What if I told you, you could have a job that allows you to have your cake and eat it too? Well Party Time Mike from Texas Tech found that job, going from party to party taking photos. This man has most likely been partying since you been in the womb and been getting paid for it. So it only makes sense that the Campus Socialite picks his brain for great party ideas and some party etiquette. I recently had a chance to sit down and interview the legend that is Party Time Mike:
The Campus Socialite: Let’s start by talking about how Party Time Mike came about?
Party Time Mike: 20 yrs ago I was looking for a job in photography and was hired by Bruce Smith the owner of Party Time Photos to work in the lab and be a photographer. As time went on I loved the job and the people I worked with and never left. I still love my job and the kids at Texas Tech. I’m proud of our work with the campus and years of involvement with the Greek Community at TTU.
TCS: When did you realize you loved photography?
PTM: In the mid ‘80’s I wanted a life style change and went back to college with the hopes I would stumble on a new life direction that would fit with my personality. I found photography and never looked back. I’m still very close to my first photography Professor at Tech, even though he has since retired. I took all the photo classes available at TTU and went to work for Party Time Photos while still in school. 20 yrs later I’m still here.
TCS: How did the legend of Party Time Mike Start?
PTM: I cringe a little at the term legend, I think I’m more like a well known personality. Anytime you do a job as visible as mine for 20yrs, you are bound to be noticed and remembered. The name PartyTime Mike came about because many of the kids wanted to call me by my name, not just photo dude or picture guy. I decided to make some polo shirts with a pocket patch. On top of the patch I put Party Time and on the bottom I put Mike. But instead of just calling me Mike I became PartyTime Mike and 20yrs later I still am.
The other reason I became a little more visible than the other photogs at Party Time was that I worked more often than they did and still do. I started shooting venues like night clubs and bars which, up to that point, we had never photographed before. As I mentioned earlier I liked the clients and they liked me. So as time went on I evolved into an integral part of Greek and Campus life at Tech, just by being everywhere they were. PartyTime Mike became synonyms with good times and the party life at Tech.
TCS: What do you think sets you apart from your competitors?
PTM: Party Time is a full service Greek photography company. We are not here for just the Big events (Bid Day) we photograph it all. We are here for our customers every day of the semester and have been for the last 30 years. Bruce the owner of our company has always had the philosophy that if an organization is going to give you the big events then we as a company should photograph all their events no matter how small. That’s our way of giving back. As a responsible business we realize that profit is important to success, but more important is the relationship we have with our clients, I mean friends. We actually see our clients as friends more so than clients. Ask any student on campus and you will see we have a very personal relationship with everyone we work with.
TCS: Party Time Mike has been a major part of the Texas Tech party scene, what has been the most creative theme party you ever seen?
PTM: I really find this hard to answer. The Greeks at TTU all have one or two exceptional parties each semester. Kappa Sigs have a two day event they call Margarita Ville that takes them weeks to build. They build a 60ft pool with a slide, Bamboo huts and a band stage. The Fiji’s have First Snow and fill a huge two room party house with two or three feet of packing peanuts. They also cover every inch of every wall with Christmas wrapping paper. The Phi Delts have an out of town party with several hundred guys and girls, where they build a large camp city for the weekend. The party is 30yrs old and called Steak Fry. They have bandstands, a huge event tent, generators, and food catering. This effort is for a single weekend party. These are just a few of the dozens of parties I work every semester. It’s hard to pick one out. I could go on and on.
TCS: What are some things that are must see’s or must do’s when visiting Texas Tech?
PTM: We have always been known to have the most beautiful girls of any campus anywhere! And the guys are great as well. So I’d say first meet the students on campus. Then you might want to see our beautiful campus and the student areas like the Rec Center or the leisure pool. It’s a great campus. There is so much night life; you would need to be here to believe it. And Lubbock is a small city. The School spirit is easy to see, just hold your guns up any where and you will get a response. And especially there is our Tailgates.
TCS: As a staple in many kids’ college experiences, you have seen some interesting kids who has been the most interesting?
PTM: I really can’t single out just one of the students at Tech that have impressed me or even been the most interesting. Some have gone on to be big in the music business like Pat Green. Others are in politics or became doctors, lawyers, bankers etc…. But the ones that have become good parents stand out the most. Many of their kids will be at my parties soon.
TCS: Party Time has been photographing Greek events since 1981 what are some of the greatest college fads you have seen?
PTM: The 80’s hair and dress was probably the most distinctive but so was the short lived grunge period as far a dress goes. Today, at least on our campus, the Greeks have a fairly uniform way of dress and style. Nothing outlandish, not boring just well dressed good looking kids.
TCS: What advice would you give to a freshmen starting college?
PTM: GO GREEK, if not for just the time you are at college, then for what you will have gained when you leave. I have seen students drop out of college at a much higher rate with no social group to give them support. This is also accomplished with sports, band, and other social groups as well. But in the case of the Greeks, if you are initiated into a Greek organization there is an 85 to 90% chance you will graduate! And after Graduation you have an unbelievable network at your disposal. SO I SAY GO GREEK.
TCS: What would be the best weekend to visit Texas Tech and why?
PTM: Come to any of home game weekends. See our school spirit and student body at the campus wide Tailgates. We have lots of spirit, food, and fun, before during and after the game.
TCS: You have documented your fair share of Halloween parties what has been the hottest costume and the most creative?
PTM: I have been a literally hundreds of costume parties, so many that the creative is now the norm. I guess I like it the most when a large group of sorority girls get together and make the exact same costume to dress as a group. I prefer not to sexualize my clients.
TCS: Any good hangover tips?
PTM: No hangover tips except don’t go to bed drunk. You are always better off staying up and having a meal. Or you can just opt out to not drink too much in the first place!!
TCS: To wrap things up what are some party tips you have for college students?
PTM: Be aware of where you are and who you are able to depend on if the party gets weird. Go with someone you know. Plan on how you will get home if things, like the booze, get out of your control. If you are comfortable with the people at the party and have an exit plan, Drink, Dance, meet some new friends, and Party Like its 1999. (I guess this shows I’m a little out of touch). But the truth is I want everyone to be safe and alive when the party is over. I’m not a party freak that thinks the only way to party is to get so drunk you lose control. Our business depends on customers being alive and well after the parties, but still have a great time at the party.