Mike Moore: Surf Shoot

Mike Moore: Surf Shoot

Mike Moore is a Project 52 alumni, and has been building his business in Encinitas, CA for a few years. His specializes in food and lifestyle, especially beach lifestyle.

This is a personal project Mike shot at a surf event in Encinitas, CA.

1.) Tell us a little about yourself, and where you are located

I was born Michael Robert Moore in room 555 on 5-5-1963 at 5:47 am in East Los Angeles CA. Lots of fives including syllables in my name and city. I now live in the friendly and eclectic beach town of Encinitas CA, approximately 30 minutes from Downtown San Diego, CA.

While I have always had a desire to make photos, I decided to take my education to the next level by enrolling in the New York Institute of Photography in 2009, and start my venture as a professional photographer soon after that. Then in 2012, I found CreativeLIVE and have been studying light, composition and everything photography since. While I am very fortunate (blessed) to do what I love as a profession, I am equally as fortunate (blessed) to be able to homeschool our 8 year old daughter. My business has allowed me to be a hands-on parent providing care for our daughter since she was 12 weeks old.

Also in 2012 I was introduced to photographer and instructor Don Giannatti. Later that year I found out about his group called Project 52 and joined. Under his guidance and the inspiration I received from many of the other impressive photographers, my skills and way of thinking about photography changed and really drove how I was going to make photographs going forward.

2.) What inspires you most about your location?

Encinitas is an incredible place to live and photograph. Encinitas has a wonderful history that can be found in some of the beautiful original buildings that include La Paloma Theater constructed in 1927 on the historic 101 highway, to the Olivenhain Town Meeting Hall established in 1894. Encinitas is also home to the Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens that sits on a beautiful property with koi ponds, water features, plants, trees, flowers and an awesome bluff side view of the pacific ocean overlooking Swami’s surf spot to the south. These sites, along with the community of people that live in my city inspire me to capture the diversity and beauty that I am surrounded by.

3.) How often do you do personal projects?

In the past I’ve only done a couple of personal projects per year, now I have plans to do many more. Encinitas is growing and I want to make images of what it looks like now before any more changes happen and  we lose our historic funky vibe. I have a project plan to walk the streets of Encinitas and photograph downtown along the coast highway. I also have other personal projects based on simple shapes or interesting shaped vegetables.  

4.) How long did you work on this project?

The Surf Shoot project is something that is near and dear to me. Our local community has been organizing a surf contest for the past 30 years in a row, but the history goes beyond that beginning around 1967. The current organizers said this would be the last contest under their direction, and so I knew this was going to be a special shoot. I wanted these images to be timeless and wanted a vintage feel. I chose to shoot in black and white with a hint of tone in the shadows. I began the shoot at 7am with the first heats and ended at 12:30 after the finals. Final editing and posts took a couple more days.

5.) What kind of work do you usually do?

Family portraits have been the majority of my work. I run a boutique business where I offer a very personalized service. I meet with clients and give a consultation on location, attire, products and services offered. Once the portrait session has been conducted and edits have been made I offer an in-home presentation slide show and accept orders. Once orders are placed and delivered, I personally bring the products to my clients and will assist in design placement and hang wall art. In addition to family portraits, I also provide product photography and love working in my studio on these projects. My goal is to work full time in the commercial end of the business.

6.) Who has inspired you photographically?

I am inspired by many photographers. Locally, Donald Miralle, he shoots from extreme angles and he reminds me to shoot lower or higher for a different look.  Peter Lindbergh has also inspired me to have lots of fun and movement in my portraits.

7.) What would be your dream gig?

Every photo session that I get to create memories is my dream gig. I enjoy my client’s satisfaction when they see their images. Being compensated to do something you love is an awesome feeling.

8.) What is your most memorable shoot and why?

I had the opportunity to make portraits of a high school friend for an hour who was recovering from cancer. I called the session A Conversation With Tony… I contacted him because I knew he was battling cancer due to facebook posts and yet I hadn’t seen him in over 30 years. We had an hour to talk and I asked him about memories from high school, his kids, what he’s learned in life, and if he was scared. It was my most emotional shoot and one I cherish. He passed away a few months later and his family now has those portraits to remember him by.

9.) Do you have a singular approach to lighting, or do you use multiple techniques?

I love window light. I love using off-camera flash too. So I don’t have a singular approach. I use the type of light I have or need when I make portraits.

10.) Favorite band or musician?

Led Zeppelin (no explanation needed).

Website: www.encinitasfamilyphotos.com (consumer) www.mmoorephotos.com (commercial)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikeMoorePhotography

Instagram: www.instagram.com/eroommike

Email: info@mmoorephotos.com

The Games We Play; Find the Shot Before Moving On

The Games We Play; Find the Shot Before Moving On

One of the things I like to do is to play visual games. I have several to share with you, but this one is one that anyone can do. Anywhere, any time.

First; I believe that if we are to call ourselves photographers, we must photograph. Make pictures. Make images. SHOOT. I have written about this belief before; here, here, and here. If you are new here, you may find those entries interesting.

This game forces vision, and it makes it very imperative for you to find an image no matter where you are. It doesn’t have to be a world-class image, it has to be a good image. Your image.

(Note: I got the idea from this game from a story that Jay Maisel tells about shooting an image in a place where his assistant insisted there was nothing to shoot. The challenge was for Jay to shoot an image while the assistant ran inside and dropped off some film at the lab. Duration: one minute. The resulting image ended up being one of Maisel’s signature image. Image: New York skyline reflected in a parking meter.)

GAME ONE: “Moving On”


The Origins of Halloween, 2016

The Origins of Halloween, 2016


A Project 52 Assignment

Just before Halloween (October 31, 2016) the assignment for the Project 52 students was to shoot to layout for this fictitious piece.

The magazine layout is a two page (spread, or “double truck”) and calls for the photographer to be very cognizant about what is on the right side of the image. The right side of the image will have copy set there, and it is important to keep that copy readable. The text is set as reversed (light text on a dark background) and was not to be changed.

This is a deceptively difficult assignment. Making sure the image captivates, fitting it into a layout, helping direct the viewer to the text are all decisions made BEFORE taking the shot. Planning the image is as important as executing the image.

This kind of exercise helps the photographer understand the image making process – whether for practical, commercial applications or simply to make a photograph that is deliberate.

There were many amazing shots. These are my favorite ‘scary thirteen’.

(Cover shot by Anne Stephenson.
Careful blending of a ghostly figure with a shot of an old, abandoned cemetery brings a cinematic feel to the image. Anne also used a color grade technique to look more like moonlight.)

Photographer Dirk Brand used a model with the “day of the dead” makeup to give us a start. A single light source still keeps the tonality of the dark scarf, and the high contrast of the white-face makeup.

Photographer Duck Unitas chose a macabre still life with rich color and the look of candlelight. The old books give an air of mystery, while the lighting keeps us guessing as to its origins.

Photographer Frank Grygier brings his image as a still life of old toys. Well lit, well composed and definitely a bit whimsical, the image leads us to the text perfectly.

Photographer Joe Tharp brings a macabre makeup on a model to invoke the mystery and frightening aspects of Halloween. A single light keeps it simple, and letting the shadow side transition into the dark makes it more mysterious.

Photographer Melissa Wax transports us to a mythical land where druid like dancers seem to be calling forth a spirit. She had wonderful models to shoot on this very cold morning. The backlit fog and flare add to the mysterious mood, and the direction of the dancers lead our eyes to the text.

Photographer Michael Klinepier took a subtle examination of the simple terrors of a nightmare. From makeup to wardrobe, to an eery handful of fire, the image makes us look, and also drives us to the copy by careful placement of the flame.

Photographer Nadine Eversley used light and Photoshop to create this interesting, graphically strong image. An iconic carved pumpkin, and beautiful leading lines take us right to the copy.

Photographer Richard Neuboeck used dramatic light, an iconic carved pumpkin and strong, leading lines for this mysterious image. Photoshop was used to carefully assemble the pieces, and the result is a striking, graphic photograph.

Photographer Neville Palmer presents a workbench from hell. From a potted head to a skull, to a mass of dead leaves, the still life is creepy and made it even more by the excellent use of lighting throughout the image. Note how well the copy reads over the background even though it may seem too busy at first glance.

Photographer Gloria McDonald gives us a ghostly image wrapped in gauze. The location is all the more eery. This is a composite shot, but works very well to bring an otherworldly mood to the image.

Photographer Iryna Ishcenko takes a still life approach with rare glass pumpkin ornaments. While not a traditional approach to ‘scary’ Halloween, it is a wonderful editorial approach to the product, or collectibles. This is the fun of photography – bringing in different approaches for our clients.

Photographer Rick Savage takes a ‘day of the dead’ view, and offers us up a model who seems to be dripping out of the next dimension. Clever use of a mottled, shiny background and one light make the shot work well.



For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

Attention to the Details

Attention to the Details

Paying attention to the tiniest of details is one of the jobs of a commercial photographer. And rarely do details matter more than when shooting chocolate. Chocolate dust, scratches, fingerprints, and the chalky white of damaged edges can draw the eye to the problems for a variety of reasons.

A light colored artifact on a dark field will always draw the eye, And we pick up small imperfections without even really noticing them.

One of my project 52 students turned in this chocolate shot for a recent assignment. Rick Savage did a pretty good job executing a very good concept, but the details of the chocolate were left to ‘a natural state’. And a natural state is not what we want to see when we are advertising expensive candy.

The shot on the left is Rick’s first version, and on the right his repaired version. Yes, Photoshop is an important tool because even if you shoot it the best way you can in camera, tiny details may need to be repaired in post.

What Is A “Photographer” Anyway?


Photograph of me making a photograph on my iPhone in Rocky Mountain National Park by Grey Gibbs

Recently, my friend and fellow artist Jerry OConnor and I took a drive/ride to Superior, AZ to do a little video of me blabbing about being a “photographer”. I wanted to use it for some promos I was planning.

An interesting thing happened when I introduced myself on camera as a “photographer”… I felt a little strange about the designation. Don’t get me wrong, I AM INDEED a photographer. I live it breathe it sleep it. Being a photographer is one of the things that define so much of what I do.

I have been a photographer for over 45 years.

I knew what it meant back then. It meant that I captured images using tools, light, chemistry, production equipment, and a huge amount of education – learning. It meant I had followed a process, one clearly defined, clearly measured, clearly quantified.

Knowing how to expose different films, using different formats, and then to take all of that time-consuming effort into a chemical lab and begin to manage the development of the film knowing that any small deviation or mistake could ruin an entire day/week of irreplaceable images. It was not for the feint of heart.

It was a lot of work, and it paid off in something tangible. I could hold that print and see the fruit of my labors. It meant something to me. It proved my ability, validated my work, and said something to the world.

The images that were created told a sort of narrative. I took them by finding meaning in the visual in front of me. I saw metaphor and music, poetry and story. Each image crafted ‘by hand’ to make something special, or at least special to me.


July Portrait Challenge Entries

The 8 Week Portrait Classes had a July challenge of a “summer portrait”. Winner was decided by photographer Nick Giron, a very good portraitist himself.

Here are the entries: