An early farewell to 2010

If I had known I was going to end up posing for a self-portrait against this wall, I probably would have worn a hoody or something more ghetto looking to fit the scene better. But sometimes you just happen upon a place where you are inspired to do something and you just go with what you got. I haven’t done a SP for awhile now, but there was awesomeness in this wall and the graffiti and for some inexplicable reason, I knew I had to stand in front of it.

That’s kind of how the year has gone for me in general. Going with my gut, finding shots on the fly during a busy storm chasing season and winging it when it comes to my portrait business. I’m not a planner…I tend to hate planning, I don’t write down goals and rarely strategize. I have visions in my head of things I want, but nothing down on paper. But that needs to change.

I’m on vacation from my “real job” until January 4th and during that time I will likely not be posting much on the blog (if at all) and will be instead focus on three things: Spending time with my girls, catching up on movies and TV and planning my 2011 strategy for the photog business. I may get so bored and so excited about an image that I’ll have to post it, but otherwise, I’m on vacation from the blog as well *grin*

There is no doubt that 2010 was an incredible year. In many ways it was Year One, despite having started some of the portrait work back in late 2009. So much happened. My mission to storm chase all over Arizona and then publish a book ended up coming true (okay, I guess I do have SOME goals). I was counting on doing more photoshoots for people and that really boomed the last few months. I’ve been a part of a gallery, a few farmer’s markets, got into Shutterbug magazine and have sold over 25 prints in the last 12 months. And one of those prints endedup in a performing arts show in Canada! I’m so very proud of that.

But likely my favorite part of the last year are the relationships I’ve formed along the way. Of course I love the people, the families, the kids, the horses, the new parents, the new babies, the newly engaged, the-about-to-be-married…all the clients that have had me take photos for them. I’m beyond appreciative of all of that. I thank you for your trust. I thank you for telling your friends about me. And I hope to see you again next year.

The largest impact on me personally this year has been the bonds I’ve formed with my fellow warriors behind the shutter. My buddy Dee at work and all our conversations, Rick who taught me how to use an off-camera flash correctly and Brian M, one of the very best guys I know who is a constant help, inspiration and friend (I seriously owe you a few beers man). And to all my Twitter peeps like Heath, Dave, Oscar, Phil, Pat, Jim, Bob, Jacob, Jacques, Jay, Chris (F and L), Scott (Wood, Wyden and Frederick), Steve, Doug, Viveca, Jon, James, Mark, Stefanie, Jesse, Justin, Tobias, Tim and others. I know that since I mentioned a bunch of names that I’ll miss someone, but I appreciate you all.

Some photographers keep all their secrets to themselves and don’t want to help others. Not these guys. They share in the struggle and would rather help those facing the same problems then to just sit and watch a guy drown himself without tossing out a life line. A few even bought prints from me and a few more bought copies of my book. Thank you guys for your unbelievable generosity.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Facebook, because I have a ton of supporters on there, too many to name. Needless to say, I love all the comments and all the kind words from you guys…some of the things you guys tell me about my work is incredibly humbling and confidence boosting. Again, thank you.

And of course, never last, never least, Jina. You are, as always, the reason I ever succeed at anything. You know this. I know this. Thank you.

So what is coming in 2011? I’m not sure yet, that’s what the break is mostly going to determine. I do know that I will be changing up my portrait photography business model to a more standard format. I’ve used the last year as practice and I’m ready to go to the next level. I will be taking a 4-5 day trip to the midwest this spring for some stormchasing, so expect something awesome to come from that. Depending on how busy the portrait business gets, I will be doing more stormchasing in Arizona during the summer months and will probably do another book.

My other big goal is to start teaching people about HDR photography. I always have photographers asking how to do it and that they’d be interested in a workshop. So I’m going to make it happen…hopefully in a few months we’ll get together a first attempt at one and see how it goes. I’m super excited about it, nothing is more fun that teaching what you love to people who want to learn.

If you are interested in those workshops, let me know. Also, if you’d like to see something else from me, please ask!

Mostly I want to keep doing what I’m doing. While I’m going to plan strategy and goals moving forward, I think my best strength is to stick to being me. I think most of us struggle with confidence and the desire to always be “as good at this other guy”…when in reality, we need to trust in our own vision and our own ideas. It’s good to aim high, but don’t sell yourself short. People are going to be drawn to you because of YOU, not necessarily because of what your photos look like (although having good images can’t hurt, right? *grin*).

Speaking of a lack of planning or strategy, this blog post wasn’t even an idea until last night, so here I’ve gone on rambling for an eternity. I’m going to skip the Happy Holidays mumbo-jumbo and just wish you all a Merry Christmas like the good Lord intended. And a Happy New Year. I’m sure I’ll still be all over Twitter and Facebook, looking at other photogs work and interacting, but I’m honestly looking forward to a little bit of a recharge and some relaxation. And relaxing to me is getting up at 6:30am in stormy weather and driving around downtown Phoenix.

Also rewatching the entire Firefly series on Blu-Ray (thanks Jina!) and catching up on the Event, Chuck, Dexter and Boardwalk Empire.

A few of us will be out shooting over the break, so if you are interested in an early morning downtown Phoenix photowalk, let me know!

30 replies
  1. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    Great post Mike. It’s been an honor connecting with you. Thanks a million for all the questions you have helped me answer and best of luck in 2011 with your business. You inspire me to follow a similar path. Keep up the great images!

  2. Chris Stern
    Chris Stern says:

    What a great post Mike! I really happy to have connected with you recently and have found your blog one of those I keep coming back to more and more as you inspire me base on your portrait side of the business. It is one area I would like to get more into and hope to do a few sessions in 2011. I wish you the best in 2011 and may your photography grow leaps and bounds.

  3. Viveca Koh
    Viveca Koh says:

    I love your post and your honesty Mike, what you have said is so thoughtful and a real tribute to everyone (including me, thanks SO much for that mention!) that you have interacted with over the year. Especially poignant for me is your fourth from last paragraph about trusting in our own vision, and recognising that we are all uniquely talented in our own ways, and that no one person is necessarily better than another. You write “trust in our own vision and our own ideas” – oh yes, I agree with that! I am so doubtful about my abilities some days, so it helps enormously to know that you and probably many others experience this self-doubt too, but also I can honestly say that making Twitter friends with you and everyone else this year has done great things for my confidence because everyone here is so friendly, generous and giving. A bit of constructive criticism here and there, an admiring RT of another’s photo, a thoughtful comment on a blog post, a simple “have a great day!” – all of these go a long way to making an improvement to my day, and for that I am really grateful to all my Twitter friends 🙂

    So here’s to a productive, exciting, stimulating, challenging and photographically inspiring 2011, and I hope that you have a wonderful festive break with your family! You may not have seen my Christmas card earlier so in case you missed it here’s a link:

    Merry Christmas! x

  4. Char
    Char says:

    Ditto to what the others have said. It’s been great getting to know you through your photos and blog, FB & twitter. You are a talented guy and I wish you the best of luck in the coming year. I wish I had the opportunity to storm chase as you do, so it’s nice being able to live through your photos.

  5. Jim Denham
    Jim Denham says:

    Well done Mike (love the SP by the way). You’ve served as a great inspiration to others, including me. Keep it up brother! Also, I would consider a workshop with ya, but would need some serious planning to do so. Let me know when you plan on it and we’ll see what happens. I’ve got some air miles to use! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my friend!

  6. Brian Matiash
    Brian Matiash says:

    I read this post twice today and have thoroughly enjoyed it, my man. It has been a pleasure getting to know you, ramble on about our own devices via IM and even the occasional vidchat/screen share via Skype. You have one thing that a lot of photographers lack, and that is self-confidence melded with humility. You know what you know and accept what you don’t but are thirsty to learn.

    2011 will be a great year. You’ll build on the friendships born in ’10 and thrive one the new ones destined to form in ’11. I’m looking forward to it. Have a safe and happy XMas, my friend.

  7. Mike
    Mike says:

    So many great people I know, appreciate that you guys took the time to respond to this post. My wife told me last night how amazing it was for her to read through all of these to read the stuff you guys had to say and I agree with her.

    Can’t wait to see where 2011 brings us guys! Thanks for finding me along your journey and banding together!

  8. Chris DeAngelis
    Chris DeAngelis says:

    Great post Mike! I am glad that I stumbled across your blog this year! Thanks for the tips and input and I hope that we can get to know each other better in 2011! Have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year! Keep up the fantastic work.

  9. David Latour
    David Latour says:

    Mike, I cant wait to see where 2011 leads you. You are truly a professional photographer in all aspects. Obviously you have what it takes just looking at your images, but you also are so humble about it all. I have been following you via your blog, facebook and twitter and just cannot believe how much your “other career” has evolved just in the past year. You are an inspiration to me and other photographers that have a “real job” but want to do this as well. Peace.

  10. Mark Blundell
    Mark Blundell says:

    Super post. it seems as if you’ve achieved a lot this year, good business, your book, selling prints and the portrait work. You’ve amassed a great bunch of friends and followers too.
    Keep up the good work and I am sure 2011 will be all you want it to be!

    Mark B

  11. Dave Wilson
    Dave Wilson says:

    Mike, it’s been great getting to know you (albeit electronically rather than in person over a few beers) this year. Remember to stop by Austin on your way through to Boston since we have some great storms here in the springtime that are just waiting for you to shoot them.

    Have a great 2011!


  12. Dave
    Dave says:

    Great post to round off the year and a great pic to go with it. Sounds like 2011 will be a big year for you moving forward, so I wish you the very best in achieving that. I too have been taking time away from the net to spend more time doing family things ( something I should do more of during the year!), hence me being behind on everyone’s posts.
    Cheers for a year of great posts and inspiration! 🙂

  13. House Interior Painters Austin
    House Interior Painters Austin says:

    Very good site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get feed-back from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

  14. Jarrett Casile
    Jarrett Casile says:

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  15. Amazing Alex
    Amazing Alex says:

    YAY!!!!! big fan…..i just got A mango shaped space and i could not stop reading it….. actually i haven’t started my homework yet because of that…..hehe. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write a sequel. the way you ended the book had me hanging…OFF THE EDGE OF A CLIFF!!! sooooooo yeah, please continue!

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  17. Bob Lussier
    Bob Lussier says:

    Fantastic post, Mike.

    It has been an absolute pleasure to follow your work and watch it grow on your Blog, Twitter and the other social avenue. It has also been great to get to know you as a person (to the extent that is even possible just through this “interweb” thing). Keep doing what you do! I hope you and your beautiful family have a Merry Christmas and a happy, productive and prosperous 2013!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] better photographers) I’ve come to know during 2010 on the twittersphere, Brian, Bob & Mike recently posted their own 2010 memoirs and I’ve wanted to do the same but with a slightly […]

  2. […] better photographers) I’ve come to know during 2010 on the twittersphere, Brian, Bob & Mike recently posted their own 2010 memoirs and I’ve wanted to do the same but with a slightly […]

  3. […] 10 images from the year, but then I read Brian Matiash’s 2010 retrospective. And then Mike Olbinski’s. I though, “Those BASTARDS – Setting the bar higher, yet AGAIN! I can’t cut a break, […]

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