Recently we took some time to ask one of our pro photo website users, Michael Hatten, a few questions about his photography, how he works and what inspires him. His photo website is located at (sacredearthstudios.photoswarm.com) and he’s also got regularly updated Facebook and Twitter pages.

1. Tell us about your experiences getting started as a professional photographer.

Being considered a professional photographer is kind of odd. I had always hoped it would happen, but never thought it would. I began selling photos after I posted images on a site called PanOramio, which links all your images to Google Earth where people can find them. People began contacting me at that point wanting to do business. After I began selling images I thought it would be a good idea to create an online portfolio. That’s where Photoswarm came in. I also started a Fan Page on Facebook that links my posts to Twitter. I have definitely seen a difference in business from these few additions.

2. What advice would you have for other photographers who are considering becoming professional?

Read everything, learn Photoshop, and know your camera. Do it because you love it, otherwise the business aspect can get in the way of the creative process. Get to know the internet and use what you can to promote yourself and your work. Facebook and Twitter are great places to start, and easy on the wallet. Also, get your images up on the web! Donate some of your images to fundraisers you believe in. Find something about your artwork that makes you stand out from the crowd. Business cards are a must. I use Moo.com because they have a real professional quality and allow me to put up to 30 different images on the backs of my cards. Most important, you have to stick with it.

3. Do you prefer working with digital or film cameras? Why?

In my opinion, digital is the way of the future. Having to buy darkroom equipment, chemicals, film and paper can make shooting film very costly. Technology has made it so easy for users to understand how a camera works by having the ability to see an image on the spot. You can now see whether the actions you have made had a positive impact, or if you need to shoot again. Personally, it has enabled me to refine and blend my creative and technical process.

4. Can you tell us about your technical process.

I mostly do landscape photographs, which means I need to be out shooting during the sweet light of dusk or dawn. I do a lot of low light and high f-stop photography, which means a tripod, is a must. Recently I have fallen in love with shooting architectural images. To get the detail and texture to pop, I use bracketing (taking multiple images) and use HDR software to blend the images together. Some of the software I use is Lightroom 2.0, Photoshop CS5, Photomatix 4.0, Noiseware Professional, Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Detail.

5. Can you tell us about your creative process.

My first inspiration came from a photographer named Ray Atkeson. I grew up with his “Oregon” books and have always wanted to visit the places in his books. New artists like Trey Ratcliff, Brian Matiash, and Michael James have really helped open the world of HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography. HDR Photography has become my source of creativity. As I said before, I love taking architectural photos, which have a lot of texture. HDR really allows that texture to pop, and can sometimes “make” a picture. HDR has opened up a new way to express my art. Defining my creative process can be a little difficult. In many cases, it’s simply a blending of the technical process and the feeling of the moment when I take the shot.

6. What about photography captivates your interest?

Visiting a new place is really exciting. I love capturing the beauty of things, be it nature or man made. In the past 10 years I have seen many places succumb to the changing extremes of the climate, such as beach erosion, Bark Beatle infestations,melting glaciers and wildfires. I feel it’s important to capture images of the beautiful things nature has to offer us, before it’s lost.

7. What do you want to photograph that you’ve not yet shot?

I would love to spend time traveling about state by state photographing some of the amazing things the USA has to offer. It’s important to document our natural wonders, so I would love to do a book some day. As for specifics, I would love to photograph some of the favorites: Yellowstone, The South West desert, Chaco Canyon, Alaska, and the fall colors just about anywhere. I would like to travel outside the USA, but since there are so many amazing places, it’s difficult finding a where to start.

8. Tell us a little about your past history as a photographer.

I picked up a 35mm camera back in the 80s, but photography was more of a hobby at that point than a professional job. In 2000 I bought my first Canon Rebel 2000, and that’s when everything took off. Since then I have done work for museums, web pages, travel blogs, environmental publications, government reports, utility companies, and donated images for fundraisers. I’ve also sold quite a few framed and matted images for a variety of clients.