Phoenix Photographer Mike Olbinski: 100 Creatives

Meet the creative.
Meet the creative.
Mike Olbinski

Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 20. Mike Olbinski.

Photographer Mike Olbinski specializes in storms and weddings -- ideally not combined. Though we imagine the Phoenix creative would create some seriously memorable shots in the event of monsoon-drenched nuptials.

Sometimes the 39-year-old pulls all-nighters capturing footage of storms that he later compiles into time-lapse videos. When the 39-year-old isn't chasing summer weather events like monsoons and supercells, he's usually busy editing images or spending time with his wife, Jina, and three kids at their Phoenix home.

See also: Phoenix Poet Shawnte Orion: 100 Creatives

"Every summer I put together a short film of my time-lapse clips during the summer monsoon in Arizona," Olbinski says. "Everyday I'm working on and editing clips that will go into that film. That's my long-term project right now."

The videos he creates have garnered Olbinski some serious notoriety. Perhaps most famously, footage he captured of a supercell near Booker, Texas, (see the video embedded above) was used to create a special effect in the Marvel movie Thor 2: The Dark World.

He also posts stellar sky shots via social media, where he's garnered more than 5,000 Twitter followers (his handle is @MikeOlbinski) and posts lengthier updates at

And summer's not over yet. Olbinski likely will spend the coming weeks reading up on weather reports and chasing spectacular storms. Once monsoon season passes, he'll work on creating and finalizing his third monsoon film.

What's on the horizon? Olbinski says beyond his next film, there's not a whole lot. Though he is excited about an upcoming trip he's planned. "I am embarking on a four-day photography tour of Arizona with three buddies (two photographers, one cinematographer) and a motorhome this January. It's going to be amazing." We have no doubt.

Phoenix Photographer Mike Olbinski: 100 Creatives
Mike Olbinski

I came to Phoenix with my parents, who decided they would give me the gift of being one of those rare Arizona natives.

I make art because I can't help it. My passion to chase storms is almost an addiction. If I see thunderheads, dust storms or lightning, I would have to be to the point of exhaustion to not head out after them. It's what I do.

I'm most productive when I've captured something on camera that I cannot wait to get home and edit. It could be an amazing portrait from a wedding, a ridiculously awesome lightning bolt, a time-lapse of a haboob rolling over Phoenix or a photo of my kids.

My inspiration wall is full of the best landscape, storm, and wedding photographers I can find. Seeing their work on a daily basis in turn helps inspire me to newer and better ways of doing things.

I've learned most from others. I'm a self-learner, so looking at thousands of photos on a daily basis is what put me on the right path. The more I realized what was the cream of the crop, the more I strived to imitate that, and in turn found my own voice.

Good work should always show who you are and what you are passionate about. When I first got that hunger to learn photography, I wanted to take photos of anything and everything. Now, six years later, I know who I am and what kind of images I want to make. Every photographer goes through that, but there should be something there that is unique to yourself, because good (or great) work come from the passion you have inside yourself to capture it or make it.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more time. I'm a father with a wife and three kids, so when I'm not chasing storms, or shooting weddings all weekend, or busy working all day...I'm with them. I don't have much time to actually be on the "creative scene" as much as I'd like, so I don't know exactly what it needs. I do know that in my four years living in downtown Phoenix, I've met more artists than I ever imagined, many of them living right around this same area. Artists are moving in and turning the heart of the city into something beautiful. It's happening slowly, and we just need more time.


Phoenix Photographer Mike Olbinski: 100 Creatives

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse 92. Ib Andersen 91. Casandra Hernandez 90. Chris Reed 89. Shelby Maticic 88. Olivia Timmons 87. Courtney Price 86. Travis Mills 85. Catrina Kahler 84. Angel Castro 83. Cole Reed 82. Lisa Albinger 81. Larry Madrigal 80. Julieta Felix 79. Lauren Strohacker 78. Levi Christiansen 77. Thomas Porter 76. Carrie Leigh Hobson 75. Cody Carpenter 74. Jon Jenkins 73. Aurelie Flores 72. Michelle Ponce 71. Devin Fleenor 70. Noelle Martinez 69. Bucky Miller 68. Liliana Gomez 67. Jake Friedman 66. Clarita Lulić 65. Randy Murray 64. Mo Neuharth 63. Jeremy Hamman 62. La Muñeca 61. Kevin Goldman 60. Emily Costello 59. Kerstin Dale 58. Vara Ayanna 57. Nathaniel Lewis 56. Ruben Gonzales 55. Lisa Poje 54. Bobby Zokaites 53. Frances Smith Cohen 52. Julie Rada 51. David Miller 50. Xanthia Walker 49. Kyllan Maney 48. Cary Truelick 47. Constance McBride 46. James D. Porter 45. Allyson Boggess 44. Abigail Lynch 43. Ashley Cooper 42. Jaclyn Roessel 41. Brandon Boetto 40. Melissa Dunmore 39. Gavin Sisson 38. Rossitza Todorova 37. Monica Robles 36. Josh Kirby 35. Jesse Perry 34. Yai Cecream 33. Nathan Blackwell 32. Carley Conder 31. Ben Willis 30. Nicole Michieli 29. Brian Cresson 28. Tyson Krank 27. Mikey Estes 26. Anwar Newton 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick 24. Tato Caraveo 23. Jorge Torres 22. Laura Spalding Best 21. Shawnte Orion

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