February 8, 2021 | Features

An Interview with Michael Hayes – Irish Photographer of the Year 2021

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Michael Hayes won Irish Photographer of the Year, Fine Art Photographer of the Year and Commercial Photographer of the Year at the IPPVA Awards 2021

We are honoured to open this new series of interviews of past IPPVA awards winners with Michael Hayes (FIPPVA). Michael is a long-standing IPPVA member and has volunteered his time for the association for many years. Today he is sharing some of his passion, inspirations, background and tips in this interview. Learn how he went from being a Maths and Physics teacher to a wedding photographer and finally a commercial and fine art photographer.

We have previously published the full results of the IPPVA Awards 2021.

Portrait of a model with dramatic makeup and blue swim hat - Gold Award in Commercial Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Gold Award in Commercial Photography

Michael, first of all, would you share with us a little bit of background on your awarded photographs, starting with your Fine Art photography and then your commercial photography?

Most of my Fine Art photography is personal work, but on occasion clients from my commercial work have asked for Portraits in my style, and I have sold some framed copies of my work too.

My Fine Art is very special to me, and it’s what consistently wins awards for me here and in Europe. It’s rare for a day to go by without me planning or organizing my projects. The most recent project was for my Fellowship which took about 4 years to produce.

Legs of a ballet dancer with marks from shoes - Silver Award in Fine Art Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Silver Award in Fine Art Photography

In my twenties, I was not very artistic at all, I really explored this side of me in my forties. I must say it gives me a great way to express myself through the medium I love so much, no prizes for guessing what it is ๐Ÿ™‚

My work in Fine Art has also been extremely important in learning Photoshop. People who are familiar with my work will see how they go hand in hand.

Overhead abstract view of sixwomen bodies forming a start  - Silver Award in Fine Art Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Gold Award in Fine Art Photography

My commercial photography is a total different story to the Fine Art work. It’s what puts money in the bank for me.

However, like most photographers around the country, it’s not really happening at the moment. But fingers crossed, this awful situation will change this year.

The work I get is mainly made up of Fashion, which includes Model Portfolios, Promo work for models and makeup artists, and also work for Fashion related industries, one client being The Thรฉrapie Clinic.

Portrait of a model with red lipstick and hair and black nails - Silver Award in Commercial Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Silver Award in Commercial Photography

Under the banner of Commercial, I do shoot small amounts of Product, and work for some solicitors shooting some forensic and for Injury claims.

We know a lot of photographers & videographers love to hear more about gear, equipment and post-treatment. Tell us more.

So, the gear I use is listed here:

  • Nikon Cameras, D3x, D850, D810 and Z7
  • Lenses, all Nikon 14mm/24mm F2.8, 24mm/70mm F2.8, 70mm/200mm, 50mm F1.4, 105mm F2.8 Macro
  • Studio: Bowens 500J pro x2 and 750J
  • Modifiers: Small and Large Beauty Dishes with and without 30 degree grids off a boom, or floor stand.

I also use large softboxes and strip softboxes with grids.

Portrait of a model with dramatic black makeup - Gold Award in Commercial Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Gold Award in Commercial Photography

What are you working on at the moment? Any personal projects or commissions you want to share with us?

Well at the moment everything is very quiet as you know, but touch base with Commercial Clients who need to come to me but can’t. It’s important to keep them engaged.

I have taken the Covid time to organize all my shoots and mages from the past 15 years, and learn new stuff in Photoshop, but also to learn Spanish, which I have been trying to do for years.

I am also at present planning a 20 print panel with the theme “Temptation”.

Ballet dancer upside down with legs up and cloud above  - Silver Award in Fine Art Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Silver Award in Fine Art Photography

Is there a particular image or artist that has inspired/moved you?

Glad you asked that, it’s an easy one ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s Helmut Newton, Peter Lindburgh and of course our own Vincent O’Byrne (FIPPVA).

I love the way Newton, through the 60’s, pushed Fashion out of its bland representation into a fresh new world, using very edgy fashion images which were genius enough even for Vogue Magazine to employ him in 1961.

I think every Portrait Photographer must study Peter Lindburgh’s Portraiture. The power, emotion, and storytelling in his work are just stunning. They still fascinate me, and I look at his books several times throughout the year.

Now I include Vinnie here too who, in my opinion and in the opinion of many photographers across the world, is simply world class.

Vinnie was kind enough to help me in my work when I was starting, and he is a great motivator, teacher and of course amazing photographer.

Portrait of a model smoking cigar - Silver Award in Commercial Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Silver Award in Commercial Photography

Have you had any other professions before becoming a photographer? Did you study photography or are you self-taught? Tell us more about your journey.

Yes, indeed I had. I started out my working life as a teacher of Maths and Physics in secondary schools and did this for many years. But I was always interested in photography during this time. The time eventually came when I received the call !! And entered into Professional Photography full time.

I met Lorcan Brereton (AIPPVA) at a trade show and along with a visit to Ricky Stephens was encouraged to Join the IPPA.

It might be worth saying here that I started out in the IPPA (as it was known then) as a Wedding Photographer. Back then, our job would be finished at 6pm and you would be asked to stay for dinner with the guests ๐Ÿ™‚ Good times too.

I am self taught in Photography, but when I joined the IPPA I was mentored by Vinnie O’Byrne (FIPPVA).

I would like to mention here, and I found this out personally: if you work day to day in photography without extending your vision, nothing will change.

What I mean here is that, if you enter competitions, listen to the feedback when it’s available from the judges, it’s always good to hear the opinions of other professionals on your work.

Also, keep an eye out for the work of other photographers not just in Ireland but in the UK and across Europe. Note the trends and style changes abroad and be the first to try them out here.

Portrait of a model with dramatic makeup and green swim hat - Gold Award in Commercial Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Gold Award in Commercial Photography

What would be your 3 main tips for a photographer with a strong portfolio of personal work wanting to start a business?

I suppose it would be 1. Mentoring 2. Mentoring and 3. Mentoring

Now this includes joining a Pro Association like the IPPVA and engaging in mentoring from other successful photographers both in the areas of Business and photography.

I could not properly express just how important this is.

Portrait of a model with red lipstick and black hair and necklace - Silver Award in Commercial Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Silver Award in Commercial Photography

What would you most love to photograph right now if Covid restrictions weren’t a reality? What do you miss the most?

I would love to photograph high end fashion on the streets of Rome, Milan,Paris, Madrid, London ๐Ÿ™‚

Firstly I miss working, also the interaction with clients and other photographers.

Ballet dancer upside down with legs up and yellow balloon  - Silver Award in Fine Art Photography by Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes – Silver Award in Fine Art Photography

Thank you Michael! We very much appreciate you taking the time to share so much.

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Find out more about Michael Hayes

I am basically a Fashion, Commercial and Fine Art Photographer based in Portmarnock. I have received the highest Professional Photographic Award in 2017, that is a Fellowship of the IPPVA. I have won many National and International Photographic...

Member profile

https://mhayesphotos.ie

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