Tint of Ink: What got you interested in photography?
Mike O’Reilly: It’s been a long-standing interest for me, as I come from a family of photography hobbyists/enthusiasts. I bought my current camera about 2 and a half years ago, but didn’t get the opportunity to properly learn it until the Fall of 2013, after being encouraged – or shall I say, pressured – to do so by my girlfriend and some photographer friends. But, in my experience, one doesn’t do anything, until they themselves are ready to do so.
So, really, I’m a very new photographer. It seems they are truly a dime a dozen – or more per dozen – nowadays. This is not really surprising considering the improvement of quality in relatively affordable cameras. Not to mention how rewarding and enjoyable of a hobby it is.
Tint of Ink: How did you learn photography?
Mike O’Reilly: Well, I moved to Antigonish, NS, last October. I was fortunately staying with my good friend James Smeaton, the owner/operator of Highland Multimedia (www.highlandmultimedia.ca). James, amongst many other things, is a fantastic photographer who lives outside of the University town with his three large dogs, two Akitas and a Great Dane-Akita mix.
It was customary that James, the dogs, and I would go for walks in the morning over the fields that surround his house. On that lovely little piece of land, you would find all kinds of beautiful nature: flaura and fauna alike. It was on these habitual meanderings through the woods, across fields, and over streams that I learned my camera.
Tint of Ink: What do you mean by “learn [your] camera”?
Mike O’Reilly: Good question. Well anybody can shoot a DSLR in Automatic Mode. What I’m referring to is using the Manual settings… This allows you to have greater control over the pictures. You’re able to accomplish a wider range of things and more accurately align your intention and your result.
It was an extremely frustrating thing to start. Oftentimes, my intent and my results were so far apart. I always thought I had a half-decent eye for composition, but when I aimed and shot, the settings were so often mangled that I would get an extremely underexposed or overexposed image. James was a great teacher; he let me make mistakes so I would learn from them. He didn’t coddle me too much. By the way, at this time, I’d like to refer you to his page: http://www.facebook.com/jimmyphotos
It was very helpful that myself and James are very aligned in terms of personality, philosophy, and a shared appreciation for all the facets of nature. Looking back to my time outside of Antigonish with him, I smile and consider it one of the happiest, and most pivotal times of my personal and professional life.
Tint of Ink: After looking at James’ website, I notice that both of you are fond of captioning your photos with descriptions.
Mike O’Reilly: Well that’s something that I’ve kind of grown into. When I first started my personal photo page on Facebook, I hesitated to describe the images. I would often just come up with an apt title and leave it at that. In time, I’ve kind of come to mirror James’ page, where photos are accompanied by a long description that will often detail the intent of the photo or point out its significance.
Predating photography was an interest in writing. It has taken a while for me to marry the two of them, but now that I have, I gotta say it feels right. My intention is to extend the Facebook photo page (www.facebook.com/mikeoreillyphotography) into a blog-style website (www.mikeophoto.ca) that contains images and descriptions. But all in due time; shooting/editing/posting is already a process that I find somewhat demanding on time, and I got to say I enjoy shooting the most. Although, sharing an image that I’m particularly proud of is very rewarding.
Tint of Ink: What types of shoots do you like the most?
Mike O’Reilly: Since starting I have done photo shoots with families, couples, weddings, a comedian, bands. I am mostly a people person, and I find that this dovetails nicely with portrait photography. You get to know new people or get to know familiar people better, and I like to align someone’s portrait with what I have learned about them. When it comes to favourites, it’s hard to say – they each have their appeal. I also really enjoy landscape photography, which is something that I have practiced through photo adventures with my friend Stu White. His stuff is pretty incredible (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stu-White-Photography/1437835839777034) and definitely worth checking out. The nice thing is you don’t have to tell a mountain to smile or make sure a cloud is not blinking. That said, the personality of living things adds an unpredictability and dynamic that you can’t find elsewhere. Speaking of living things, animal photography is something I would like to get into more. In fact, I just recently did my first exclusively-cat photo shoot for a furry family here in St. John’s.
Tint of Ink: What do you see as the future of the business?
Mike O’Reilly: Well I hesitate to call it a business. While it is convenient to make a little a bit of money while doing it, it is essentially an expensive hobby. I don’t expect to retire from the proceeds of photography. But that is okay. I was once warned by a wise man that to make your living on your passion just kills the passion and creates a dubious chore.
Lately, the quality of the work has been increased by my partnership with Kristen Janes. To the point that we are beginning a new venture (http://www.facebook.com/mkphotographynl) which is a better representation of our 50/50 approach. Kristen is a great photographer, of a slightly different style, so we complement each other in many ways. While myself and Kristen will work on mk photography, I’ll keep my current page going too of course.