Most readers of this newspaper are surely familiar with the name Albany, the capital of New York State, but most are probably not familiar with the name Michael Albany, a long-time Mt. Airy professional photographer with a seemingly endless list of business clients.
Most readers of this newspaper are surely familiar with the name Albany, the capital of New York State, but most are probably not familiar with the name Michael Albany, 59, a long-time Mt. Airy professional photographer with a seemingly endless list of business clients such as Philly Office Retail, Rick's Tree Service, Stretch Therapy Solutions, Pup Tales, United Steelworkers, Pearle Vision, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, National Nursing Centers Consortium, GO Mt. Airy, Mt. Airy Art Garage, Riverloft, Mr. Philly Real Estate, Day & Zimmerman (construction and engineering), Moore Eye Institute, Concierge Auctions and many more.
Gayle Ruggeri, director of DocuSign Services, which provides electronic security to businesses, said, “Please add me to the Michael Albany fan club. Michael really puts a lot of time, energy and effort into his work, and it shows … I highly recommend Michael and his work! (You get) great results, personality and high integrity!”
Despite Albany's impressive list of clients, however, the 14-month pandemic “almost put me out of business. I started working in a bike shop just to make ends meet. That and the lack of contact with people was almost too much.”
We put these additional questions to Albany in an interview last week:
Where did you grow up?
“In Glen Mills, Delaware County, before it was even a dot on the map. It was quiet, with almost nothing but nature, except for blasts from the nearby quarry. To get to our house, you had to drive up a hidden driveway a fifth of a mile long. A great place to grow up, though a bit lonely.”
What about your formal education?
“Although I grew up in Delaware County, I went to Chester County schools and actually finished high school in South Florida. I went to Broward County Community College in South Florida but didn’t finish. I’m too much of a rebel for that. I like to say I graduated from 'The School of Hard Knocks,' where I achieved a Master's degree of hard learning.”
How many years have you lived in Mt. Airy?
“My wife and I have lived here for 12 years. When we decided to move to the city, there was no question where we would live. It was Mt. Airy or nowhere, very much due to my friendship with Arleen Olshan and her wife, Linda Slodki (founders of Mt. Airy Art Garage).”
Did you have other kinds of jobs before becoming a professional photographer? If so, what?
“I've been an orderly in hospitals, an optician, IT support director and bicycle mechanic. Though I've had a camera in front of my face since I was 9, I only pursued it as a career since 2000. I left the corporate world to make photography my full-time job 11 years ago.”
How did you get started getting commercial and consumer work?
“Commercial photography is a natural progression when going from the corporate world to the creative space. I already had the corporate connections, so it was a rather smooth transition.”
You have a very impressive list of clients. What kinds of photos do you most like to shoot?
“Architecture and people. Although they are virtual opposites, the differences are what are attractive to me. Going from the Zen space of waiting for the light to properly light a building to the rush of all the parts of shooting corporate headshots gives me the opportunity to experience so much more. Add to that, I love the human form. (I also own BoudoirPhilly, boudoirphilly.com.) I love empowering both men and women through photography.”
What was your most memorable photo shoot? Why?
“That is a tough one. I have had so many, and I remember them all fondly. I'd say the most rewarding was when I did the Free Business Portraits for the Unemployed in 2009. I did 179 portraits in four-and-a-half hours. Being able to help so many with their job search in the midst of the crash was very rewarding. That was my most difficult shoot as well. Talk about herding cats!”
What is the hardest thing you ever had to do?
“There are so many challenges to life … Knowing when it's time to let go. Once that choice is made, the action is comparatively easy.”
Any family members you would like to mention?
“I am grateful for my wife. Without her I’m not sure I would have kept trying.”
For more information, visit michaelalbany.com. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org