My name is Michael Mulligan and I own Michael Mulligan Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Photography has always been a passion of mine and I have enjoyed taking pictures ever since I can remember. I really started to get into photography, when I was about 13 years old.
Winning a Kodak contest provided me with enough money to purchase my first SLR-Camera. Needless to say, I will never forget that day! First, I won a prestigious award and I was able to purchase the camera I desired so badly. I believe this would be a big deal for any person, but it was really a mind blowing achievement for "me - a teenager with big dreams". I was hooked on learning everything and anything about photography and especially about photographic lighting.
The award and my newly purchased camera inspired me to find an internship with a commercial photography studio as soon I was old enough. I also sought out a fashion photographer that was willing to let me help in the evenings. I was following my passion with all my heart and trying to gain as much knowledge as I possibly could. During this time, commercial work was predominantly done with a 4x5 View Camera. To this day I really appreciate all the knowledge I gained!
Learning on a traditional film camera teaches you a great amount about exposure, selective focus, processing and light. It is very expensive and time consuming to retake image. If you don't have the proper knowledge, you will end up with a big surprise in the darkroom. Nowadays things are a lot easier with digital cameras. However, all the old school knowledge has manifested itself in my way of approaching photographic light! My biggest dream at the time was to go to the Brooks Institute for Art and Design in California. However, attending a school like this is very expensive, and my father, a blue-collar, working-class man with General Motors told me, "I needed to get a real job."
I decided to joined the Air Force with the hope of attending their photography school. I was unfortunately not lucky enough to attend their program, but I did end up in a processing lab. I worked my way up to manager of the Multimedia Centers and eventually became the head of the largest center in the Department of Defense. At this point in my career, I was managing 150 photographers and videographers. We covered anything and everything that was in the interest of the United States of America throughout the world.
Having retired from the Air Force a couple years ago, I could not let go of photography and began photographing urban landscapes. I started selling a few images here and there. When a friend asked me to cover a fashion show for him, I had no idea how to do this, nor what I was doing. But I made it through and ended up getting hired by one of the designers from the show. Then another designer, a model and coach, inquired about my photographic services. At this point, photography was more a hobby than a career to me. This changed recently, when I realized I should make a business out of it. I decided to do what I had always dreamed. I opened my own photography studio!
Most of my photographic skills are self-taught. I never attended the dream fancy photography school in order to receive a formal education. But I don't let that hold me back or discourage me. I am tenaciously learning everyday more and more skills, and challenge myself as an artist. People often ask me about my style. I find this question extremely hard to answer. I have never really thought about it. Right now, I go with what I feel at the moment, which translates to a variety of styles.
Here, I was drawn to the juxtaposition between abandoned places and the fullness of life in a person.