Blend Images Profile | Mike Tauber
Blend Images is proud to present our first of many profiles of our agency photograghers. The idea is to let our blog readers get to know more about our shooters with in depth interviews as well as posting jpegs that show off both their commercial agency work and their creative pursuits. First up is Mike Tauber, a consumate world traveler,father and a generally inspired human being, not to mention an amazing photographer. We recently interviewed Mike and what follows is the result of that discussion and images from his work.
Blend | Can you give us a little biographical detail such as where you were raised, schools attended, things you enjoy doing?
I grew up in Darien, CT and went to Westminster School and Connecticut College where I majored in Environmental Science and Anthropology. The water is a big part of my life and I try to get in it or on it any chance I get, whether with a SCUBA tank, kayak, paddleboard or sailboat. Skiing and messing around in the mountains is also something I try to do as often as possible, either in Vermont or out West.
Blend | When did you realize that you wanted to make a career out of photography?
I brought a decent camera with me when I went to study wildlife ecology and conservation in Tanzania the fall of my junior year in college and to Costa Rica the following summer and just fell in love with taking pictures. I took Photo 101 senior year and then took off after college backpacking through Africa, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific for a year, shooting the whole time. Upon my return, I happened to get a job in the print advertising department at HBO. I took a bunch of classes at ICP during the 4 years at HBO. The HBO photo department got me credentials to shoot ringside at several big HBO Boxing events. I began to see then where the camera could take me professionally even though travel and documentary were my first loves. I left HBO in early 2000 to shoot full time and I’ve since branched out into portraiture, interiors and architecture as well.
Blend | Why is world travel so important to you and did your parents take you on trips abroad?
Travel expands your worldview and opens your eyes to other realities and ways of life. It tests your character and can create a reservoir of strength, knowledge and perspective from which to approach all aspects of your life. My parents did take us traveling, mostly to the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, China and Africa. My mother loved travel and we were surrounded by magazines like National Geographic, NG Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure throughout my childhood.
Blend | How do you think seeing the world has impacted on your own children?
I want my boys (ages 4 & 6) to have a well-rounded worldview and we take them traveling any chance we get. We continually impress upon them how lucky they are to be experiencing the places we go. Rather than just seeing these places on TV, they are immersed in the place and it’s a great education, probably the greatest. They see how other people live, what they eat, where they sleep. For me, it’s amazing to see things through their eyes and attempt to answer questions I never thought to ask. Photographing them on their adventures has become a favorite subject of mine, beyond the usual snapshots that all parents do. When home, the boys love to watch Nat Geo Wild and Animal Planet.
Blend | What are your all time favorite places that you have visited, whether they have been in the States or not and why did they have an impact on you?
Photographically I love Southeast Asia and India as well as Cuba. The colors and cultures are so vibrant and they are great places to photograph. Trinidad & Tobago is a favorite for more personal reasons (my wife is from there and we got married in Tobago). I’ve photographed Trinidad’s Carnival, which is nearly as crazy as Rio’s. Closer to home, I love Montauk, the California Coast and mountains, the Eastern Connecticut coastline and the National Parks in Utah, Colorado & Arizona. The place I’m most eager to return to is East Africa since I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else, but its been a while since I’ve been back. Tanzania is the place that set me on my current path so it has special meaning.
Blend | Do you see a marked difference between your commercial work and your purely creative work?
I don’t see a huge difference between my commercial and purely creative work. I approach my commercial work with the same eye as my personal work but I configure my approach to meet the expectations/needs of my clients. A lot of my work tends to be interiors and architecture too so I am working with a specific space that I’m trying to convey beautifully and realistically.
Blend | What, in your opinion, makes a great photograph?
I think what makes a great photograph is an image that you really connect with either visually or emotionally. One that makes you think and consider what’s happening or what the subject is thinking, one that stays with you even after you have moved on.
But its very subjective I think. The best images stop you in your tracks or make you laugh. How the light is used in the image is as important as the composition. I like images that make me stop and think for a second, even wonder how they got or composed the shot. A great shot might even inspire you to take action on a particular cause. I also like the unexpected moment, the surprise.
Blend | What other photographers have given you inspiration?
I’ve been inspired in different ways by the lives and work of these photographers in no certain order, among others:
Steve McCurry, Jim Richardson, James Nachtwey, Mary Ellen Mark, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Peter Beard, Mario Testino, Dan Winters, Tim Hetherington, Ed Kashi, Robert Maxwell, Jim Balog.