It’s all about the “snap” of the camera
“It’s absolute mayhem when there’s thousands of screaming fans and hundreds of reporters and photographers all wanting the attention of just one celebrity.” These are the words that reflect what a normal day at work is for celebrity freelance photographer Mike Flokis.
For most of us, having to photograph celebrities for a living is almost something we would consider to be a dream job; however, it isn’t always fun and games for Mike.
“It was and still is a very hard industry to crack. You need to be assertive and strong willed enough to make a name for yourself in the industry.”As with many things in life, in order to succeed in something you need to be dedicated and have quite a bit of experience, which is what Mike says is the key to being successful, “I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I was passionate about it from a young age.”
Two of the first people Mike photographed were Princess Diana and Michael Jackson in the mid 1990s, which was very fortunate of him as both have now passed. Once he had photographed these two elite people, he wanted to challenge himself to see who else he could photograph. Mike continued to take photos and managed to get himself accreditation to sporting events, press conferences and red carpets.
“Through these events I started building my photography archive. I knew that the more celebrities I could shoot, the better my chances were in making a career out of it.”
The passion and dedication is what drove Mike to approach an agency, HeadPress, who had been in the industry for close to fifteen years. He thought it would be a good opportunity to start selling his photos to magazines nationally and around the world. Whilst at HeadPress, Mike continued to attend press conferences, red carpets and concerts in order to get, as he calls it, “the million-dollar shot.” Although we may think about these events as a chance to meet and greet our favourite celebrities, it’s all about work for Mike.
“Being on time is very important to me. When a red carpet event is on, I usually arrive at the venue two hours before the celebrity is scheduled to be there in order to mark my spot. All the photographers are mates and colleagues, but when it comes down to it, we all want pole position in order to get the shot that is going to sell in magazines. Same thing happens for fashion week. Every magazine looks to buy the shot of the model walking straight down the runway and looking straight into the lens of the camera.”
Throughout the years, Mike has photographed many celebrities and when asked which one shot is his proudest, he found it difficult to narrow it down.
“There is this one particular photo of Jack Nicholson that I absolutely love. It was taken at a press conference and I feel captures the personality of Jack himself. For me, it is not simply about taking photos of celebrities. It is about using the surroundings and background and making the celebrity look their best. I always give my one hundred and ten percent to make sure I take the best possible photo of the celebrity.”
Along with this photo, Mike also was proud to talk about another achievement. When he first found out that one of his photos of U2’s lead singer, Bono, had made one of the photos on the front cover of the USA’s Rolling Stone Magazine, he said it honestly brought a tear to his eye. It confirmed that all the hard work he had done to get to that point in his career had payed off. Dedication and passion are two important values in Mike’s work and have been the reason for his success.
Today, Mike freelances for Getty Images and says that with the introduction of modern media in our society, it is even more competitive to be successful.
“People today pull out mobile phones or digital cameras and take their own photos. The internet has led to everything being public and images spreading all around the world. When I started over 25 years ago, nothing was digital. You couldn’t view your images as soon as you had taken the photo. It was all taken on 35mm film. You had to take it down to the lab and wait anxiously for them to be developed. Now you can view them straight away.”
Even now, with all the outside influences, Mike still keeps on top of his game through his punctuality and desire to do his best. It is these principles and work ethics that make Mike’s career an exciting and challenging one.
“I love what I do and the pressure associated with it only makes my adrenaline rush that much more.”