We had the good fortune of connecting with MICHAEL THAXTON and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi MICHAEL, what do you attribute your success to?
Michael Thaxton Photography started during a low place in my life. I had just moved back to Rochester, NY from St. Louis. I was unemployed & homeless. I was staying in a veterans shelter and one of my counselors Wayne saw all these photos I had taken and had the art therapist help me put on my first gallery showing. Photography has been a hobby until then and the success came from that first show. It has carried on since then. I love to give back to the community as well. I do shoots for those who can’t afford them as well as pay what you can for those less fortunate. That is really what has made me successful.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started as a photographer in High School back in 1981. When I graduated in 1983 I joined the Navy right out of school and I put my camera down. It was in 1999 while working at Kodak that my passion for photography came back. Digital was in full swing and I started shooting again. Mainly as a hobbyist, shooting concerts and as I was traveling. In 2015 was when it went to making money at it. It was still a hobby with side jobs doing senior photos and commercial work of products and buildings. In 2016 I had my first gallery show and my first book published of my art. During this time I flirted with writing as well and released a book of poetry. It was well received and I received the honor of being in the top 100 authors acknowledged by UBAWA IN 2017.
I again published another book of photography with a twist. I had poets from all over the world write to my images. The proceeds from that book went to help homeless veterans.
That seemed to be where I paused writing and went professional with my photography. Since then I shoot non stop. I have shot music festivals, wedding, protests and more. I love shooting events such as the BLM protests as way to document history.
I love giving back to the community. I believe in helping those in need or those who can’t afford my services. I have struggled all my life to get where I am. What better way to help others than to give them a hand up. Our youth need to be taught how to be creative and what better way than to teach them or help them get their creativity out there. If I can create a piece that shows their art and they can use it to better themselves. I’m game. If they need senior photos and can’t afford them. I’m in. It isn’t always about money but what you can do to help others.
I live by my faith. Treat your neighbor as you would yourself. It doesn’t matter sexual orientation, skin color, religion, etc….. They are my neighbor.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m actually getting ready to go on vacation where I grew up in Washington State. I would love to take someone with me for a week. We would head up on Mt Rainer and explore the mountain. The waterfalls and the beauty of being in nature. Drive up to Paradise and walk to the base of the glaciers. Then head into Seattle and enjoy the nightlife. Food and music in Pioneer Square.
Head up in the Space Needle for Sunset behind the Olympic mountains and the colors of the sunset reflecting off the Cascade Mountain Range.
Next would be the drive around the Olympic Penisula stopping at North America’s only Rain Forest as well as the many beaches along the Pacific Coast.
Our last stop would be my second hometown of Tokeland. It’s not much to see but the fresh crab at the pier and the relaxing atmosphere away from civilization is peace and quiet. The nearest town is almost an hour away. The amazing sunrises and sunsets are worth it all.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Sheree Almeida, for all the support you have given me as a friend and a muse over the years. I’m not sure where I would be without all your push and shove when I needed it. Your an amazing writer and graphic artist.
Shante Golden, for pushing me through some hard times. Showing me that my worth is more than just being here. Love your voice as you sing and it inspires me to grow my art as well.
Michael Thaxton Photography Instagram.com/thaxtonphotos