Mike Forton is a Carroll County photographer. Many people are surprised that Forton is both artistic and technical at the same time. Forton started using Kodak point and shoot cameras when he was 12. He even used an Instamatic when he first started.
"When I was in college I was a business major but I wanted to take a photography class to learn how to process black and white photos," Forton remembered. "I couldn't get into the science department so I took classes in the art department. I am a technically inclined person so when I saw the first image come up in the darkroom I was hooked."
"I taught myself proper use of manually controlled cameras to do pre-visualization," Forton said. "Did you ever get a photo and think 'that is not what I saw.' Pre-visualization is the ability to get on that image what you see in your mind's eye. Today, with digital photography, I can combine images to get what I want in my photos. I can take a sky from one photo and put it in another. It is just like with other artists that do watercolors or oil paintings. The editing is what allows me to get the image I want."
"There are other photographers who are purists and think that the image must remain as originally taken. I always say that I don't take photographs - I make them, Forton said enthusiastically.
"I try to take photographs of things, scenes, people, and found still lifes," he said.
Forton said found still lifes are his favorites, such as a little gully with wild flowers or an old window with a candle in it.
"One time got a new camera and just walked through my neighborhood. I came back with fifty great shots. I take vacation photographs like everyone else does, but my best photographs are taken here," he reflected.
"Most of my photographs are within two hours of my home," Forton said. "Then I can go back and photograph the same image at different times of the day and at different times of the year. As a result, I have several images of that scene. It makes my photographs unique because no one else has those images."
"One day I found a location with some great old, rusty farm equipment," he said. "I thought that they would look great in the snow. I had to wait four years for it to snow on that equipment to get that shot."
"I like to do weddings but I am particular which weddings I do. When I take on a wedding I am there for the bride. It truly is about her. I need to connect with the people so I can get the best photographs. They almost become family members to me. As a retired federal employee, I have the option of taking jobs that I know I can do the best," he said.
"When I do portraits, I interview my subjects. For example, if the family plays golf, I meet them at a golf course. I do not take what I call, 'firing squad' poses. I want my photographs to show the real personalities of my subjects," Forton said.
Currently, Forton is working on a special set of images, will take him another year to complete. "Then I will print a coffee table book with my own equipment," he said.
Forton will be exhibiting a new image at the Carroll County Arts Council Members Show from Aug. 16 through Sept. 29th.
For more information about his work contact Mike Forton at