Michael Desmond has said that his passion first emerged as a child when he and his grandfather would capture stills on the sands of Pismo Beach, California. However, photography was but a hobby when he began taking classes at Sacramento City College, simply wanting to “understand” the camera he had received as a gift. It wasn’t until Andy Delucia and Dick Fleming, the department heads at the time, acknowledged Michael’s innate talent and suggested that he take up photography as a career. With this idea in mind and at a crossroads in life, Michael plunged into a craft, an art, and a life he wanted to know more about.
Knowing, that to be the best, you must learn from the best, Michael connected with and assisted Bill Santos, his first mentor in lighting and photography. Later he went on to learn and be mentored by Dean Tokuno before moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of his dreams. Michael nourished his talent in L.A. while assisting Michael Muller, a photographer he had originally met in Sacramento. Mr. Muller also played a significant role in Michael’s photography development.
Always eager to learn more, Michael snuck onto a movie set one day seeking out the unit photographer, Richard Foreman (Terminator Salvation, No Country for Old Men, Poseidon, Mission Impossible: II) who took him under his wing and not only became a great mentor but a wonderful friend. Michael credits his brilliance in this area of photography entirely to Mr. Foreman.
Dedication, persistence, desire, and a few true believers along the way, Michael worked his way into the Cinematography Guild and onto the set of some of America’s favorite television shows; including Showtimes’ “Weeds,” “Episodes,” ”House of Lies,” and “Masters of Sex;” ABC’s “Castle,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Private Practice;” CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and The CW’s “90210” and “America’s Next Top Model.” These images have been seen in periodicals such as Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, TV Guide, and many others around the world.
In 2011, Michael was nominated for the Publicists Awards for Excellence in Television Unit Photography. To be placed in a category with artists he had for years admired was an honor, a surprise, and a true testament of his talents as a photographer.
In addition to unit photography for the television and motion picture industry, Michael’s work can be seen in ads for Puppy Chow®, Carl’s Jr.®, Universal Studios Hollywood and Coca Cola®. Most recently, his images have been made into movie posters for Sony films.
While Michael takes great pride in his work, a deeper passion was discovered when he volunteered to travel through Kenya documenting UC Davis medical students as they worked with local physicians from Nairobi administering medication to those in need of general healthcare, Malaria treatments, and AIDS treatments. He was able, for the first time, to capture and thereby give back by telling real-life stories through his lens.
Michael’s charm, wit, and endearing smile lends itself beautifully to photography. His subjects, whether they be A-list actors on a Hollywood set or villagers in Africa sense Michael’s passion, spirit, and love for what he does, somehow always easing their camera shyness. Dean Tokuno once told Michael, “A good photograph has the ability to not only tell the story of its subjects, but that of the shooter as well.” Michael has succeeded brilliantly!