Mike Mezeul II
Q: What made you want to become a photographer?
A: It was actually a combination of getting an unexpected birthday gift (a Nikon N70 film camera) and having a passion for severe weather. I originally had no interest what-so-ever in photography, but when I was gifted a camera, I decided to use it to capture images of the sky that I was obsessed with. That was back in the days of film, so it took quite a while to learn. I didn’t have a car, and I would mow lawns to get money for developing the film I shot.
I had a little yellow notebook that I carried with me and took notes on about what my settings were and the lighting conditions. Once I got the film back, I compared the frames to my notes and learned that way. Once I started having confidence in what I was doing with the camera, I wanted to learn and shoot everything I could. 20 years later now, I’m stuck with a job that unfortunately leads me to some of the most unique and beautiful places in the world, meeting awesome people, and teaching students how to be creative...darn.
Q: How and why are you using Lume Cubes in your work?
A: I utilize Lume Cubes in two main ways for my work, the first being by remotely triggering the individual cubes within or around a subject for my night work, and the second being by utilizing two cubes on my drone to create a night image with unique lighting. I choose to use Lume Cubes because of the ease-of-use, the ability to modify the light in so many ways, that they are waterproof, and so easy to travel with. The list can go on-and-on, to be honest.
Q: You mention that your mother is your biggest inspiration (which we adore) is there anyone in the photography industry that you follow closely?
A: First, she’s the strongest woman I know, so no one will top that lol. But in the industry, I really admire the work of Paul Zizka. Everything he touches turns to gold, haha. I also really enjoy Michael Shainblum’s work as well as Andrew Studer. They have a way of creating images that are just so beautiful in every way.
Q: If you weren’t a photographer? What would you be instead?
A: Haha, so funny story. I was always obsessed with orca whales as a kid, lol. I would literally watch Free Willy on a daily basis and save my allowance to donate to the Save An Orca Foundation. To this day, I am still obsessed with whales and love photographing them. Soooo, with that said, I think being a marine biologist would be amazing.
Q: If you could only shoot with ONE lens-type for the rest of your life, which would it be? Fisheye, wide-angle, prime, zoom, macro, or a telephoto lens?
A: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite kid, but I think I would definitely go with my Nikon 14-24mm 2.8. That lens is king and being a sky photographer, the focal length plays a huge role in my ability to create images.
Q: What is your go-to camera?
A: No other than my Nikon D850. It’s a beast.
Q: Any advice for new photographers?
A: I guess if I could give a few pieces of advice it would first be to use other photographer's images as inspiration, not a duplication. Take parts of what you see from other photographer's work, and blend it into your own work. You can hop on social media right now and see so many images that look identical from popular locations or subjects. Try to be that person that throws a curveball and changes things up. Also, don’t take no for an answer if you’re trying to make photography a career. I won’t lie, it is incredibly tough to survive in this industry, but it is possible if you work your ass off. Can I say ass? Either way, hard work can pay off. If I listened to everyone that told me I would fail, or I couldn’t do it, I’d most likely be behind a desk somewhere doing something I absolutely hate.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
A: Definitely to shoot spaghetti out of my fingertips. Or….more realistically, to be able to fly. I mean how cool would that be to be hanging with a bunch of other photographers in foggy weather and be like, “Yeah well this has been fun guys, I’m going to go see what it looks like above the fog, peace!”
Q: What is your preferred editing software?
A: I do about 70% of my work in Lightroom and then dust off the remaining edits in Photoshop.
Q: What is the best part of your day?
A: Any part of the day that is on the mountains or in Tornado Alley.
Q: Coffee or tea?
A: For the love of all that is holy, coffee.
Q: What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken and why?
A: That’s a good question, I have time for one more. If I had to pick one, it’d probably be the image I took on the Kilauea Volcano of the lava, Milky Way, iridium flare, moon, Mars and Venus...all in one shot. It involved so much work to just get to the lava, and then luck with the conditions. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime image and hangs in my living room.
Q: Where is the next place that you want to shoot with Lume Cubes at and how would you use the Cubes?
A: I’m headed to Guatemala in March and looking forward to using the drone with the Lume Cubes on an active volcano, we will see!
Q: Describe your photography style in 5 words.
A: Extreme, exploration, storytelling, inspiring, educational (that was hard)
Q: If you could go on an adventure-photography trip anywhere in the world with one other person… where would you go and who would you take (you don’t need to know the person… celebrities are fair game)?
A: Greenland is so high on my list, it’s going to happen. Now, whether or not I can bring David Attenborough with me to narrate the way, that’s up in the air.
Q: Looking back on learning how to photograph, would you recommend teaching yourself or go and learn from a professional?
A: Both. You need to learn from your own mistakes and practice almost daily, but learning from a professional in say a workshop style class can be so extremely beneficial. Workshops didn’t exist when I was learning, so being able to teach them now, I see what a huge benefit they could have been.