Capturing The Classic Hollywood Look with Mike Motzki

Mike Motzki is a fashion, beauty, and glamour photographer based in Southern California. He grew up in the Philipines where his love for photography began. Later in life, his friend and mentor Jan Gonzales aided his technical and creative growth when Mike returned to the Philipines two years ago. In this behind-the-scenes interview, we took a close look at Mike's style of shooting and how he created the images below. 


1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been shooting on and off for about 10 years now. I ended up going back to the Philippines for 2 years back in 2009 and my friend and mentor Jan Gonzales was the one that taught me everything I know about photography, editing and especially lighting. He was very meticulous when it came to those subjects. Even to this day, we talk almost every day with regards to those subjects.

2. What was the inspiration behind this project?  

I’ve been browsing a good amount of classic Hollywood photos and I’ve always wanted to create an image that would capture the feel of the old Hollywood look. The use of a canvas background and the light seam from studio B made a great backdrop.

3. How did your team help complete the vision?

My model Zoe was amazing, and so was my make-up artist Natalie and friend Christian that helped me during the shoot. The shoot went smoothly due to their efforts and would I love to work with them again in the near future.

4. Why did you choose to use strobes versus natural light? Was this choice determined by your initial vision or was it for ease of use?

With regards to the output that I was aiming for, I mixed the light that was streaking from the window with an Alien Bee 800 paired with a parabolic umbrella and another Alien Bee mounted with a beauty dish. It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo using that setup. With that said, with the combination of natural light for my background and strobes for my key and fill light I was able to produce work that I am extremely happy with.

5. What was your favorite part of the shoot?

The best part of it was that everything was falling into place and that I was taking great shots due to the location and team that I was working with.

6. Do you have any advice for others who are just starting their photography career?

Keep shooting! Laziness and inactivity to me are photographer’s worst enemy. Sometimes due to my day job, I end up not shooting for months at a time. This leads to rustiness and stagnation on my part. The more you shoot the more you grow. Most importantly develop and evolve as an artist; read a book, travel, or find another medium to enjoy. Ideas, inspiration, and creativity will naturally come when you expand your horizons. 

Photography is something that I love doing, and I'm in it for the long run. 

See more of Mike's work here!