CD: Michael, thank you sir for agreeing to be a part of the FuseVisual Project. We’ve known each other for a while and I’ve long admired your portraits and personal photography. Tell me a bit about your history and how you got started.
Michael Prince: I grew up in Miami, during the cocaine cowboy days, which was a pretty crazy time.
I pretty much lucked into my career. After college I had no idea what to do with my life, and spent a while traveling in Europe. When I got back, I didn’t want to live in Miami anymore, so a friend suggested Boston. I had no better ideas, so off I went. After a few months, I met my future wife, Kristin. She was still in college, and had a final semester abroad, in Florence, Italy. That was pretty much our honeymoon, and where I started taking photography seriously. I wasn’t a student, but cleaned and painted the studio, so the professor let me audit the class. When we got back to the States, I worked at a small newspaper as a PJ, which was good training. Kristin got a job at MOMA, so we moved to NY. I started assisting, shooting Fine-Art, and then slowly transitioned into commercial work.
CD: You maintain several wonderful Tumblr blogs which I love to visit. Where did the ideas come from and what has the response from clients been to the “Stuff I found on the Beach” and Jump?
Michael Prince: They are just pictures I love to take!
I live about 3 blocks from Magnolia Beach, which is about 45 minutes North of Boston. Unless it is pouring down rain, or below 20 degrees, I usually take a walk along it every day. Sometimes I find something interesting, (well interesting to me, anyway.) It could be a piece of driftwood, or a toy, or a fisherman’s glove. If I think it has potential, I bring it home and photograph it. Since I am primarily a people/lifestyle/portrait photographer, it is fun to push myself a bit and try to do a still-life. Basically, StuffIFoundOnTheBeach is a collection of my favorite bits of trash.
Jump! is what I try to do every day in the Summer, it is awesome. I have been doing it for years, and all the kids know me, and want me to photograph them. Last Summer I started to play around with an underwater camera, and that adds a whole different perspective which has been great. I have done shots, where I actually jump with a kid, and I an get some really cool angles that way… People are always telling me that they follow it, which is nice.
CD: In the last couple of years, you’ve started shooting more editorial in addition to video. How difficult was it to learn to shoot video with the Nikons and what sort of time frame did you give yourself to become adept at shooting and editing?
Michael Prince: Video definitely didn’t come naturally to me, I had to really work at it. After years of capturing action with a static camera, I had to learn that at least for some shots, the camera has to move! So we are talking about, steadicams, sliders, cranes, etc…A whole different language. Editing is an enormous time suck, at least for me. Because I am just OK at it, it can take me many hours to get exactly what I want for 30 seconds or so.. I still go back and forth, sometimes I hate video, because it is such a pain in the ass; but sometimes I love it because of how easy it is to tell a little story with it.
CD: What are your thoughts on shooting personal projects and how your clients perceive them?
Michael Prince: My clients have told me many times that they love seeing personal work. I think it is an important way of showing how you think, visually. If you don’t take personal pictures, then you probably shouldn’t be a photographer.
CD: What advice would you give to a young professional about to embark into this career?
Michael Prince: That is a tough one. I honestly think it is very tough field to break into, and getting even tougher. Let me put it this way, I am really glad my son is a science major! But. If you have a really strong personal vision, absolutely love taking pictures EVERY DAY, have a little luck you just might make it. Also, you should probably move to New York City.