DPP Home Profiles Michael Clark: Master Of Adventure

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Michael Clark: Master Of Adventure

From his New Mexico base of operations, Michael Clark is a global photographer whose clients have him chasing swells, climbing mountains and braving the elements. In a down economy, Clark is having a banner year.

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Clark is a multifaceted photographer. He's comfortable capturing yoga against the dramatic skies above White Sands, New Mexico.
It takes a lot of effort just getting into place to make an adventure photograph, but hard work is no problem. Just getting work is itself a lot of work. That's Clark's other fundamental expertise.

"I would say that my success as a photographer is definitely directly related to the effort I put into my profession," he says. "Passion, and the energy created therein, is definitely an important part of my work. I work my buns off. That's something I learned early on, something instilled in me by my parents. You've got to work harder, be more efficient and have more creative work than anybody else out there if you want to make it. I'm not sure my images are more creative than anybody else out there, but the other two, I'm definitely in the mix."

Adds Clark, "I'm not sure how anyone actually makes it in this profession if they sit back and wait for work to come their way. All of my marketing efforts are targeted and reach a number of different markets. And the newsletter, in particular, has proven to be very effective."

The newsletter is Clark's crowning marketing achievement. He does what so many pros do—blogging and tweeting and emailing and calling—but it's his newsletter that sets him apart. With the dense PDF that looks more like a real magazine than a flimsy flyer, prospective clients remember him.

Portrait of Nicolas Danan just after a free dive.
"There are more photographers trying to make a living right now than there ever have been before," Clark says. "There are literally hundreds of new photographers entering the field every day. So to set yourself apart from the pack, you not only have to create excellent images, but you also have to promote yourself in a manner where clients can actually find you—and remember your work."

Marketing lands Clark new assignments from new clients, including adventure sports that he's never tried. Some of them he never will.

"Red Bull is one of my favorite clients to shoot for," he says, "and they've chosen me as one of their guys in North America to shoot athletes where they want to push the envelope and do something that has never been done before. The last thing I did for them was paragliding. Talking to the art director, I suggested we strobe some paragliding. It had never been done because everything is in the air. So we did it. We found a location where they could fly next to a ridge and got some images that were unlike anything else out there.


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