surrounded by my family and those close friends that are almost like family. It makes me the absolute happiest to have my family all together under one roof no matter where we are.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. We don’t really have any rituals or ceremonies but while my children were at home (or when they come home) for their birthdays the birthday person would decide on the evening dinner plans and every effort would be made to accommodate the request. Cake, candles and singing always follows no matter where we are. Definitely an evening of celebration and laughter.