NYC Photographer, Michael Della Polla
We were friends in college. He was a Chemistry student who was always going full speed and always willing to begin an adventure. His music would blast from his dorm on the 1st floor and his eclectic attire was always on point with a distinct essence of 80’s inspiration. Michael Della Polla was one cool cat.
Michael is now a professional photographer and adventurer in glamorous New York City. He captures stunning portraits of celebrities and the ordinary, skaters and city streets. His images are both beautiful and mysterious, always leaving you wanting more. Thankfully he fills his Tumblr and Instagram to the brim with killer shots.
Michael’s career has not been a straight line to his dream. His determination to develop his skills and ever-growing confidence in his own work are things I admire. Without those, he would not thrive in the fast paced city. So how does he do it? Keep reading for his advice and career highlights thus far.
Name: Michael Della Polla
1. Tell me a little about being a photographer and what was the turning point to get started?
Being a photographer in New York is a mix of crazy rewarding and draining, though far more on the rewarding end. It is a special experience to go home at the end of the day having “created” something new. I got my start in Macon, Georgia having seen a large cloud of smoke fuming across the city. After biking over and just happening to bring a camera I had recently purchased on Craigslist, I snapped a handful of photos. I stayed for the firemen and police to arrive, still capturing that fleeting moment. Eventually I left and had a hard time as I was within the police barricade, passing the news teams on the way out. I ended up getting images no one else had the opportunity to capture that day which allowed me to release them to college and local newspapers. Following that, I shot more for those publications. These were good projects that pushed me and forced me to focus far more closely on photography.
2. The hardest part I’ve found of being a photographer (besides capturing the best shot) is how to gracefully lug around my clunky camera. How do you handle this juggling act?
Juggling the weight of equipment is never easy. Having used a plethora of lenses, camera bodies, and flashes I have refined what I like and better know what is best used in what situations. I normally carry a single camera body and lens inside a sweatshirt everywhere I go. On days I know I’ll meet a celebrity or artist I normally pack a film camera as well.
I took classes on Photoshop and other Adobe software. I also was a part of various clubs and shot for those small pubs in college. Once in NYC I began assisting and was able to learn a lot of real world knowledge. Retouching here versus college is night and day.
4. What is a day in the life of Michael Della Polla like?
A day in the life isn’t very glamorous… an average day I work at a retouching house during 9-6 and then head to work with Quiet Lunch magazine and make some portraits until late.. Try to fit in some late night eats and then pass out.
5. Where do you find your inspiration?
I actually find a lot of new inspiration from Instagram and other photographers I admire. The inspiration for the foundation of my work goes to more painters and early photographers, Arnold Newman, Yousuf Karsh and Edward Hopper.
6. How do you unwind?
I often unwind by buying Vans on EBAY. I buy a lot of things on EBAY. People thing I’m weird….
7. What was your first job out of college and how long did you hold that position?
After college I worked a summer camp teaching Photoshop in Boston. After that I worked an 8 month internship on a feature film in Atlanta.
8. What advice would you give your 23 year old self? What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Exercise more fatty! I still don’t exercise enough now.. or sleep.. Meh…
9. What is your favorite picture you have ever taken and why?
This is an incredibly hard question.. The photos that are the most rewarding are the photos that are the most difficult to capture but with planning and execution I manage to get them. Larry Clark, Patti Smith, Michael Cera, lots more…
10. What do you hope people take away from your images?
I hope my images are attractive enough to the eye to invite the viewer in while revealing an unusual intimate perspective of my subject.
11. What was the biggest obstacle you faced while pursuing your dreams?
One of my biggest obstacles was not having an education in art or photography. Gaining the confidence to say I am a photographer instead of saying “I shoot a lot” or “I am learning to be a photographer” were big hurdles.