Michelle Valberg is a globally recognized and celebrated photographer, whose quest to capture the beautiful and unique on camera has taken her to all corners of the world.
Valberg’s stunning, and at times haunting photographs are highly sought after by art collectors globally, and have been showcased in various exhibits and features across North America, including New York, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. In 2011, Valberg’s work was the subject of a critically acclaimed 3-month solo exhibition at the esteemed Canadian Museum of Nature. Currently, Valberg has her largest permanent exhibition at The Ottawa Hospital, which includes over 70 of her photographs.
Regularly featured in publications across North America and Europe, Valberg’s images have most recently been included in National Geographic, The London Tribune, More Magazine, Canadian Geographic and In Style.
Her travels have taken her to Africa, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, Belarus and the Caribbean. In recent years, Valberg has explored her passion for Canada’s Arctic, making more than 25 trips to Canada’s north in the last 5 years. She has quickly become the ‘go-to’ Arctic photographer for various travel exhibitions, and private clients wishing to capture their once-in-a-lifetime adventure in photographs.
A tireless philanthropist, Valberg founded Project North in 2009, a not-for-profit organization committed to delivering education and sport-based opportunities to youth in Canada’s Arctic. Since its inception, over $400,000 worth of hockey equipment has been delivered to over 14 Nunavut communities.
Valberg has demonstrated her strong leadership capabilities through Director roles for several committees and organizations, including The United Way Ottawa, the Élisabeth Bruyère Foundation Board, the Telus Community Foundation Board, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Foundation Board, the Algonquin College Foundation Board, and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre. Valberg presently sits on the Youth Services Bureau Charitable Foundation Board and is also a Fellow with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
Committed to strengthening the community, Valberg has also spent countless hours volunteering with The St. Joe's Women's Shelter, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and The Ottawa Hospital.
As the founder of Valberg Imaging – Ottawa’s premier photography studio and gallery in operation for over 26 years – Valberg is a trusted and recognized entrepreneur in the Ottawa community.
She has received numerous accolades and awards over the years, recognizing her business acumen and commitment to the community, including the YMCA/YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Arts category (2000), Ottawa's Businesswoman of the Year (2003), one of Ottawa's Top 40 Under 40 (2004), The United Way Ottawa Community Builder award and CHEO's Order of the Good Bear. She is also a two time Premier's Award Nominee and a four time Karsh Award Nominee and has won numerous Canadian Geographic Wildlife and Arctic awards.
Committed to mentoring entrepreneurs and fellow photographers, Valberg has remained involved with her alma mater, Algonquin College, where she holds the inaugural "Hall of Fame" induction for photography in the School of Media & Design. She was also named "Alumna of the Year" in 2005 by the college.
Valberg’s talents have been recognized by an array of industry leaders, including airline First Air, who exclusively requested that one of Valberg’s photographs appear on the tail of one of its aircrafts.
With her well-rounded experience and insight in the fields of business, photography, travel, and the non-profit sector, it is no surprise that Valberg is often called upon as a guest speaker for many different organizations, including philanthropic groups, camera clubs and national organizations. Global travel companies like Adventure Canada and Arctic Kingdom also use Valberg as a resource for their many national and international travel tours.
Valberg has self-published three books: Look Beyond... The Faces & Stories of People with HIV/AIDS, Dare to Dream... A Celebration of Canadian Women and most recently, a children’s book about Canada’s north, entitled Ben and Nuki Discover Polar Bears.
Her third coffee table book, Arctic Kaleidoscope... The People, Wildlife and Ever-Changing Landscape was released on Earth Day - April 22, 2013.
Simple beauty is a deeper reflection of humanity, as an artist, it has been my goal for the past 25 years to capture that notion in photographs. It is one that I have pursued by maintaining the purity and integrity of the subject, while focusing on the soul and the spirit—no matter what subject.
Nature has always been my first love. I remember vividly the deep desire I had as a teenager when I first started to photograph—I wanted to capture the beauty of every flower, bird and rock I observed. Then, as now, I believe nature mirrors what we see in ourselves—our beauty, our simplicity, our complications, our responsibilities. As such, my favourite images are those that simultaneously reveal the dichotomy of nature—it’s simplicity and complexity.
Portraiture followed nature as a focus for my lens. Whether the subject is a struggling family in Belarus, a young patient at CHEO, a rising executive or a supermodel, the assignment is always the same—to reveal the soul within. What some may describe as simply a photograph, I think of it as a telegraph from the soul, as each subject communicates their story, passions, strengths and weaknesses.
I am most proud of my latest and most challenging work - an international exhibition and book entitled Arctic Kaleidoscope…The People, Wildlife and Ever-Changing Landscape. As an in-depth portrayal of the land and life of the Inuit, it combines my love of nature and portraiture, cast against the genuine richness and raw beauty of the Arctic. My quest to uniquely capture the Arctic also became a personal journey of self-discovery, a journey in which I discovered the striking polarity of the simple but also complex way of life in the North. My hope is that this body of work captures the true essence of our northern frontier and presents a portrayal of a people strengthened and yet challenged by the land and environment. I would like my images to serve as a key that unlocks doors and opens eyes to the beauty and the richness of a land that is part of our country and a people who are part of our great Canadian community.
People have given so much to me as a photographer, by baring their souls, their hopes and dreams, triumphs and failures. As a way to give back, I donate my work and time to charities, public institutions and my country and have established a not-for-profit organization called Project North in support of Arctic communities, in the hopes of making a difference.
Art has the power to speak to people in a way mere words cannot. I am committed to being a conduit for that message, both as an artist and member of my community. Through my work, I hope to challenge both myself and those around me to be more aware, more engaged and perhaps more open to the creative power of photography.