When it comes to owning a photography business, success can come with simply saying “yes” to the varied photography demands of clients, no matter the request.
Well, at least that’s been Useless Bay-based photographer Michael Stadler’s recipe for success on Whidbey Island.
“It’s hard to categorize my photography style in that I do a lot of different kind of work,” Stadler said. “I do real estate photography, I work with artists promoting their work, I do portrait and wedding shots. Basically, I’m here to help if you need something photogenic.”
Stadler’s varied work appears to sit well with those he’s worked with. Stadler was voted “Best Photographer” by readers in the 2017 Best of Whidbey contest. It’s his second time winning the award, after claiming the title in 2014.
Stadler, 35, is one of the go-to photographers on the island when it comes to portrait shots and weddings. His downtown Langley studio is decorated with a number of images from previous shots set on Whidbey’s beaches, meadows and bluffs. But he doesn’t limit himself to portraits and weddings, even though that’s where a good chunk of his money tends to come from.
Stadler also takes photographs of artists’ pieces and works with real estate agents across the South End, finding the best angles of homes in order to help the realtors better advertise the homes.
“Doing the real estate thing is a great way for a photographer like me to see these different sides of the island that I wouldn’t know about otherwise,” Stadler said. “It helps, because now I’m very in tuned with the island. I know where the sun will be at certain times, I know the when the tides change and all of that.”
Like anyone using a creative medium, Stadler also has his artistic outlet with what he calls “photo illustrations,” multimedia images that blend portions of pictures together into a new piece, similar to graphic design. Generally, he approaches his photography in an artistic way.
“Visually creating a world of my own is what captured me (about photography),” Stadler said. “You make the world in each picture by setting the mood and working with people. You have to be kind of a psychologist when you’re taking people’s picture.”
Through growing up on Whidbey and later through his work, Stadler has come to know the island well. He says he has clients he’s photographed for their high school graduation and wedding, and later of their kids. Stadler credits his knowledge of the community to much of his success.
And now Whidbey Islanders are paying it back.
“I’ve built so many relationships with others, and it feels nice to be recognized,” Stadler said.