Mike Moats is an award winning professional Nature Photographer from Michigan who has been shooting professionally for over 10 years. Mike’s specialty is macro or as he calls it, Tiny Landscapes.
He has been widely published in in a variety of magazines including Outdoor Photographer, Natures Best, PC Photo, Nature Photographer, Photolife, Whisper In The Woods, Michigan Game Finder, Pure Michigan Book, and by Fujifilms.
He has also written for Tamron’s blog and in 2006 was asked to join the Fuji Pro Talent Team.
Mike is one of the few nature photographers whose business thrives in a niche market of macro photography. We caught up with Mike to ask him all about it.
Please tell us how you got started and how long you have been in the business.
I bought some used 35mm film equipment from ebay in 2001. I was shooting mostly landscapes along with a little macro. By 2004 I was shooting digital, and began solely shooting macro. In 2004 I started a part time business with my macro work by selling prints through art shows, galleries, and selling how-to articles and images to magazines.
In 2005 I started offering macro workshops, and then on to writing how-to macro books, with one soft cover book, and five e-books. By 2007 the business was in full swing and I was working seven days a week running the business full time. Since becoming full time I’ve added selling through art consultants for the health industry, offering online macro workshops, and now travel across the country teaching three day Macro Boot Camps. I work with a couple of my sponsors (Tamron, Lensbaby) giving macro presentations at photo conventions. I moderate at the macro forum for NaturePhotographers.Net, and now run my own Macro Nature Forum for macro photographers to post their images and communicate with each other about macro.
You are known as a nature macro specialist. Are there any other areas of photography you cover?
No, my passion is macro and I would like to be the considered best at it, so I invest all my time to become the best and hopefully the most sought after for photographers looking to learn macro in nature.
Are there any geographical locations that are either a specialty or a passion?
The great benefit of being a macro photographer is I don’t have the cost of traveling to photograph my subjects. Ninety percent of my images were all shot within twenty minutes of my home at the local park systems.
What’s in your bag?
I was sponsored by Fuji, and until they stopped making the S series SLRs, I had shot with the S2, S3, and S5. Since the Fuji cameras were based on the Nikon body, when time came to move on, I went with the Nikon D7000, so I could still use my lenses. My macro lenses are, the Tamron 60mm, 90mm, and the 180mm. I mount this system on an Acratech Ulitmate ballhead, and a Feisol carbon fiber tripod.
What’s a typical day in the office of Mike Moats Photography?
I get up at five in the morning and start writing a post for my blog, which also get linked on facebook and twitter. Then onto answering emails and connecting with people on the social media, taking care of orders for books, and people who sign up for workshops. I am always contacting hotel throughout the country lining up dates for future workshops. Work on any print orders for the art consultants; work on new images for the art shows. I’m usually gone most weekends of the year between the workshops and art shows, so many weeks I may only be home three to four days. Many days spent on the road travel to the events. Each day I visit my macro forum and keep track of what’s happening there. Lots of time spent on paper work keeping everything organized.
How is the market for macro imagery?
It’s great for selling as art for people’s homes and the health industry as very few photographers specialize in this area of nature photography.
Marketing and self promotion is critical to any business and especially photographers. What is your philosophy here?
I have recently added a nature photography business seminar, and tell the students that, “no one knows you’re alive and in business unless you tell them”. If you don’t have a website, a blog that you post on daily, connecting with other photographers on the many of nature photography sites, connect on facebook, twitter, etc. you will have a much slower time building your business. The social media has to be done every day to keep your name constantly online every place you can. Other then the art shows, I wouldn’t have a business without the internet. My workshops sellout every place I travel because of the internet. I sell my book and e-books all over the world because of the internet.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle for established professionals to remain successful in today’s markets?
I think that if you are not diversified in as many opportunities as you can find to sell, it will be hard making a living as a nature photographer. I use what I call “streams of income” and I have about thirteen different streams that all feed into my bank account. If I tried to survive with any one of these streams I couldn’t make it, but add them all together and it works out well.
You have been published and I see your face in Tamron ads, is there any project or campaign that you are especially proud of?
Tamron had their 60th anniversary recently, and they created a special lens cloth as a give away at events. Printed on this lens cloth was my image, so I was honored to part of this special project.
With your successful career, you certainly are asked by others, how to succeed in the business. What advice would you have for them?
Work the internet and social media daily, and get your name all over the internet. You have to work harder than then your competition, if they work five days, then you work six days. With all the great photographers trying to make it in this business, you better have top notch images.
You have some book(s) available, tell us about that.
I have a soft covered book called “Tiny Landscapes” which is a how-to macro book. Since people can’t all make it to my workshops, I wrote an e-book called “Macro Workshop” which covers some of what I teach in my Macro Boot Camps. I followed with two more e-books on “Macro Composition” and “Finding Character In Nature”. I also wrote an e-book called “Running A Successful Nature Photography Business”, and “Selling Your Photography Through Art Galleries”.
Please tell our readers where they can learn more about you.
You can see my images and other info at www.tinylandscapes.com.
To make book purchases, and signup for workshops, www.MikeMoatsBooks.com.
Please stop by and visit my blog at, www.MikeMoatsBlog.com
You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
If you are a macro photographer please visit my macro forum at, www.MacroNatureForum.com
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave a comment.