Photo by Amanda Rieker Mike Pach takes photos of the Pikes Peak Derby Dames wearing his 3 Peaks t-shirt

Photo by Mike Pach The Pikes Peak Derby Dames skate at a local match.

Photo by Mike Pach At the I-25 Speedway, one of the Rocky Mountain Riot burns up the track.

Photo by Jeff Ramirez Mike Pach gets some quick shots of the Rocky Mountain Riot at Garden of the Gods.

Photo by Mike Pach Macro photography, like Mike's photo of this butterfly, is one of the features of his classes.

Photo by Mike Pach The mountains still call to Mike Pach and become one of his many subjects.

Photo by Mike Pach Even downtown Colorado Springs offers Mike many opportunities for interesting photographs.

Photo by Mike Pach The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb offers photographers like Mike Pach the opportunity to shoot racedrivers on one of the world's most challenging courses.

Photo by Mike Pach Mike takes the opportunity to view some of Colorado's nature in a unique way.

Photo by Mike Pach The Rocky Mountain USO holds a concert on Fort Carson and Mike was there to capture the moment.

Photo by Mike Pach A Fort Carson Soldier takes a little time out during a USO event on the post.

Photo by Mike Pach The Colorado Springs Balloon Classic offers many opportunities for interesting photography, like Mike's shot of balloons over Prospect Lake in Memorial Park.

Photo by Mike Pach Members of the Rocky Mountain Riot pose for Mike for a group shot in Garden of Gods.

Photo by Amanda Reiker Mike Pach prepares to take a shot at a Pikes Peak Derby Dames tournament.

For local photographer Mike Pach, his love for photography and Colorado started back in high school.

Mike came on backpacking trip lead by a group called Meet the Wilderness with other students from his home town of Chicago back in 1984. Borrowing his brother’s single lens reflex camera, he spent 5 days in the Flat Tops Wilderness near Dotsero.

It was there that Mike fell in love with the natural beauty of the area and was inspired by the photos that he took. Several years following that trip, Mike returned to Colorado, working for Meet the Wilderness as an assistant backcountry guide. And he continued to learn more about photography. The other guides he worked with soon recognized his skills and designated him as the official photographer of any trip he helped lead.

Over the years, Mike has had many different jobs, from working for McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis as an engineer to being a photojournalist with Fort Carson’s Mountaineer newspaper. Throughout that time, his love for photography hasn’t diminished and he enjoys sharing that passion with others.

Currently, Mike is working as a substitute teacher at local area schools, but he is also teaching classes in photography and the fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop. His current offerings are with Cottonwood Artists’ School at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in the Springs and the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. The classes vary in length from 4-8 weeks, teaching students how to take better photographs and how to work with images in Photoshop. Mike says that some people feel intimidated by not having professional equipment, but that shouldn’t stop them from learning how to improve their skills.

“I work with everyone from those who have fancy equipment to those who have point-and-shoot cameras,” he said. “I try to keep the learning experience open to benefit anyone, regardless of their experience and equipment.”

He said that he starts with the basics and goes on from there. He structures his classes to the students and works with them to develop skills in portrait photography, macro photography and, the most popular, night photography.

“We go out at night and take photographs capturing the ambient light or painting with light by using flashlights with colored gels —the students really get a kick out it,” he said.

While many people say that photography cannot be learned and that one has to have an “eye” for photography, Mike said that this shouldn’t discourage anyone from trying to take his classes.

“Anyone can take a snapshot. It takes more to make a photograph,” he said. “Even if my students aren’t great photographers, I teach them how to think before pushing the button and how to make better pictures than they've made before. And with cameras getting more complicated, many people need to be taught how to use all of the functions.”

He is particularly proud of one of his students. She had little experience with photography and after taking his class—and practicing, which he stresses is important—she was able to sell three of her photos during the first public showing of her work.

Mike and Ben D’Andrea, a Lakewood area photographer, have also put together two groups, the Colorado Photography Learning Group and the Colorado Photography Learning Group-North, for which they organize photography trips and workshops designed to help photographers of all levels improve their skills or learn new ones. Mike said the Springs group has more than 50 members and the Lakewood group, which organized early this month, has about 30. Mike will be leading interested parties up on one of his favorite trails on Pikes Peak to catch the Fall colors.

When not teaching classes, Mike runs his own photography business, 3 Peaks Photography & Design. He does event photography, senior photos, wedding photography as well as his own nature photography. Recently he has been involved with taking photos of two local roller derby teams: The Pikes Peak Derby Dames and the Rocky Mountain Riot. He said that he has been having fun working with these two groups and has gone out on some interesting shoots with the Riot, including a group shoot at Garden of the Gods and one at I-25 Speedway, during which several of the Riot skaters performed stunts while being lit on fire. He has also taken photos for the Rocky Mountain USO on Fort Carson and covered the inaugural Warrior Games for the USO.

In addition to paid stints, Mike has offered his services to local charities. He said that he wanted to be able to give back to the community, so has offered his services to the Salvation Army. When they had a recent drive for community members to buy school supplies for needy children, he volunteered his services to take senior photos for any student that couldn’t afford a photographer.

If you happen to see Mike around town or at a roller derby bout in his 3 Peaks t-shirt, feel free to say hello and ask him your photography questions. He is always glad to share his knowledge.

To see Mike’s work or to view his latest class schedule, go to or find him on Facebook at For information on the Cottonwood Artists’ School, go to Information on the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts can be found at For more information on the Colorado Photography Learning Group (Springs), go to For the Lakewood group, go to

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Tags: Cottonwood_Creek_Artists_School, Mike_Pach, Pikes_Peak_Derby_Dames, Rocky_Mountain_Riot, Tri-Lakes_Arts_Center, photography


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Comment by Katy Booth on September 17, 2010 at 11:35am
Thanks, Doug -- great story.



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