We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Pach and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
When I teach photography classes I am not only enhancing people’s lives by helping them learn new skills, I’m helping them learn how to use photography as a way to connect with nature, how to become more creative and how to improve their mental well-being through mindful practices. My overnight workshops to photograph the night sky create memorable experiences in places that not many people get to experience. I had an older man on one of my workshops from St. Louis who saw the Milky Way for the first time in his life while on one of my workshops. That experience is much more important than the photos he captured that night, and it’s something he’ll never forget. My night sky workshops in Westcliffe help to support efforts to educate people about the benefits of dark skies, and the workshops I do in El Paso County help raise money for Bear Creek and Fountain Creek nature centers. I’m also the founder of the Colorado Photography Learning Group, which is the largest photography group in Colorado Springs. Since I haven’t been able to conduct in-person events for my members due to the pandemic, I have been hosting weekly Zoom meetings with some of the best photographers in the area and the world. My members have told me that these meetings have helped them tremendously during this difficult time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started learning photography when I was in high school, and it was a hobby throughout college and my 11-year career as an engineer. After getting laid off, I decided that I did not want to work in the corporate world anymore, so I started my first photography business, selling and licensing my photos. I learned quickly that I couldn’t make a living doing this, so I got into the retail side of photography and digital printing. That business did well for a while, but it became too difficult to compete with the large online retailers. While working for a small newspaper, I learned that I liked photographing events, and I also starting teaching photography classes. After leaving that job, I started my current business, 3 Peaks Photography, and concentrated on event photography. I started teaching photography and Photoshop classes at local art centers and then founded the Colorado Photography Learning Group. My journey has not been easy, and being a freelancer can be very challenging, but I get to do and photograph a lot of things that those with a 9-5 job would not be able to. I would say that persistence, constant learning and making connections are the things that are very important to success. I’m most proud of a 365-day project that I started exactly 6 years ago where I photographed a tree behind my home for a year. I learned so many important things during that process that I like to share with others. I’ve lectured on this project dozens of times and even spoke at the Canadian Mental Health Association Conference in 2019. After 6 years, I’m still using the things I learned to advocate for mental health, and I hope to start a career as a motivational speaker.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I consider myself to be an ambassador for Colorado Springs, and the first place we would go to is Garden of the Gods. I tell people that if they only have time to got to one place while they are visiting, Garden of the Gods is the best choice. We would drive up Pikes Peak, go to the Paint Mines and visit Cripple Creek and Victor. We would have to do some 4-wheeling to an alpine lake in Westcliffe and stay the night to experience the stars and Milky Way in a dark sky community. Our meals would be eaten at a number of local restaurants in downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a handful of recent influencers I would like mention. The first is UK-based photographer, Steve Gosling. I was introduced to Steve through a webinar where he talked about breaking the rules of photography. When he described himself as a “photography anarchist,” I knew I had to meet him. I invited Steve to host a workshop here in Colorado, and I learned a lot from him during the short amount of time we spent together. Because of Steve, I gained the confidence to start doing my own workshops. I met photographer Shane Balkowitsch almost 2 years ago when his work was part of a Native American exhibit at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Shane changed my perspective on photography in general by illustrating how important it is in recording our history. Because of Shane’s influence and the influence of Pioneers Museum director, Matt Mayberry, I have spent the last two years working on a “then and now” project that is part of the Colorado Springs’ sesquicentennial celebration, which will result in the publication of my first book. And I wouldn’t have realized my lifelong dream of being a radio host if it wasn’t for Dave Gardner and Tim Board.
Mike Pach / 3 Peaks Photography