JCG: Hi Mike. You’re well known for your glamour and art photography. How’d you get started in photography and into those genres specifically??
Thanks Joaquin for your interest in my work. Thank you for the 11 years of posting my work here on Michelle7. I have always loved photography and started like most photographers my age, with film. My dad was a photographer before I was born and we had a dark room in the basement at home. At age 11 my dad bought me a Yoshika Electro 35 camera and I started buying B&W film in bulk and filling my own canisters.
As a junior in high school I did a story on the civil war for my term paper. I took Aaron Copeland music and mixed it with pictures from the Civil War along with kids of all races in my class and made a slide show to the music. Although I was a D student, my teacher said that [photography] was my gift and I should pursue it. I did.
my teacher said photography was my gift and I should pursue it. I did.
After high school I worked at the phone company for 37 years, until I retired in 2010. During all that time I kept up with photography, because I loved it, and thought I'd do it for a living when I retired... but now that I am retired, I do it for fun.
I started shooting nudes in 2006 after attending a workshop in New York City. I found taking pictures of nude models was a thrill, and it was about making art as well. In 2008, I became frustrated and quit attending the workshop. I got rid of all the furniture in my apartment and turned it into a studio. All I had left was a love seat, a desk, and several monitors mounted on the walls. See my book from this period, The Black Couch available at Blurb.
My work improved. I met a lot of beautiful models along the way and made some life-long friends. I love shooting young models. How else would a 64 year old get 20 year old girls to get naked for him!? LOL.
My inspiration came from Playboy and Penthouse - I loved those images.
JCG: So, you’ve been focusing on nude photography for a long time. Was it the NYC workshop what inspired you to concentrate on nudes? Tell me about that workshop.
Well, I won’t mention names here, but it turned out the guy who ran that workshop was a POS. He took advantage of the models at every opportunity.
In a workshop setting you're restricted by the person running it as to how and what you shoot. I didn’t like that. But it did open my eyes to what was possible in the area of shooting nude models.
So, I started running my own workshops in Brooklyn. We typically had 2 models at each shoot along with 4 photographers and offered a catered lunch - it was a blast.
JCG: Did you follow any particular photographer in your early days? And did being in New York put you in close proximity to anyone inspirational?
Yes and no to that last question. My inspiration came from Playboy and Penthouse - I loved those images... and I came to find out Suze Randall was the photographer of most of those images. She was the first female photographer shooting for Playboy back then. I remember one image she did in Playboy - it was a picture of her breastfeeding her baby while shooting a naked babe on a couch. The baby? That was her daughter Holly, who is now as good a photographer as her mom. I got to meet Holly online and told her to convey my thanks to her mom for inspiring me to shoot glamour nudes. Holly is in her thirties now and shooting even more risque images and movies for Twisty’s and many other sites and magazines.
I have a deep faith in God.
I have had two women who love my work; one is a photographer who is so big I won’t mention her name. I met her while attending one of her workshops in 2008. She shot nudes which encouraged me and once told me “If it wasn’t for my commitments to (unnamed company) I would let you shoot me nude.” She loves my work. The other is Barbara Nitke. She got her start in photography when her husband was producing the porn film, Behind the Green Door with Marilyn Chambers. He handed her a 35mm camera and told her to start shooting behind-the-scenes stuff for the box cover. Today, she's a big time photographer in New York City working for NBC.
Barbara and I are friends.
Having two amazing ladies who are so accomplished in photography support my work and encourage me is wonderful, I couldn’t ask for more. Once in a while, when I hear about some asshole bad-mouthing me, I think of these two women and ignore the detractors.
I've always had a grudge against male authority figures. That’s old baggage from my childhood ...
JCG: It’s interesting that female photographers are such an influence. Why do you think that is??
Men are pigs! LOL. I hear stories from models about how 90% of their photographers hit on them. And I ran workshops, remember?
Why women? Well why not, the two ladies I mentioned are more prolific and talented then any male photographer I know. And I've always had a grudge against male authority figures. That’s old baggage from my childhood ... To have an accomplished women give me kudos [for my nudes] is worth more.. and if they like it, there is no higher compliment.
JCG: That’s quite revealing? A psychoanalyst might describe that as approval-seeking from female authority figures (validating your attraction for the female form).
I would agree with that. And what’s wrong with that?
I had a few bondage images in my portfolio on Model Mayhem. It attracted a model ... but all she wanted was for me to tie her up.
JCG: What (if anything) are you trying to say with your work??
I have a deep faith in God. Someone once said to me in a condescending manor “What do you think Father Mychal would say if he saw your work?” Father Mychal is a priest I've known since I was 12 and he was one of the greatest men I've ever met. He died on 9-11-01. The person who said this to me was trying to be hurtful, but I knew Father Mychal - and he would have said “What a gift God has given us in women. God’s creation is perfect.”
That’s what I am striving for, to make the next click of the shutter capture something more beautiful then the last click of the shutter. All the while showing off God’s most perfect creation.
JCG: What’s your work process? Finding and choosing models. Project ideas. Do you work alone or with an assistant, etc.
Well, I shoot much less these days now that I'm retired in Florida. It's not like when I lived in New Jersey and a new model would show up every week. Down here, they are few and far between. However, the models I have worked with in Florida are some of the best; Britney, Willa, and Katlin were some of my all time favorites.
the models I have worked with in Florida are some of the best..
I don’t work with an assistant or allow boyfriends or escorts at my shoots. I don’t want any distractions. I work at my house. It’s very personal to me, shooting. It’s like a dance between a beautiful women and myself. Doing it this way seems more intimate.
JCG: What are your photo sessions like? Fun? Serious? Crazy??
Most shoots start the same way. I show them around the house. Then we sit down at the dining room table where I copy their ID and they read and sign the model release. Once the formalities are done we decide what to shoot first. From this point on it’s just fun. It’s fun at 64 to have young, beautiful ladies get naked to make art, it’s a dream come true.
The best compliment I ever got was from my mom... It was like winning a Pulitzer!
JCG: Have you ever had any crazy things happen during a photo shoot??
A long time ago yes - I think it was 2009. I had a few bondage images in my portfolio on Model Mayhem. It attracted a model ... but all she wanted was for me to tie her up. We didn't take many pictures. And we remain friends. That’s the only time anything like that happened. I have a daughter, sisters, and a Mom. I wouldn’t want to disappoint.
The best compliment I ever got was from my mom. She’s 87. I have a gallery [of nudes] in my home and she walked in, looked around, and came out and said “That’s not that bad.” It was like winning a Pulitzer!