Would you mind introducing yourself? YO! My name’s Michael and I currently live in Sag Harbor, NY, which is a little seaside town on eastern Long Island of New York. I was born here and grew up here as well, which is rare for the area since it’s more of a summer resort town. It’s part of the Hamptons, but I hate saying that because I feel like it sounds snotty. (I’m a normal resident not one of those rich NYCers who have beach homes!)
Michael’s Instagram - @mike.depetris
How would you describe your style of photography? I’m still trying to define my own style of photography. I’m a big fan of the film look, yet I’ve never used a film camera. When it comes to the content, I tend to gravitate towards oceans and bays, and water in general. I think this is because I grew up in a town surrounded by water, so it’s familiar to me. But I also love deserts and mountains, which we do not have around here.
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? I fell in love with taking pictures relatively recently. I’ve always been interested in photography, but that interest slowed down when I was living in NYC because I was surrounded by buildings instead of the nature that I prefer. But then I downloaded an app called PHHHOTO, which was a social network that revolved around gif creation (Boomerang stole this). It helped me see things in a different way and look at movement differently, which really helped open up my creative side.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? One of my favourite photo memories came a few years back. I went to a wildlife refuge with my mother and we walked down the trail to a beach at the end. I was hoping for an amazing sunset but the clouds rolled in and everything just turned grey. So we turned around, but halfway along the trail heading back I checked the sky again, and it just LIT UP. It was SO pink, I’d never seen anything like it, so we ran back to the beach and got our cameras and it was perfect. Another photo memory was last fall... I packed up my stuff and zig-zagged 15,000 miles across the USA. I believe I managed to see 15 National Parks and even more state parks along the way. It was such an amazing experience and I really wish to do it again. At the time, I was hoping to move to California, but that didn’t happen, so I continued the trip back home. One day I’ll do it again and hopefully make the move for good.
What inspires your photography? The biggest inspiration for me comes from the environment. I hope that my own work inspires people to get outside and explore and in turn, I hope this encourages people to get passionate about protecting the environment. Climate change literally affects EVERY SINGLE PERSON — there’s no reason why we should be divided on this issue.
Camera & Editing Process? I use a Sony a6000 and my iPhone. I really believe that iPhones have been one of the biggest factors in my development as a photographer. It was the first tool I used to take pictures and it helped me find my own creative side... this led to me purchasing a mirrorless camera and learning all about photography as a whole. When it comes to editing, I find that less is more. I’m not a big fan of work where everything looks so surreal and oversaturated, but to each their own. One small fun fact: every image on my feed was exclusively edited on my iPhone. I usually use a combination of VSCO and Snapseed, and occasionally Lightroom Mobile. I don’t think that expensive programs like Photoshop are always needed for editing, at least for the type of work I do. I do try to bring out the tans and ambers in my work. This works well with sand and dirt and helps mask over what otherwise may be an eyesore in an image.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? I’ve had a few beginner photographers ask for tips and I always tell them not to go too overboard with editing. I also tell them to try not to fall into the Instagram trap of chasing likes. That won’t help you develop your own style, instead you’ll end up following whatever happens to be trendy at the moment.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? Ansel Adams has always been an inspiration, but that might seem a little cliche. More contemporary photographers I’m a huge fan of are Chris Burkard, Steve Winter, Renan Ozturk, and Anton Corbijn. Some of my favourite slightly lesser known photographers you can find over on Instagram are @whatwouldjewdo, @alexfrederick, @andyyross, and @connikoscina. I love the style of work they all do and hope one day that I am up to their level!
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? I’d love to visit Iceland. I feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t been there yet but its SO SO beautiful and I’d love to experience it. I’d also love to visit Vietnam, Africa, China, and the Pacific Northwest. I wasn’t able to visit the PNW on my trip and I wish I had. But there are also so many more places I’d love to photograph it’s hard to narrow them all down!
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? I love the Fall and Spring. I find the colours to be more pleasing and the light to be softer. And the temperature in general. I’m not a fan of scorching hot summers and blistering cold winters, haha. In NY too we have to worry about ticks on my photo hikes, and the summer is the worst time for them, so I tend to worry about that. My record is 27 ticks on me after ONE single 30-minute hike — not fun.
The coolest place you've ever been? It’s hard to narrow down to the coolest place I’ve ever been. I’m a huge fan of Yosemite National Park, and that’s the park that really set off my love for the outdoors. But one place that really blew my mind when I visited was the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. It may be in the middle of nowhere but it is definitely worth the visit. I still can’t believe how expansive and beautiful it is — it’s like a minimalist paradise.
Do you have any upcoming photography trips/sessions that you would like to share? I don’t have anything specifically planned at the moment in regards to future trips, but I tend to do things spontaneously. One thing I’d like to do is to road trip through Canada. I’d love to head west to see Banff, and then south into northern Montana, then west to the Pacific Northwest. I’ve yet to visit these places and they’re on the top of my list.
Don't forget to follow Michael on Instagram, and check out the following links for more awesome content!
Website: Coming soon! ;)