How Mitch Schlimer uses “artography” to captivate his audience


Mitch Schlimer with Snowy Egrets in Flight; PHOTO SHOT AT ANDELL INN BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Throughout the arc of Mitch Schlimer’s professional life, visualization has been the key to his success.

A serial entrepreneur, his vision to see a need in the market made him a successful business owner. As the owner of an advertising agency with a video production division, his creative “eye” was crucial in the creation of top-level television commercials, music videos, marketing brochures and video sales.

“In whatever I was doing in my career, my eye and my visual skills were very clear in the results I achieved, from the sports I played and taught to the ads I produced and the businesses I built,” says Schlimer, a native New Yorker who moved to the Charleston area in 2019.

The fact that he had talent and a unique perspective was obvious from early childhood, when at the age of 5, Schlimer’s first camera was placed in his hands. “My father and his cousins would meet regularly, each month, at a different cousin’s house,” he recalls, his accent thick with the telltale dialectic markers of his home state. “They were all gathered at my parents’ home this particular day, and my father handed me a Polaroid. I just started wandering around and taking photos. We laid them out on the table to process, and when everyone saw the images that developed, they were all really surprised. Everyone wanted to know who took them, and my father told them that I did. ‘Wow,’ they all said, ‘he’s only 5! He’s got some eye.’ I’ve always had vision. I’ve always been able to see things that most people don’t see and capture them. Once I capture them, that’s when people say, ‘Wow, look at what an incredible thing that is.’ And they might otherwise have never seen it.”


An early introduction to photography didn’t lead to any serious kind of pursuit, however. Instead, he focused on tennis as a professional player and owner of multi-location Mitch Schlimer Tennis Centers, his ad agency and building a successful radio career. He’d dabbled in his early 20s with a Pentax ME Super camera, but it wasn’t until he began shooting sports that he began to reignite the fire that had first been lit as a child.

“I had my own background in sports, so it was something I understood from a personal standpoint and had an interest in,” says Schlimer. “My son, Corey, played baseball and football, and I’d go to games and start shooting. People would see the images I captured and say, ‘You’re like a Sports Illustrated photographer; this is unbelievable.’ I would catch the baseball at the tip of the bat, a player sliding into home plate and the umpire calling him out, or a wide receiver in midair, grabbing the ball with his fingertips.”

That split-second immortalization of motion has been a signature in Schlimer’s work, as static photography seems not to appeal to his eye or inspire him. “I’ve done it all—I’ve shot scenic landscapes, events, music events and bands, even food. There’s a saying that if you can shoot food, you can shoot anything. But lo and behold, I kind of fell into wildlife, which was natural to me because, as a sports photographer, I had to learn how to perfectly capture that one moment in time—that one in a million shot. You must do the same with wildlife, be able to capture their energy and movement. Shooting wildlife and birds in flight—animals in motion—is my forte.”


Schlimer goes on to describe the three massive sequences that now grace the lobby of the Andell Inn on Kiawah Island. “A camera takes about 20 frames per second, and sequences take a segment of those frames to show movement as it happens,” he explains. “The three sequences that fill the lobby showing the incredible grace and movement of Snowy Egrets over a pond in Mount Pleasant, a Great Egret catching a fish and a mating pair of Great Blue Herons necking with a baby at the bottom of the nest are all a product of my process.”

Process is, of course, critical to any artist, whether their tool is a brush, pen or camera. “I’m very strategic,” Schlimer says. “I know where I’m going to go and what I want to shoot. I’m normally up at about 5 a.m. and on location just before the sun comes up because I want to shoot in the incredible light of the Golden Hour, just after sunrise and again in the hour just before sundown. I know what birds and species are around and what kind live in whatever area I’m shooting. I know when they migrate in and out, what their calls sound like, what their habits and behaviors are.

Black Crowned Night Herons

“With 80% of all wildlife photos I take, I hear my subject before I can actually see it. I hunt it down and find it to capture it, and none of that comes down to luck. It’s a very specific process, with visualization being key. I see the photo and the shot in my mind’s eye before I take it. In that regard, I’m like a painter. I study the backdrop as if it was a canvas, and then I wait for the species to come into that canvas for the shot. I may not get what I want that day or that week or even in two weeks. When I lived on Long Island, for instance, Snowy Owls would come to the west end of Jones Beach, and you had to walk a whole beach to see them—or not. You might never see one. There’s a lot of hunting in the process, but I enjoy the hunt.”

Schlimer’s background in business and entrepreneurship have naturally made him aware of the need to differentiate himself from other photographers. “Everyone has a camera in their hands now, so anyone with a smartphone can call themselves a photographer,” he contends. “What I do is more than that.”

Osprey in Flight

To that end, Schlimer coined the phrase “artography” to distinguish himself and his work. “When I shoot, I shoot from my gut, really feeling the shot,” he says. “When you see my work, you’re not just seeing what I see but what I feel. When I hit that shutter, that’s exactly how I’m feeling at that moment. I shoot from the heart, and that’s what creates those works that people always tell me feel more like paintings than photographs.”

Though he wields a digital camera and works with Photoshop and other editing software, such as Lightroom, when needed, Schlimer would hardly consider himself tech savvy. Not that the “artographer” relies on the abilities of computer programs to perfect his work. “Mother Nature is the best painter in the world,” says Schlimer. “If I don’t get the shot in the camera, I don’t get it. When I edit, it takes maybe five minutes. A crop, maybe a little contrast—that’s it. The work that you see is just how I captured the image in the camera, and if it’s not a 10 when I take it, I don’t keep it.”

For someone who has over a million images that pass his litmus of one to 10 on a scale of perfection, wow factor and visual impact, that’s saying a great deal.

Schlimer’s work has taken him to Africa, Costa Rica and all around the United States, with hopes of eventually shooting the scenery, birds and wildlife of such unique places as Iceland, Brazil and Alaska. “You have to go where your subjects are,” he says, once again displaying his incredible grasp of nature and his deep knowledge of his quarry. “Each location has different species and different animals. For instance, Costa Rica has more than 50 species of hummingbird, while the East Coast of the U.S. only has one, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. I research and find out where certain birds or animals are and plan around that.”

Great Egret in Flight

Schlimer’s greatest supporter and source of encouragement has been his wife, Sandra. While the artographer has been selling his work for over 10 years, it has only been within the last year that he has turned a more serious focus on his art. “In the twilight of my life, I’m following a passion I’ve had since the age of 5,” he says. “My goal is to get my work in every city in America and, hopefully, around the world. Fifteen years ago, I helped start the Magic Wand Foundation in Roswell, Georgia, with the goal of furthering youth empowerment and entrepreneurship. Over those 15 years, we’ve worked with five million kids, and I’m using a portion of my profits from my artography money to support the organization as well as wildlife organizations.”

Schlimer cites various stories and ways his artography has been used for therapeutic purposes. “I consider my work to be ‘photo therapy’ for people,” he says. “When they see it, people respond to it in incredible ways. It’s been used to help patients in hospice pass gently; it’s made people weep when they see the beauty and are moved by it. In a time when there is so much suffering and pain and cruelty in the news, such a marked increase in depression and isolation, I feel there is a greater need for my work and what it brings to the viewers.” *

Liesel Schmidt lives in Navarre, Florida, and works as a freelance writer for local and regional magazines. She is also a web content writer and book editor. Follow her on X at @laswrites or download her novels, Coming Home to You, The Secret of Us and Life Without You, at and

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