DOWNTOWN DENVER WITH BROOK “Castle Rock Senior Photographer”


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So a few months ago, I was asked by one of my fitness friends IFBB Pro Marilena Echohawk to do her daughter’s senior pictures.  Brook is a senior at Legacy High School in Broomfield, CO.  Here are a few images that we took while in downtown Denver. 2016-07-31_0001

Of course this was Brook’s very first professional photo shoot, however with me, her boyfriend, and her Mother there to assist me with the shoot, Brook pulled off some magnificent shots!  MEC_2672 with logo.jpg

High school seniors, and parents…don’t wait too late to have your photos done.  Just message me via the “Contact Me” section of my website (



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I was chatting with a colleague the other night, about photography.  He paid me a compliment on my work and told me, “You’re like a different photographer nowadays.  It’s like it’s more spiritual to you now, and I can dig that.”  I then started talking about how much I used to admire other people’s work, but now I see that it really hasn’t improved.  My colleague then said, “It’s because their work has no soul”.

That made me really think about the depth of photography and how powerful it can be.  Every photo has to have something to it to make it unique.  The debate is always there whenever people say, “There’s nothing new, or creative in photography, or art”.  I beg to differ.  The uniqueness is simply the “soul” you put into your work.  It’s not just the time, or effort either.

Look, you can take a million photos of beautiful men and women, however, if there’s no “soul” in the images, then it’s just some mundane, rudimentary, “cookie cutter” work.  Now, your clients that pay you, they may think it’s awesome; and good on you, however your peers will know better.  I recently went to Los Angeles in April to do some photo shoots.  While I was there I stayed at my Cousin’s house… Gary Askew II is a very well established photographer who has some phenomenal work.  While at his home, I noticed something that emphasizes my point of this blog.  His entire home was eclectically designed.  There were photography influences everywhere from his mentor Martin Schoeller to his mentor’s mentor Annie Leibovitz.  I felt like I was in the right place at the right time; especially since it was my birthday weekend that I stayed.  I really just was in awe of all the things he shared with me about how to keep progressing and how to work harder to advance myself.

The biggest take away is this…put some “soul” into your work.  If your work has become stale, or you’re just losing your “mojo”, then go back to the basics and reestablish yourself to get where you desire to be.  If photography truly is your passion, you’ll always find a way to get back into the groove.  Look at your work, and give it life, if it has life…find a way to give it more of a body so it can get out to the right places and speak for itself!!

Mike Conley Jr.


Take No Prisoners 2016 “Castle Rock Photographer”


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Alyssa Marie Dunlap Glamour photo shoot

Alyssa Marie Dunlap photo shoot

There’s been a few inquires concerning my new hashtag “#takenoprisoners2016”, so I just wanted to address it with the following mission statement:

MikeCon Photography has committed this year and every year afterwards for excellence.  My brand for is about quality and not quantity.

-Committment to the client and their investment.

-Committment to quality customer service.

-Committment to a quality product.

-Committment towards providing a great experience.

I’m 100% committed to understanding the need behind the need for each client to ensure that each person’s experience is exactly what they’re looking for and hopefully exceeding their own expectations.  My brand isn’t about someone’s looks, it’s primarily based upon one’s attitude.  Looks are cool, however they don’t last forever, they fade in the blink of an eye.  True and great relationships can last forever.  So this year, I’m not holding back on excellence within myself, or within my product.  There’s a desire within me to push the boundaries on my own skill-set to produce the best images possible within my business to ensure that quality is produced.

The following photographers listed below are my local/traveling affiliates, they too have taken this same stance in producing quality work and the same commitment towards providing outstanding service towards their clients.  If you don’t choose to work with me, or if I can’t fit your schedule due to my own traveling schedule; these gentlemen are more than capable to handle the workload, and provide you an outstanding product in my stead.

Tony Contreras -

Alain Camporiva –

Sampson Leung –

Dan O’Neill –

Please contact me directly for pricing inquires because I do not post my rates on my website.  You can reach me via the following:


Phone: “**Mikecon” from any mobile device


Thank you for your time!





Dear New Photographer “Castle Rock Photographer”


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A photographer friend of mine Pete Jones asked a question on his social media and I guess I was the only photographer to answer it.   He stated/asked, “Starting out in photography is definitely one heck of a difficult thing to do. It’s one of those catch 22’s…. you need the photos to get the gigs and you need the gigs to get the photos.

I recall being very lucky and well received in even my most early stages of portrait photography. Perhaps this was due to my preexisting following from my land & cityscape work – i’m not entirely sure?

How did you get your start and what words of wisdom do you have for those just starting out? I seem to be getting a lot of questions related to this lately and thought I’d put the question to other photogs.”

My answer was this:

I got my start from just working with the right people at the right time, and just letting my work/work ethic speak for itself. My best words of wisdom to any photographer starting out is this:

1. Don’t talk shit, it’ll catch up to you. Whining isn’t winning and when you’re not making money…it’ll show. I’ve caught a few people already, and I keep them on my friends list despite the disrespect they’ve spoken. Some have already fallen off my friends list, and others…I blocked.

2. Be modest. Nobody can be 100% humble, but have balance….keep your ego in check.

3. Stay positive. If you can swallow the taste of blood from biting your tongue and not spit off stupid shit, you’ll be fine.

4. Stay off social media if you are upset. Potential clients won’t want to work with you, and you’ll really just piss off everyone. People like winners, not whiners.

5. Work and learn the business side of photography. If you’re just doing this for “art, or a hobby”, then fine, but if you’re trying to make money, dig deep and WORK!

6. Don’t get high on your own supply….don’t date models/clients. It’s just not good for anyone, and people talk which can ruin your reputation.

7. Learn to say, “NO”. Looks don’t matter, just because someone is beautiful, it doesn’t mean they get to ride for free.

8. Learn lighting and work with great MUA’s….they’ll both save your ass! Photoshop is a tool, not the answer to everything.

9. Shoot what makes you happy. Take pride in your work and improve on it daily…even if you and everyone else thinks it’s perfect.

10. Know your worth and do not let people try to punk you out with “exposure, free, donations, sponsorship(s), TF, etc”. Set a price and stick to it, but know when to give yourself a raise if your work merits it. You aren’t going to be able to shoot everyone, but those who value your work and time will pay you what you believe you’re worth.


I truly hope this makes sense for anyone that’s beginning in photography, or those of you that are doing photography now.  Let your work speak for itself and have fun!  I’ve met a gang of backstabbers/trash talkers, and they’re still doing the same thing over and over and over again!  I’ve moved past them, because I had a vision to where I wanted my work and my business to be.  They can do whatever they want…I’m doing me….DO YOU!!

Olivia Moschetti Downtown Denver

NPC Competitor Olivia Moschetti Downtown Denver photo shoot.


Fitness Magazine Cover photo shoot with Dr. Kelly Lamoreaux, DDS.



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Today is Valentine’s day here in the United States, so I figured I’d write something concerning the topic of “LOVE”…this is coming from the heart…enjoy!

Now I’ve been around the world eight times since I was a child (Army officer brat).  So, with that being said, I’ve seen a lot of different things and can say with confidence that I’ve experienced and learned quite a few things with lots of extraordinary people.  I’ll say with confidence that all of these people were indeed above and beyond successful within the standards of any society.

I remember being in the Marine Corps, close to the end of my career and then asking a long time friend of mine about how he became so good at finding success while working at a unit that most Personnel Administrators dreaded going to.  His answer was simple, and short.  His answer was, “I love my job!”  Yes, this answer kinda stumped me because I knew the struggle, and it’s very real.


Now, I too loved my job, because as an administrator, you had the pulse of the entire Marine Corps and knew things that most Marines didn’t ahead of time, and from time to time we got to “blow shit up” too.  It wasn’t until after I had retired, became a photographer, and went through some trials that I learned the true meaning of this.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly loved being an administrator in the Marines, however having the freedom of not answering to anyone; except my clients, the freedom to be creative without having to worry about the rules and regulations of another command is kinda fun.  Being in the Marines for over 20 years and being a Personnel/Administrative Chief taught me a lot.  I apply everything that I experienced and apply that towards servicing my client’s needs.

As a photographer, I see too many posts from other photographers stating the same thing, “I LOVE MY JOB“, however the truth is that most of them aren’t really making any money, and secretly miserable while they’re struggling at paying bills, or wondering how they’re going to pay their bills.  I’m like, “Hey…you take good pictures, but you’re suffering in silence.”  They begin to fit the profile for a “starving artist”.  I literally see so many of my photography peers out there just throwing themselves at someone (potential clients), like strippers on the pole, and at the mercy of a dollar bill.  Most of them are in pursuit of social medial “likes” and wanting their egos stroked like a pet, awaiting for someone to say, “Good job!”  I’ve seen some even stop doing photography and start doing multi-level marketing.  It’s not a bad thing, however it’s just not for me.  It’s sad to see photographers struggle because I truly understand how badly they want to get paid.

Photographers, hear me…you don’t have to.  Learn about how to run your business, set a price and stick too it.  Learn how to say, “No.”, and most of all…STOP SHOOTING FOR FREE SO MUCH (TFCD/TFP/EXPOSURE, SPONSORSHIP, SPONSOR…these are all the same as “FREE”)!!!!  None of that pays bills and to be quite honest, people won’t appreciate what you do until you start standing up for yourselves.  Stop feeling guilty, or being guilt tripped by other people because they don’t believe that you have a real job.  I get asked all the time, “What’s your real job Mike?”, then I smile and say, “Photographer and I love it!”  Can you truly say you love your job if you’re not really making any sustainable profit from it?!?  It’s not a job, and according to the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.), it’s a hobby.  Yes, you’re a hobbyist and so the words, “I love my job” are no longer valid; because it’s not a job…Let’s be real about this…it’s a hobby.  People are going to constantly manipulate you to work for free…DON’T!!  One or two a year is okay, however don’t sell your soul for meaningless work.  Do your research on the events, or work that they are asking you to volunteer at.  If it’s not paying you what you believe you’re worth…RUN, don’t walk….RUN AWAY!!

Last year I watched a Sue Bryce video on YouTube that kinda hit home.  I’d strongly suggest you all (photographers, or creatives) to watch it.  It’s one that makes you look deep in the mirror and want to make course corrections within yourself.  Last year I spoke to a few photographers that tried telling me their own ways of doing things and to be successful, however I had to stop listening to it.  I went back to those life experiences I had and trusted my gut to just cut out the crap they were feeding me.  Being popular won’t get you paid…neither will constantly giving away your had work, or time, especially to ungrateful people.  My elder brother once said to me, “Of course they’re going to tell you that because you’re the competition!  They’re going to do any and everything to sabotage your goals, so they can achieve theirs!”  That resonated within me because I actually thought these people were trying to help me become more successful, however the more you look at what they were telling me, the more it looked like a campaign to go backwards vice forward.

One photographer actually suggested that I go to a run down part of Colorado and do shoots because the level of photographers there wasn’t good.  I didn’t take that advice and looking back, I should’ve told them to go there.  Another photographer told me that I should go out and throw pool parties to promote my business.  Yes, this was told to me.  Looking forward, I’ve already leveled up in my business to where I want to be.  I no longer speak to those idiots.  I let my work speak for me.  I’ve had some ask me about how I do things, however I also don’t tell people my business; because I found my own way of doing things and it works!  Running a business takes fine tuning and like photography, you have to progress in doing so.  I’m not the most successful photographer out there.  Yes, there are some that are very great at sales and other tactics, however I’m slowly and quietly positioning myself to where I want to be.  I listen to people that I KNOW are successful and aren’t acting like they are.

Looking back at the Marine job I had, I was in “lust”, but not in true “love”.   When I’m behind my camera (Nikon D800), emailing clients, sending out invoices, working on marketing campaigns, and travel schedules…I literally am in full all out love.   Photographers are creative people, however they’re still people.  So to all of you out there that are my photography peers, I challenge you to take a leap of faith and stand up for what you believe in.  Get your lives together and learn to take your “businesses” more seriously; if not you’re going to feel the sting from the I.R.S. when it comes down to you not handling it within five years, and then constantly just giving away your work and time.  Stop telling people, “I love my job” because in reality, you don’t have a photography job, you have a nice little hobby!

Love always,




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You know how you meet someone who’s famous for like a split second, and they were a complete jerk to you, or act like they can’t deal with being around you? Then, down the road they’re not as famous anymore and seem almost human when you see them again doing nothing? Moral of the story….don’t be a douchebag! The first time someone interacts with you, that’s your chance to make a lasting impression.

In my lifetime I’ve met a lot of different celebrities, and famous people…some were cool, and some were just too full of themselves. Having notoriety, or fame shouldn’t turn you into someone nobody likes to know, or be around. I’m sitting here remembering how I treated people in my past when I graduated Marine Corps boot camp, or when I used to be the “stud” during workouts. Over the years, I actually reached out to most of those people I was arrogant to and apologized for my bad behavior. Treat people how they want to be treated!

Since being a photographer, I’ve met a few wanna be “rockstar” photographers.  I remember my first encounter here in Colorado.  I met one whom I believed was a great person.  Unfortunately, once I shook their hand and hung around them all day, I was really upset because of my pre-judgment of this person.  They brushed me off quickly, even during the shoot I was sitting in, they kept telling me to go hang out with another photographer….over and over again, hell…I even bought them lunch and they never even said, “Thank you.”   I no longer have contact with this individual, nor want to.

The examples above are why I try being open and friendly to other photographers as much as possible.  Yes, it’s hard to keep up with all the emails and such, but I will never treat anyone the way I was snubbed off.  You’re going to have to deal with people telling you to research things on your own and utilize Google, however to completely blow someone off is not just rude, it’s a great truth of your own character.



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Three years ago I read this article by Julia Kuzmenko-McKim.  I’ve been sharing it for the longest time because it hits a lot of major obstacles that a majority of photographers/models/clients go through.  Recently I found myself asking myself a few questions, ‘What am I missing?’, and ‘How can I get everyone I work with on board without repeating myself over and over”?  So I decided to write my own blog about how to actually get my message across for people to improve the workflow process for photographers.  Please just take this as a guide more than anything.  There’s so many things I could elaborate on, however this will definitely help people understand that just “winging it” doesn’t cut it all the time for doing a photo shoot.

I recently asked a few photographers (local and international) to tell me some information they like to tell their clients/models prior to doing a photo shoot to improve their turnaround time on editing for that particular person.  This really came out even more because we as photographers get asked, “When can I expect the edits”, or “Dude, where’s my pictures?!?”.  This by no means is a way to go to photographers and demand your edits.  Each photographer has their own way of doing things and no artist likes to feel rushed.  Inside of this blog I also share some of my own personal experiences, so you don’t have to go through these things and know how to better prepare.  So, on that note, here’s what we all came up with…ENJOY!

NPC Competitor Olivia Moschetti Downtown Denver photo shoot.

NPC Competitor Olivia Moschetti Downtown Denver photo shoot with Mike Conley Jr. of MikeCon Photography, assisted by Tony Contreras Photography, Makeup by Jo Vu of Salona Joa.


1.  Go to bed!  Doing a photo shoot can make a lot of people nervous and anxious all in one.  Some think very lightly of how important getting enough sleep can be, however if you have enough rest in the weeks and days prior to the shoot, you’ll see there will be a huge increase in your energy, less bags under your eyes and less “red eye” to clean up.  Last, but not least…nobody wants to shoot with someone who acts like they don’t want to be there (model, or photographer).  It’s always best not to walk into a photo shoot acting like a grumpy pants.

2.  Bathe.  Yes, this should go without saying, however some have shown up to shoots with the smell of last nights events upon them.    Another thing I learned is use a good sugar scrub for your skin.  Using a sugar scrub for about a week or so will give your skin a great natural glow.  Please…wash your feet…yes, it may sound ridiculous, however dirty feet will really kill the vibe of a photo shoot and the images.

3.  Go get a professional facial from an esthetician.  If you’ve already booked your photo shoot weeks, or months ahead, make the time to get unnecessary acne, or other facial issues cleared up.  Stop touching your face with dirty hands!!  Moisturize the dry areas of your skin and bring oil free lotion with you just in case.  Clear skin is a beautiful thing!

4.  Shave your face.  Shaving your face do it the day or night before so it gives your skin and pores time to relax.

5.  Wax.   It photographs so much better!!  If the model normally shaves his or her under arms or pubic area, then make some time and go get waxed, however do it at least 3 to 4 days prior to the shoot to ensure there’s no residual redness.

6.  Start teeth whitening products 1-3 months prior to photos, if desired.

7.  Stay out of the sun in the days preceding the session.  Not many of you think this is  a huge deal, however showing up with a “farmers tan” can reeeeeeeaally slow down the editing process of your photos.

8.  If you’re not doing a fitness/glamour shoot, you should on the day of the session: drink plenty of water for luminous skin.

9.  Don’t eat a full meal or drink too many fluids up to 4 hours before a shoot.  If you wear skin tight clothing, a bloated belly will show in your photos.  Pack small snacks for your shoot and eat them sparingly to keep your energy up and going.  Nobody wants you out on their set fainting, or having any medical issues that stem from a lack of nutrition.  Ensure you drink plenty of water days and hours prior to your shoot.  Bring water to your shoot as well.

10.  Exercise.  Nothing is wrong with tightening up your body, or working on your physique.  It’ll help give you a strong posture as well.

First Bikini shoot of the summer for MikeCon Photography with Alyssa Marie Dunlap

First Bikini shoot of the summer for Mike Conley Jr. of MikeCon Photography with Alyssa Marie Dunlap of Zaqavi, Makeup by Lindsay Ambrosio of Makeup Madame


1.  Nails.  A few years back I did a beauty head shots workshop with Julia Kuzmenko-McKim and her words still resonate in my head from when we were looking for models for the workshop.  Let me paraphrase here…she said, ‘Please ensure the models know to wear clear, or nude nail polish’.  As much as I tell this to people, some still show up with some funky colors, or designs.  Whenever people show up with chipped, or peeled up nail polish, it really isn’t  fun to try and fill later on.  Consider a salon manicure and pedicure, you’ll look fabulous and it’ll show that you care about yourself in your photos.  To the ones who actually listened…THANK YOU!  Another photographer (Amanda Diaz) , recently was on Periscope discussing the importance of up-keeping your nails.

2.  Don’t wear anything with tight or elastic straps to avoid lines on the skin.  Depending on the photo session, No Bra or tight underwear/clothing, that will leave lines/impressions.  For a Model or Client doing a more revealing session, this still applies.  Sweat pants and loose clothing is essential.  Editing elastic imprints on skin is a headache easily avoided.

3.  No antiperspirant that leaves a white film under the Models/Clients under arms.  This stuff will also get onto your clothes and can make your images a disaster if they leave streaks that show.

4.  Tan naked.  Please do not tan prior to your session, please do it 3 to 4 days prior, and please DO NOT SPRAY TAN!  To us spray tan is the devil to edit and on that note:  (Mike: Willy Wonka says!)  It’s a well known fact that photographers dislike spray tan.  Some very light spray tans are great, however for those of you that do not do spray tans, please just go “commando” when tanning.  Tan lines really aren’t fun to try and blend in while editing.  Hey…it’s a huge difference maker in getting your photos back in time looking perfect, or looking like you are a mutated hybrid animal.

5.  Iron your clothes and invest in a lint roller!!  (Self explanatory…)

6.  Shoes:  I’ve spoken to a few photographers out there and they seem like very level headed, down to earth people.  They told me about times when they’ve done shoots at 3/4 length shots, and sent photos to the models, and they got into heated arguments with the models because they wanted photos of the shoes.  If you’d like your shoes shot in your photos make sure you communicate this with the photographer.  Believe me, it’s not that hard to get those shots.  Also, if you’re going to want shots of those shoes, please ensure they’re 100% clean of any mud, lint, dust, or dirt.

7.  Tags and hair ties.  As a photographer, I take it as my responsibility to ensure these things are not visible, however it is a team effort and yes, we know all know the game…”I’m going to wear these for the shoot, and take them back to the store, so can you please Photoshop the tags off”?  It’s a common practice, so please find a way to hide those tags.  I personally despise hair ties as much as my peers do and probably even more.  I used to have to spend time in Photoshop figuring out how to remove them from the wrists of my models.  I’m great at it now, however I don’t have to do it because I pay closer attention to my model prior to me pressing the trigger button.

8.  Don’t under estimate the value of a Make Up Artist (MUA). This mostly applies to people that wear makeup that isn’t flash friendly (think ghost face or white streaks).  I’ve learned from Savannah Appel of Savvy Beauty Co to tell my clients/models to bring their own foundation to the MUA to help.  IF you choose to do your own makeup, then remember to match your base makeup to your skin perfectly, it shows under the lights.  Don’t cake makeup over a zit and surrounding areas.  Last but not least…please, tip your MUA’s.  Tipping goes a long way, and shows that you value their work and time.  Believe me…a $20 tip shows that you care!

9.  If you’re a model then bring what I consider a model kit: Under garments (bra, panties) in the following color: black, nude, grey.  I don’t bother with white because grey doesn’t show up under white clothing as much as white does. Hair pins, hair ties, blotting paper, moisturizer, solid color shirt (black and/or white).

10.  If you are planning on a haircut or color, give yourself a few days to make sure you are happy with it.  A long time ago I actually went on a shoot and it rained.  During the shoot the hair dye began to drip all over the model.  It really just ruined the entire shoot because the model decided to dye her hair that night.  Give the hair coloring time to settle into the hair so it doesn’t just ruin your shoot.

11.  Lower your salt intake if you are worried about retaining water.

+The Inner Peace

1.  Doing a photo shoot (especially if you’re a newbie) can be hard.  When I say “newbie” I mean newbie photographer too, not just model.  You’ve got to have peace and clarity of what you want the shoot to look like so you and your client will be satisfied with the outcome.  Make some time and meet-up prior to the shoot, however if you can not meet prior in person, GET ON THE PHONE!!  Texting and emailing just isn’t going to cut it!  If a photog/model/client won’t answer their phone and is insistent that you text, or message you, then I will say 9 out of 10 times, the shoot will not be worth your time; especially if you have never worked with them.    You both need to speak so everything is laid out concisely.  Not properly communicating is a setup for failure.  I have personally declined shoots because of this.  Be sure to communicate your goals to your photographer because this alone will bring all of the bigger answers to your questions to the surface.  Talk with your photographer about which physical qualities you like best about yourself so they know where to give some extra attention to in the session to provide you with photos we both know you’ll love.   On top of what said about best physical qualities, you should discuss what physical qualities you don’t like because the photographer might like those and focus on those without knowing about it.

2.  Practice your posing!  This goes for everyone… I’ve personally had to go out onto shoots and demonstrate how I want the pose to be.  Practicing posing should take about 10-30 minutes daily.  Just because you’re good at taking selfies, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to kick some butt on your shoot.  Don’t just go out there with one move…have a few nailed down so the photographer can make minor adjustments.  Make the time to utilize magazines that you see, or online videos, or go out and buy a posing book…yes…they have them out there for sale.  Practice!  Practice!!  PRACTICE!!!

3.  Selfies.  This is a touchy subject with some people; because most of them just can’t be honest with themselves.  There’s software out there that can alter people’s appearances.  I use this software, and have used it for that purpose.  If your photographer is asking for selfies that pertain to the shoot, send them.  I know of photographers that even ask for selfies of their model’s nails, and even up-close skin complexions.  Another great thing to do is let the photographer see the clothing you’re going to be bringing to the shoot.  It’s a great idea to let them see it because a lot of photographers are visual creatures.  You can either wear it, or lay it out on the bed and send them photos of it.  A great read about this is with the blog I read a long time ago from Paul Buceta concerning model safety.

Use good judgment, because yes, there’s some weirdos out there unfortunately.  I recommend that  you have some selfies that are ready to go just for photographers.  It eliminates the awkwardness that may come out, and unfortunately, there’s some people that call themselves professionals, and try calling others “creepy” or other unprofessional negative names to make themselves look and feel better on social media.  It’s a job, and if you treat it as such, you’ll be fine.  To each their own, and if you’re not comfortable with doing it, then just don’t and move on. No harm, no foul…C’est la vie!!

4.  Arrive early 15-30 minutes early to the shoot so you’re not rushing through the door and feeling rushed to do the shoot.  Check and make sure your phone is fully charged and the weather so you will know what time to leave in order to be on time.  Every time I use Google Maps on my phone it gives me not only the weather report, but a pretty detailed traffic report too.  If you set up your Google Calendar, it’ll also allow you to set up notifications and tell you when you need to leave to reach your destination on time.  If you’re a slow driver, try leaving a little earlier.

5.  Communication.  Yes…I know, I’m at this topic again, however this needs to be said.  A lot of photographers don’t have their own private studios, so they rent them.  I literally dealt with someone earlier this year in February, who messaged me three hours prior to the shoot telling me that they were still going to shoot with me, then 43 minutes prior to us meeting at 9 a.m., this person asked me if I got their message about them not feeling prepared, and just excuse, after excuse of why they can’t do the shoot that day.  By the time I got their message, I had texted them back stated I was at the studio 26 minutes prior.  I then received a text back 3 minutes later asking, “Can you find anyone else to shoot?”.  (I save all my text messages, emails and more just in case you’re wondering.)

This all to me is a clear example of someone who didn’t value my time.  The studio costs money, however that’s not the point.  My time is even more valuable and they didn’t seem to care.  Respect is a two way street, and if there’s no respect for someone, then there’s absolutely no trust.  If I can’t trust you…I don’t work with you…PERIOD!!  Just as you’d feel the same about me.  There’s a level of trust, confidence and privilege that every photographer that shoots portraits has to have with every person they deal with.  Now, with all that said, and my example…be sure to communicate about 24-48 hours prior to the shoot to cancel, or reschedule your shoot.  When you rent a studio, most of the owners are pretty unforgiving and still want to get paid for their time that you’ve wasted.  It’s also professionally embarrassing to sit in an empty studio waiting for someone who said they’d be there a few hours before.

6.  Take direction.  The photographer you hired obviously has what you need because you essentially did hire them.  Don’t be afraid to take some direction to get the best out of the shoot.  If at any time during the shoot you’re not comfortable doing something with the photographer, tell them.  No one can read your mind!  If the photographer starts to get pushy, then comfortably say, “No.”, or just end the session if they become rude.  Being pressured to do something that you’re not comfortable with can lead to VERY bad things.  Besides, anything that is put on the internet…is FOREVER!

7.  Bring positive energy!  Life happens…yes, you’re not the only one with problems in this world.  When you’re at your shoot, and even afterwards, you’ll get the best results from just being positive.  Show some enthusiasm and energy into your photos.  As stated before, “It’s always best not to walk into a photo shoot acting like a grumpy pants.”  My best work has come out of people that are fun and energetic during their shoots.  I had one client tell me that they had to take a long look in the mirror and tell themselves that they are going to get the best out of themselves and me by being positive.  “Garbage in, garbage out”, or “Positive in positive out”.  It’s a wonderful feeling when you have someone you’re shooting with come in with great energy and can give it their all.  Yes, I’ve been on shoots and had the opposite…needless to say, I will not work with them again.

8.  Escorts.  Bring em!  I love when people ask me, “Mike, Can I bring an escort to the shoot?”  Hell yes!  Bring an escort with you.  I don’t mind at all because sometimes on a windy day, or on a shoot that is going to be difficult, I gainfully employ them to hold my light, or carry equipment.  Nobody rides for free!   If during the shoot your escort decides to become the “Director”, or starts acting disruptive, immature, or negative, then please expect them to be kicked off the set.  Nobody wants a “Negative Nelly” on their set.  Also, nobody wants to feel uncomfortable while working.  This is my job, and there’s nothing more disturbing than someone standing over your shoulder critiquing you, or acting like they’re in charge.  Make sense?!?

9.  Friends.  There’s people out there who actually have the audacity to ask, or just show up with their friends to a photo shoot, and expect the photographer to shoot them too.  That’s not okay!  It’s unprofessional…period!  If you want your friends to be involved, or be shot by that photographer, then they, or you should pay that photographer for that shoot.

10.  Selfies, or other photography during the shoot.   Well, that all depends on the photographer.  For me, before the shoot is fine.  You can do all of that before, or during your makeup time, however during my shoot….NO.  I personally like to keep the element of surprise for my shoots.

11.  Originality.  There’s a huge argument about people being original in their work.  To me it’s like this…  There’s nothing really original, however there is a time when a photographer is doing something and makes it their own.  A few months ago there was a huge following for photographers to go out and shoot in a sunflower field here in Colorado.  When I say, “everybody was going.” I mean…EVERYBODY!  I sat back and watched as all these people were going to the same “drinking hole” and damn near produced the same work.  I was even asked a few times to go there and shoot.

My biggest advice to any creative person is this…dare to be different.  Copying someone is “flattering”, however you have to dig deep in your own mind and create things on your own, and find your soul while doing it.  I’ve literally done a shoot, posted the photo, and weeks later seen another model/photographer go out and do almost the exact same thing on numerous occasions.  It makes me laugh instead of getting angry because to me, they’ve ZERO creativity.  Have I copied someone intentionally….no.  It wasn’t until I actually looked at someone else’s fan page and saw that I did.  I even wrote the photographer and let him know that I did it afterwards because I felt like it was the right thing to do.   Last year another local photographer was doing shoots in the mud with models, and I was asked a few times to go and do the same thing.  I declined because I really just thought to myself, “Why don’t they just hire that photographer, vice asking me?”.

It made me get more creative and start thinking outside the box for what types of shoots I want to do for myself.  Hell, I get hired a lot of times because of my versatility and not considered a “one trick pony”, because my shots aren’t “cookie cutter” shots with everyone doing the same thing as everyone else.  Those that hire me know they’re going to get something a little different than everyone else.


Bikini mansion shoot with Chloe.  MUA Savannah Appel with Savvy Beauty Co.

In conclusion, you have to do what you have to do to succeed and have a kick ass photo shoot.  Only you can bring whatever you have to the table.  and look online for deals, or D.I.Y. videos.  Use these words as a guideline and hopefully they’ll resonate to all who want to receive great work from the photographers they work with.  We as photographers can’t fix everything in Photoshop, so it’s always best to come in well prepared and ready to work.

Contributors:  Roy Barnett, Robert A. Rice, Matt Archer, Sam Scott, Lyn-Holly Knight, Paul Martin, Denny Fenbers, Brent Yoder, Ryan Fonkert, Chris Baker, Michelle Radley, B-House Joneleit, Tony Cipriani, Mark Daughn, Breelle Hilsenrath, Ian Thomas, Christopher S. D. Buck, Steven Smith, Alex Dani, Shanika Mac, Peter Dunn, Christiana Auer, Markus Byron

If you have anything you’d like to POSITIVELY contribute to this blog; please do so in the comments, or write me at, or contact me via my website:




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Here’s the latest welcome video for MikeCon Photography.  Special thanks to my friend Henry Lagrone for helping me put it together.  I’m currently working on another blog, so I’m keeping this one short!

Welcome to MikeCon Photography!

Semper Fi!




A Smile Like Yours Photography

Dear Dr. Joe Dispenza,

I read your article about gratitude. The title implied that it should be a challenge, “The Gratitude Challenge.”



I was also recently given your book, which I will not read unless I have time to dissect it to discern how I can make use of it. I can at least tell you that the book is not being used as a doorstop and I do intend to reference it as I progress. Let’s both be grateful for that. Our hard work will not be wasted.

You posed a certain scenario in your blog. You wrote…

“Imagine you’re at work, it’s lunch time and you’re hungry but there’s a problem. In your rush to get out the door you forgot to grab your wallet. You have no food and no way of paying for anything…

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Sweet Bean Pie !! from the Nation of Islam

I love bean pies!!
#ATL #MikeCon #Photography

Mariela Campbell Photography

Eeeww  Bean Pie???  you say!…. I know huh!  I remember when my husband Demetris mentioned Bean Pie to me… instant reaction was  eewww dude  that sounds gross!!  being that I am not a big  bean lover & for the beans I do eat, I’m rather picky about how they are made.  I also do NOT eat Pies such as Sweet Potatoe Pie or Pumpkin Pie.

The  Bean Pie was ….Born in the Nation of Islam.. a  religious black nationalist and social reform movement formed in the 1930’s, and led by Elijah Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad wrote a book called “How to Eat to Live” , where he detailed healthy eating guidelines, to improve and prolong life.    The Bean Pie is made of Navy Beans, with basic core ingredients, such as sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bakers will add their own touch of…

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