Capturing moments of beauty, intrigue, glamor, and natural wonder has kept photographer Michael Haber traveling the globe, camera in hand — and often with a surfboard tucked under the other. Though the New York City native’s decades-long career has proven his success in the competitive world of professional photography, Haber delights in the simplicity of home right here in Santa Barbara. The father of three (mostly grown) kids balances time between celebrity shoots, glossies, and brands like Target and Olay with low-key beach days at his Rincon Point home, leisurely brunches with friends at Lucky’s, crewing for the win on Taxi Dancer, and treks up Hot Springs trail. He has an uncanny ability to spot the artsy side in all things, appreciating the aesthetic of classic collectible cars just as much as the design subtleties of modern architecture, and can turn mundane moments into frame-worthy portraits.
Haber now shares his eye for refinement and talent behind the lens through his latest project, The Elements (haberfineart.com/the-elements-book). On Saturday, December 11, he celebrated the publication with a release party at Summerland’s Field + Fort garden café.
We caught up with Haber and had a chance to get to know him a bit better. Here’s what he said:
How did you get into photography initially? In 6th grade, my English teacher introduced me to the darkroom and opened my world. It was simply magic. From that point on, I started photographing [what I saw] in the streets. This [experience] led to an opportunity to apprentice under Gideon Lewin, one of the top photographers in New York.
Where do you find inspiration in Santa Barbara? I have been one with Mother Ocean since I was a child. I’ve been lucky to capture moments — including urchins found near Santa Cruz Island, a stunning bow of a ship anchored off the Santa Barbara coast, a girl diving into the ocean at Loon Point, as well as my very popular “Bikini Brunch,” which depicts an afternoon at a beach house. Frankly, there’s beauty everywhere.
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What are you most proud of in your vast body of work? All of the most spontaneous moments I have captured throughout my travels. I love photographing the human figure in a timeless way. I’ve been blessed to have photographed some of the biggest campaigns in the world from the Target Bullseye, Gap, Neiman Marcus, and many more.
Where or from whom do you draw your inspiration and guidance? Some of my biggest heroes and mentors have always been Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, and Peter Lindberg — just to name a few.
How did the concept for The Elements emerge? Many creative visionaries have looked at my work and felt that it was a culmination of all of the elements in my life. It wasn’t just one chapter of travel or beauty; rather, it is a unique cohesion of all the elements.
You recently had a book launch at Field + Fort. Kyle Irwin and his incredible team were first-class, displaying my work and curating a simply magical afternoon event. We had over 200 guests, and Artiste winery branded bottles of their delicious wines with my photography — I couldn’t have asked for more!
What’s next? More timeless imagery. I already have six new images to introduce to my fine art collection, with many more to come.
Keep up with Michael Haber at michaelhaberphotography.com.