Mike Guilbault – 2016 Winner for Nature Photographer of the Year Award in the MPI 2016 IIC.
Barrie Ontario photographer Mike Guilbault – Winner of The Nature Photographer of the Year Award with the Master Photographers International (MPI) Organization, has been capturing images since 1988. During the past 3 decades, his photography career has grown to include Portraits, Commercial, Fine Art and Nature photography.
Mike joined the MPI Organization in 2014 and earned his Master Photographer in Fine Art – MPF Designation and is working towards earning more Master Designations in Nature and Commercial and Portrait, eventually earning his Grandmaster Designation.
We asked Mike a few questions regarding his 30-year career path and how he feels in being named the Winner of the Nature Photographer of the Year with the MPI International Image Challenge.
Q1 Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in your photography career.
A1 My father was in the armed forces, but photography was a big part of his leisure time and he actually ran a small studio in downtown Kingston, Ontario on weekends. We (mostly he) developed and printed the B&W prints in the evening during the week to deliver the following Saturday.
I have a retail background which started while attending college for Business Administration. I worked in retail management for 10 years before turning to photography full time.
Photography has always been an obsession, working mostly at landscapes and nature. While working at the Radio Shack Head Office in Barrie, Ontario, I was approached to photograph a wedding. I said no. She was persistent though and I finally gave in. I photographed the wedding and loved it. I booked three more almost immediately and the following year I left Radio Shack and was hired on by a portrait studio.
Q2 How long has your photographer career spanned for?
A2 I started my career part time in 1988 and was hired on at a portrait studio in 1990. I left there in 1996 to pursue my own path. I worked from home for a few years before opening my first dedicated studio. Since then I’ve moved 4 times, each time to a larger studio to where I am now with 1400 sq. ft. So next year I’ll be celebrating 30 years of professional photography.
Q3 What do you enjoy the most of being a professional photographer?
A3 I enjoy the fact that I can earn a living doing what I love. It’s not easy. Long hours, disappointment, and constant learning are the norm, but I can’t see myself ever doing anything else. It brings a lot of satisfaction.
Q4 Do you have a memorable or favorite assignment or capture that was inspirational for you?
A4 I love a challenge. So, photographing the Tandy Leather Catalogue, thousands of items ranging from beads and 1” needles to 15’ cowhides were definitely one of them. It was early in my career and I learned a lot about lighting, perspective and working efficiently. I feel like I can handle just about any assignment now. I’ve shot school portraits, sports, architecture, boudoir and nudes, families, couples, weddings, pets, groups as large as 300 people or more, corporate functions, company presidents, industrial, editorial and product.
There are simply too many images that have affected me to pick out a favorite. From heart-wrenching clients with illnesses to visiting beautiful landscapes, my work is quite varied and each one affects you different ways.
Q5 If there was one thing you could change about your career and how you got to be such a successful photographer, what would it be?
A5 I wish I would have followed my own path sooner. Rather than trying to keep up with the pack, jump ahead and taken more risk. I am confident in my abilities and realizing that sooner would have helped tremendously.
Q6 When entering the Master Photographers International Image Challenge and other higher end competitions, what is the process of selection for your images?
A6 I try to be more critical of work I submit. I don’t just look for my favorite images, but images that may challenge the judges. Images that aren’t necessarily technically perfect, but ones that capture the mind or stimulates them in some way.
Q7 What is your vision for your career going forward? Will you change what you have been doing or continue on your current path?
A7 I’d like to do more personal projects. My landscape work is personal, but I’ve been doing it for 45 years so something more in the portrait field. I’d like to choose who I photograph so that I’m under no obligation to photograph ‘for them’, but rather for myself.
Otherwise, ‘ if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Q8 And finally, how did you feel when winning Top Photographer or POY in Nature the Master Photographers International Organization?
A8 It was awesome! I don’t tend to shoot ‘for competition’. So winning POY in Nature was especially rewarding because that is all my own personal work. It’s not photographed for a client. And after seeing the other images in contention from noted photographers around the globe, I was totally humbled and extremely honored. For me, this is an achievement of a lifetime.
The MPI 2017 International Image Challenge (IIC) is now open for entries. Master Photographers International is not only one of the best up and coming international competitions to enter but also one of the most educational. https://mpio.co/Competitions/IIC