Hi! I'm Mike. I was born and raised in the Atlanta area and have lived here most of my life. One day I'd like to be able to travel, photograph and adventure all over the world. Oh, I also really like peanut butter.
You may know me from Instagram or YouTube as "MiketheMathMan." I gave myself that title because I've always been pretty good at Math, and because I use it a lot in my every day life.
If this is your first time here, welcome! I hope you've found some inspiration while browsing around!
THE JOURNEY TO PHOTOGRAPHY
Much of my life I've known little about photography. Up until a couple of years ago, the only photos I took were from my phone to share with family and friends (you know, the ones showing off what you had for lunch, or of your newly purchased socks). That all changed, however, in 2016 when my wife and I spent the summer living on the Big Island of Hawaii. Although we didn't have air conditioning and the tropical temperatures were pretty miserable at first, the short three months we were there had a permanent impact in my soul. Allow me to briefly back up and explain.
I have bad allergies. Which is weird, because you wouldn't think there'd be much in the Atlanta suburbs to be allergic to. But for whatever reason, I don't get along with the things that grow here. I'm allergic to almost everything. Trees, shrubs, grass, you name it. I've tried everything from changing my diet to taking allergy shots to get better; nothing helps much. Respiratory and skin allergies really impact my ability to enjoy the outdoors. During pollen season I can't even be outside for more than a few minutes without itching or sneezing; and the longer I'm outside, the longer the side effects last.
Up until the summer of 2016 I didn't think I'd ever be able to really enjoy the outdoors, which was fine with me because I didn't even know what "enjoying the outdoors" meant. I had never experienced it. I was perfectly content sitting inside and playing video games. Who wants to get sweaty walking around in the sun anyway, right? But what I experienced in Hawaii completely changed that perspective.
FROM HERMIT TO OUTDOOR ADVENTURER
Within a week of being on the island, most of the respiratory and skin issues which had plagued me on the mainland, disappeared. The longer my wife and I were there the more I felt like a normal person. I was kind of at a loss. How could the conditions my doctors said I'd have to live with my entire life just vanish? It was incredible.
The beauty of Hawaii slaps you in the face. It's very apparent. Everywhere you look is a postcard. Combine this with the fact that my allergies were going away, and I very quickly found myself adventuring and exploring outside at every opportunity. It was amazing. I felt like a kid again. I could be in the jungle and not worry about breaking out in hives from rubbing against the wrong plant. I could lie on the sand and not worry about sneezing or having a runny nose the rest of the day from dust or pollen. And because the temperature and humidity level were so conducive to being in the outdoors, I could literally live outside if I wanted to.
For the first time ever, I caught a glimpse of how life was really meant to be lived. The material things that caused so much "excitement" back home - a 4,000 square foot house, quartz counter tops, a couple of nice BMW's parked in the driveway - paled in comparison to the raw beauty and adventure directly in front of me in Hawaii. My wife and I could literally step out into the back yard and experience things that were impossible in Georgia. We could experience eleven of the thirteen climate zones that exist on the planet in a few hours. We could touch waterfalls and swim in swimming holes, hike some of the most beautiful valleys on Earth, explore old volcano craters, walk through lava tubes, swim with wild sea turtles and manta rays, catch brilliantly colored geckos. At sunrise we could run on the beach and swim in the ocean, then have lunch at 14,000 feet overlooking the entire island, then catch sunset back at the beach where the day began. We could walk for miles on the southern coast of the island under the Hawaiian moonlight, listening to the ocean waves crash against the cliffs, while also watching the glimmering red light of fresh lava flowing down the mountain side. There was adventure in every direction. There was beauty in every direction. There was life in every direction.
It was in this newfound atmosphere of freedom, of having unmatched beauty and adventure at my fingertips, that I got into photography.
I began documenting the locations my wife and I explored with my phone, taking photos and videos of our experiences - sunrises on the beach, lava flows and volcano craters, waterfalls, fish that were more colorful than Atlanta in the springtime - and began posting them on Instagram and showing them to new island friends.
People began asking what camera I was using. When I explained I had just been using my phone, they were often caught off guard. I thought they were just being kind when they said I should look into becoming a professional photographer, but the more people I shared my photos with, the more I heard that same thing.
A couple of months after my wife and I moved back to the mainland in late 2016, I received a semi-professional camera (Sony a6300) as a gift and decided photography was something I wanted to pursue professionally. Not only was it a way I could document adventure, it was something I could do to help others experience the beauty of Creation.
With this newly acquired sense of adventure from Hawaii, I began exploring locations in Georgia and spending all my extra time shooting, learning about post processing, lighting, composition, etc. And the rest...is history.
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