Interview with Mike Sumsion, specializing in portraiture photography

Mike Sumsion is a professional photographer based out of Davis County, Utah, specializing in portraiture. We’ve always been stunned and impressed by the expressiveness and color he captures in people’s eyes. Meet Mike and learn a little more about him in today’s Meet the Pros interview series.

1. Briefly introduce yourself and your photography business.

I am a native of Davis County, Utah. I specialize in portraiture, paying special attention to the eyes of my subjects. For portraits I mainly shoot with the Canon 5D MII and various lenses.

I also love landscape photography, and spend time roaming the areas surrounding The Great Salt Lake.

2. What was it that first got you into photography?

It was the developing process that first piqued my interest in photography. I was in high school and simply wanted to know the processes to get film to paper. I spent the last two years of high school in the darkroom.

3. What are the keys to a great client engagement or photo shoot, or conversely what are some of the biggest challenges?

One of the biggest challenges I have with photo shoots is the attitude of the subject. It isn’t very often that I shoot someone who doesn’t say “I’m not photogenic” or make a comment about needing to lose weight, look better, etc. My goal is to help each person understand that they are photogenic, and they will end up liking what they see. If I can do that, the client seems to relax and have a much better session. In addition, and a large part of having a great client shoot, is simply getting to know the client and helping them understand that it’s my job to make them look good.

4. It seems that most photographers struggle with pricing. Do you have any tips or advice on how to develop a pricing strategy?

Don’t under-price yourself. If you are good at what you do, charge for it – and stick to your pricing. My suggestion is to not simply copy what others are doing. If you’re creating your brand and style of photography, which you should be doing, then charge for your brand and style. Again, stick to your pricing.

5. What are some common mistakes that emerging business photographers will make? How can they be avoided?

As with any business, rushing into it can be the biggest mistake. Just because you know how to take pictures and use a camera doesn’t mean that people will want to hire you. Do your research, talk to others who have done it, and find your niche.

6. What marketing and advertisement channels have worked best for you in expanding your photography business?

Word-of-mouth is always the best. Local online classifieds work well in my area also. Recently I’ve found that Instagram has been a good channel, even though it’s not local.

7. Any last thoughts, comments and/or suggestions for our photographers?

Be you. Find your style. Create images that people can see and know are yours.

8. Nikon or Canon?

I recently sold my Nikon gear and use a Canon 5D MkII with various glass. My 50mm 1.2 is my favorite for portraits, and the 12mm-24mm Sigma works great for landscapes.

You can see more of Mike’s amazing work on his Taproll profile and on his website. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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