Mike Van Tassell’s incredible portfolio speaks for itself, just scroll down to see it! But if you’re interested in learning how he collaborates with designers to create publication-worthy photos with their own unique style you’ll want to check out his interview below. Today he shares his industry experience as well as where his interest in interior photography began.
You’ve shared that photography was your hobby long before it became your career. How did the shift from hobby to career take place?
While working as an Art Director at a large home automation technology company, part of my role was to photograph our products for case studies. These products were typically installed in high-end homes outfitted with state of the art home automation. The company also had programs specifically for the interior design community.
This was my introduction to the world of interiors photography. I began studying the medium of interior design and architectural photography to improve my craft. After some time I realized that this was my calling. I decided to leave my career as an Art Director and follow my true passion for architectural and interiors photography.
What advice would you give someone who is breaking into interior photography today?
A few things that helped me when I first started was being very active in the interior design community. This can be joining local chapters of designer associations, visiting interior design show homes, finding ways to be involved in events, trade shows, etc.
You use your role as a photographer to help your clients to establish a “style” to support their brand. How do you hone in on this unique facet with each one of the designers your work with?
To me “style” means a having a cohesive and unique look across all your project photography. To be a bit more specific each photo from a project should have similar lighting, color temperature, mood and feel. The level of styling should be consistent across all project photos. It’s important my clients and I both share the same artistic vision and point of view regarding interior design photography. Photographing my clients’ work in this way is how we establish a style.
Tell us a bit about the collaborative process that occurs before you even begin shooting.
The first thing in my opinion is to determine the purpose and goal of the photoshoot. We need to determine if the shoot is a portfolio only photoshoot, or is it a press photoshoot. We may alter the way we approach the photo shoot if being shot for publication.
Before the shoot, we typically discuss if we need a stylist or florist. We also discuss if there are any unique design details in the space or design elements we want to highlight. We may discuss some creative ways to photograph some of the rooms. Through this collaborative process I can achieve the desired look my clients desire.
Do you have a playlist or podcast that fuels your editing sessions?
Yes, of course. I am a big music collector. Anything from Thom Yorke, Bjork, to Cafe Del Mar and even some good techno! My favorite podcasts for inspiration include Chase Jarvis, and Ted talks.
What passions do you pursue when you’re not behind the lens?
My wife and I really enjoy interior decorating & home remodeling. I grew up building custom homes for the family business and I still really enjoy the craft. I have a small woodworking shop in the garage where I make custom cabinetry, and furniture for our home, and also for friends and family. I am also outside cycling multiple times per week!
What aspect of being a photographer do you most love? And what’s one facet of your profession that you could do without?
I love the feeling when I receive feedback from a client that they were “blown away” with the photos from the project we shot. Seeing the words “Wow” or “Unbelievable” makes me know that I will always continue in this genre of photography.
I really enjoy the challenge of coming up with creative ways to photograph interior design. I love meeting new people and working with other creatives.
One thing I can do without is the need to be weather dependent.
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