Michael Alberti developed a love for photography as a teen. While a courier, his boss at a firm in Chicago’s Wrigley Building taught him how to use a 35mm camera.
Alberti wound up following an uncle by studying medicine. He became a pediatrician and later an emergency room doctor. There was simply no time for his hobby.
Fast-forward to a relocation to the Valley in 1996 to be an emergency room physician at Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix. He began making more time for his cameras.
Alberti, 55, has become so proficient in photography that he’s opening a studio, Images By Michael, in north Scottsdale. He specializes in family portraits, glamour shots and other art-quality images.
With a renewed interest in photography and customers from the last several years who have told him they enjoy his work, Alberti said his dream is to stop working in the medical field and become a full-time photographer. He cited the growing amount of paperwork, insurance headaches, the health care industry becoming more corporate and other bureaucratic concerns for his disenchantment.
“The medical industry has turned me off,” said Alberti, a Scottsdale resident. “There’s no positive interaction with patients anymore. That has been sucked dry by the health care industry. I liked the lifestyle and fast pace of the ER, but I’m older. I don’t have to give up medicine but I’ve decided to make a gradual shift.’
Alberti said that he’d like to stay in medicine because it satisfies a little part of him. He admits he has ignored his passion for photography for a long time.
The catalyst for the transition to photography was his wife, Michelle Ruha, a physician at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix. She commented that Alberti’s work had vastly improved, and that he seemed to derive a lot of satisfaction from it. The birth of the couple’s daughter, Vanessa, two years ago really stoked his interest.
“When I first saw the pictures I took of her they were overwhelming. An incredibly peaceful feeling comes up when I look at the pictures,” Alberti said, pointing to recent portraits of his daughter and wife. “I want other people to feel this love they have for their kids. I’m not talking 8-by-10s. I mean larger portraits. You see 8-by-10s only when you dust.”
Alberti really got into photography with the advent of digital cameras. He said there’s somewhat of an obsessivecompulsive, attention-to-detail part of him that taking pictures soothes. He said he ignored the other side of himself, a free and creative spirit, during most of his medical career.
“With medical school and becoming a doctor, your life stops,” Alberti said. “You work about 100 hours a week. You don’t have time to even turn a camera on, yet alone take pictures. I didn’t carry a camera for a long time. With digital, I got hooked. You can open them in Photoshop and make any adjustments you want. That appealed to the left-brain side of me.”
Alberti admits he’s a bit nervous opening a studio, but he’s sure it’s the right direction for him.
“I started shooting people free about seven years ago to build up a portfolio,” Alberti said. “This is going to be challenging. I don’t want a big-volume business. I want a high-tech, customer-oriented business. I like to spend time with people before I take their pictures. I want to get to know them. Heck, I’d go to a frame store with them if they want and even help hang the pictures. People deserve that kind of service.”