Interview with Mike Jones
For interview number two we caught up with Mike Jones, @mikeybjones, to see what he had to say about life, photography and more. Hope you enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where are you now? What did you like to do growing up?
I was born and raised in Hendersonville, North Carolina right outside of Asheville, North Carolina. My grandparents moved down to North Carolina from Pittsburgh in the late '60's and purchased six acres of farm land to raise their three kids, my dad being one of them. As my dad and his siblings grew older, they each built their own homes on my grandfather's land to start their own families where I was fortunate enough to grow up. Since my neighbors were my other family members and we had six acres of land, I spent every second playing outside. Most of my childhood was spent fishing in our pond, swimming in the river below my house, or riding my bike all over the place. Once I graduated high school, I moved to Boone, North Carolina to attend Appalachian State University where I got my bachelors degree in Sustainable Technology. I then moved to Wyoming for a year to explore the wild west and then moved right back, aka what us locals here in Boone call "The Boonerang." There's just something about this area that makes me never want to move again.
How'd you get interested in photography and is it your job now?
I have always been obsessed with film ever since I can remember, and I wanted to make movies myself. So after many months of saving money when I was in sixth grade, I purchased a cheap Sony hand held camcorder. I probably drove my family and friends crazy, because I took that video camera everywhere I went constantly recording. I would create these "mini movies" and then plug my camera up to the TV and force my family to watch them. They were horrible videos, but I loved every second of it. Once I was in high school, I started making videos for projects in my classes and then In college I worked with the video production crew for the Appalachian State Football Team. After a year working with them, I eventually started creating videos for weddings. I worked a few weddings, but I slowly started noticing my love for photography and decided to stop creating videos and to focus only on photography. I sold all of my video equipment and now I am a wedding/elopement photographer based here in Boone! Maybe one day I'll get back into video, but for now it is just photography.
Do you have a favorite trip you've been on?
Hands down my favorite trip would be when I studied abroad in Japan. I minored in Japanese language in college, so I spent my summer of 2015 attending Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. If you have never been to Japan, you HAVE to go. The food is incredible, the people are so nice, and the architecture is out of this world.
Do you have a favorite image and if so, what is it?
It is very difficult for me to pick a favorite image, because every photo is different for many reasons. But if I had to pick one...the first one that comes to my mind is this one sunrise in Grand Tetons National Forest. When I was living in Wyoming, my dad and brother came out to visit me for a few days and we explored all over Jackson in the Grand Tetons. We had pretty terrible weather for the majority of the trip, but our last morning there, we went out and experienced the most amazing sunrise! I do not know if it was because of the previous bad weather, but there was nobody out and we had this very popular spot all to ourselves. It was a great way to end our trip.
What's your favorite food? Favorite movie? Favorite thing to do other than photography?
Pizza all day every day. Kind of impossible to pick a favorite movie, but my top three that I can watch over and over again would be The Dark Knight, Kill Bill Vol. 1, and The Shining. If I am not taking photos, I am doing one of two things: Reading (most likely a Stephen King novel) and watching soccer matches. I am dangerously obsessed with the Premier League in England and if you play Fifa on XBOX, hit me up. Go Reds. YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE.
Where do you draw inspiration from in your work? Movies or music or nature, etc?
Probably can already guess where my main inspiration comes from (movies), but I honestly get inspiration from both movies and music. i am sure a lot of people can relate to this, but sometimes I will just hear a song and have so many ideas shooting through my brain that I have to write them down so I do not forget them. Side note: if you have not seen Blade Runner 2049, you're missing out on some incredible cinematography work.
What gear do you shoot with?
I just recently upgraded to a Canon 5d Mark iii body, and I have a 24-105mm & 50mm lens. Fingers crossed, I will have the 35mm 1.4 very soon...
Do you have a favorite local place you like to shoot and do you have a favorite type of conditions to shoot in?
My favorite local place to photograph would be anywhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is accessible five minutes from Boone and I find myself cruising it basically every day. I really love photographing roads for some reason, and the Parkway is perfect for that. Unfortunately, it is closed a lot during the winter season for snow and ice, but you can still walk on it when you're up for it. My favorite types of conditions would be sunrise and golden hour. However, I do not mind a really foggy day every now and then.
Thoughts on IG? You're pretty popular on there. Got any tips?
Do not let it consume you. I have such a love/hate relationship with Instagram, but the best advice I could give someone is to be yourself. Do not get annoyed if you do not have enough followers or likes on your photos...that comes later with time. I used to care way too much about what people thought about each photo I posted, and if I did not get a ton of likes on a certain photo I'd delete it because I figured it wasn't good enough...That is awful, never be that person. Once you stop caring about that stuff and post photos, videos, or whatever it is that you are proud of, then you will notice a huge improvement in your craft. Also, Quality over Quantity. Some people might disagree with this, but I was always told the only way to do well on Instagram is to post every day. Even if this is true, eventually this will cause you to get into "creative ruts" more often and it will ultimately take a toll on the quality of your photos. Sometimes I do not post for weeks, maybe even months, but just know you do not have to post every single day. Take your time and focus on your goals one step at a time and post what makes YOU happy-not every one else.
If you could give someone fresh into photography any advice, what would it be?
Practice. Practice. Practice. Go out and take photos as much as you can to help you learn how to use your camera. I personally have never taken a photography class-Instead, I spent a lot of time on YouTube looking at tutorials and would go out to take photos at different times of the day in different conditions any time I could. I would shoot landscapes one day, then portraits the next, and then some astro-photography after that. This is a great way to learn more about the gear you are using and it also helps you figure out your style. Speaking of gear, do not think that you can not create nice looking photos because you do not own the best gear. Up until six months ago, I was using a crop-sensor beginner level DSLR camera with a body kit lens for years. As long as you take your time, know which settings work the best, and practice editing in post-processing, you will do just fine!
If you have any questions for Mike or want to follow his photography you can find his Instagram here!