La Jolla High School sophomore’s photo draws hefty sum at Museum of Photographic Arts auction

By Susan DeMaggio

Student photographer Michael Mitchell, 15, a sophomore at La Jolla High School, was invited to submit a photo for the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) photo auction fundraiser on Oct. 5 —and no one was more surprised than he when the photo drew $900 after spirited bidding by three guests. “I’m happy about that,” Michael said. “I was nervous, afraid no one would buy it, and my mom was prepared to start bidding.”

He said the man who bought the photo told him it would be a wonderful addition to his vast collection.

Only three students were asked to participate in the auction that featured the work of professional photographers.

Michael’s photo, titled “The Detail,” was previously selected for the 2009 youth exhibition, “Through the Lens: Selections from MOPA’s Education Programs.” It was also chosen as one of the promotional images used to publicize the exhibit. Michael entered another photo in the fifth annual youth exhibition, “Reflections: Exploring Cultural Identity in 2010.”

MOPA camps and classes at Nelson Photo launched his interest in photography. He shoots with a Canon 7D. He said he has lots of other hobbies, though photography is one of his favorites — especially when he can shoot sports and night images.

“It’s a great feeling when you get that perfect picture,” he said. “It’s very rewarding … a shot can be technically correct, but it also must have things you can’t put boundaries on, like artistic thought.”

Michael said he also loves to DJ, is on the cross-country team, is a Latin student, and a competitive downhill mountain bike racer. He takes art classes at The Art Academy of San Diego, and has studied classical piano since the second grade.

“I don’t know what I’ll study in college or what I want to be, as yet,” he said, “but I know I’ll keep taking pictures.”

Michael’s advice to photo novices is look to the Internet where questions about equipment and technique can be explored through sites like