Mike is a fantastic photographer and also a great friend to our company. We’re inspired by his transition from the 9-5 world of accounting to a full-time career in a field as creative and demanding as photography, and are lucky to have partnered with him on many weddings over the years. Mike has lots of great advice and insight on weddings and the importance of passionate, committed vendors. Here’s Mike!
How did you get started in the wedding business? I was actually an accountant until 7 years ago. I decided I had to do what I loved and hoped it would pay the bills. I'd done it the other ways and wasn't a happy camper! So, right after we built a new house and the recession hit, I quit my job! Scariest thing ever! I did a little photography on the side, mostly college and pro sports and did model test shoots for some magazines. I never thought I'd want to shoot a wedding because of a bad experience with my wedding photographer. I never wanted to be that guy who was always interrupting the flow of the day. However, a friend asked me to shoot his wedding and I accepted for way too little! I thought I was going to be totally fine with my one camera, 2 lenses, 1 battery and a flash. When I got there I freaked out. There were several hundred guests and they all expected formals with the bride and groom. I had to get on the phone and reach out to photographers I didn't even know to help me get through the day. I got it done, and everybody was happy, but it taught me that wedding photography was everything I had always been looking for; emotionally rewarding, physically challenging, technical, artistic, socially enlightening and fun!
What do you do when you are not working? I love to ride my road bike, hike, go traveling and kayaking. I love nature! Even when I am not working, I still carry my iPhone and get some really awesome photos with it. A lot of people follow me on Facebook and Instagram just to see my iPhone images.
How would you describe your approach to weddings? Organic and creative. Every wedding is different as is every client, so my approach is very much tailored to their personalities. I have an editorial approach to coverage that conveys strong feelings and emotion. When my clients see their images many cry, in a good way ;-) . We limit our weddings to 25 per year so that we don't lose the creative edge!
What inspires you in your work? Beauty. I see it everywhere, and I want to capture it in a way that allows others to appreciate it.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job? I get to experience beautiful, and intensely personal, emotional transactions as part of my job. Most people get to experience these moments a few times in their life. I am fortunate enough to have these experiences on a regular basis!
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business? I wish everyone knew how much I care about doing a great job. I get really connected with my clients and really work hard to thrill them. It's a demanding occupation both physically and mentally. I don't think many people realize that a photographer’s job isn't even halfway done when the wedding day ends.Even after the wedding I still have another 30 hours of work to do before they see their images.
What do you think sets your company apart from other photographers? It's a combination of things. Passion for my job is the driver, but I never stop learning. I attend lots of classes every year to learn new techniques or to reinforce old ones. I actually even teach other photographers now and that also expands my own knowledge. I understand light and can make you look beautiful on a sunny day or in a hurricane! I have had a lot of brides tell me that when I arrived on their wedding day, they felt relieved. They see me as a friend and know I am going to take care of them!
What do you love about weddings? The joy and happiness that surrounds everything during the day. I am selective about my clients and love to work with couples who love my work and have a good outlook on their wedding day. I don't work with clients who don't fit that criteria. My business card says "Photography for Fun Couples" and by sticking with that ideal, my clients are always awesome!
What do you hate about weddings? Hmm…I don't hate much but I do have a pet peeve that's been growing lately. I am getting really annoyed with guests who feel it's necessary to hold their phones and iPads in the aisle during the processional and recessional. It's totally out of control now. I just don't get it. It's rude and ruins so many of what could be magazine quality images for my clients. I am becoming a big fan of the "Unplugged Wedding.”
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding? So many things from amazing arrivals on awesome yachts, exotic cars, and some I can't tell you about due to non-disclosure agreements. The one that sticks out in my mind though was a couple who had a very tight budget. They couldn't even afford gifts for each other, but the bride taught herself how to play guitar, sing, and write music. She wrote a beautiful song for the groom and played it as a surprise during the reception. That was priceless!
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? Select vendors who are passionate about their job and you'll never go wrong! Then relax and enjoy your day! If you cut corners, they will often cut you back!
Who is your favorite artist or band? That's a tough one! I am passionate about music and used to DJ in college. Right now I like Imagine Dragons, Slightly Stoopid, Sublime, Mumford and Sons, The Clash, etc… but it changes all the time and according to what I am doing. As far as local wedding bands, Doug Segree.
What is the worst song of all time? Cupid Shuffle.
Open mic, final thoughts: I don't think you should ever be so stressed that you don't enjoy your wedding day. Enjoy it for the reasons that matter and select vendors who understand that. It should be the experience of a lifetime and all that you dreamed it would be!