We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Harriel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mike, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
What truly makes me happy is when I have the opportunity to take an excursion; a journey to explore this amazing world we live in. I do all types of photography; portraits, events, corporate, editorial, but I do landscapes for me. It’s my happy place. We live in an extremely beautiful world. I love traveling and seeking out landscapes that show the beauty and have an impact on people who see them. Landscapes don’t belong tucked in your phone, on a hard drive or on a screen saver; I believe in printing them out, large and vivid, usually on metal or acrylic. Landscapes are about light and patience. You have to wait for the light to do what it’s going to do. I compose a scene, and while I wait for the light to develop and create its magic, I have a chance to relax, enjoy nature, reflect, disengage and decompress from the fast pace of life and focus on details of the beautiful tapestry in front of me. I have a huge bucket list of places I want to visit. One goal is to visit and capture images from every national park in the country. Some of my favorite locations are Oregon and Washington State; I take a trip to those states every year, just to capture images. Yosemite is also a favorite because it’s so close. I’m probably there 3 or 4 times a year, during different seasons. I am often asked why I visit the same locations over and over again? It’s because the landscapes are ever-changing; they are renewed. But it’s not just about the destination, it’s the journey. I drive to many of these locations and the things you experience along the way are what make the trip memorable. You might be surprised by what you see on the side of the road.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been fortunate during my creative journey to create images others want to acquire. My passion is adorned on the walls of offices, homes, and businesses. I am proud of the various awards some of my work has received and love seeing my images on magazine covers, in advertisements, and part of editorials. It is very humbling. I continue to grow. I am constantly learning and trying new techniques to make myself better. I learn from other accomplished photographers. Understanding their journey and techniques keep me relevant. The biggest challenge in any endeavor is just doing it. You don’t have all the answers, but you know it’s inside of you and you have to get it out. Sometimes you learn along the way. You have to learn from the journey. When it comes to my clients, I under-promise and over-deliver. You heard the phrase “time is money”, but to me, time spent is satisfaction for my clients. I don’t just take a bunch of images and hand them over. My process is thorough. I spend time asking questions so I can deliver exactly what is needed. Every image I deliver has been cropped and edited to its best. Sometimes several different versions, depending on the client’s need. Those images are used in further their company or organization through advertisements, reports, or websites. I want to make sure I am providing exactly what they need and want. I’m a visual storyteller, I want to capture the essence of my subjects. My philosophy in life corresponds with my passion for photography. I have a sign on my wall I picked up from somewhere which captures that philosophy perfectly. It says, “Life is like a camera, focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot.”

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This region is so eclectic. There are so many places based on the personality of the guest. I would definitely take them into downtown LA and Central Market. That’s a great place to people-watch while standing in line at Egg Slut. From there, you can walk for hours and experience the architecture of the city. I would take them into Culver City to enjoy many of the restaurants there; I’m partial to Honey’s kettle fried chicken. Live music has to be part of the mix; the Catalina grill, Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre are favorites. Of course, the beaches; all of them, from Malibu to Carlsbad, sharing all the secret spots I visit for photographs. There is so much here. It’s unfortunate with COVID alive and out of control, we can’t enjoy many of these places at the moment.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I was a college student at USC, back in the days of film photography, I often provided photos to the athletic department and their media guides. One of the guides had a bio on an assistant swimming coach who won 3 gold medals in the 1972 Olympics. As a young photographer who wanted to build his portfolio, I asked her if I could photograph her with her medals. Her answer blew me away. She said she had never been photographed before with her medals. I thought to myself, “how can anyone win 3 gold medals and never be photographed with them on?” She agreed and I captured the images. I still remember her excitement at the finished images I gave her. I knew then how important it was to capture a moment in time. Sure, you can do it with video, but you can’t hang a video on a wall for everyone to see. But if you have one single image that will tell a story, and incite an emotional response; there’s power in that. I learned first hand about that power. I captured images at a family reunion and mentioned to my dad we didn’t have any recent photos together. I believe the last time we were photographed together was when he remarried in 1985. I was the best man at his wedding. We sat down for a photo of just he and I. A month later he passed away from cancer. I cherish that photo.

Website: mikeharrielphotography.com

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