Work Experience

I bought my first Nikon camera when I was in the US Navy, and after shooting the first roll, I was hooked on photography. When I left the military, I moved to Denver, Co. where I graduated with a certificate from National Camera’s School of Photo Equipment Technology. From there I attended the Community College of Denver and earned an Associates degree in Photography. The emphasis there was on fine art photography that was heavily influenced by the likes of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Brett Weston, and Paul Strand. I like to think that my own personal work, which is mostly in color, has been influenced by Eliot Porter.

Most of my experience as a professional photographer has been in commercial photography shooting product, both hardline and soft goods. Since 1985, the majority of my photography has been for catalogs, brochures and sales flyers. This work also requires architectural photography and portrait photography to complete some of the projects.

Over the years I have used a variety of formats. I have done work with view cameras, medium format and 35 mm cameras. I started shooting with a digital camera back in 1997, and since 1999 the majority of my work has necessarily shifted to digital photography. I find this medium fascinating and the potential incredible.

Photo courtesty of Dan Holland

My Time as a Navy UDT-Seal

I served this country in the US Navy as a UDT frogman/Navy Seal from 1973-1976. My class started with 65 men and finished with 13. I was stationed on the west coast where Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and Seal Team One completed the same core training and shared the same compound. During my tenure in the Navy, the difference between UDT and Seal Team One were their primary and secondary missions. UDT's primary responsibility was that area from the high water line on the beach out to sea, whereas the Seal's primary responsibility was from the high water line inland about 10 to 20 miles. Our secondary missions were the opposite – we were both able to complete each other’s primary mission. Since my time in the service, the Navy has re-designated the UDTs, and now everyone is a Seal and simply broken out into different teams based on specialty.

As part of the UDT team, our training included parachuting (both static line and free fall), repelling off cliffs and out of helicopters, training in weapons used by both friendly and enemy forces, firing of explosives used: in the clearing of beaches, the disabling of enemy movement, and the sinking of enemy ships and vessels. Most of the work we did was in the water. We carried only a Ka-Bar style knife which is why we were known as the "Naked Warriors".

I have jumped out of more planes than I have landed in. I have swam under Aircraft carriers more times than I had been on one. I have been towed by a submarine's periscope while in a rubber boat. I have swam in shark infested waters while performing combat recons before the dawn; and I know what it is like to Scuba dive with a rig that makes no bubbles in the dark waters of the night without a light.

I have great memories from my time in the US Navy, I applaud what today's Seals accomplish, and I am honored to have served as a member of the Teams. Hooyah.

Korea, 1976

Personal Life

I have been married to the same wonderful woman for 35 years, and I wouldn’t change a thing. A camera repairman by trade and an artist by birth, my wife owns and operates two local businesses in Hendersonville, TN. The Woodland Gallery represents many Tennessee craftsmen with talents that range from woodturning, pottery, and photography, to jewelry making and fiber art. Weekly pottery classes are available, as well as summer kids camps to introduce children to the world of pottery. Forest Camera Repair specializes in digital camera sensor cleaning, 35MM camera repair, as well as Hasselblad and Mayima camera repair services.

I have two children, both married, and a grandson who keeps me young.

All the best,

Michael "Mike" Gustafson
"soli Deo gloria"



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Work Experience
My Time as a Navy UDT-Seal
Personal Life


Beyond the Green Button
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