Michael Lewis- On The List

- - Photographers

Michael Lewis has been on my list of photographers for a long time (He must be on everyone’s list because I see his credit all over the place). Click on the list to see proof.

He’s hard working, low maintenance, subjects enjoy him and he has a distinct style I can rely on. I posed 5 question I thought you might like to hear the answer to:

1. I really enjoy the email promos you send out from recent photoshoots that show you in the scene you’ve just shot sometimes standing next to celebrities. How did you get started with that and what has the response been?

It started as a way of collecting an ‘autograph’ from the celebrity shoots I did. Instead of a signature, or a picture of me simply standing next to who I was photographing; I decided it would be fun if I incorporated myself into the shot which I had composed. Soon, I wanted a souvenir from all the places I found myself, and all the people I was meeting in my shoots; so every shoot became fair game.

The reaction has been terrific! People seem to dig it. It has provided me a way to give my friends (both in, and out of the business) a chuckle, while keeping everyone up-to-date on my photo-excursions.

2. I’m sure it wasn’t a “eureka” moment but can you describe the chain of events lead to you becoming a top editorial photographer?

Dad bought a Nikon camera while in Vietnam (while my mom was pregnant with me) >
I was always into ‘arts and crafts’ >
Started college >
Parents sat me down; asked me some big ‘life’ questions >
Transferred to art school :>
Dad gave me that old nikon >
Found photography came very naturally to me >
Assisted in Philadelphia >
Grad school (MFA) >
Was selected to be in a book ’25 and Under’ >
Doors opened >
I kept my foot lodged so that those doors didn’t close >
Always treated every shoot as if it was the most important photograph I was ever to take.

3. In my mind you have a very unique style of photography so, your name is on the top of my list of environmental portraitists who can make pictures with a lot of depth and a bit of humor in them. How did you arrive at this style?

Coming from a fine art background; my interests were in what a picture suggests and the tone that they convey. I studied photography as a means of personal expression; and less as a way of documenting. With an interest in narrative film and mise-en-scene,I didn’t see photography from the journalistic philosophy. Instead, I felt it was tool to construct and suggest reality; rather than a commitment to capture it. When I began being commissioned to photograph people whom I had never met; I always handled my subjects as equals. I photograph celebrities, ‘real’ people, and myself all with the same eye.

4. Are there any career choices you that you either regret or turned out to be the best decision you ever made?

I still wonder if leaving LA (where i got started commercially) and moving to New York City helped, or hindered, my career.

5. If you were an insect what kind would you be and why?

A king bee.

it’s good to be king.

Here’s a Recent Promo.


These are from his Website.







There Are 11 Comments On This Article.

  1. Not sure if this would bother you or not, but Gaussian blur can be reversed, to get the original list back. Its tricky, but it might just be worth it in this case ;)

  2. Michael’s work is great… so is the work of Chris Buck.

    How do you feel if you receive an email portfolio from photographers you do not yet know of though?

    I love them, but interested in hearing how others feel about them.


  3. Sounds like Mike’s parents were wise people who recognized his gifts. The world needs more encouragers like that.

    Great interview–a nice glimpse into the person behind the photos. Thanks.

  4. i had the chance to assist michael lewis on a shoot in philadelphia once. he was awesome to work with, has an amazing sense of lighting, and definitely taught me a huge amount in the few hours i got to spend working for him.

  5. Really nice portraits. Sort of documentary, they are not posing, interacting and looking very natural.

    The best answer is about treating people with equal respect as you treat yourself.


  6. >Dad gave me that old nikon

    *smiles* I see a trend here .. I gave my daughter my old Nikon FM2 and she did wondrous things with it. Maybe that’s the secret !

  7. @8-when my dad passed away 12 yrs ago I was left with all of his old Nikon gear..tons of it. I spent years kicking myself in the ass for not listening to the many times he had tried to share his knowledge and passion of photography with me. Now my own son is 10, and I get tickled inside when I try to show him stuff and it goes in one ear and out the other. I guess the adage Like Father Like Son holds true today!
    …he’ll come around =)

  8. Great interview, nice humble and honest answers too. It would be nice to see more of his promo work, the example shown is great.