Michael Salisbury talks Photography, Architecture, experience at Leo Burnett,& Slack.


What’s going on man, go ahead and introduce yourself

Hello everyone, my name is Michael Salisbury. I’m a photographer and a full-time dev ops engineer at an agency called Dom & Tom.

How was your childhood?

My childhood was good, I’d say. Since an early age I knew my focus was going to be in the technological field. Over time, as I got a bit older, I developed a creative outlet.

Did you find your creative talents at a young age, or as you started getting a bit older?

As far as creativity goes, I was creative in some medium or another. I loved to draw and build things. Although my creativity was there, I wasn’t able to hone it into a specific medium, until high school.

How important is it to allow children to be creative at a young age?

I think it’s super important. Art is just as important as science or history. The best thing about getting involved with art, or being creative in any way is that it helps you conceptualize ideas on what you want to do with your life.

With being a millennial, being able to work with computers, was that something that came natural to you?

Yes, from an early age I was always fascinated by tech, I just had no idea on how I was able to turn that hobby or passion into a career. As I got into middle school and high school I began building computers. When I got to college, I began honing into server architecture and design. Another thing that helped inspire me to take this path, had to do with my uncle owning a satellite telecommunication firm. We would take huge trips to his office and I always thought it would be the coolest. It would inspire me, and it fostered a curiosity.

Depaul tends to be at the top of the list for schools to attend in the city. How was your college experience?

That question will always be answered differently based on your major. I will say that for my program, we had a rock solid program at Depaul. One of the best professors in that field works at Depaul, and I highly suggest everyone taking classes with him. (JP). He built the program from the ground up and made it what it is today. I didn’t end up pursuing networking engineering as a career, but it was a really good experience for me.


One day you decided to go out, pick up a camera and start a long now 9-year journey of photography. What prompted you to start getting involved with photography?

If we take it all the way back to the beginning, I started back in elementary school. We had an after school photography program that I attended, and we would shoot film, go to the local camera store, develop the film, and see the photos. That was my first experience and exposure to photography. When I truly began to pick it up though was in High School. My Dad bought a camera to take photos of our family vacations. I would use that camera to begin to practice and experiment. (Canon Rebel XTI) Once I got to Depaul, I ended up buying my first camera, which was a 7d. At this time I was starting to research more about photography and photographers, experimenting with different lenses. One summer after I finished up my internship at Leo Burnett, I ended up going out and buying a 5d. Once I purchased that 5d, I truly began to take photography more seriously.

Has photography helped you transition into trying out other mediums?

I’ve experimented with a couple other mediums. I’ve worked with video and glitch art.

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Would you agree with him?

I definitely agree. I took more than 10,000 photos and they were all bad. That’s fine, there’s no shame in that. You’re supposed to be bad when you first start. When you’re able to realize that your work isn’t where you want it to be, that’s the first huge step towards progression. Trust me when I say this, you will get better as time goes on if you truly dedicate your time. It’s funny when you start out you can take some good photographs, but you don’t even realize that they are good photos. Once you reach a point when you know what good work is and can recognize it, whether it’s in yourself or other people’s work, that’s another turning point.


Chicago is a city that’s considered one of the best when it comes to our architecture. Talk to us a bit about your love for shooting architecture

My love for architecture stems from my father who is an architect and works at one of the top 5 interior design firms in the US. Growing up, I would always be surrounded by models, drawings, and designs. I had a huge interest, but never wanted to pursue a career in architecture. Being able to live in a city filled with beautiful architecture, I figured, this would be my creative outlet, or way of expressing my love for architecture.


With your Instagram sitting at 86k followers, how big of an importance is social media to you?

As an artist in this generation, social media is everything. I can’t knock social media and pretend it doesn’t exist; it’s a great avenue to get your work out in front of many people. I just don’t like how all of a sudden Instagram has just become this huge billboard for brands. Also, with Instagram, view it as a tool, not a lifestyle, it’s just an avenue to share work, don’t let it be what defines you as a photographer.

You’ve spoken on how Trashhand is one you look up to, who are some of your other biggest inspirations when it comes to Photography?

I’d say Chris Schnoonover, Nicholas Mehedin, Cait Opperman, Fursty, Bryan Lamb, and Robby Beckman.

Highsnobiety listed you in their top 5 favorite Chicago photographers. How was that feeling?

It was cool, as an artist it’s always nice to be recognized for your work.



Recently you left Leo Burnett, after spending three years there as their systems engineer. How was your experience working with one of the largest agencies?

It was definitely an interesting experience; I was lucky enough to be able to work for one of the largest agencies in the world. With working for a large agency like Leo, it’s very corporate, and there’s a lot of red tape in everything you do, which sometimes made my job very difficult. The best memories were towards the end when I was able to work with the Greenhouse team, doing still photography work. Working with this team, I was exposed to the business side of photography, the behind the scenes of a shoot, how shoots are organized and executed, etc. Being able to be exposed to that side was extremely beneficial for me. At the end of the day, as I stated earlier, I had a good time there and was able to meet a lot of cool people who I still keep in contact with to this day.

After you left Burnett, you quickly picked up a job at Dom & Tom as their Engineer. How has the transition been so far?

The transition has been good, for the most part it’s the same type of work. I’m exposed to a lot more in the field, which is hugely beneficial to me in my career. I’m the only Dev Opps engineer in the company, so it’s a huge part, but it has opened a lot of doors for me.

A week ago on Slack you decided to start up a chat for photographers to come together to chat, critique, and ask questions. Where did you get the idea to start this idea?

I use Slack professionally and have used Slack for Leo and a couple other professional teams I’ve worked with. Slack is not used for a public chat room; it’s usually used for private discussions for teams to communicate. I figured why don’t I switch it up, let me take an app that’s effective and fun to use, and use it in a way that it wasn’t designed to be. I’m a fan of trying things out like this, things that can remove the social barrier. I ran into a few hiccups at the beginning due to the amount of people who requested to be a part of the chat. We are now sitting at over 200 photographers involved with this chat. I’m stoked to see where this goes.

If you could pick three brands to work with, who would they be?

 1)   Tesla

2)   Apple

3)   Adidas

When you’re all done with your career, how do you want people to remember you?

Not as an Instagrammer. I hope somebody learned something from me, and that I was able to help inspire you to not follow trends and to be able to discover works for yourself. 

Written By: Nicholas Rud