How old are you?
I am 49 years old.
Where were you born?
I was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Hawaii. My family moved to California when I was 17.
When did you first discover your passion for photography?
Like most people I had really only taken photos of family during holidays or vacations until I was 32. Then I was injured playing paintball. I hyperextended my knee destroying everything but my PCL.
I had been playing playing for a few years in Southern California where I was exposed to some of the top players in the world. I became good friends with Bea Youngs and Mike Paxson who at the time were coaching a new team called LTZ. I picked up the camera because I still wanted to be part of the game.
I then started shooting practices at Redlands Paintball Park and SC Village where teams like Dynasty, Bushwackers, Legacy, and Infamous practiced. It really came down to being in the right place at the right time.
What was the major turning point for you with your photography career?
About a year into picking up the camera I shot my first Cal Jam at SC Village. I gave Bea Youngs some of my images for a story she was writing for Paintball Sports Magazine. A month later the magazine came out and my images made the cut with one of my images being across two pages!
At that point I had decided to take the next step and get a DSLR camera like the photographers I looked up to Gary Baulm and Matt Dawson (MattD). From there Bea was able to get me my first pass to shoot a major event and the rest is history. I went on to shoot as a staff photographer for PB2X while still shooting for Chrono300.
What is your favorite memory while photographing?
My proudest moment and favorite memory in my paintball photography career was shooting my first major event. It was a PSP event in Pomona California, it was pouring rain out and I went as a spectator. Gary saw me shooting from the other side of the net and he told me to sneak on the field and shoot. I went right on to the pro field and started shooting, it was an amazing experience.
What was your favorite photo you’ve taken in paintball?
Ok, asking me my favorite image is impossible. I think I have shot a few hundred thousand images of the game. I think these are the types of images I would like to be remembered for. I loved the action and of course the splatter of paint.
When did you realize it was time for a change?
I left the game after the paintball magazine PB2X went out of business and the majors wanted me to pay to shoot. So I was no longer being paid to shoot, and I was going to have to pay to shoot. All in all the event promoters killed Chrono300.
What helped push you into photographing Roller Derby?
As things started crumbling for me in the paintball world I started looking for other things to photograph. One day on Facebook I came across an image that John Arquilla from Almost Famous had taken at a roller derby game and I wanted to give it a try. I had gone to photography school to learn studio photography to step up my game, and I thought bad ass roller girls would be a perfect place to start.
How long have you been apart of that community now?
Little did I know I would get hooked into shooting the game. I felt like roller derby was in its infant stage and I could grow a new brand and maybe takeoff again. In 2011 I started Tough Girls On Eight Wheels. So it has been a nice solid 6 years.
What is it like photographing Roller Derby when compared to Paintball?
Roller derby is a strange egg man, it’s not like a league where there are tournaments or championships at the lower level. The teams I shoot are what you would call local teams, they run a business and that business plays another business. The home team takes the gate ($) and they play for bragging rights with no championship. Most of the teams don’t desire to know who is the best so only today’s game matters.
There is a higher level roller derby but I rarely shoot it because of the red tape involved. The league WFTDA makes all the rules and let’s be honest photographers being happy is of zero concern. If you travel to a roller derby tournament you can only shoot games that the team you went with plays in. So if you travel to England for champs and your team drops the first two games you are done. I have been shooting too long to shoot by rules like that.
What are some of the major differences that you have become aware of while photographing in the two sports?
For me it’s like seeing a punk band in a small club with 50 people. Roller derby is a “do it my way” kinda thing, they don’t care what others think of them. Believe it or not paintball has rabid fans who want more and I was lucky to be part of it.
How did last year go for you?
In 2017 I found an old drive with tons of my old paintball images on it. I started posting them to my Chrono300 Facebook page and man it brought back great memories.
What are your plans for 2018?
I think in 2018 I may hit up a few paintball games and take a few more photos, but this time it will be just for fun. Gary has been twisting my arm to come back for a while, so who knows maybe Vegas is next?
What does the future hold for Michael Wise II?
I am always looking for something new to shoot so who knows where my camera will take me, sometimes I think they are in control.