Michael Moriarty: Portrait of a Lifelong Photographer
Art is a great form of expression. My art has done a lot of communicating for me over the years. Growing up, there were many artists surrounding me. My mother painted and did cross stitch. Drawing requests for posters and teachers’ bulletin boards were common for my aunt. My grandfather took photos at all the family events. One of my favorite pastimes when I visited my grandmother was looking through all her drawing books. The fantasy artists like Boris Vallejo and the Brothers Hildebrandt were my inspiration. I carried a sketchbook with me everywhere.
At age 10, I got my first camera for Christmas. When I was 12, I met commercial photographer, Robin Perry that wrote the books Creative Colour Photography of Robin Perry, Creative Colour Photography, Photography for Professionals, The Woods Rider ,The Trials Motorcyclist , and many others.
That was a turning point. This famous expert took time with me to guide my way towards my destiny. I’ll always remember what Perry told me, “The most important ingredient for success is imagination.” Since I had always been told I had a vivid imagination, this gave me confidence to pursue art as a living.
I used most of the money I earned at my first grocery store job to buy camera film. I built a darkroom in my basement. Wherever I go, my camera is always with me.
I attended Norwich Free Academy, a specialized art high school in Connecticut. My creativity was really unleashed in these teen years as I explored more mediums including pottery, woodworking, and jewelry. Throughout high school, my pieces were on display in the onsite Slater Museum Gallery.
Photography talent got me my first full-time job working as an optical imaging technician for Atlas Micrographics. Years later, I once again used my camera skills professionally. The quality of my product photos led me to become an ebay power seller and jobs teaching others how to maximize their listings on ebay.
Life has many twists and turns, and it wasn’t until my wife and I moved from Connecticut to her hometown of Tucson, that I found my way back to my passion for photography. As a child of New England, this desert landscape fascinates me. I couldn’t take enough pictures. As a member of the Sonoran Desert Museum, you’ll find many of my images on their Facebook page.
Being a generation Xr, I have always been involved with computers. My dad was a draftsman for early circuit boards. The social media craze started when I was working as a UPS store manager. Customers were capitalizing on my creativity with designs for business cards and flyers. I built my first Facebook page for the store and quickly saw how it helped grow the customer base. Soon, the customized printing orders increased. One day I started talking to St. Philip’s Farmers’ Market vendors about what I was doing at the UPS store. They were looking for affordable ways to promote their business. So I created Michael Moriarty Photography & Social Media and that doesn’t even say enough about what I do online.
Images are the most engaging form of content on social media. Each week, I would take photos at the farmer’s market and share them on the internet. Everything grew from there. Soon restaurants that use produce from local farmers were exposed to my fruit and vegetable photos and wanted images of their food. I think it’s important to mention that I’m a self-described foodie. There was some food-for-photos bartering in the beginning. I’ve been blessed; few jobs culminate with a delicious meal.
“We eat with our eyes,” goes the saying, but photographing food is difficult. My standard is you can eat the food after the photoshoot. There are lots of tricks photographers can use to make a burger look juicier; but, it wouldn’t be edible I mean would you want WD40 on your burger? Mostly, I prefer to shoot onsite, because patrons want authenticity. Some restaurants are designed for ambience rather than photography.
The more photographs I took, the more I looked for places to share them. Another artistic family member, my cousin Deborah, invited me to send photos to her Facebook group: Voodoo Camera Scavenger Hunt. Members submit photos in 15 categories each month, and then vote with likes. The group idea was fun and gave me an opportunity to connect with other photographers, so I created over 90 photography groups on Facebook. Another exploding social media platform–Pinterest–helped me to promote my clients. More and more people were seeing my work. Images of my clients were featured in local magazines, including Tucson Happenings, Zocalo, Green Living Arizona, and Edible Baja. Next thing I knew, I was getting requests from art directors for images to accompany articles. My first cover photo was an issue of Green Living Arizona. My goal is to be on magazine covers everywhere. As my audience grew from local to global, I started www.MichaelMoriartyPhotography.com
Like life, art is always evolving. Showing the public something they haven’t seen before is the best way to stand out from the crowd. It’s no secret that many images are photoshopped or enhanced in some way. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with an effect called oil-paint. I think it’s a nod to all the paintings I saw my mom create. The technique is well-suited to flora and fauna.
For me, it’s important to have a learning mentality, and regularly seek out new techniques, ideas, and mentors. I look forward to traveling and discovering how different light and subject matter combine to produce a work of art. There are still many places I’d like to photograph.
Video has always been a powerful way to promote a business. As equipment becomes more affordable, I’m getting more requests to make videos. On YouTube, you can see a few examples where my photos are set to music.