We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
How has my balance changed over time? I take a lot more me time. Lol. We have been conditioned to think that if we are not working we aren’t being productive or getting enough work done. When I was younger, I, like many others, subscribed to the thought that I had to always be grinding. While in college, I worked full time and went to school full time. On top of that, throw in trying to start and learn a business and how to navigate that industry. I was burned out plenty of days. Now that I have been full time in my career for a few years, I’ve learned that if I do not take the time to mentally, physically, and emotionally recharge, I won’t be good for anyone including myself. My advice to anyone is to take at least a day where you do nothing at all. Taking it a day at a time, you’ll start to learn to create space for yourself.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started my photography and video business (Shots By Mike Smith Photography) in 2009. I was literally everywhere volunteering to take pictures around the city until people knew who I was. Shortly after starting my business, I was hired as a freelance photographer for WXIA 11 Alive News in Atlanta, Ga. During my time there (’09-’15), I covered events around the city such as celebrity events, concerts, conferences, restaurant openings, museum exhibits, and private galas. While event photography was fun and exciting, I wanted to slow it down and capture more conceptual and artistic portraits. I started shooting more studio work that includes headshots, fashion and beauty, product, engagement, family and fine art portraits. As an educator, I’m proud to have worked with so many students to help cultivate their artistic abilities. Mixed with my background in business, I helped the students learn how to market and brand themselves the correct way to become legit artists and business owners. After I left the school system, I still wanted to help other artists develop into businessmen and women. That’s what led me to create Mike Smith Productions LLC. I use MSP as a platform to deliver photography and video services on a larger scale, as well as offer my network of artistic and business resources; which range from graphic designers and photographers to business lawyers and commercial realtors. Under Mike Smith Productions LLC, I have been dubbed by my clients as “The Man Behind The Shine”, and I don’t take it lightly. I try to go above and beyond for most of my clients offering photography, video, and image consulting to create cohesive marketing and branding materials for them. Mike Smith Productions now produces three web series (Young Millionaires Mind, Before They’re Gone, and Memoirs Anthology Series), a collaborative podcast ‘Art Talk’ with the Cre8tive Mastermind group, and a photography resource book ‘The M Word’. A collaborative workspace is also set for late 2021. As a company, I am most proud of being able to give back knowledge to all who want to learn. I often do one-on-one’s, I have given feedback on makeup artist portfolios, taught young photographers how to understand lighting and composition, and I have helped give businesses that extra spark to succeed. What sets me apart from others is my willingness to carry the torch to the finish line for my client. I’m very relationship oriented. I want to make sure my client has everything they need to have a successful business from beginning to end.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hmmm….I would start by heading to Little 5 Points to show them the art, restaurants, and shops. I would then head to Ponce City Market to shop, eat and walk the Beltline. While at ponce at night, I would visit Skyline Park on the roof of the building. Another favorite spot of mine is Colony Square in Midtown. They recently added some new restaurants and is down the street from Piedmont Park. A good brunch place would be The Ivy in Buckhead and for a little more Atlanta culture, I would visit the Trap Museum.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to my supporters and clients who have been with me from day one. Without them, my business wouldn’t be where it is today. I would like to specifically recognize my sister! She has been such a blessing to have in this time of growing my business. She has been my admin person helping me set up my automation processes, she has been someone who helps me during the creative process lending another perspective, and she has been someone I can help with her business which gives me extra ideas to do for my business.