Mike Walen is a self-taught professional photographer whose business success has been entirely driven by word-of-mouth endorsement.
Now KeyImagery, Mike’s Hamilton-based firm, has become a Momentum Waikato Partner business.
With a knack for the social side of snapping people, Mike really enjoys event photography.
“Three quarters of what I do is about being able to socialise with people, I’m not scared of approaching them to ask if I can take their photo,” says Mike.
“Nothing I love more than going along and mingling.”
Events are the “bread and butter” for KeyImagery, which takes Mike to civic, school and sports gatherings across the central North Island. He’s also been the photographer-of-record at international marathons overseas.
Mike’s first career was in graphic design, but after 12 years of that he got fed up with being behind a computer screen.
“I decided photography was the best creative field for me to go into. So I sold my graphic design business and used the proceeds to set myself up as a professional photographer.
“You could say I jumped in the deep end,” says Mike with a smile.
“My background in graphic design has contributed a lot to my sense of composition, especially when shooting for commercial stuff, as I will have their end product in mind, thinking about things like where they will put the text.”
It took a while for Mike’s photography enterprise to get going. From early on Waikato Diocesan School for Girls has been a main client, where he now shoots 25 events a year.
In recent years he has photographed a lot of events for the Hamilton City Council, a role that originally came through another photographer.
“That’s pretty much how I get my work, referrals, I’ve never had to advertise, people talking is an amazing system,” says Mike.
Mike likes to experiment with new technology and has had some great results from combining drone photography with digital manipulation – see for instance the ‘Karapiro globe’ on the cover of Momentum Waikato’s 2021 Annual Report (below).
“It is about breaking out of the box, offering something different, that others aren’t doing.”
Momentum Waikato welcomes KeyImagery aboard as a partner and looks forward to continuing to work with Mike for years to come!