Michelle Grace Hunder – Capturing the RISE of Australian Hip Hop!


Michelle action shot

She is fast becoming one of our industry’s most respected and sought after photographers, known for her keen eye for detail and capturing her subjects with authenticity and purity. Michelle Grace Hunder is about to embark on a journey rarely travelled by an Australian photographer in the urban music world as she sets about creating a project that is truly inspirational.

RISE is an Australian Hip Hop photo book of artist images shot personally by Hunder and capturing the essence of the Australian hip hop scene and those that weave it. An avid fan of hip hop music in general, Hunder set about wanting to create a photographic legacy of the artists that represent the urban pulse of our great Southern land. Her idea has quickly turned into reality as she set about raising public awareness about her RISE project and gaining much interest, support and encouragement from the urban community and industry as a whole. Raising much needed funds through the genius of the Pozible online funding campaign through a series of hip hop concerts in her hometown of Melbourne saw enough money raised for Hunder to put RISE into publishing action and come middle of 2014, a star will be born.

With a clientele covering fashion, sneakers and hip hop magazines, Michelle Hunder has certainly upped the ante surrounding her coveted images with the creation of this photo book. What it will do for our hip hop community will bring a deeper respect and clarity to what our artists have spent years perfecting by providing a showcase of powerful, evocative and moving images only a Hunder photo can convey. What this book will bring for Hunder is boundless and limited only by what she decides to do with the opportunities this project will bring. One thing is certain, she has created a living legacy of our urban community through her camera lens and proven the adage of “a photo speaks louder than words”. I wish for this brave, insightful and humble photographer every success with this exciting project and am beyond blessed to be one of the few people she has allowed to have write on this epic journey hers, one that I am certain many will not only be writing about, but reading, viewing and watching as she and our hip hop community continues to RISE!

Happy New Year Michelle – how has 2014 been to you so far?

Happy New Year!! Pretty much straight back into it! I flew to Sydney on the night of the 1st to start shooting for my book, so its already been really busy! I just got home yesterday J

Big things are in store for you this year no doubt …. The exciting release of your published photographic project called RISE is soon upon the Australian hip hop community … how are you feeling about it all and what do you think the community response will be to this very original project?

I’m feeling really great. The successful completing of my Pozible (crowd funding) campaign, to raise the funds to self publish my book has been an incredibly positive experience and shown me how incredible generous and supportive our little Hip Hop community is. Its really been amazing.

You have been a photographer in the Melbourne community for many years and have a client listing representing names from Zoo York, Under Armour, New Balance and Acclaim Magazine to name a few. What do you enjoy about the art of photography and what do you think makes you as unique and requested by these clients and more to capture their images?

Actually it’s a relatively short period. I only picked up a camera 4 years ago, and have been shooting professionally for 2 years now, so I’ve had to learn quickly!!! What I enjoy first and foremost is the connection you have with your subjects. When a person trusts you enough to capture the essence of who they are, that’s a really special thing… That’s why I started shooting portraits. I also like shooting one on one (i.e., no big crew, no assistants etc) as I feel sometimes it interrupts the process I have to get to know the person I am shooting and make them feel really relaxed…. Its not ALWAYS practical or possible to shoot like this but I try to do it as often as possible. I honestly think my clients like to work with me because I’m a really easy person to work with and I like to make my shoots really relaxed and fun. There are plenty of amazing photographers around, but I think being easy to work with makes clients want to work with you again and again. I also have an incredibly strong work ethic and I turn things around fast which clients appreciate as everyone has ridiculously tight deadlines.

Michelle Hunder 1

(Image of Michelle Hunder credited to: Rush Photography)

 This RISE project is really quite exciting and an Australian first – I envisage it as photo collection of Australia’s hip hop community, shot through your lens and captured in a book format – how would you best describe it and why call it RISE?

The title Rise came to me really early on and it just stuck with me. I honestly believe there is this surge of momentum around the whole scene, artist are find more success than ever and there is this new crop of really talented amazing artists and it just feels like there is a lot happening in the scene at the moment. I wanted to try and document this point in time as best I could, as well as paying homage to some of the key artists that paved the way for the current artists we are seeing achieve success.

What are your thoughts on the hip hop community / scene here in Australia and are you a hip hop girl at heart?

We have an incredibly welcoming and supportive community (from my perspective) who are really passionate about Australian artists. What’s different about our scene is not all fans necessarily love ALL hip hop. I see a lot of kids that JUST love hip hop made in this country, and you would not have seen that 10 years ago. That’s’ not a blanket statement but its true for many fans.

As for me, I’ve been a hip hop fan since I was 13. Specifically early 90s West Coast hip hop. I grew up on Snoop, Dre, Cube, Dogg Pound, and Tupac. I’ve always thought I was a bit of a closet ‘rapper’ at heart( hahaha). I’ve always loved Hip Hop but my passion for hip hop made in Australia really developed about two years ago when I started shooting in the local scene. Now I have really strong friendships with many artists and truly love so much music made in this country.

Remi by Michelle

(Remi – image by Michelle Hunder)

Your greatest inspirations as an artists and do the things that inspire you remain constant or change as life does?

The genre of hip hop is my main inspiration. I love taking ‘dope’ photographs that artist appreciate. I have a style that lens itself to the genre, its not surprising I ended up shooting specifically hip hop work. However I’m quite goal driven. That’s why large projects like the book are good for me, I like working towards really large goals…. I’m just not sure what’s next! (Haha)

Where do you see RISE taking Michelle Hunder the photographer once it’s released?

That’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’m not entirely sure, but it will be something bigger, perhaps internationally. I hope I still get to work with local artists doing press shots or album covers though, that’s what I really enjoy shooting…..

If you could capture your perfect moment what / who / where would it be?

It would be a portrait of Tupac before he died. I would give back all the photographs I’ve ever taken to have been able to take one portrait of him. 

For more information on Michelle Hunder and RISE please visit: www.michellegracehunder.com

Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

(First image of Michelle Hunder street shot credited to: JDHQ)

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