Mike Bentley has worked full-time as a photographer for 40 years, 31 of which he’s owned Bentley Photography in Winder. He holds his PPA Craftsman, CPP, and Georgia Service degree and has been a member of GPPA for 40 years! Mike shares his business with his wife, Chance, and they have a storefront with their home in the back. No one knows they live there since they have a separate entrance and they never go into the studio after closing!
Mike attended his first GPPA convention in 1978 and he’s made a lot of great friends in the association. GPPA has had his back in times of need and when he just needed a few extra hands. Anytime he’s needed professional advice he has someone to call. GPPA is a group of friends that know what life is like being a photographer and it gives members an extra bond.
Primarily a portrait photographer, in the past few years the studio transitioned to volume photography with schools and sports, which was important in the post-recession years. It made up most of their business until last year when the pandemic hit. Mike and Chance initially lost a lot of their volume business in 2020, but it’s starting to get back to normal - except for masks and distancing. When photographing groups, they’ve had to rely on green screens and building the teams on the computer, which takes much more time than photographing groups together.
He met his wife when he worked at Sea Island Photography in the 80s. She was a photography student at East Tennessee State and came for a summer job. They were married a year later and opened their studio in Winder in 1990 when Chance was 5 months pregnant with their first child. They work together in the studio and Mike says “she runs the place.” They’ve always loved to travel and hike, and during the shutdown last year they took up mountain biking and are now addicted! They also love to cook (and eat). Mike and Chance have two daughters that were married within the span of 5 months in 2018. Both daughters are pharmacists, the oldest married a pharmacist, and a first grandchild is due in May.
Mike’s mother always inspired him to follow his dreams and was always a positive person with nothing bad to say about anyone or anything. She passed away during July of last year from Parkinson’s Disease and visits with her were limited to seeing each other through a window because of the pandemic.
In 2020 GPPA Photographic Competition, Mike received 1st place in Portrait – Open for “Nature’s Masterpiece”; 1st Place in Portrait - Teens and Seniors for “Young Maestro”; and he also received Best Of Show - Portrait for “Nature’s Masterpiece”, and was a Top Ten GPPA photographer for 2020. His award-winning images are shown here in the blog.
Mike’s Facebook: bentleyphotography
Mike’s Instagram: @bentleyphotography
Mike’s Website: www.bentleyphotography.com
This year’s GPPA Photographic Competition judging is on July 7 with entries open on May 1. Click here to learn more: GPPA Photographic Competition