Personal Statement

Las Vegas-Based Architectural Photographer

I like watching people’s facial expressions when I tell them I photograph architecture. When they find out I’m a photographer, everyone wants to know what I shoot. They suggest weddings, portraits, sports, and so on. No, I tell them, I photograph architecture. Their faces frequently contort into a mixture of surprise, confusion, and interest. It’s the last thing they would have guessed. How did you get into that, and what does that even mean, they wonder. It took some time, but I found what I love.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and when I went to college I thought I wanted to be an astronomer and maybe an astronaut, so I studied physics. I ended up getting my degree in physics, but when I realized I didn’t want to get a PhD but did want to be employable, I decided to stay another year and get a masters degree in electrical engineering. After working a few years as an engineer, I moved over to software engineering. I went back to school to get a degree in that, too.

None of this degree hoarding activity has anything to do with architecture or photography, but I’m getting there. Along the way, I’ve always been a very creative person, and I have been devoted to music from a young age. I started on piano and learned saxophone when I got to elementary school. I focused on jazz, and in college I became a semi-professional musician. I played in a 20-piece big band that performed at weddings and other events. Each winter we took a trip to Aruba to play at some of the hotels and resorts there. I haven’t played the sax since then, but I still play jazz piano and also jazz organ.

So that’s my creative background. When I moved to Las Vegas several years ago, I already had a strong interest in photography. My interest grew after visiting all the national parks that surround Las Vegas. I fell in love with landscape photography, and I started to sell my work in different venues.

But I wanted more from photography. I loved it so much I wanted to make it my career. Around the same time, I discovered my attraction to architecture. I don’t know what there is about it, but when I enter a beautiful hotel or office building, a sleek, modern restaurant, or a restored historic building, I often feel a compelling desire to photograph it. It just speaks to me on some level. I started to realize I was drawing inspiration from architecture and design.

Maybe it’s time for another degree.

Absolutely not! I’m finished with school! I never studied architecture in school, although it’s one of my hobbies now. I like to read about the history of architecture as well as the current trends and developments. But I’m not an architect, and I never wanted to be one. Through photography, however, I have discovered my interest in exploring architecture and design. Even more than the national parks, architecture inspires my desire to make great photographs, and I’ve devoted myself to architectural photography.

I think the bottom line is I’m a creative person, and that’s the way I’ve always been. Maybe I’m an artist--at least I try to be. Whether it be in music or in photography, I love creating something beautiful. In architectural photography, my art serves the architect and designer. Your work always takes precedence, but through my photography I get to tell your story and help you share what you’ve accomplished. As you explore my portfolio of architectural photography, I hope you recognize my dedication both to architecture and to its photography.

It’s been a journey, but I’ve found my way here, and my heart tells me this time I’m here to stay.

Michael Tessler