photographs by Barrett Emke
Where is your studio exactly and how long have you been working there?
I work in a small converted bedroom on the second floor of my house in Kansas City, Missouri. The house is located one block west of Main street and about 15 blocks south of the downtown. It was built in 1904, my wife and I are the third owners. The first owners or their children lived here until 1996. We bought the house in 2001.
What are the pros and cons of your studio?
The first thing I did when I moved in was to cover one wall with Homasote, making it a large tackboard where I could pin up photographs. That’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed over the years. Last year I got a large Epson printer that’s almost as wide as the room so I had to redo my desk and make a bigger work table to handle large prints. The room has a single window that faces toward Main Street. From it I can see the sky and my backyard. The view reminds me to not stay in the room too long but to go out and take some pictures. My teacher in college, Charles Swedlund, believed that if you wanted to get things done you shouldn’t have comfortable chairs.
For the past two winters we’ve had a small hawk visiting our backyard hoping to catch one of the many sparrows keeping warm in the Viburnum hedge. I like to watch him studying the small landscape of our yard, he’s a model of patience and concentration.
How many hours do you usually spend there per week?
Even though the room is small, it’s very multi-purpose. It’s where I edit my commercial and personal work, make prints, struggle at painting, read, do paperwork. When I’m home I probably spend 4 or 5 hours there.
Do you have your own daily routine within the studio? For exemple, do you usually start by answering your emails then get to work etc?
On days when I don’t have a commercial job I try to spend mornings working on personal work, looking at what I’ve been shooting, editing, and making prints. I take a break mid-morning and check email. In the afternoon I switch to commercial work—edit a shoot, prepare for an upcoming job. Late afternoons I usually go for a walk with my camera. Lately I’ve been photographing along two boulevards so I’ll walk along one of them for an hour or two.
Are there things you deliberately forbid yourself to do or have within the studio in order to be more productive?
No, I sometimes think I’d like to take everything out of the room except for the computer, printer and a few book but in reality almost anything goes. We watch movies, eat dinner, give my cat her vitamin B shot, repair children’s toys, pay bills.
Do you sometimes wish you shared your studio with one or a few other artists?
No, I’m very happy having the place all to myself. It’s hard for me to work when others are around.
What is your favorite track to edit photos to?
I’m not very good at listening to music when working. I’m too easily distracted and soon I find myself concentrating on the music instead of the job at hand.
for more of Mike’s work, please visit www.mikesinclair.com