Mike Coleman – His Photography Rocks!
“Certain photographs, stick out in your mind sometimes. For some reason you can remember exactly where you were or how you were setup to take that particular photograph.”
Photography started for Mike at an early age as a student at Pemberton High School in 1971. He borrowed his dad’s old Rolleiflex camera and he began to photograph the world around him.
The son of a military father, (started in the Army then Air Force) he lived in Europe and parts of the mid-west before landing in New Jersey in the early 70s.
Coleman reminiscences, “I started out working on the Pemberton High School yearbook, then I went to Burlington County College, where I worked on the college newspaper as a photo editor.” It was around this time Mike developed an interest in music, specifically photographing the live music experience.
“It was great. Back then you could take a camera into the Spectrum. Nobody challenged you. It’s not like today. Nowadays people are afraid you’ll record (tape) the concert. Everybody has their iPad or iPhone trying to record the show. It ruined the whole thing,” Coleman explains.
Some early 70’s shows Mike has photographed include: the Beach Boys, the Band, as well as the local folk music scene at the Philadelphia Folk Festival (including artists: Steve Goodman, Tom Rush and Arlo Guthrie) just to name a few.
Coleman laments, “Concert ticket prices were cheaper. Venue staff and patrons were more relaxed and photographing the artists was more accepted. You could obtain a press pass, get closer to the stage and get some excellent shots.”
Coleman describes some of his fond memories of shows of historical importance, “I photographed the Babys and Tom Waits, whose backup band was the Police. 1979 was a very defining year for me. I got to see Lowell George of Little Feat, who was touring solo without most of the band, just days before his untimely death. It was an amazing time period in my life.”
Recently, Coleman photographed the Alice Cooper Band and Motely Crue who played on tour together back in 2015. Two of his prized photographs are images of each band’s drummers, respectively displayed at Gallery 72. “The hardest person to photograph at a rock show is the drummer. It took me a long time to get a decent shot of Tommy Lee,” says Coleman.
His portfolio includes photographs of rock and roll and blues icons: Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, James Cotton and Buddy Guy. Coleman remembers, “Buddy Guy has a transmitter on his guitar, he sits down right across from me. He had this one girl who was about six years old. He took her hand as he strummed the guitar.”
A former senior corrections officer, Coleman muses, “Photography has always been a release for me. I’ve had some serious jobs in my career. You need to channel that release to find that diversion between the real world and the creative world. This creative process led me to start paying attention to sunrises and sunsets. I’ve taken a lot of photographs of both through the years.”
Coleman enjoys shooting sunsets/sunrises at Pemberton Lake and Chatsworth Lake on Route 532 located in the Jersey Pinelands. “With the serious side of my life behind me, I want to do things that I haven’t done before,” explains Coleman. Mike is planning some upcoming photography excursions in 2018 to include locations such as the Northern Lights (Iceland) and a desire to visit the Wiltshire community (near Stonehenge) to explore some of his family’s lineage.
Coleman summarizes, “Photography is an on-going thing. Almost like a ‘live’ art form. It something that is going to continue to go on. I’ve a lot of fun with it.”
Every Picture Tells a Story Blog
Scott Kern is a feature and lifestyle reporter for the Pine Barrens Tribune. He is also a travel writer, photographer and exp