From an early age, Mike Szpot showed a creative side, shooting skateboarding videos with his friends. From that moment on, the passion that ensued has dominated his life. It created a whole new perspective that has opened doors of opportunity that he never had imagined before.
Before photography, I used to make skateboard videos with my friends and share them on Instagram and Youtube. One day, while browsing Instagram, I came across a photographer who was killing it in Milwaukee. I was instantly motivated to take my camera and start exploring my surroundings. I recently upgraded from a Canon 6D to a Sony A7Rii. I absolutely love it. Switching camera companies made everything seem new again to me. It was fun to relearn and adapt to new settings; the Sony is really powerful. Of course different equipment changes the way you shoot, but overall it always comes down to the photographer’s vision and the way they see things.
I experiment with a bit of everything, from cityscape to portraiture. No matter what I’m shooting, I would consider my style to be urban or moody. I tend to be drawn to the grittier side of things. I have been shooting for three years now.
One time, I went into the city alone while it was snowing. I was just going to shoot around by myself. I was on the train riding around the loop in circles, just shooting out of the windows. No kidding, one by one, four or five of my friends unexpectedly entered the SAME train car as me. What are the chances? It was so funny. After we got off the train, we kept running into more and more people. None of us had communicated prior to meeting. Within a couple hours, our group had grown to around 15 people or more. It was just amazing that I could go into the city alone, and end up hanging with so many talented people, even while it was snowing. Everyone is so dedicated here. I love the community that resides here. I’ve met a lot of great people and consider many of them my close friends.
I have a handful of friends and photographers who constantly keep me motivated and inspired. Other sources of inspiration include films, travel, literature, and anyone relentlessly chasing their dreams. A “perfect” photography assignment would be to provide someone with aerial and/or travel photographs of cities around the world with a great team of people.
Now I only use Adobe Lightroom to edit. When I first started editing, I did everything from scratch (no filters). Eventually, I fell in love with the film look, so I started using the VSCO packs for Lightroom. Since then, I’ve kind of created my own custom presets that originally stemmed from a VSCO preset, but now look nothing like any of them. I sort of slap one of my own presets on as a base-coat, and then tweak it as needed. I’m pretty fast at editing and can crank out a lot in one sitting. The atmosphere that I edit in is important to me. I love to listen to good music, zone out, and just make art.
I would love to say I had a past with photography before social media, but I didn’t. Instagram is what opened my eyes to this passion and I am forever grateful for how it has changed my life.
My life pretty much revolved around skateboarding up until my college years. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for business administration, majoring in Information Technology…then I became an artist.