#UnderOurHat Photographer Mike Phung

It started during the Golden Age of Tumblr. That’s where I discovered Jared Thomas Kocka, a photographer whose style, art, and passion inspired me to pursue photography. For the next ten years, I vigorously studied and practiced until I was confident enough to start my Instagram in late 2016.  

I’m embarrassed to say, but I was not proud of my early work. I realized that I still have a lot to work on but that motivated me to do better. Each client I got to shoot was a new experience to learn from. However, the toughest lesson I was taught was the reality of the industry. It’s tough. Houston is a huge city and is heavily saturated with photographers. I knew that the only way I was going to make it was if I stood out.

My style is direct flash photography. Put simply, you use a bracket to get your speedlite as close to lens as possible and shoot it directly at your subject. For some time, it was deemed amateur because of the simplicity of the set-up and harsh shadows. But thanks to Terry Richardson, who immensely popularized the style in the 90s, it’s now widely accepted. I decided to focus on this look to differentiate myself from the others. The focus is solely on the models and that’s what I love about it. I don’t get to hide my flaws through backgrounds or presets.  What you see is exactly what you get.  

I became a creator push the boundaries of this art and produce dope pictures that I would be proud of.  How I got to where I’m at now was purely through social media, the support of my loved ones, and a ton of trial and error. I honestly still have a lot to work on and will continue to pursue my passion. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but that’s okay! I know if I keep going, I’ll be able to live my dream.

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