Art Studio: Mike Hudson '89
Mike Hudson '89 studied studio art at Wheaton in the 1980s and has made a career out of his passion. From capturing open-heart surgeries to walking the streets at the Royal Wedding in 2011 to portraying landscapes in Acadia National Park (pictured above), we set out to learn more about life through the lens of Mike Hudson '89 in this Q&A.
What inspired you to pursue photography?
I was originally inspired to pursue photography when I would see my father’s photos he took on family vacations. We’d set up a slide projector and turn out the lights and all the excitement of being somewhere else would shine on the white walls of our living room. After getting my own camera in sixth grade, I appreciated more the ability of the camera to preserve moments in time, little slices of life– literally images of history. I’m still amazed at the camera’s ability to do this.
HOW DID WHEATON PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR CAREER AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
In college, I thought I would look for a career in film making or video work, but I didn’t like all the time it took to edit video, especially when it meant sitting for hours in the windowless basement of the BGC. At Wheaton, I was very involved in photo editing the Tower and The Wheaton Record, particularly my junior year when most of the Tower photographs were taken by me. When that yearbook came out early in my senior year, I took a copy to the editor of Wheaton magazine and showed her what I could do. That led to assignments from the College, which have continued to this day. I owe a lot to that 1988 Tower.
What has been one of your most memorable photo shoots and why?
It’s hard to pin down a single memorable photo shoot, but I’d have to say photographing the Royal Wedding in 2011 is one of my top memories. It was actually my second Royal Wedding (the first being in 1986 when I was a student at Wheaton) so I had some experience of how to do it this time round.
I spent 24 hours on the streets of London and was fortunate to get some great pictures. I’m not a big fan of celebrities or all that that entails, but just being there and being a part of a huge celebration with a million others was pretty special. It hasn’t hurt my portfolio to have some royalty in it either! But photography is a fascinating job. It’s gotten me access to people and places most people would never get to see.
I’ve been part of a presidential party, photographed the last 30 Wheaton graduations, multiple CEOs, a couple billionaires, a Chicago drug lord, two funerals, several homeless shelters, photographed a speeding ambulance from a chase car driving in front, and a couple dozen surgeries for hospital clients, not to mention almost every Wheaton College athlete over the past 32 years.
Probably the most fascinating thing I ever photographed though was an open heart surgery, where I stood on a ladder overlooking the patient, staring down onto a live beating heart in someone’s chest. Amazing sight to see. I’ve been very blessed to be part of so many fascinating shoots. Apart from my paid commercial jobs, I’ve also kept up my personal work, doing fine art photography, particularly landscape images, and have been honored to see several of my images used on book covers, websites, posters and hanging in galleries. Having a collector appreciate one of my fine art prints enough to hang it on their wall is one of my greatest joys in photography.
Tell us about the featured photo in the magazine (above).
The featured photo is of aspens in Acadia National Park off the coast of northeast Maine. I’ve been traveling there every autumn since 2006 to spend a week photographing the landscape. It’s become a very special place to me. I’ve even published two photography books about the park. Every year it gets a little harder to photograph the park in a new way, and in this image I photographed the trees from a different angle to get a unique perspective. I’ve printed this as a 40x60-inch print on metal and the effect of the very large colorful print makes it seem like you’re there staring up at the trees.
Learn more about Mike Hudson '89 and his artwork on his website.