Mike Howlett studied Applied Photography at Salisbury College of Art, where he mainly learnt how to repair his old motorbikes instead. He failed to become a burden on the state by being offered photographic posts at Imperial College, then Guy’s Hospital and then British Steel’s research labs in Battersea, London.  After working on a number of in-house documentaries, he went to Naples with a friend to make their own first, essentially amateur, film.  It won three awards (including one in the London International Amateur Film Festival), so the pair went to Alaska to shoot a second film, a documentary on post-glacial species’ recovery that sold to 15 countries under Anglia TV’s ‘Survival’ strand.

There followed 20 years as a cameraman, running a small production company for 12 of them, and then freelance with a tendency to shoot films that interested him rather than those that paid the bills.  As a result, among other escapades, he helped rescue a dozen steam locomotives from Arctic Finland, flew in microlights and hot air balloons in Bhutan and Beirut, toured Eastern Europe and Russia with a chaotic string orchestra and had to endure three weeks in St Lucia on a documentary about bananas.  Alas, the fun had to end when his wife and friends found out how skint he was, so he retrained in IT and spent the last ten years of his employed life as a network engineer in the NHS.
Picturesonline.co.uk represents the photographic portfolio of Mike Howlett, ex-lighting-cameraman and retired IT systems engineer, now working as a landscape photographer in Needham Market, a small town in mid-Suffolk. It has two churches, five pubs and a reptile emporium - about the right balance, he feels.
Having confined his picture-selling to art shows and Christmas Fairs until now, he has, as yet, few internet testimonials as a commercial photographer to support this website of his landscape and 'urbanscape' work.  So instead, here are some nice (unsolicited) things people said about his work as a lighting-cameraman in a previous life:
“Mike achieves the highest quality even under impossible conditions”
Roberta --------, TV Producer
“He will go anywhere and do anything to get the right shot. His work helped us secure a long-term relationship with a client."
“I’ve not been lit so well for years!”
Susan Rae, TV and radio presenter
“Looked like a million bucks had been spent on it…”
Steve Melendez and Tony Childs, Melendez Films
“Great camera-work, nice angles, superior scrounging around…”
Allan D Verch, Intl Press & Publicity Mgr, Polaroid USA
“It’s actually a pleasure to grade your rushes”
Filmatic Labs, London
"...I just want to add how much I enjoyed working with you both (ie. Mike and sound recordist Bill McCarthy) and hope there will be something else in the near future so that we can repeat the experience.”
Robert Marshall, TV producer
“…Richard is really pleased with the results of your various ‘jaunts’ around the country. He always enjoys working with you and Bill as you get the job done with a minimum of fuss."
Ruth Holland, Production Mgr, On Screen Productions
“…We have received nothing but praise for the hard and conscientious work that you accomplished under difficult circumstances."
(as news cameraman in the week that Princess Diana died)
Nick Ludlow, Managing Director, Prime Television
Michael Clerizo, Cricket Ltd
MH, May 2018
An early passion (BSA M21 600cc)
Filming diamonds, Åaton camera
"Well, all that seems like a lifetime ago, which in a sense it was - the world having changed so completely in the (nearly) 20 years since I last made a film. Of the last six that I shot, two were never even edited (on one the client went bust, and on the other the director absconded one night with all the rushes, never to be seen again). On a third I had to threaten court action to get paid, two others were virtually one-man crewing affairs, where the 'cameraman' was also sound recordist, grip, gaffer, PA, driver and - as so often - mentor to a fresh-out-of-media-studies 'director'. But finally, as a swansong, came a film I actually enjoyed working on, unlike so many others had been recently. Done the way it used to be, with proper crewing and scheduling and with a decent bunch of blokes and a sensible budget, it also helped that it was a three-week shoot in the West Indies with a fair amount of 'down time' after the daily wrap.  And so, as I watched the sun setting over the Caribbean Sea for the last time from an exquisite beach on St Lucia, beer in hand, I knew this last shoot was unlikely to start a trend, and that something had to give.

"Despite the fact that you can, apparently, make a ‘film’ with a mobile phone, I dare say it is as difficult now as it ever was to join the film industry proper.  When I was already shooting and editing minor productions, I managed to get myself short-listed for a studentship at the prestigious National Film School, but I had to forestall any potential offer of a position when I realised how long it was going to take to tackle cinematography in the truest sense - shooting feature films. This was during one of the UK's periodic film-industry doldrums, so the prospect was not very encouraging for someone already in his 40s.  I deeply regret that I hadn't been in a position to apply earlier, but my dabblings on the periphery of the industry (making commercials, corporate videos and the occasional TV documentary, and having some wild times on freebies) kept me off the streets and enabled me to indulge in a lifestyle that some may have envied but which was rarely tainted with an 'income'. I used to joke that one day I'd make a film called 'The Fear of Wages', but, like many people I met in the industry, I was doing it for love, not for money. Ultimately, getting out and getting a proper job was the only viable option, so I retrained and became an IT engineer in the NHS.  I regretted it on day one.

"But at least it provided the pension that supports me now in my efforts to become a landscape photographer, with the results you'll see and, I hope, like on this site."
Interests: music, world cinema, history, travel, trying to write,
Temperament: quiet, stubborn (apparently), no dress sense,
Assets: his wife, some DIY skills, computer literate, organised,
Dislikes: Delius, Christmas, crowds, quite a lot of TV, sport.
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