We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Spatola and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
I would think that the single most important contributing factor to the success of my brand is the decision to specialize in one product line, rather than trying to be all things to all people. Early in my career I photographed model portfolios and actor’s headshots. Then over time branched in to boudoir, weddings, families, babies and children. I also did some product photography. I was all over the place. And, although I was busy and making what I thought was good money, when I started doing the math, I quickly realized that weddings were killing me, time-wise, for so much less money per hour invested. This made me look much more closely at the bottom line for each of my product lines. So, the decision to specialize in the thing that I do the best, without compromise has allowed me to devote my mindset needed to please that segment entirely. No more switching gears with every shoot that comes along. Everything I do now is devoted completely to the Lifestyle Boudoir brand, and to the women that come to me in search of confidence, and to look and feel amazing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art? Well, I’ll use some of the words my clients do. Mysterious, romantic, sexy, and strong. Each session I create is tailored to the client, but they come to me for the aesthetic they see in the photos on my website and Instagram page. I tend to light and shoot for the end result being a storytelling, mostly black and white images. Sure they are initially shot in color, so if the client chooses to have it color they can. You see, I tend to “think in black and white” which doesn’t allow color to detract from the subject- the powerful woman in front of my lens. I think the things that set me apart from other Boudoir photographers is that I’m a male. I see women through men’s eyes, not female eyes. I do think that shows in my images. It’s not just a pretty photo of a woman. There is more sensuality and drama than I see from other photographers. Now, that being said, this is a husband and wife team. My wife is an award winning makeup artist and is present throughout the session to help out with every aspect from the makeup and touchups, to helping adjust the outfits. For instance, some women have never worn a garter belt and struggle getting them on. If there is an occasion that my wife is not available, I always have other amazing female makeup artists there throughout the shoot. Plus, the client can definitely bring a friend to the session, if that is something that makes them feel more comfortable, or to have a cheerleader with them! One of my assets (seeing through a male’s eyes) has also been a little challenge. Not much, but a little. Some women may feel more comfortable (at least in their mind) with a female photographer. I’ve overcome that for the most part with a ton of testimonials from happy clients on the “Raves” page of my website. Without fail, after their session, one of the first things they say is how comfortable the session actually was for them. Reading those testimonials helps ease the client’s mind of thinking I’m in this for the wrong reasons. But the truth is, I get so much personal joy from seeing a woman’s reactions when they view their finished images! I promise you, they’re walking on cloud 9 for some time to come after the shoot, as they get to feel that every time they open their beautiful album of boudoir images.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hmmm. Well, I’m a huge fan of Disneyland. So, that is a major place to bring someone that’s never been here. I also love magic shows, so the Magic Castle is amazing, and another place in Hollywood called Black Rabbit Rose. Such fun places to go! I also I love to eat, and honestly there is so many great little places that are walking distance from my studio, you could eat out every night for a month and not visit the same place twice. All within a few steps.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There is no one person to dedicate this to. So, I would like to show gratitude to all the women that took the leap and trusted me to capture these special photographs for them. With each woman that comes through my door to be photographed, it further validates the importance of what I do in the building of strength and confidence for them.
All photos © Michael Spatola / Lifestyle Boudoir – Model releases on file for all subjects shown