Creative Experience: Photographer Michole Forks

Michole Forks

Michole Forks, age 35, is a professional photographer in the Bay Area. He’s passionate about working with families to create meaningful portraits.

Micholino Photography

How long have you been a professional photographer, and how did you get your start?

    I have been a professional photographer for 10 years. My journey in photography began as a kid in the 1990’s running around darkrooms at my mom’s job at Chroma Copy Imaging. Chroma Copy was a San Francisco based provider of comprehensive large and small format graphic solutions. My mom and dad worked together in the shipping and handling department where they would package and send out big print jobs for the advertising departments of Macy’s, Nordstrom’s and other high end retail companies. 

    In college, I ran into my high school friend Rey who was doing street photography with a Canon AE1.  He took me under his wing and taught me the foundational skills of photography. We worked together on a few small projects, and I fell in love with portrait photography, capturing the essence of my subject in a single frame. Rey at the time was doing galleries, and he inspired me have my first solo gallery show in 2011. After my show, I decided that I wanted to peruse photography more seriously instead of as a hobby, and I took the leap of faith to dive into the professional field.  

    I also work in education and taught PE in elementary schools here in the Bay Area. I blended my passion for working with youth with my passion for photography, and that’s how I’m able to keep my sessions playful and engaging with the families I work with.

    What are your favorite subjects and why?

    My favorite subject is taking portraits of families because each family has its own dynamics, stories, and shared experiences. Being able to document these sacred moments of togetherness and love is incredibly fulfilling.

    Is your business driven by client work, sales, licensing, or some combination?

    The bread and butter of my business is family sessions, but I also do engagement, maternity, graduation sessions, etc. In the future, I would like to expand my reach into licensing my work to local small businesses.

    What’s the best thing about working in the current market?

    The best thing about working in today’s market is seeing how fast technology has been improving within the photographer space and how AI has improved and enhanced workflows.

    What’s the most challenging thing about working in the current market?

    The most challenging issues that I’ve been facing are people not realizing the importance of documenting their most cherished moments of life and properly preserving them in a tangible format outside of the cloud infrastructure. I think people rely too much on social media to save and store their life’s milestones forever, thinking those images and videos will be accessible and readily available 20, 30 years down the line.

    Do you retain all rights to your work?

    Yes! And all my work to date has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office through RightsClick

    Have you had instances of unauthorized use (piracy) of your work? If so, how did you handle it?

    I had a situation with a small business that wanted professional headshots for themselves and their employees last year it was a learning experience. I sent my client a preview gallery to review and to create a favorite’s list of their top photos to purchase. They selected a few but wanted some additional editing for a few photos. I sent the invoice and provided the revised versions but did not hear a response back from them, so I decided to try a different email provided on their website, and that’s when I saw one of my images from our session already on the company’s website!

    I did some additional research and found that the client had already put them on his personal LinkedIn page and other websites without paying for the session yet. At the time of the infringement, I did not have insight or direction to know how to handle the situation, so I went to google and found DMCA. I emailed him a DMCA takedown notice, and he responded immediately but If I would have registered my work before sending him previews, I would have had more legal leverage in the situation.

    When/why did you come to understand the importance of registering your work with the Copyright Office?

    Being a member of ASMP I became aware of the importance of registering my work with the Copyright Office through webinar videos in the ASMP Academy.  I watched a video about the importance of registering your work and how you can turn copyright infringement into income, and I become hooked and realized how important it is for photographers to protect their work.

    How did you find RightsClick, and has it been useful in your business?

    RightsClick has been of the best and most important additions to my workflow in my business because it’s an investment in protecting and creating actual income from my work. I remember trying to register my work using the eCO system, but it was complicated. RightsClick is quick, and simple to use. Before sending out my work to clients, I make sure to register to the photos to ensure maximum protection before the images go out to the public and online.