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Meet Michael Baxter of Baxter Imaging in Northwest Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Baxter.

Michael, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was on the road to becoming a cinematographer until a chance encounter with someone in the industry derailed my plan. He shared his experience in the entertainment industry and gave me my first reality check on the lifestyle it demanded. I realized it wasn’t for me, so I had to switch gears quickly, as my degree program was nearing completion. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from U of A and waited tables while looking for a job that seemingly didn’t exist.

After a year, I ended up at an engineering facility called Exponent, where I found myself behind the camera for an entirely different purpose. I was part of the Visual Communication Department. We weren’t there to entertain an audience. Our job was to capture cars crashing, motorcycles flipping, trucks rolling, and aircraft seats cracking. The job was the opposite side of creative but laid an important foundation for my future career. In 2003, after four years in this technically demanding environment, I left in hopes of finding that creative position I’d wanted from the beginning. Months turned two years, while I farmed myself out as a freelance videographer, editor, photographer, print designer, web designer, etc.

After a few years, a family friend in real estate approached me about photographing his listings. I was soon intrigued by the work and set out to focus exclusively on architectural photography. I started out with a basic digital camera, a few lenses, a tripod, and a strong desire to produce the best quality I could. After much trial and error and thousands of bad shots, I found my rhythm. Over the last 14 years, I’ve created a signature style that my clients appreciate. Like anything, some folks like it and some don’t. I enjoy the entire process from scouting, staging, and lighting, to the photography and post-production. I think this reflects in my images. I approach my work like I’m shooting with film, using digital processing as a polishing tool vs. a rescuing tool. I enjoy nearly every assignment I get, always hoping to do something really cool that makes my client say “Wow!”.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The life of freelance is not smooth. It’s a roller coaster ride full of anticipation, frustration, disappointment, and excitement. The struggles include time management, money management, keeping informed on trends and technology, keeping good client relations, negotiating contracts, and chasing your money. Artists are not known for their business acumen. Learning to wear all hats is critical. Talent is not enough to succeed. Most of us learn through trial and error. Looking back, a business degree would have been most helpful. After all, I’m running a business.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Baxter Imaging – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m a commercial photographer specializing in architectural and interior photography. I cater to the design industry working with architects, builders, designers, and developers. My assignments range from custom-designed homes to large commercial venues. There are many wonderful photographers out there, so distinguishing one’s work can be a challenge. My method involves the use of extensive lighting, rendering an image that is full of dimension, texture, and color. I enjoy the process of blending traditional photographic technique with modern digital technology, extending the possibilities of what can be captured. The reward is in seeing the client’s reaction, especially when they appreciate the fine details that happened before the actual photography. My team and I spend a great deal of time moving furniture in order to translate the space. The inherent challenge is to capture a three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional medium, without losing the sense of depth.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m blessed to have found success in this industry, which I don’t attribute it to luck. It’s been a long journey of faith and hard work. I thank God that I can support my family doing work I enjoy. I’ve met a lot of talented and generous people that have helped me build my business one assignment at a time.

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