Some people don’t find their passion until later in life. Mike Julian of Incabulus Images is one of those people. Julian describes how he was inspired by a friend who had been shooting their whole life. This friend showed him a few tricks to get started, and Julian used those tricks to enter his first photography contest. “It became my first prize-winning image. After that I was in love,” Julian recounts.
Based out of Provo, Utah, Julian has spent the better part of ten years honing his practice. His landscape shots capture the stark vibrancy of his subjects, and Julian has learned how to apply that quality to his action shots as well.
“I shot landscapes exclusively for a few years and then found that shooting people was more interesting and technically challenging. I have worked with models ever since.” Julian saw focusing on movement and action as a challenge, a way to improve himself further. He describes how since the lighting at dance performances is typically very low, and thus is a nightmare for a photographer to work with, he has learned to feel it with all of his senses, to get the right shot by anticipating the movements. He says that it “always keeps him on his toes.”
More than just being about his self-improvement as an artist, Julian views his photography as an act of transgression. He recounts how when he was still starting out he had a mentor, and that said mentor advised him to never work with tattooed models. His mentor’s reasoning was that it diminished the chance of a client buying an image. Julian has never understood this bias against inked models. The real turning point for him came when he was hired to shoot a “Miss Uproar” contest at an Avenged Sevenfold concert in Salt Lake City. All of the contestants were tattooed.
“I had been inspired.”
After that Julian branched off and began specifically seeking models with body modifications. He notes that it “certainly stirred up some drama and raised some pulses.” That only encouraged him further, though. “It makes me happy to make waves every once in a while around here.”
Julian has also began to experiment with body paint and photo-manipulation. For him it is a way to add to the story of his images using the canvas that is the human body. Hearing the way he describes controlling a scene to create a fantastic result makes his passion for photography apparent. “Some of the most amazing and creative things I have seen was while working with incredible artists and the models that stand for hours while getting transformed into something from and comic book or a video game.”
Julian especially prides himself on bringing out the “feminine side” of his models. He describes “the curve of a hip, baby softness of the belly, perfection of a booty, legs that make it all seem right.” He likes to accent a model’s features in such a way that when they see the finished product, they say “I can’t believe that’s me. I look so beautiful.”
For Julian, showing his models their own body in a way they have never viewed it is what motivates him to compose his scenes.