BEHIND THE LENS
WHO IS MIKE WALBURN? Let me tell you.
My adventure of becoming a portrait photographer has an underlining theme of failed moments that led me to my career. So, with that said let’s take a little journey back in time but before we do that, let's strap in and get this Delorean to hit 88 miles per hour. Destination 2007. That is the year I think my journey began. At the age of 21 I moved to Orlando, Florida to attend college at Full Sail University for a BA in film. That is when I attached myself to my homemade rocket ship and launched myself into outer space reaching for my dreams. However, it wasn’t easy. I had a lot of turbulence on the ride, like we all do in this crazy thing called life.
During my time at Full Sail I found myself really getting into doing set photography work for our school films but only because I didn’t want a lot of responsibilities. In fact at that time all I wanted to do was go to my classes and then party hard. Just living young and reckless. This was my mind set until after I volunteered to be set photog on the school project. To my surprise I actually really enjoyed it and look forward to doing more. I'd say it was the first time I enjoyed myself at any school. However being a photographer was the furthest thing from my mind. To be honest at that time I didn’t know what I wanted to do but being a photographer wasn’t it. Life's funny like that you know and I get a kick out of how weird things work out and how sometimes the universe just has its own plans for you. A lot of time those weird, head scratching moments come after one has failed. And oh boy did I do a lot of failing. I failed five classes, failed a relationship with my girlfriend at the time, failed friendships and failed jobs. So, cut to my second to last class before finally graduating, when a guest speaker from the college came in to introduce the new online Master’s program in Creative Writing. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was very excited and thought ‘yes, that’s what I want to do. Be a screen writer.’ So, when I finished busting my ass for a BA in film I packed my stuff and with the help of only my mom, I moved back home. That was certainly mind struggle to get over.
Now back at home and attending my masters class online and once AGAIN failing classes. Big shock there, that wouldn't be the worst part though. When I returned home I got a job a landscape keeper, lost that job and then got a job as a bar tender. Guess what? It didn’t last long either and once again I got lost in "partying" my life away. This made it difficult in finding new jobs. It wasn't until after a bad night made with horrible decisions that I promised myself to give it up and keep my eyes on the price. Good thing to because my Master degree was winding down, had no direction for a career and I was just feeling out of place and lost in my hometown. It was time to take that leap of faith and move to Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. Ha! Well, that dream was crushed pretty damn quickly.
Two years had passed and nothing happened. I did get close once to selling a script but then never heard back. That screenplay still sits in a drawers somewhere. So like everyone here I got into background work, then got depressed and was thinking of moving back home. Luckily, I found myself back doing set photography work for a friend I met doing background work. It wasn't until my third film of set photog work that an actor from the film asked I could do his headshot. Well since I was needing a buck I took him up on it. Thank god too because after that first session I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, I think I make this my career.' So, probably a month after my first session I decided to sink all my money, time and energy into buying all the right equipment I needed as well as classes on headshot/ portrait photography. And I’m really glad I did because I never thought I’d enjoy something as much as I do being a portrait/headshot photographer. It’s by far the scariest and best decision I ever made. Now I’ve been a portrait and headshot photographer for some years now and I love every second of it. It hasn’t been an easy though. I did a lot of hard leaning or as I call it just paying my dues, it’s been a life learning experience for sure.
So, like I said earlier, failure is a theme in my journey but most importantly so is the theme of never giving up. Any time you fail or mess up it doesn’t mean it’s the end. In fact, sometimes they open up opportunities you may never knew existent. We just need to stop this mindset that failing is wrong, it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I hate losing. Who doesn’t hate failing. But as long as you understand that it’s not the end but just an opportunity to become better. That’s my message I guess. I’m very thankful for those failed moments because they led me to one of the loves of my life. Portrait/Headshot Photography. Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep moving forward.
Your headshot is one of the most important marketing tools that you have.