Micky is a Cape Town, South Africa based documentary, travel and outdoor adventure photographer.
His work has been featured by Red Bull and Outside Magazine. He is the winner of the 2016 Red Bull Illume photo contest in the Wings category and he is currently working with free solo climber Matt Bush.
Q&A With Micky Wiswedel – Outdoor Adventure Photographer
- What is your specialty? What do you love to photograph?
I love photographing people in awesome locations outdoors, interacting with the world in ways that hopefully inspire people to explore. This is probably my specialty but I consider myself a pretty adaptable photographer and shoot a broad range of subjects. Being adaptable as a professional allows you to come up with solutions to many different situations which is really helpful when working with varying client needs.
- How long has it been since you first started taking photography seriously – what has that progression been like?
I got my first camera about 12 years ago. I had been rock climbing for a few years and wanted to capture some of the adventures me and my friends were having. After a while I started submitting images to a few climbing and outdoor magazines and the response was very positive. From there slowly I took on more work and projects and initially through iStock started shooting stock imagery. In 2013 I quit iStock and joined up with Stocksy, an exciting and creative collective of stock photographers. Joining Stocksy has had a huge impact on my career. The passive income helps even out the usual highs and lows of freelance income, and being in a community of motivated and talented photographers is a huge inspiration.
- Are there any particular images you’ve captured that stand out as being especially meaningful or satisfying for you?
Recently one of my images won first prize in the once every 3 years Red Bull Illume competition in their Wings category. I was flown to Chicago for the ceremony where I got to meet some of my peers as well as some of the best outdoor photographers in the world who had always been inspirations for me. It was huge validation of my work which is something I think every creative person appreciates.
Lately I have been working with a free solo climber Matt Bush. Yes free solo means no ropes and no safety. He is an incredible athlete who is pushing some very scary boundaries. We have managed to produce some really terrifying images one of which was selected as one of the best outdoor adventure photographs of the year for Outside Magazine.
My current favorite is this image, i’m hoping it with do well in the next Red Bull Illume.
- What challenges do you face capturing the shots you want to capture?
Well that depends on the photograph. With my rock climbing images one of the unique challenges is getting into a position for a good photograph. When you’re working on the side of a cliff you cant simply walk to a new spot for a better angle. Getting an angle on a climb can sometimes take hours of rigging, and sometimes after all that work you might find the angle is not what you were hoping for. Its a lot of physical and technical work sometimes just for one image if you are lucky.
- What motivates you to put in the effort to overcome those challenges?
At the end of the day if I take an image that I think is awesome, that people I show are excited about, then its worth it. With some of my climbing images people tell me it makes them feel queezy or dizzy, that’s when I know the photograph is doing what I hoped for, it gives them that real sense of vertigo.
- What gear do you use? Why?
I have recently moved over to a Sony system. I won the Sony A7RII in the Red Bull Illume competition and immediately feel in love with the camera. The camera is smaller and lighter than my old Canon system yet it is seriously packed with features and has an incredible sensor. I’m also now huge fan of shooting mirrorless, it really is a fun way to shoot without always having to check the back of your camera after a shot.
- Is there a market for your work? How do you make money?
I make a rather good passive income through my stock photography which covers most of my monthly expenses. Then I have some regular clients such as a global bank and a few NGO’s. Every year there are a some additional one off clients which are a nice bonus.
- How do you promote yourself and your work?
To be honest this is something I’m not very good at. I’ve been telling myself to get my website up and running for a few years now. I post quite regularly to social media but most of my work is through word of mouth.
- What are your goals for your photography career in the next year, 5 years, long term?
Luckily I have pretty much achieved my biggest goal in photography which is to have a career where I can make enough money to be comfortable while doing what I love. I don’t have any specific long term plans but as most professional photographers I’d like to improve my work continuously and keep working with fun, creative and challenging clients.
- Do you have any tips or advice for photographers who love your work and would like to photograph something similar?
Do what excites you. Don’t shoot photographs because you think this is what makes money or this is what people will like. If you shoot for these reasons you’ll lose your motivation and your creativity will suffer. Just focus on what you love and what inspires you. Don’t give up through the rough patches, that’s probably when you are learning the most.
Find Out More
To find out more about Micky and to see more of his work, you can view his stock photography portfolio here: Stocksy.com/MickyWiswedel
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