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Mike Seehagel’s journey from mall portrait studio to celebrity photographer
On nailing the balance between nomadic travel photographer and business owner.

Mike Seehagel is a commercial photographer and director based out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

With a background in advertising and motion design, Mike has transitioned his focus to photography and has since been hired as the lead on many large-scale productions for brands like The Lincoln Motor Company, American Express, and Mercedes-Benz. He lives and works from his home studio on the west coast of Canada and travels extensively for projects around the world.

Featured by Forbes Magazine as a photographer to watch, Mike is also co-founder and operator of Great North Collective, a Canadian photography community promoting artists while inspiring them to travel as part of the trade.

What camera did you shoot on?

This particular project, the Travel Alberta “Ready” campaign was all shot on a Canon 5DMKIV, although I have been a long time user of Canon gear, starting back with the original 5D and 7D. My current set up is a 5D MKIV, with a handful of L-series lenses. (24/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/1.2, 16-35/4, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8)

MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class

What inspired this particular project?

Earlier last year, I was selected as the lead photographer for the complete rebrand of Travel Alberta, a Canadian organization with a high reputation in tourism marketing. Working with TA directly for years prior, this project was commissioned by their creative agency Critical Mass, to shoot all of the main campaign images for the new look and rebrand. The production spanned nearly eight months, and it was put on us to accurately portray the beauty and experience within the province’s varied landscapes – all while staying true to the creative direction provided by the agency. Having grown up in Alberta, this project was a lot of fun for me, and it was a huge honour to be a part of.

Are you purely a photographer or do you have other creative pursuits?

I’ve always been interested in photography, ever since I was young. I even used to work some embarrassing jobs in mall portrait studios, as well as the “school picture day” photographer. From there I worked as a designer and animator for almost 8 years before transitioning back full time into photography, and still enjoy the odd animation project when I have the time. The years I spent in various design studios helped influence my vision as a photographer and also as a business owner, while giving me a set of skills that helped the transition to where I am today.

Why did you choose photography over other creative mediums?

Photography is sort of an anomaly to me. I like to experience different places, people, and overall environments constantly. Over the years I have found myself in a ton of interesting situations I feel like I normally would have never been allowed into. The camera acts as a type of gateway into these worlds, which is completely unique to any other career I can think of, and that is one of my favourite things about it.

MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class

How does your gear help you be a better photographer?

There is a very common answer that gets thrown around every time this question is asked, which is “it’s not the gear, it’s the photographer.” While I do agree with that, I also think there is something to be said about the gear itself. You should never rely on a piece of equipment to validate you or instantly make you a better artist, however, professional gear does help you realize your vision in a way or with a quality that otherwise might not be possible. With how much camera technology has changed in even the last 6 years is pretty incredible, and is allowing more artists to take a higher cinematic approach to their work – and I think that’s great.

If you could shoot any subject who would it be and why?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to photograph Matthew McConaughey for a campaign that is set to launch early next year. While I’m not able to speak much more to that, it did sort of open my eyes and change my perspective on the world of celebrity photography which is something I would like to explore more. Otherwise, I don’t think I have a specific person that comes to mind. Rather, I would like to possess and hone the skill to approach any person comfortably and create a portrait that speaks truly to them. As a photographer, that is more important to me than having a specific face to attach to my portfolio.

Travel Alberta, Winter, MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class

If you could go anywhere to shoot where would it be and why?

Throughout my life, something has consistently intrigued me about the Nordic countries. I like and seem to connect with the Northern parts of anywhere really – how the harsher elements and conditions tend to shape the landscape and attitude of a culture has a definite pull on me. My wife and I spent a big chunk of last year living in Iceland and I believe that experience pushed me creatively and personally in the sense of gaining a unique appreciation for working for something. There is this internal feeling of earned satisfaction and reservation that goes along with creating images where you were there was some suffering, and feeling ‘beat up’ by the environment a bit in the process.

As part of our Sponsored Stories series The Creator Class has partnered with Canon Canada  to join our creators in exploring and enabling their creative endeavours.

To get involved and have a chance to be featured, email your pitches to submit@thecreatorclass.com

For more of Mike’s work:

@mikeseehagel
mikeseehagel.com

MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
Travel Alberta, Winter, MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
Travel Alberta, Winter, MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
Travel Alberta, Winter, MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
Travel Alberta, Winter, MikeSeehagel photography 2017, canon, canon canada, travel alberta, the creator class
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Mike Seehagel
Photographer