Mike has been coming into the shop since day one, and has always been a solid shop visitor. He takes sick photos of some of my favorites skaters and he rips as well. This hard working man was filming a video part, and had a legendary bail where he broke both arms. Even with both arms out of commission, I still saw Mike out skating on the regular. Excellent photos, and solid work ethic, Heikkila rules!—James Rewolinski. Owner, Labor Skateshop
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
Almost nine years, I borrowed a friend’s four-megapixel point and shoot and was just fascinated with it. My mom bought one for me with the reasoning that I would take pictures of our family and events with it. It’s funny, the first six months I had it, I never shot any skate photos with it, just stuff I thought was interesting. Then my friend asked me to shoot a photo of him in the skatepark and was like, “Man this looks fucking cool!” I’m out skating everyday, I should take pictures of it.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I had this photo ripped out of a mag taped above my bed that was a loose cityscape shot of China I think? Someone was riding down a huge glass roof building with a drop. I don’t know who shot it. Another one I had ripped out on my wall was the Matt Hensley ollie on the underside of a bridge that was so surreal, it was shot by Sturt. I was very inspired by Mike Blabac, Daniel Harold Sturt, Brian Gaberman, and Scott Pommier.
Whats the best and worst advice you've been given on photography?
The best advice was to always keep a camera with me. I always bring my little point and shoot around when I don't have my bag. Any advice is good advice.
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
There are a few, but right now I really like this one of Antonio Durao doing an ollie over this rail to ride down the stairs. The delivery guy was flying down the bank on his bike right before he threw down and just didn't make it out of the shot in time.
Whats the most interesting story behind one of your photos?
The one of Matt Town going over the scooter into the west side highway is a pretty good one. Colin Read and I were telling him to try and get an ollie over the bricks and the bike into the road while the light was red. He tried a few but wasn't committing, the guy who owns the scooter walks up and is like, “Hey, that’s my moped! So you have to get it this try!” He scared us, but then was hyped and gave us one more. Matt just had to go for it and it’s the one he landed. Good times.
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Shoot a lot of photos, a whole bunch ’til you feel sick of it. Don't be afraid to ask your friends or other photographers for critique.
What's different about shooting in New York than anywhere else?
Everything around you just has so much character and history, it’s easy to get inspired. New spots do come and go fairly often but this place is basically just a big 24-hour photo opportunity.
Do you prefer digital or film?
I miss my Hasselblad very much, I sold it when film wasn't in my budget anymore and I regret it. All of my skate photos in the past five years have been digital. I still like to shoot on Fuji Instax instant film here and there, mostly portraits of my friends.
What's in your camera bag?
5D3, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, 8-15mm fisheye, 50mm, Godox V850 and AD360 flashes, light stands, mini tripod, iPhone fisheye, stickers, and usually half of a Payday candy bar.