Mike Dempsey (aka Mikes Butt) is a Los Angeles-based photographer who stuns us with his gravity-defying images that take inspiration from his first love: skating. Each photo he produces combines a touch of danger and surrealism, with skater-esque poses grabbing our attention from afar.
Dempsey’s dedication to the craft of photography means that each photo is also shot with as little ‘help’ as possible, involving nail biting stunts to ensure genuine reactions.
Tell us how you first got into photography. What sparked the passion?
“I was drawn to photography as a kid when I obsessed over skate video and magazines. I love images where you can see gravity, like when a car is about to burst through a fence off a bridge or when an old lady is dropping a cake down stairs. I like the point of no return that makes the audience predict where they subject goes next.”
A lot of your work defies gravity! How is this done? A lot of editing? Sneaky camera angles?
“I always bring a ladder and a stunt mat with me when I’m shooting any photos of people off the ground. I usually just get my friends to jump off of summating or balance on a ladder. I’ll always get clean plates of the scene and try to just delete any safety mats or balance utensils. Having my friends practically jump in the air and fall down helps me get genuine reactions.”
What kind of themes do you love playing with the most in your photography?
“I definitely enjoy working with gravity. People hanging by their hair or falling through a fence on a bike; I love the point of no return. I also love shooting with dogs and their owners. I am planning to shoot more surreal styled skateboarding photos.”
As well as a photographer, you’re also a director. Tell us more about this.
“Yes, I’ve been working as a director for the last four years, shooting mostly music videos and content for the web. This was actually an alley way into photography. I was having trouble landing jobs as a director and every time I pitched a project it would take weeks of approval. I started shooting photos because it was an easy and practical way to show the concepts I wanted to create for someone’s video. At the moment it’s a back-and-forth with passion between photography and directing; I really love doing both and am always looking for a comfortable balance.”
What are you working on right now we’ll be able to see soon?
“I’ve been roaming around with a few rolls of film lately, just shooting lifestyle bologna. I will do some composite work in the near future. I plan to do a series of babes grinding impossibly large hands rails and falling on their faces :).”
All images © Mike Dempsey