After returning to the U.S. from an extended tour in Desert Storm back in 1991, this Marine purchased his first “real” camera and worked relentlessly on making a name for himself in the world. It’s now 2015 and Michael Pool is a well-known and established photographer, especially in the beauty industry. He’s often sought out by editorial stylists and manufacturers like Sebastian Professional, but we know him from being Robert Lobetta’s protégé and right-hand man. He’s not only an inspiring photographer, but also a dear friend.
Who: Michael Pool
Where: Los Angeles, California
Our site/publication is called Industrie and we spelled it with an “ie” on purpose – it’s the French way of spelling Industry and was once defined to us as an artisan who works with their hands to create things of beauty and substance. So tell us, how do you define beauty and substance?
Beauty is anything that, when recognized by one or more of the of five senses, stirs emotion and passion within you. For example, when hearing or seeing beauty, it exalts your spirit and inspires you!
Substance is the character or quality that makes something tangible and real. Beauty without substance is fleeting. Substance allows beauty to stay beautiful even after the top layers of its host are pulled back to reveal what is real inside.
What other creative outlets do you explore/practice?
Before I focused the bulk of my energy to a career in photography, I sang in a few rock bands here in Los Angeles. I love singing and my passion for music will never die. I still write and record a song or two every year just for fun. I don’t really like my voice but that doesn’t stop me!
I also love reading books. I secretly aspire to write a fiction novel one day.
What’s your personal motto/favorite quote?
There are so many amazing, intelligent people who have spoken such beautiful, important and relevant words that (much like a favorite song) it’s difficult for me to choose just one. But if I must choose, I would have to go with a quote from the Old Master himself:
“May the Force be with you.” Yoda
When have you felt the most vulnerable in your career?
This answer gets a bit personal, but I’m in such a wonderful place in my life now that I’m okay about opening up and talking about it. At one point in my career I found myself shooting high paid ads in Los Angeles, New York and all over Europe. I was living out a dream and I didn’t even remember working that hard to get there. Eventually the travel and lifestyle I was living took its toll on my family life, and my son’s mother and I ended our six year relationship. I spiraled down into a very dark place that I couldn’t get out of by myself. I stopped working on my career; I stopped returning emails and calls from clients. I even stopped getting out of bed at one point. Hell, I just plain STOPPED. One by one I started to lose the big jobs that seemed to have fallen in my lap just a few years before. I honestly was not sure if I had what it took to start the hustle all over again, to climb out of such a deep hole and humbly build my career back up. For the first time in my photo career I didn’t know if I was good enough. But fortunately, having a beautiful son that likes to eat and have a roof over his head is a GREAT motivator. I can honestly say that my life today is better than ever!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
This one is easy. My father has always been the most content, happy person I’ve ever known. Regardless of the situation or location we find ourselves in, my dad can always find a reason to crack a joke or make someone smile. Growing up, whenever I asked him what he thought I should do about any decision I had to make, he had one answer, “Son, just do what makes you happy.” As a child, a teenager, and later as a young U.S. Marine traveling the world, there were times when I was really hoping for some specific advice from my Old Man. But now that I’m getting (more than a few) grey hairs on my head and have a child of my own, I understand fully the bigger picture my father was trying to show me all those years.
“Son, just do what makes you happy.”
If you weren’t a _________, what would you be?
If I were not a photographer, I would be chef. I love good food and I find that creating a delicious meal is very much an art form. I would obviously have to go back in time and learn to make more than the three things I know how to cook!
What are Industrie 5Qs?
Our 5Qs are just that—5 questions that get asked, contemplated and answered. To spice it up, we throw in a bonus questions the person being interviewed gets to pick out of a potluck of possibilities.