OFFSHORE ANNUAL A Picture's Worth ... By Greg Trauthwein Mieko Mahi is a study of contrasts. Mahi has built her career and several successful businesses capturing images of the offshore oil and gas industry, a woman photographer documenting a male-dominated, roughneck industry. Soft spoken, Mahi possesses a toughness to get the shot despite obstacles and conditions, and in nearly 20 years has amassed not only one of the world's finest and most comprehensive collections of offshore industry imagery, but enough tales of adventure to match the fictional "Indiana Jones." The foundation of her success is rooted in a solid work ethic that has enabled her to turn loss into gain, driven by a passion to get the shot. The fact that Mahi has excelled in covering the Offshore energy market is as much by coincidence as business plan. She embarked on this path in 1988 when Texas Oil & Gas Corp. hired her as a videographer, responsible for producing the company's safety videos, with her photo taking as a side-note. In her early 30s, video production was actually her preference over still photography, and in fact many of the safety videos that she wrote, shot and edited were award winners. After only two years with the company, Texas Oil & Gas was sold and dismantled, leaving the young videographer out of work, but not for long. Marathon Oil offered here a position as a photographer, where she worked until 1994, when a round of corporate lay-offs again left her outside of the corporate loop. While lay-offs are hardly unusual in the energy world, this particular timing for this particular young professional eventually proved beneficial and marked the last time she would be under the employ of a corporation. Mahi's Marathon experience consisted primarily of being sent offshore for photo shoots, and upon her lay-off in 1994, Marathon's parent company tapped her skills for two years following with freelance annual report work, essentially launching her independent businesses. With a steady check to support her, Mahi embarked on the journey to tap local companies for additional freelance work, though at the time the mission was not strictly centered on energy companies. "I took the top 100 companies in Houston, called all of them to get the contact people who hired photographers, and kept in contact with calls and postcards for freelance work." During this process, she received the most response from the Oil and Gas industry, which helped her to define her direction. "I think young people sometimes think that someone is going to tell you the direction, but it just doesn't happen ... you have to make it happen." And make it happen she did, though the road was not always straight and smooth. It is human nature to sometimes view successful professionals with jealousy, reasoning that success was delivered rather than earned. In Mahi's case, nothing is further from reality, as evidenced by three failed attempts - a fashion photography company; a video production company; and a print and design company - to build her own company in the past. "I This month's cover is from the talented Mieko Mahi of EnergyImages.com. Mahi has made a career of shooting stunning photography of the offshore oil and gas industry, an endeavor that has led her to serveral business ventures. Mahi's work is also featured in the April 2007 edition of MarineNews sister-publication Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, but her shared portfolio was simply too large to be housed in one magazine. don't take success for granted," she said. "I never wanted to work for myself again, because I didn't want to be poor, until USX (Marathon's parent company) and Diamond offshore promised me a year's worth of work." Mahi also credits Richard Payne and Jay Brousseau as two invaluable mentors. Payne, based in Houston, specializes in architecture and has published more than 16 photography books, and Mahi credits him with encouraging her to pursue photography as a career instead of video. Brousseau is a Dallas-based studio pho- The Life on a Rig Exhibit Mahi funded and created the "Life on a Rig" exhibit using all of her images. It has $450,000 worth of images displayed on it, and the exhibit has it's own stands in which the public can walk around to view the panels. The display is in two 12 x 8-ft. sections. One depicts the four major offshore rig types and the four basic advanced technologies. The other section depicts the entire business of offshore from transportation, exploration, drilling, construction, production, safety, to saving the environment. This exhibit originated at the Ocean Star Museum, and later parts of it was reproduced by the Offshore Technology Conference, and the exhibit has been shown at the University of Houston Downtown and also, at the Galleria. The exhibit is now at the Texas Maritime Museum for the next eight months and is also being utilized for training classes there. Presently, The British Columbia Ministries is recreating the exhibit to a more portable size, so that it can travel by sea plane or barge. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org 26 · MarineNews · April, 2007
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