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The Artful Imagery of Michael Going
By Lynne Eodice
Dec 12, 2010

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Michael Going has had a lifelong relationship with the camera, beginning when he was a child model in New York City from 1944-47. In junior high, he took an introductory black-and-white darkroom photography course, which he credits with "igniting my interest in photography." Nonetheless, his parents discouraged him from pursuing this discipline as a career. So after graduating from UCLA in Political Science and doing a two-year tour in the Navy including Vietnam, he decided he didn't want to work in the corporate world. Thus, he became a social worker. "But I remembered everything I had learned in that photography class 15 years later," Going comments. "A light bulb went off, and I wanted to take pictures." He borrowed a camera, began shooting, "and I haven't stopped since."

© Michael Going - Breaker's Hotel, Palm Beach

He's been a professional photographer for more than 36 years, a career that includes teaching, fine art photography and advertising, editorial and corporate work. "The camera has really gotten me around the world," he says. He's had photo essays published in Road and Track, TIME, American Way, and Sports Illustrated magazines, and has done major assignments for clients like Hyatt Resorts, Princess Cruises, and numerous others. His fine-art work is in the permanent collections of museums, corporations and private collectors including Maison d'Europeene Photographie in Paris and The Polaroid Corporation Permanent Collection.

© Michael Going - US Tennis Open

A New Expression In 1978, Going began altering images using a Polaroid SX-70 camera and Time Zero instant developing film. Another photographer, Ken Marcus, became somewhat of a mentor to him in this arena. "I saw him alter Polaroids. Here was someone with skill and an eye, and I thought, 'it's amazing what you can do.'" This inspired Going, and he continued working in this medium for nearly three decades until Polaroid stopped making the film two years ago. "Initially, it took a while to have any success with it," he recalls. "I was specializing in corporate annual reports and motorcycle photography - among many other commercial assignments to make a living." He enjoyed doing Polaroid film manipulation on the side, however, as a creative outlet. He showed some of these images to art directors whom he worked with. "The response was overwhelming," Going remembers. "They said, 'this is fabulous, we've got to use it,' and then nothing would happen."

© Michael Going

It took years, but Going's tenaciousness paid off with commercial assignments utilizing his Polaroid image manipulation. "I had a major essay to do for Sports Illustrated to shoot the U.S. Tennis Open, and they gave me an eight-page spread just of photographs." He also had a commercial assignment for Princess Cruises, which won a New York Art Director's Gold Award. He was featured in Communication Arts, Photo/Design, American Photographer, PDN, Confetti, Polaroid's magazine, and many other publications that did covers and feature stories on his innovative images. More recently, Going has had gallery shows and sells limited-edition large prints of his original Polaroid images. "Now I have a finite body of work," he explains, "and I've had no interest in trying to duplicate it in Photoshop." He's been shooting digitally with Canon DSLR's for the past couple of years, creating an entirely new body of work. Today, his website basically has two components - Polaroid images and his newer digital photographs.

© Michael Going - Melrose Ave, L.A.

A Book of His Own
In March of 2008 he self-published a book of his Polaroid images entitled, Altered Vision through Blurb. This opportunity came about after Jeff Dunas' Palm Springs Photo Festival in March/April of that year. "as one of the perks of being an exhibitor was that Blurb gave the artists a book," Going says. In the past, he's shown his photographs in traditional portfolios, he says, "but there's clearly an amazing response that you don't get otherwise when you show a bound book of your work." This has been a great promotional opportunity for his work as well, he points out. "You could use this book as the model to present to a major publishing house," Authors can also check their sales online with Blurb every day. "I'm really thrilled with the whole concept," he says, adding that he has plans for more books in the future - two featuring his Polaroid images and one of his digital work. "There's a series I did in downtown L.A. called 'Drive By.'" Going states.

© Michael Going - Disney Hall

The Gift of Teaching
He says that teaching has become a new passion for him. He really enjoys teaching kids, mostly age 13, in an after-school program at Barnsdall Art Center (part of the Department of Cultural Affairs in Los Angeles). He teaches two different courses. One is Basic Photography, where students use 35mm manual cameras and learn how to work in the darkroom. The other course is called Beyond Basic, which has proven to be very popular. "I have kids who have taken it from me for two years now," Going says. Although he's teaching just part-time, he looks forward to it every week, and has come full circle in many ways. "I think the connection for me is that my junior high school photo class changed my life, although I didn't know it at the time."

© Michael Going - Bowling Green, NYC

Going says that he's "acutely aware of the importance of being an instructor." He even contacted his former photography instructor from junior high school, and Going told him what an impact he had on his life. In Going's class, students learn via hands-on experience. His instruction is also unique because he encourages the students to sell and exhibit their work. Several students have made numerous sales. "They're very sophisticated photographers and image makers," he says proudly.

Visit Michael Going's website.

Preview of "Alterd Visions."

Images from "Water Dreams."

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