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Meet Silverlake Photographer: Michael Wessel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Wessel.

Michael, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I got my start about 5 years ago at a nightlife magazine in Milwaukee doing all sorts of photography. I had just returned from living in Japan for 6 years and came back in late 2010 to a crappy job market. But, I had a camera with years of experience doing photography as a hobby, and most importantly a friend who owned/ran the magazine that I ended up doing a lot of work with. I was actually focused on food photography for a couple years before I started getting into fashion and beauty. There was something about the portraits I had to do for articles that really got me going, so I decided to follow that feeling. From there I realized that Milwaukee was not the place to be to get good models, and in NY or LA there was way too much competition to get my start in. So I moved to Minneapolis, where there was a strong commercial market and several decent sized modeling and a bunch of ad agencies. I had a couple lucky breaks and within 6 months of moving I was already working with the main agencies in the city. I took a couple years to build my portfolio, client list, and skills, then using the connections I had made in Minneapolis I hopped out here to LA. In the year that I’ve been here, the pace has been crazy. From getting close with a bunch of the major agencies here to getting the opportunity to shoot while abroad with some amazing agencies. Right now I’m kind of sitting on the cusp of something big and cool, so, looking forward to seeing where things take me next.

Has it been a smooth road?
Has it been a smooth road? No, not at all. There have been many struggles along the way. From finding a solid team of people to work with on a regular basis to having to re-educate many people on the value and cost of solid work. I’ve had my ups with getting published, my downs with more rejection than most people can imagine, to the solid center that I am beginning to find. On the creative end, trying to figure out exactly what I’m trying to do with my work, finding voice, and not falling into the slumps that I see a lot of other people falling into. Anyone can take a picture, but fighting to create solid imagery, both still and moving, is insanely hard.

What is the most difficult part of what you do?
Honestly, the hardest part of my job is educating my prospective client. With the technology that’s so readily available, everyone feels that they are a photographer, a creative, a professional. This has lowered the standards as well as what people feel they should pay for it because of its ready availability. Working with a real professional who knows how to bring a client’s vision into reality is not cheap, but it’s worth it. The good part is that it’s forced me to challenge some of my preconceptions of business when it comes to creative content in the new world. Technology will always be changing and we as creative professionals need to keep up with it, and demonstrating value for clients will always be a battle no matter the era.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
That is an excellent question. Success for me is a mix of many different things. The biggest being respect by peers am I able to do what I want when I want to (travel, luxury purchases, etc), and interestingly enough, whether I like my own work. The last one is the hardest to achieve as a professional creative I’m always trying to do better so my last work is never my best, it’s always what’s coming up next.

What are your plans for the future?
I have no defined plans for the future, other than trying to make a living doing what I love to do, which is create. Whether that’s behind the camera shooting or in the big chair doing creative direction. My last big change, which was moving to LA, is something that will take a while to top… maybe.


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  • Portfolio shoots available from $500
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Contact Info:

0-Michael_10_LARGE 1-Clare_H_13B_LARGE 2-Taiana_5 3-Kendal_17_LARGE 4-Isabella_1_LARGE 5-Claire_13_FB 6-Mathilda_18_large 7-Haley_19Image Credit:
Pictured: Taiana of Photogenics LA, Kendall of LA Models, Isabella of LA Models, Claire of Photogenics LA, Mathilda of Clique Model Management Prague, Haley of Factor Chosen LA, Claire of LA Models, Michael of MSA LA

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