Nope, you’re not seeing things … Photographer Mike Kane’s “selfie” on this page does look like he’s right at home in a previous era.
Mike’s portrait forms part of his “Selfies 1700” series – just one of many creative ideas this exceptionally talented and imaginative local photographer is currently working on. However, Mike is equally at home taking photos of our local wildlife, or pointing a camera at the sky and experimenting with astrophotography …
Hi Mike. Your photographic origins began in Scotland. Where were you born, and how did life in “the land of the brave” influence/affect your photographic/life journey?
I was born in Dunfermline, near Edinburgh. My photographic interest didn’t take off until 1978, when I was 21.
After leaving the Royal Navy with some cash in my pocket, I bought a camera, three lenses, a portable darkroom and six rolls of film. I taught myself how to use them.
I had various jobs where my photographic skills were used by my employers. I was made redundant and decided to enrol as a mature student in the first photography course offered by Carnegie College. After my course, I was a freelance photographer and often collaborated with other photographic colleagues to complete photographic assignments of all kinds.
What led to your move to Australia in 2007?
I moved to Australia for a new start. My sister lived here already, and I had visited her and her family many times over the years, so decided Australia was the place to be.
You’ve taught photography to students for many years, including courses at the Port Macquarie Community College. How has teaching honed your own skills behind the lens?
Photography for me has always been a passion more than a job. I believe I’m teaching my students my passion, rather than a skill. I did, however, have to learn about many different camera types and how to interpret them.
I tell my students the most important thing is not the camera or the lenses in their camera bag; it’s their eyes and how they see things. With all the technology we have today in cameras, it’s really easy to leave it on Auto and let the camera do all the work. With a few basic camera skills, you can compose and create the image that you want.
The biggest challenge is to stay one step ahead of my students, who are hungry for knowledge. I’m lucky that I’m able to be using my camera most days.
Left to your own devices, and with camera equipment to hand, what subjects do you most like to shoot (and why)?
I like the challenges of wildlife photography. Here in Australia, wildlife is so abundant and on your doorstep.
I like the creative licence I have in the studio, having total control of the lighting and atmosphere of my images. I’ve worked with some amazing models here in Port Macquarie. Most of my studio work is shot on a plain background. My skills then move to the computer, where I create a composite image using the model, a background shot somewhere else, and other elements to complete the image.
Give me a camera and a subject, and I’m happy capturing it.
Where would you be most at home shooting images … on land, underwater, pointing a telescope at the stars? (Or, all of the above!)
I like all aspects of photography. I am equally skilled and at ease shooting landscapes, wildlife, the stars, underwater and in the studio.
With brilliant clear skies in Australia, I’ve taken up astrophotography with a telescope, which holds its own challenges.
What are some images/projects you’ve worked on recently that have really inspired you?
My partner, Denise and I have jointly been working on a steampunk studio theme with several models. We photograph the model on a plain background and then using other images we have taken, backgrounds and objects of interest, we compose the pictures on the computer.
Another project is my Selfies 1700 project, where I take a studio photograph of myself in 1700s costume and create a believable background to put my 1700s self into.
If you had to pack you your bag today and travel overseas, what camera equipment would you take with you (and why)?
When travelling, I try to take all my gear – because you don’t know what situations you’re going to encounter. I may need a long lens for wildlife, a wide angle lens for landscapes, and a fisheye for astrophotography. I try to cover all bases.
I’m actually going overseas for Christmas to meet my new grandchild. I’ll be taking my Olympus OMD EM1 MK II and several lenses. I’m not sure what the weather will be like, and I may be too busy being a new grandad and with family to get out much.
What exhibitions/photographic competitions have you been involved with in recent years?
This year I’ve won several ribbons, medals, and acceptances in national and international exhibitions. I was awarded third in photography at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. I also exhibited at the Macleay Valley Community Gallery in June with three friends.
My partner, Denise and I also exhibited our images at the Crave @ Bonnys Café in Bonny Hills under our joint name “Artography” and had some sales there.
What future plans/projects do you have in mind?
I will be continuing my steampunk and Selfies 1700 projects.
We’re going to New Zealand in autumn next year, to capture the colours of autumn and amazing scenery.
In June I’ll be exhibiting again at the Macleay Valley Community Art Gallery with Denise and another friend. Part of my business is “Images of Scotland”, where I sell photographs of Scottish landscapes at Highland Gatherings in New South Wales and Canberra, such as “Bundanoon is Brigadoon”, “Bonnie Wingham”, Aberdeen and Canberra Highland Gatherings. This gives me a chance to air the kilt, have haggis for lunch and listen to the sound of the pipes.
Do you have any workshops/classes planned for 2019 and beyond?
Because the beginning of the year is very busy for us, and there is a lot of work put into having an exhibition, I haven’t planned anything for the first part of 2019.
Where can we see more examples of your work/contact you?
My website is www.mikekanephotography.com.au where you can see examples of all my work.
Interview: Jo Robinson.