This week we are back featuring another photographer. Mike Nocher’s path to photography is an interesting one as he had a number of jobs throughout his life before he ended up as a photographer.
Many people think they can’t one day survive by creating their art or be able to create while also holding another job. Mike is an example that you can do it if that’s what you truly want to do.
We asked Mike some questions about his work and his path to becoming a photographer. Here’s what he had to say:
You had a number of jobs before you became a photographer. How did you come into photography and how did you go about deciding to make the leap and become a full time photographer?
I had been a police officer for eleven years, loss prevention for about five years and worked in retail management as well. I owned a pet sitting business and had a good bit of free time. Being interested in arts and loving Charleston, I bought a camera and took as many images as possible. I learned from practice as well as from the internet. Once I got enough compliments, I decided to try to sell my work. I was fortunate enough to own another business and test the waters with photography at the same time. Once the business of selling my art grew, I sold the other business so that I could dedicate all of my energy to taking and selling photos.
What gear do you use? How important is gear to you?
I use only Nikon equipment. Over the years, I have had a Nikon D40, D200, D300, D3S and now use a D610. My favorite lenses are also Nikon. I own a 14-24, 24-70, and a 70-200. I have fallen in love with the 24-70 and carry it every time I go out to shoot.
You wake up tomorrow and find out that your expenses are completely covered for the next year, the only catch is that you must spend that year photographing. What would you choose to shoot?
People and places overseas. I think I will always enjoy shooting architectural images but would love to explore candid portraiture.
What is your most popular image and why do you think that is?
I have a core group of 6-10 images that sell regularly but my most popular one is of the Angel Oak. It is a historic, well known landmark and I find that most people (men and women as well as children) either know about it or want to know about it. The Angel Oak is iconic and beautifully shaped. People seem to have an attachment to trees. They evoke an emotion.
Many people may not know this, but you also paint don’t you?
I do but I don’t know that I’m very good at it; and I paint slowly. While studying business in college, I had the time to take a drawing and painting class. These classes sparked a creative interest in me that I was not aware of. I got pretty good at pencil drawing, but life took over and I had jobs to work and family to provide for. In the last few years, I have been revisiting both drawing and painting but make most of my income from photography.
You can use only one lens for the rest of your life. What lens would it be?
Definitely the Nikon 24-70 2.8
You’ve managed to be successful as a photographer when many people never make it there. What advice would you give someone wanting to take the next step and become a full time photographer?
Don’t! I do not want the competition! 🙂 That is really an easy question for me. I firmly believe that one should always do things for the passion they have for the art. That passion will show through in what you do. Never do anything for the money or popularity. Just as a singer should write and sing songs that make them happy, a photographer will be most successful when the art he creates is done for the love or passion of what he sees. My best selling images are those that I took years ago when I had no intention of selling the first picture. I created them for me. They made me happy and that love shows through in the way the images are presented.
What role has offering your prints on various surfaces, such as both paper and canvas, played in people buying your work?
Tastes change and vary from person to person and over time. It is important that people have options of the style of the image as well as the price point. Just as not everyone chooses or can afford to buy a Rolls Royce, not everyone can afford a $600 canvas piece. It is good to have different options. I regularly offer the Angel Oak in six different size options that range from $30-$550.
How do you decide that a photograph is worth putting out there to the public and offering as prints? Which image of yours are do you consider to be your strongest piece?
There are many considerations but the underlying theme is whether or not I love the image or not. If I do not love it. it usually does not sell well. I often find the ones I love and test out the demand by offering a few at a time in the lower price range. If I see that they are selling well, I also show those in a canvas option. The Angel Oak, Shem Creek, Seen Better Days, and a few of my architectural pieces form Charleston and from France.
Where can people buy your work?
I sell my work throughout the year at the Charleston City Market downtown Charleston, and on Saturdays from March-December at the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square. For seventeen days during the end of May and through the beginning of June, I exhibit my work at the Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Show in Marion Square. You can see all of my work on my website at www.mnocherphotogrpahy.ifp3.