Michael George (b. 1988) spent his formative years in picturesque Fort Myers, Florida and moved to New York City a few years ago. He’s currently based in Brooklyn and works as a freelancer. He’s a sportive spirit and an adventurer who loves nature and wilderness. In 2010 he biked across the country and walked across Spain in 2012. Now he wants to relax a bit and focus more on his photography which consists of a diverse body of work. Here he tells us about his passion, preferences, and plans ahead:
Hi Michael! On your website you state that you won’t be crawling across countries! Why?
You know, cycling across the USA and walking across Spain were two amazing adventures, but I learned an important lesson from both of them. When you are physically exhausted it is really hard to hold onto your creativity. I have found I make the best work when I am eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, and diving into a project with a clear head. I do think the heavy emotion of exhaustion can add an interesting weight to the imagery but I don’t think it is the best world to live in at all times. For my next project I hope to approach it from a more calculated (and more mobile) perspective.
I was lucky to attend public arts schools from early childhood. My elementary school had theater, dance, visual art, and music electives that we went to every week. Growing up I played the violin for eight years and even made it to first chair of the Southwest Florida Youth Symphony. It wasn’t until high school that I discovered photography. For those that know me I am an extroverted bubbly personality. Photography was a way for me to show the world a more poetic and introspective side of me that had always been hidden. In my current life I love to write and often pair it with my photographs. I like to think the two are symbiotic.
My hope as a photographer is quite simple – to show others the beauty they often overlook: beauty in everything from a chicken to a ballet dancer. We are oversaturated with images in today’s culture and I always do my best to provide a new and interesting perspective.
I like photographing animals the most. This year I got to work with everything from sled dogs to rescued birds of prey. Those shoots are fascinating because I always learn a lot.
I am quite calculated while shooting. Leading up to a job I make an inspiration folder and write out possible ideas. This acts as a safety net when I am on set in case I ever run out of ideas.
I would say my work ends up being 75% spontaneous and 25% these pre-planned ideas.
The equipment I use most often includes: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70 f/2.8 II, Canon 50mm f/1.2, and Profoto B1 strobe flashes.
From there I use VSCO and Alien Exposure to color edit my images.
I believe strongly in digital manipulation because RAW files are quite hideous. I think people tend to forget that film brands had their own “filters” back in the day. Kodachrome was far different from Portra. Nowadays it just takes some extra work to get a digital file to look beautiful.
One of my favorite photography projects this year was on a ski resort in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. I grew up in south Florida and so this was an opportunity for me to experience winter in all of its extremes for the first time. I actually learned to love it, which I never thought would happen. From dog sledding to skiing, I wrote (and photographed) an essay describing my experience.
I love how excited people are about photography in our day and age. What I don’t like is how Instagram has become overly branded, too much of a popularity contest, and has created a trendy style of imagery. Because of that I think photographers are losing their artistry and, instead, catering their vision to the masses. In the end we see hundreds of images every day that look the exact same. That said, I love the community Instagram has built and I find Tumblr a place to find incredible imagery that I use as inspiration.
Most recently I have:
- Opened an exhibition of “Portrait of a Pilgrim” at the Sidney & Berne Davis Arts Center in Fort Myers, Florida
- Published a 10-page feature in National Geographic magazine in May 2015
- Shot my first assignment for the New York Times this past week
- This year I have shot for Amtrak, LinkedIn, Inc. Magazine, and many other wonderful clients.
Next year I plan to do a storytelling portrait project exploring how technology has affected the LGBT movement.
Please share your favorite stuff: photographers, quotes, films, books, music etc.
My favorite photographers include: Sasha Arutyunova, Ryan Pfluger, Thomas Prior, Jake Stangel, Bruce Davidson, and Sylvia Plache
Music: The Wicked sound track (:P)
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Take your photographs, not someone else’s.