JVS Graduate Not a "Byte" Shy About Photograph
Michael Baker, Digital Media Arts, Class of: 2004
Life is not picture-perfect - but the photographs produced by today's digital cameras certainly make it possible.
Which puts photographers such as Michael Baker in high demand.
"All my life, I've been the guy taking pictures - at family events, with friends, just about everywhere," said Baker, who owns First Choice Photography in Elyria.
Baker honed his photography skills in the Lorain County JVS Digital Media Arts program (formerly known as Interactive Multimedia Technology).
The Midview High School sophomore was touring the JVS campus the same day some students were working on their senior project - a documentary about World War II submarines.
"I was really intrigued with the JVS," said Baker, who graduated in 2004. "It had all digital, state-of-the-art equipment, its own studio and editing lab. The editing stations they had were also used by major TV networks."
Baker studied animation, web design, videography and video editing before choosing a career in photography.
"So much under one roof," Baker said. "I got my feet wet and tried a little bit of everything, but photography piqued my interest."
"We stayed on task, and the curriculum challenged us," Baker said.
Baker produced and edited programs, including videos of events at the Lorain County Fair during his internship with GLW Broadband, a cable television company in Grafton.
Baker enrolled at ITT Technical Institute after graduation and worked in advertising at Marc's corporate headquarters in Parma, doing product photography and designing the store's weekly circular.
Baker began freelancing after graduating in 2006 from ITT Technical Institute with a degree in Applied Science and Multi-Media.
Working from home, Baker began his own business, Xtreme Design Plus, which became First Choice Photography in 2008.
Baker said that working in all areas of multimedia helped him focus on what he enjoys most - portrait photography.
Baker's client list has grown from a handful of schools to more than 25 preschool, elementary and high schools in Northeast Ohio.
"I'm on the road, usually three days each week, meeting with superintendents and principals, talking about the services I offer," he said. "I'm always on the job."
And what separates Baker from other photographers?
Baker said that he attends annual workshops to keep pace with evolving digital technologies.
But people skills are most important.
"I'm good with kids," said Baker who married Allison, his middle school sweet heart. They have three boys, ages 1, 9 and 10, and a baby girl on the way. "I deal with large groups of students. I spend more time with younger kids, but honestly, high school students, especially girls, can be pretty fussy, too."
Baker said he plans to open a new studio in Elyria in 2016.
"I'm steadily building my business," he said. "I'm grateful for my JVS experience which gave me the confidence to be my own boss."