This January, Mike is teaching a workshop in Bhutan where he will be partnering with a local NGO. He and three other instructors are going as a team to teach a mixture of 20 urban and rural students how to use cameras and the basics of visual story telling. Mike will be taking his own FujiFilm instant camera along with Portrait Equality film to participate in the project to give photos, not just take them. He is excited to be going to Bhutan because this gives him an opportunity not only to teach (give back) but also to demonstrate the importance of giving back as a photographer in the form of the family portraits.
Mike’s favourite photograph is a family portrait taken on the driveway of the home where he lived when he went to high school. The photograph is of Mike, his Mum, his grandparents, his brother and his brother’s wife and daughter and his Mum’s two dogs.
Mike’s family is very important to him as for most of his childhood his mum raised two boys on her own, far away from her family. She struggled to make enough money and they lived with the help of the government for many years. She finally met Mike’s stepfather as he was going into middle school and their lives changed. Mike’s mum and stepfather worked together to pull themselves out of debt and eventually built and paid for a home of their own.
Sadly Mike’s stepfather passed away a few years ago from cancer that struck him down quickly and unexpectedly. The time that followed was a very close time for his family and in the months that followed they healed together from their loss.
Unfortunately Michael does not have a digital copy of the photograph as the print version is in his Mum’s garage in The States. But this goes to show that even today some of the best photographs we remember are not in digital format but the ones that are edged in our memory forever but not by our side.