Michael Greenberg: Phototerra Studio
Michael Greenberg’s dedication to personal growth, capturing beauty, and bringing meaning to his photographs has led to the development of a distinctive style of wedding photography and a growing business, Phototerra Studio. His experience with a variety of artistic mediums, his diverse education, his varied professional background, and his experiences in a number of countries, all contribute to his innovative style.
Although he always had an interest in photography, Greenberg had been involved in multiple disciplines before undertaking photography as a full-time profession. Prior to his transition into wedding photography, Greenberg attended medical school, trained as a pianist, and worked as a computer programmer. In addition to his training and occupations, Greenberg has lived in various countries, including Russia, Israel, and Georgia.
Greenberg’s introduction to wedding photography came when his sister asked him to photograph her wedding. Although this gave him some experience, as well as the desire to pursue wedding photography, he still had a number of obstacles ahead before he could transition into a permanent career. While working as a computer programmer, he began to feel dissatisfied with his occupation and considered photography as a creative outlet from which he could earn his living. He was further motivated by necessity; when he was laid off from his job, finding clients was the only way to continue photography and earn a living. Starting a new business was difficult. He eventually gained contacts: his friend knew a wedding planner, and he began attending trade shows. As he developed skill in his new field, his work volume increased as well, progressing from sporadic jobs to eventually shooting 12 weddings a year, and sometimes working 24-hour days to keep up with the demands of his business. Starting a business in a new field, in a country he was still becoming acquainted with, he had to develop his craft independently: “I didn’t ever assist [another photographer],” he says. “I started from scratch.” Greenberg learned the technical aspects of his profession through research, and trial and error.
According to Greenberg, one of the most important developmental aspects of photography, and art in general, is learning from other sources and disciplines. Greenberg states that he primarily draws from photographic mediums and artistic genres other than wedding photography and incorporates elements from these into his work: “I often look at fashion photography, nature photography, or paintings.” Greenberg’s perpetual pursuit for new ideas and techniques allows him to continually reinvent his work. Accordingly, he avoids repetition as his photography changes from one year to the next.
In addition to observing alternative sources, Greenberg emphasizes that one of the most important aspects of development and improvement is critical analysis. “It’s not enough to just say ‘this is good,’” he states. “It is important to find out why it is good and how the effect was achieved.” According to Greenberg, finding out what makes other art work, and then applying those discoveries, is one of the most important things a photographer can do. Additionally, he recommends reading widely, in order to enrich both photographs and the photographer.
While creativity and abstraction factor into Greenberg’s style, he notes that traditional shots and documentation are crucial aspects of wedding photography: “Weddings are traditional events ... Many of my photos will be traditional family shots or photojournalistic documentation.” He says that no matter what the subject, he looks for significance and beauty in any situation: “I try to bring meaning to every shot.”
Greenberg cautions that while the creative aspects of wedding photography are the most interesting and rewarding, they can be impossible without taking care of essential business practices such as contracts and releases: “The legal aspect [of wedding photography] is one of the most important. The process can be absorbing, but photographers should always cover themselves.” Greenberg says that while facets of a photography business such as obtaining insurance are not usually fun or creative, a business could easily be destroyed by preventable legal issues.
Greenberg’s determination, his ability to learn from his past, and his eclectic influence have led to rewards such as being named one of the top 10 Canadian wedding photographers by the Canadian Wedding Photography Industry Awards. By following his passion, Greenberg continues to draw clients, locally and internationally, while continuing to learn and create.
We featured MICHAEL GREENBERG and this article in our SPRING / SUMMER 2010 ISSUE. If you’re looking for wedding and celebration photography inspiration, you can find it HERE.
Check out what Phototerra has been up to at: www.phototerra.com