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Meet Mike Hudson of Michael Hudson Photography in Wheaton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Hudson.

Mike, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started freelancing as soon as I got out of college, in 1989. Having grown up in Australia, England, and Wisconsin, I wasn’t sure where to put down roots but I had a lot of friends in the Chicago area and had made some business contacts here, so I set up shop in Chicago.

There are two sides to my photography business- commercial and fine art. My commercial clients include colleges and universities, healthcare (hospitals and medical offices), magazines, hotels, architectural firms, retirement communities and other small and medium-sized businesses, as well as events. I provide photography (and sometimes video) to promote their business. My father was in marketing and I guess some of that rubbed off on me since a large part of what I do is help people market their business. I formerly did weddings but after 130 of them, I’ve moved on.

There’s another more personal side to what I do, and that’s my fine art photography. I have a passion for producing beautiful images and have traveled extensively around the United States and Europe, photographing the landscape. For the past eleven years, I’ve been making an annual trip to Maine to photograph Acadia National Park. That’s become a very special part of my work, as I’ve written an ebook on photographing Acadia, as well as a coffee table fine art book that is sold in the national park. I’ve also conducted workshops for other photographers there.

I’ve been fortunate to do something I really love and make a living from it. I’ve been to places and seen things most people would never get to see– I’ve photographed open heart surgery and watched a live heart beating inside someone’s chest. I photographed William and Kate’s royal wedding in 2011, photographed four presidents, been backstage at concerts and been chosen as the photographer to shoot a brand new multimillion dollar hospital. I’ve been to the first person to see the sunrise off the coast of Maine, and driven to Alaska and back on a photographic odyssey, as well as slept in a Kansas cemetery while shooting a story on a man who was walking across America. But I’ve also been blessed to photograph in homeless shelters and single mothers, and my photography has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the needy. It’s been a great ride and there are much more adventures to come.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Being self-employed is wonderful; I’ve never worked for anyone but myself. It means the freedom to accept or turn down jobs to do the work you enjoy the most. But… it also means taking on most jobs to survive. Work doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. I’ve been intentional about seeking out new clients and cultivate my existing business relationships to stay in business. One of the absolute favorite parts of my job has been the people I get to work with, from all walks of life. I’ve photographed presidents, actors, musicians, royalty, top CEOs and business leaders, as well as thousands of ‘normal’ people like you and me.

There have been times when work has really slowed to a crawl and I’ve wondered if it will ever come back again, and there are times when I’m working with several clients on multiple projects at once. There’s a lot of competition from part-time photographers, some of whom are good at what they do, but charge a lot less because they have full-time jobs and don’t depend on the income from photography. It’s hard to compete with them.

But most of my clients appreciate the experience I bring from 25+ years of knowing how to deal with difficult subjects, bad weather, celebrity egos, and getting their pictures to them on time to make their deadlines. I’ve learned that when someone hires me, I’m here not to push my own ideas or agenda, but to listen to their needs and do my best to provide exactly what they’re looking for.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Michael Hudson Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I do commercial photography– basically, I’m there to provide the best set of pictures (or video) to promote my clients’ businesses. With my years of experience in the business, I have a pretty good idea of what looks good on a website, or in a magazine ad or anywhere the client is hoping to get more business. I’ve worked with large Fortune 500 companies, but also hundreds of smaller to mid-sized businesses.

I specialize in several areas, but I have a lot of experience in shooting for colleges and universities, healthcare, corporate, magazine, interiors/ exteriors (hotels and architectural firms) and events.

I’m known for being easy to work with and getting images turned around fast, usually within a day or two of doing the shoot. I’m most proud of the fact that after 28 years, I’m still busy shooting! I thoroughly enjoy my job and have had so many great experiences along the way.

In the late 1980’s, when I was in college, I photographed the Royal Family several times, meeting Princess Diana twice. Those pictures have been so popular whenever I bring out my portfolio and show people what I’ve seen and done over the years. In 2011, I photographed William and Kate’s wedding in London, spending 24 hours on the streets in order to get a prime position to shoot the wedding. Definitely one of the highlights of my career.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
There hasn’t been a lot of luck in my business, instead, it’s been a lot of hard work seeking new clients and cultivating existing ones. I genuinely care about the people I work for and want to provide the best work for them. I’ve found that if a client is pleased with your work, they’ll recommend you to their friends and that’s how much of my work has come about.

I did get one email out of the blue back in 2001, from a guy in Tennessee who was looking for someone to photograph three Illinois hospitals, three times a year. I had no experience in healthcare photography and was nervous about accepting the job. But I did take the work on, and the relationships I built from that initial contact has led to me working for several healthcare systems now, and probably over 1000 days of shooting in hospitals and clinics all over the Chicagoland area and beyond.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

© Michael Hudson Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. RobertDodge

    November 17, 2017 at 12:37 am

    Very interesting story and great photos!!

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