If you have eaten at Comet Cafe or Goodkind, if you have been on the Brewer's or the Buck's website, if you have drooled over the Bona Drag Ceremonial Collection, then you have seen photographs Michael Goelzer has created. On Monday, January 12th he is going to be bringing all of his knowledge of product photography to Maker Sessions as he leads us in a discussion entitled Simple Product Photography. We met up with him to chat a little about his background and a little about photography.
Maker Market- Where did you grow up?
Michael Goelzer- Born in Seoul, Korea, was raised out in Janesville, Wisconsin. I moved to Milwaukee in 1999 and have been here ever since.
MM-What training have you had?
MG-Six years of apprenticeship working under various photographers, four years of experience doing commercial photography and two years of progress on a BFA in Photography at UW-Milwaukee.
MM-When did you first pick up a camera and what inspired you to want to be a photographer?
MG-When I was 12, my dad gave me his camera from when he was in college. It was an old black metal 35mm Ricoh. Not a “blackmetal” 35mm but black as in color. Inspiration for me at that age was basically anything that wasn’t school. I was grounded all the time so I spent a lot of time outdoors walking around my block.
MM-Are there specific photographers that have inspired you to choose this medium?
MG-Currently, my friend Darren Hauck, my professors Naomi Shersty and Hans Gindelberger. Artistically, Q. Sakamaki, Brian Schutmaat, Alex Prager, Alejandro Chaskielberg - too many to name.
MM-You shoot both commercially and creatively. Do the two intersect and how do they differ?
MG-They most definitely intersect. All of the “creative” technical stuff I try to do, I try to add a touch of it to my commercial jobs as well.
MM-Through shooting live action sports what have you learned about your craft?
MG-Overshooting is always best. In sports, it's better to have too many images than miss the one shot you needed.
MM-You have also shot for Bona Drag and Orchard Street Press. How does shooting their products and lookbook photos differ from some of your other work?
MG- My main focus in my personal work is on real life. I make a lot of portraits that emphasize struggle held in a person's face. All the commercial work differs from that. Commercial work is all about making an image that is descriptive. The emphasis is always on clarity and describing an object through a photograph. Both Bona Drag and Orchard Street Press are great brands to work with and they trust my aesthetic so I can incorporate elements of my own style into the images I make for them.
MM-What does lighting and styling do for a product and how can a photo make a positive or negative imact on a company?
MG-Lighting and styling is everything. You can look at a lot of images and the ones that describe the object is best -- those are the ones that have good lighting. Those are the ones that describe the object through an image. Styling puts it all into context.
MM-What do you think makes a proper product photo?
MG-I concentrate on composition, proper lighting and sharpness of the image.
MM-What can the makers learn from you at the upcoming Maker Session?
MG-Basics can go a long way when it comes to creating a good product photo. I plan on showing everyone a very basic and inexpensive way to light photos and then edit them to make the photos look professionally shot. These techniques will work with everything from shooting fashion on models to a simple detail shot of something made by hand.
MM-What is currently inspiring you creatively and professionally?
MG-The Internet. Always and forever.