Wisconsin Editorial Photographer and Wisconsin Commercial Photographer Mike Roemer’s blog.
Hi, I'm Mike Roemer, a commercial, corporate, industrial, agriculture and editorial photographer based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I've lived the photography business since childhood, first tagging along during my father's long newspaper photography career before ever carrying my own camera gear. My interest grew as I watched the fascinating process of my dad making black and white images appear while shaking trays of chemicals under the red lights of a developing room.
My professional career started with a ten-year stint as a newspaper photographer meeting tight deadlines, adapting to curve balls and making the famous and not-so-famous comfortable in front of my lens.
I returned to Green Bay in the mid-1990s to start my own business, and now regularly travel around the U.S. and internationally for my clients. I enjoy the creative challenge of combining unusual angles, lighting and lens options to produce the perfect commercial image.
I've won first place awards in Pictures of the Year International, National Press Photographers Best of Photojournalism and National Headliners, along with being a three-time winner in the Pro Football Hall of Fame photo contest.
I love the variety of projects I get to work on, from healthcare organization and foundation annual reports, high-energy casino and gaming shoots, industrial projects at locations as diverse as cheese manufacturers and steel plants, to corporate culture assignments and documenting the Green Bay Packers.
I recently had a magazine shoot in a remote area near Munising, Michigan to shoot a portrait for a story on a couple from New York that had moved to a cabin in the woods for a year. The client had examples of the type of shot they wanted, showing the subject in a relaxed pose, and addressing the camera with the cabin behind them. I got plenty of those shots, but I had a little bit of the subjects’ time left and they were more than willing to let me try one more shot. For this shot, I used my drone so I could get about 30 feet in the air and look down on them standing on the front porch with the cabin and its environment around them. During the time of day we shot, the front porch and the camera side of the cabin were in shadow rimmed by the late morning light from the east, which made the background bright and contrasty. Not exactly the most friendly of exposures, but with the dynamic range of the sensor in the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and just the right amount of toning in Adobe Camera Raw, I was able to get a shot I really liked.
I’m finding more and more uses for the drone and I’m starting to feel that I always need to pack it as necessary gear for just about any shoot.
I love it when everything comes together just right with a little added extra surprise to make a shot even better. Last week I did a late day drone shoot for Boston based Stoss Landscape Urbanism of the downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin CityDeck. I had shot this project when it was original built through the three yearly phases of construction and how the Green Bay community used the river front project. Earlier this summer Stoss reached out to me, after seeing some of my other drone photography, to see if I could get some updated shots of the deck with my drone. The ¼ mile long, 2.5 acre linear park runs along the edge of the Fox River and connects a regional network of bike and pedestrian trails with downtown Green Bay. It was important to get shots showing how the project interacted with it’s environment. I was real happy with how this shot was coming together and even more happy when I saw this pleasure craft approaching and knew the bridges would be opening for it. I shot this photo at just shy of the FAA ceiling for flying a drone of 400 feet above ground level and within the half hour after sunset that a FAA licensed part 107 pilot can fly with the proper lighting on their drone. I was happy with the way all the elements came together and how I got my client the type of shots they where looking for.
In the last few months as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the globe, it affected all of our lives in many ways. As a photographer, it affected my business a great deal. All of my sports photography work vanished overnight and it has yet to come back; corporate photography jobs got cancelled or pushed back as companies pivoted to employees working from home. And my event photography took a massive hit just as anything that required people to gather got cancelled. As a creative, I still needed to find an outlet beyond being creative in smoking BBQ. One area that I was still able to do some work in was my stock agriculture photography. Luckily, I’ve made some contacts in the area that are nice enough to let me hang out – from a proper social distance – and shoot some photos.
So here are some of my favorite agriculture photos from the past few months.
As I’ve said here before, I’m always up for a creative challenge and taking on unique projects. I was recently asked by the Howard-Sumamico School District to shoot, in both stills and video, a tribute to the 2020 graduates of Bay Port High School in Howard, Wisconsin. The tribute was 2020 spelled out in the parking lot of the Green Bay Area school with school buses supplied by Lamers Bus Lines. Having a drone was great way to be creative with this project. Below is my favorite video clip and a couple of the still shots.
After a few days of stressing out about world events and plenty of free time in my schedule from cancelled work due to said world events, I decided I needed to head out and be creative. After driving around the Lake Michigan lakeshore not finding anything visually interesting while second guessing my decision on how to spend my day, things changed. As I drove across one of the bridges in Sturgeon Bay, I looked out towards the west and spotted a Coast Guard airboat doing drills and not one, but two Coast Guard ice breakers opening up the shipping channel for the upcoming shipping season. It was more than a little difficult to contain my excitement and keep my truck under the speed limit as I headed toward their location. My first stop was the location of the Coast Guard doing airboat drills. Sadly, I was a tad late so I was only about to catch the last few minutes of their drills, but luckily it still made for some cool photos. My next stop was a park near the location of the two ships and from the amount of people in the parking lot, I could tell I wasn’t the only person excited about seeing the two ice breakers.
The ice breakers consisted of the 140 foot ice breaking tug, The Mobile Bay, that is stationed in Sturgeon Bay and the ice breaker, The Mackinaw. The 240 foot Mackinaw that is based out of Cheboygan, Michigan on the other side of Lake Michigan, can be spotted in the waters of Door County usually once a year to help open up the shipping channel.
Luckily with the signal range tests I had conducted on my drone, I felt confident in sending the drone out over a mile to get the shots I wanted. At first the two ships kept their distance from one another, but at one point I saw they were on a path to come in close proximity. When I realized this, I didn’t have my drone in the air, but luckily I had it ready to go and had a fresh battery in it. I put the drone in to what is called sport mode; the drone can fly at close to 50 miles per hour in this setting, and I was quickly in position to get the shots I wanted and hovered for about ten minutes to see what else would happen. At that point, I thought it was best to bring the drone back with a safe amount of battery power to spare. I hung around to see what else the ships may do, but they sat idle for an hour or so. With the help of a spotting scope, I was able to see that it looked like they may have been conducting some training. As the sun went down and the smaller of the two boats headed back to its home port in Sturgeon Bay, I got one of my favorite shots of the ship sailing through the ice that was lit by the warm late day sun.
The last time I shot photos of an ice breaker was 20 years ago from a fixed wing airplane. That shoot was one of the first things I shot with a digital camera and one of the frames still hangs in my living room. I shot that photo with a Nikon D1 that featured a 2.7-megapixel image sensor. Back then I never would have dreamed that 20 years later I would be doing a similar shoot with a drone. Heck back then I didn’t even know what a drone was, and that it would have a camera with a 20-megapixel image sensor. I’m excited to see what the next 20 years will bring and to see what kind of creative things I can do with the drone going forward.