Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - MIke Force Photography
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ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by Morephotos.com helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Labimages.com. Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen.  DAMIEN: Good afternoon and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the phone is Mike Force of Mike Force Photography. Good afternoon, Mike, how are you doing?
 
MIKE: I’m doing great, how are you?
 
DAMIEN: I’m doing fine. Welcome to the program. We’re glad you’re joining us today. I know you’re in the car, so we’ll make this brief and try to not make it too difficult for you.
 
MIKE: Ok.
 
DAMIEN: Where  is your studio located and how long have you been in business, Mike?
 
MIKE: We are located in historic downtown Brunswick. Brunswick is right on the coast of Georgia, half-way between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, and we have been in that studio for 6 years now.
 
DAMIEN: How did you get started as a photographer? What gave you that bump to say, “Hey, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
 
MIKE: Well it’s kind of a weird story, because I spent 30 years as a special agent with the U.S. Treasury Department. Toward the end of my career, I got involved somewhat in crime scene photography and toward the end of my career, I just started taking a liking, more like a love, to the camera, to the computer, to the idea of visual photography and Photoshop and all those things. So toward the end of my career, I actually started shooting for money. I started with sports, got rid of that real quick, because it’s a young man’s sport. Moved into wedding photography and from that point on my weddings were done on weekends, my job was done during the week and every nickel I made shooting weddings, I reinvested into equipment, training, and working with and under some of the best wedding a portrait photographers in the U.S. That’s what got me going.
 
DAMIEN: You mentioned portraits and with most family’s busy lifestyle today, it seems where is there time? How do you get people to stop and do a portrait session?
 
MIKE: That’s a tough one. I spend a lot of time with my advertising particularly with Google searches and things like that. So I get a lot of cold calls from people looking for portraits. That’s a tough one now. Everybody has a digital camera. So what I’m running into, and I’m sure a lot of photographers are finding, that people with the Canon Rebel or the $600 digital camera are now all of a sudden professional photographers. Not really understanding what it takes, they just set the camera on automatic. I stress to people when I talk to them and that’s everybody whether I’m in one of my business network groups or just casually talking that people wait and wait to have that family photo taken or the photo of the kids and before they know it some family members are gone forever, the kids are grown up, and it’s important to think about those things. You get it done when you can.
 
DAMIEN: Now on your website you mention Lifestyle Photography. What is Lifestyle Photography”, Mike?
 
MIKE: To me Lifestyle Photography is shooting people in their natural habit, ok? My wedding photography style is freestyle photography. My portrait style is lifestyle. You can’t always do that, and obviously any time you do a studio shoot, you’re outside of the realm of lifestyle photography, but whatever people are into whether it’s taking the kids to the park, sitting on the beach. To me that is Lifestyle Photography. When it comes to weddings, freestyle photography means I do everything. When I’m laying on my back or climbing up a tree. We do a combination of candid and formals, and we shoot everything, everywhere.
 
DAMIEN: Do you find that people are coming to you with the mind set that it’s going to be more of a traditional type of pose or photojournalism type of pose before you get to that point where you say, “Hey, this is the way we shoot it.”
 
MIKE: Typically what I find is they are asking for my advice on what I think. Some people, particularly brides, they have it set in their mind is, “All I want is candid photography.”, and of course, that’s not true. That’s not what they want, but I don’t come right out and tell them that. We shoot a lot of candid, and I have a second shooter that does nothing but candid shots. A lot of people, most people, I think come to me with the idea of, “What do you suggest?” And then I give them my suggestion.
 
DAMIEN: Now you mentioned you have a second shooter for something like a wedding. Do you go out with multiple photographers for a lot of things, or do you shoot alone more often than not?
 
MIKE: I shoot 2 photographers with weddings. Actually my second photographer is my wife, Maggie. She has been shooting with me ever since my very first wedding, and we can communicate now without even talking. We both love shooting weddings. Weddings are fun for us. I know a lot of photographers won’t touch them, but to us they are fun. Yes, two shooters for all of our weddings. Everything else I don’t need two shooters for unless it’s something special, but I will use an assistant to handle lighting and reflectors and things like that.
 
DAMIEN: What do you this is the most unique service that you offer with Mike Force Photography?
 
MIKE: Most unique, I think, is the personal touch. I think photographers have got to know how to work camera. You have to understand lighting. These are all knowledges that a photographer has to have before anything else can happen. I think what separates us is our personal touch with people. Getting down with them and we are always friends with the bride and groom before it’s over and that is kind of a neat thing for us. Then follow-up, doing the baby shoots and things like that once they have children, and it’s kind of neat. But obviously you have to have the skills, but it’s the attitude that you need to develop. You can’t approach photography like this is what I do, this is what I get paid for, I’ll take the shots, you give me the money. Every shot has to be unique. We’re always looking for our next great shot, and I think that’s kind of an attitude coupled with an attitude of befriending your clients is what makes a difference.
 
DAMIEN: Well the attitude rapport is most definitely easier to work with your photographer at that point. What is the single most important skill for a photographer is when it comes down to that, Mike?
 
MIKE: To me there are three things in photography. There’s knowledge, there’s skills, and there is attitude. Knowledge we are going to take that right off the table. You’ve got to have the knowledge of lighting, cameras, everything else. Attitude, we’ve talked about that, but skill, again. I think skill is interacting with clients and maybe that doesn’t come up front, but it’s something you need to be thinking about constantly and constantly developing, because that is what is going to set two photographers apart both having the same skill set, the same knowledge with the camera.
 
DAMIEN: Now you have some beautiful shots on your site. What is the best piece of advice can  you give to that bride that is looking to have her wedding shot?
 
MIKE: Ok, the bridal shoot. Yes, stop worrying about your dress, ok, stop worrying about your dress, follow our lead and go with the flow, and that’s what we try to instill in them from the start of the bridal shoot, because they are going to make or break the bridal shoot. It’s either going to be the bride or the time constraints, it’s not going to be us. We’ll get the great shots, but we have to have the bride working with us and we have to have the time we need.
 
DAMIEN:  Now you do a lot of location shoots, as well, is there advice you can give to your clients for doing a location shoot? Something like dressing for outdoors, weather stuff? What is that secret for getting great location shots, Mike?
 
MIKE: Absolutely, you always want to consult the client. Don’t just set up the shoot and then meet them there. One is going to have plaids, one is going to have solids, one’s going to have stripes, you know, red pants with the blue jeans, it’s all going to be there. So obviously you want to consult with them about dress, but maybe more importantly is location and time of day, because again, lighting is everything! If they are asking me about what I would suggest for location, I’m a happy photographer, because I know locations that shoot better than other locations. You are looking for beautiful, interesting, different environments, and of course, it depends are you shooting a family, are you doing a beach shoot, are you doing an engagement, or are you doing a bridal? All those factors come into play when you are deciding on location.
 
DAMIEN: Now we know Mike Force Photography is really passionate about great customer service. You even have a 100% guarantee. Has this been paying off for you?
 
MIKE: Yeah, it has, but it’s not a problem, because the one thing to remember is this, that my standards are always, my standards from my work are always going to be higher than the client’s standards, and as long as I keep that attitude, I don’t worry about the 100% money back guarantee. People are going to love what you do.
 
DAMIEN: What is going to be new for Mike Force Photography in 2011?
 
MIKE: We’re still focusing on weddings. Weddings was a big thing for us in 2010. We did, believe it or not, 51 weddings last year. We’re looking to back off of that some. I’m getting too old.
 
DAMIEN: That’s a pretty heavy schedule.
 
MIKE: Yeah, we actually had four weddings in one weekend, and that is crazy.
 
DAMIEN: Wow.
 
MIKE: Yeah, it’s crazy, but we are going to continue to focus on weddings, because we love them, and I’m going to continue to focus on high school senior photography, because it’s fun and they are fun to work with. And then everything else just keeps coming in the way it comes in.
 
DAMIEN: Well if someone is wanting more information on what you do at Mike Force Photography down there in Brunswick, Georgia, where do they go? How do they get in touch with you and where do they get the information they need? 
 
MIKE: My website is www.mikeforce.com and my email address is mikeforce@comcast.net.
 
DAMIEN: Is there a phone number they can reach you?
 
MIKE: Yep. There sure is. My cell number direct (912) 617-7772 and of course you can find my cell phone, my studio phone all that you can find on our website, www.mikeforce.com.
 
DAMIEN: And I highly suggest you go to the web and check out the shots that are on Mike’s website. It has absolutely great, great pictures. We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Mike.
 
MIKE: Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.
 
DAMIEN: We have been speaking with Mike Force of Mike Force Photography in Brunswick, Georgia. My name is Damien Allen. You have been listening to More Photos Radio.   We’ll catch you next time.  
 
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