Success Stories

Alumnus finds success in photos

Kevin Michael Schmitz

Kevin Michael Schmitz has been looking at the world through the lens of his camera for more than seven years now. As a successful advertising and editorial fashion photographer in Los Angeles and New York, his view has never looked better.

Schmitz originally attended Grand Valley State University to play varsity tennis for the Lakers. It wasn't until after his freshman year that Schmitz took a photographic expedition of Mediterranean Europe and came home with not only an amazing experience, but also a clear direction for his future. 

After declaring his major in photography, Schmitz worked as an intern for photographer Tim Priest in Grand Rapids and shifted into photographing people and fashion. Kevin Michael Schmitz Photography was founded and he began building his reputation as a professional photographer in West Michigan.

After graduating from Grand Valley in 2006 with a degree in photography, Schmitz pursued a master's of fine arts degree at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He was then able to connect with top advertising agencies, magazines and designers. Schmitz began doing commercial photography after publishing his first student work in 2006 for CMYK magazine.

Since moving to Southern California, Schmitz has published eight photographic magazine editorial spreads. He currently shoots for advertising agencies, celebrity fashion shoots, nationally published magazine editorials, fashion look books for designers, album covers for musicians, documentary spreads, and sells his fine art photography internationally to galleries and private collectors. 

Schmitz photographed a nationally published magazine editorial in 2008 with a Vogue fashion stylist for a 12-page fashion editorial spread.  Based on the television show "Mad Men," this project was a period piece about the emergence of advertising in New York in 1960.

In January 2009, Schmitz photographed a documentary editorial spread in Israel during the Gaza Conflict.  Israel: A Culture at War was nationally published in America along with an article that he wrote about the war between Israel and the Palestinians living in Gaza.

In October 2009, Schmitz signed with a gallery in England that is representing him throughout the U.K. and Europe. The Silverburn Gallery is selling his fine art limited edition photographic prints internationally.

Schmitz teaches a "Portfolio-In-A-Day" workshop in Manhattan Beach, and plans to expand to New York, Chicago, Miami and even the campus at Grand Valley in 2010. "My greatest accomplishment in my career is breaking into the educational side of photography," Schmitz said. "I love teaching my own workshops and educating students about the art and business of photography."

Schmitz is the recipient of the 2009 "Young Alumni of the Year Award" at Grand Valley.

by Heather DeWitt

This story was filed with the tags: Awards, Communications, Impressive Jobs, Undergraduate Alumni