At @LaunchDsigns, we believe that Instagram goes far beyond being a tool just for creative photographers — its a creative medium, a platform where we all can showcase our skills in photography or art and have it looked on/reviewed on a global scale.
With that being said we present you Mike (@mmeyers76) someone that embodies what LaunchDsigns stands for creativity.
Mike takes some amazing and super creative shots of Chicago and pairs them perfectly with his own Lightroom presets, this talented photographer keep pushing the envelope with each shot and we are honored to present him on this weeks Behind the Viewfinder.
What’s your style of photography, what type of images do you identify with most?
Not sure exactly what kind of “style” I’d call it. I definitely focus mostly on architecture and urban scenes, seeing as I’m lucky enough to call Chicago home. I do really love nature landscapes as well, and would love to travel more and shoot more of them. I tend to lean more heavily on colorful images, although there’s something really nice about a desaturated, moody image as a kind of palate cleanser from time to time.
Who are the photographers that influenced you?
Jason Peterson (@JasonMPeterson) was my boss at my last job, and seeing his images helped motivate me to get a camera and give photography a try about a year and a half ago. I probably owe my love of color to @DannyMota (who I also worked with). He never fails to create something striking. I really love what @mindz.eye, @jrhigz and @e4rlyr1ser are doing with urban scenes. @Andyto, @Frank.Shoots and @Vincelimphoto are probably my favorite nature photographers. I really find myself influenced by so many great photographers that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few.
Do you think that photography is an art form?
Photography is 100% inarguably an art form. Everything that goes into it, from interpreting what you’re going to shoot, to how you shoot it, to the editing process – it’s all an art. If it was formulaic, then every shot from the same spot would look the same, and it almost never does. I love each aspect of the process and enjoy the challenges and rewards that go with them all.
What technology (camera) do you use?
I just got a Sony a7rii a couple weeks ago (at the beginning of 2017), but up until then all my shots were with a Sony a6000. I’ve also had a DJI Phantom 4 for about a year.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures?
A lot of different things, actually. I love travel and discovering new places, which always pushes you to see the world in a new way through photography. I also find a lot of motivation through fellow photographers – we’re constantly pushing each other to get out and shoot more and raise the bar of our own work. I think the love of a really beautiful image is what motivates us all. There’s just something about creating something you really enjoy through photography that’s inherently satisfying – and that is always pushing us to keep shooting.
Which is your favorite lens? Why?
The Sony G-Master 24-70 f2.8. I just got it, but it’s an absolute monster and I fell in love with it immediately. Every image is so crisp corner to corner and they just seem to leap off the screen when you see them.
What camera gear do you wish you had? Why?
Considering I just upgraded from an a6000 to an a7rii, I’m really happy right now, to be honest. I’ll be grabbing some Lee filters soon so I can do some more long exposure work, which I really like to play around with from time to time to mix up the look of an image. A DJI Mavic would also be cool, just so I’d be able to take a drone with me more often. I love the perspective you can get with them.
Do you use Adobe Lightroom for edits? If so what presets do you use? Your own or downloaded/purchased.
I use Lightroom almost exclusively – Photoshop very rarely…only when I have to. I use presets but only ones I’ve made. This way I can quickly cycle through a few different looks to see what I’m liking as far as what direction I want to take the shot, then fine tune once I’ve found something I like.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I find the photography community to be pretty helpful. Thankfully at my last job there were a lot of photographers so they kind of helped me learn the ropes, which was great. I think the editing process is a huge part of photography these days as well, and to be honest I watched a LOT of YouTube videos – it is 100% how I learned Lightroom and Photoshop.
Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
I think this shot I took of Cloud Gate in Millennium Park – more affectionately referred to by Chicagoans as “The Bean.” For those of you not familiar, it’s a giant, bean-shaped mirrored sculpture downtown. There are a million shots of it out there, so the challenge is to find a way to create an image of it that has something dynamic about it that you haven’t seen before. Actually, to me, that is the challenge I put to myself every time I’m creating an image. I just really liked the way the final image came out. There’s nothing particularly special I can point to and say is the reason I liked it.
What role has Instagram played in your photography/designs?
A huge role, actually. I’ve learned so much from people I’ve met through Instagram, and they’ve inspired me to be a better photographer. I’ve also had experiences I never otherwise would have had. My girlfriend and I took a trip to Oahu because of the imagery of @eastern_import. We met up with her, as well as @Frank.shoots, @Vincelimphoto and @As.it.turns, who are incredible people. I’d never met them in person but they were kind enough to show us the best spots and shoot them all with us. They took us around the island and shot sunrise and sunset with us every day. They made the entire trip so much better, and we got to experience some amazing places with them. I also shoot a lot with @e4rlyr1ser who I met through Instagram. He has been tremendously influential in my love for photography and introduced me to @kingmephotography, @sola.photo, @_amphoto and @timestr3tch who I shoot with frequently.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
How satisfying it was/how much I’d enjoy it – this way I would have gotten into it a lot earlier!
What makes the good picture stand out from the average?
I kind of touched on this earlier but I think just being able to find a way to create an image that has some kind of different/interesting perspective. I know that word is really overused and beaten to death these days – but I basically mean something dynamic about the image. That could be an untraditional angle, different shutter speed, unusual area to focus on, or something in the edit itself that just makes an image special. I think attention to detail in the editing process as well can really make an image stand out.
What first drew you to photography?
To be honest, boredom. I quit drinking a couple years ago and realized how many social activities are tied to it and needed something fun to do that I could do all year (a challenge here in Chicago). My girlfriend (@made_in_HK) has always had an interest in photography and encouraged me to give it a try. I also worked in an environment that had a ton of great photographers and digital artists, which contributed as well.
When you are out shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
Sometimes I have a specific shot in mind – but more times than not I just kind of walk around and look for something I find interesting. More often than not you end up stumbling upon an even better shot en route to the one you had in mind.
Where are you from, where do you live?
I’m from the suburbs of Chicago, but have lived in the city for the last 20 years.
Follow Mike on instagram @mmeyers76