Category: Photography

Travis Hodges: Use Your Brain

Travis Hodges6

Travis Hodges is a talented photographer, videographer, designer, and self-described ‘professional cartoon watcher’. He has worked extensively in the television and film industry in the Los Angeles area. He majored in Musical Dance Theatre at BYU. Hodges lives with his family in Southern California.

Travis Hodges2Travis Hodges8Travis Hodges7Travis Hodges4 Travis Hodges1

Tell us your story and how you got into photography. I grew up in a small town just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although I haven’t been back there for…a long time. Growing up photography was just a hobby or something you did to put in a scrap book. My mom loved to take pictures, but wasn’t the best at it, but she loved looking at them a reliving the memories. I think I’ve kept that love with me still to this day. I love going back over photos I’ve shot about it now, and enjoy reliving the memories of that photo or video shoot. I truly came to photography just after college. I was working on a television show in the production department at the time and would hang out with the camera department. The camera operator was a hobby photographer and one of the additional camera assistants was a pro photographer. I loved seeing their images. How they captured people or places, the stories that each photograph would tell.

I started asking questions about light, aperture, shutter, composition, and ask them to tell me anything they were willing to share. When I was ready, I asked one which camera system I should get. One of them gave me the best advice, “Camera’s are pretty smart these days. Get the one that feels the best in your hand.” That’s exactly what I did. I went to my local camera shop and tried a Nikon and a Canon. It just so happened that the Nikon camera had an auto-focus on/off button right where it felt natural to hold my thumb, so I went with the Canon and have never regretted it. I bought the Canon Elan 7 along with the Tamron zoom lens. I still have that camera, but sold the lens. I would bring the camera to set with me every chance I got. Every so often the network would send an on-set photographer for promo photos. We became friends and I would drill him about any and everything. With his help I started taking more portraits and doing head shots for friends that were actors. Which is how I got started doing head shot photography.

What is your career like these days? What pays the bills? What allows you to be creative? My career has been interesting. Today there has been a call for people who do stills and motion images. So having a moving images background has helped me. My work staple is still headshots, portraits of bands, and musicians, but I work on projects where we are shooting the stills campaign and a video campaign. I also still assist other photographers. I think one of the things that helps me be and stay creative is helping friends or people I know with their projects. There’s usually no particular pressure to deliver something specific. It’s just about figuring out what you have on hand and making something cool out of that. One of the photographers I really like is Zack Arias. He often says the best piece of equipment you have is your brain- I really believe that. You can get caught up in need to impress by having the latest and greatest equipment, but it’s all fluff. Use your brain and what’s inside you. From that, some of the most amazing things can happen.

Tell us about your project, Fatherhood: Some Assembly Required. Fatherhood: Some Assembly Required is, at the moment, a passion project that my fellow father and friend Larry Davis came up with. Larry is the primary caregiver in his house and I get good amount of time with my daughter. We would talk about how there haven’t been a lot of resources for a modern dad. A place where he could go to for a bit of support or talk about the travails of being a dad. So we decided to make a YouTube channel about our experiences of being dads in hopes of giving other fathers or moms out there a place they can say “Hey my kid does that too!” Somewhere they can know they aren’t alone, and hopefully, laugh about life and raising kids.

Visit Travis Hodges’ website.

Follow Travis Hodges on Instagram.

Travis Hodges5

Jed Wells: Peru


Jed Wells is a freelance filmmaker, photographer, and creative force with an amazing series of photographs from Peru. He graduated from the photography program at BYU and as he says, “I have brown eyes and some top-notch ideas.” Wells lives in Utah.

ninas Shawl ninas2 JCW_0120JCW_0356Red2

You recently went to Peru. Tell us about the experience and the images you came back with. I’ve been to Peru twice now. Both trips based in Cuzco (one of the world’s most beautiful cities) with expeditions into the High Andes to shoot with an indigenous tribe, the Q’eros. Every day I spend in that country with those people claims a bigger piece of my heart. I’ve had some of the most spiritual experiences of my life up there. Their primitive, peaceful existence is teaching me how to be grateful. How to better relate with the earth, with the heavens, and the humans around me. It’s an excruciating experience to get up to the village, but the reward has been utterly fulfilling. Sometimes when I revisit the images I brought back, I can’t believe they came from my camera. Someone said it was amazing work and I told them it wasn’t work: it was happening in front of me and I put the camera to my face and snapped a photo of it. Stole it, really. Any beauty in it, real or perceived, had little to do with me. I was just the one holding the camera.

What’s next? I don’t even know anymore. I shoot on such a variety of subjects, it’s hard to say what path I’m on or what my trajectory really is. I’m currently the Content Director for a not-for-profit initiative based in SLC called The Wonderment. It keeps me really engaged in pretty spectacular work, traveling around the world making documentary short films and photographs. It’s the best gig around. But I continue to direct commercials, music videos, and television when I’m at home. I do commercial and editorial stills work for magazines and other companies. I love that work. And I continue to not shoot weddings and families. I have all the respect in the world for the people who can do that well, because I can’t, and brides and families should always hire those folks, because they’re good at it.

Visit Jed Wells’ website.

Follow Jed Wells on Instagram.


Donna Moncur: Shepherd of Light


Donna Moncur is a portrait and photodocumentary photographer. Moncur lives in New York City.

0424 2-1 0352 2 _

Tell us about yourself and your photography. I’ve always enjoyed photography, but hadn’t taken it seriously until a few years ago. The burning desire to create and document the everyday was something that I could not suppress. For a while, I kept comparing myself to others. I felt that my art wasn’t as good as that of other photographers. Then I realized that we all have a story to tell, we all start somewhere. So, for the last few years, I’ve become more disciplined and really tried to execute what I want to convey. My photography has evolved over the years from photographs of my children, to a compelling photo documentary series, to soulful portraits of friends and neighbors. I feel that, more and more, I am finding my voice, my true expression, behind the camera.

You write that you are a “Shepherd of light. Honestly documenting the soulful, fearless and carefree.” Explain. A shepherd is essentially a guide. That is what I do with light. I can’t force it, I have to respect it and guide it to what I want it to accomplish. Light is a very powerful force. When used correctly it can add so much depth and emotion to a photograph. Being a visual storyteller, I start with a general idea of what I’d like to convey, but sometimes that vision changes during a session. During those “vision changes,” when I have listen to my creative voice as it guides me along from my original concept, I’ve produced some of my best work and had some of my most enjoyable times with my camera, searching and discovering. So many times I’ve looked at photographs of myself or of other people and thought, “That is not me, or that is not the person who sat in front of my camera.” I think, as photographers, it is easy to get wrapped up in our “art” and what we expect we’ll see, that we forget there is a subject with a soul in front of us. I document because I love to see your soul, not only with my eyes but with my heart. I want to show you how beautiful and unique you truly are.

Your website and Instagram are very ‘New York’. How does the city shape your art? New York is such a loud and busy city. If you are still enough, you can see different stories being told between the lines. That is my goal. To tell the story amidst the noise. When you step onto the streets of New York, you are immersed in a whirlwind of emotion. This city can chew you up and spit you out. I choose to view the empowerment of what I feel when I walk down the street. New York makes you feel ALIVE! It makes you feel as though you CAN and WILL. That is why I love this city so much. Every day is a new opportunity to slay the concrete jungle. I want you to see things that others may not see, and make you feel things you may not have felt. New York helps me to capture the heart and soul of my subjects, because I feel the heart and soul of New York inside me.

Visit Donna Moncur’s website.

Follow Donna Moncur on Instagram.


Chris Burkard: Ansel Adams of Instagram


Chris Burkard is the Ansel Adams of Instagram with more than a million loyal followers. He is a jaw-dropping photographer, artist, and now director. His website explains, “Searching for wild, remote destinations and offbeat landscapes, Burkard portrays the humble placement of the human in contrast to nature.” Burkard’s popular TED talk explores ‘The joy of surfing in ice-cold water‘. He lives with his wife and kids in California.


You balance a heavy travel schedule and demanding work load. What do you and your wife do to balance your family life? It’s not always easy and when I’m traveling I usually try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and children. I’ll leave the camera gear in the camera bags and try not to touch it during the time with my family. It’s really important to me to keep my business and personal life in balance and I’m lucky to have an amazing and understanding wife that supports my choice of life and stands behind me with every decision I take.

You recently opened a gallery/studio. How has becoming a business owner changed you? Being a business owner has been a great step forward for me. Having other parts of the business being taken care of by a very competent team of people that support me has been a huge help to me. It’s allowed me to focus on what I really want to do: take and share photographs. With the recent opening of my own gallery in Avila I’ve opened a space for the public to see my work away from digital screens. It’s also a great platform to host events and workshops and I love meeting/inspiring people at the gallery.

You brand yourself LDS on your Instagram profile. Has this come up in your travels or interactions? All the time. People reach out and mention they are LDS too. It’s so great to hear from like minded people and share my passion for nature and the world around us with them and inspire them.

Visit Chris Burkard’s website.

Follow Chris Burkard on Instagram.


Images courtesy AmazingGrass, Whudat, and Chris Burkard.

Reed Rowe: Structured Photography


Reed Rowe is an accomplished commercial photographer. Rowe lives in Utah and is another ‘honorary Mormon’ that attended BYU and obtained a BFA in Photography.

RR1 ReedRowe_Product_009 ReedRowe_Product_019 RR2 ReedRowe_Product_014 2015.06.10_Nuzzles&Co_0710

Tell us a little about where you grew up and how you got into photography. I bounced around a bit growing up. I was born in Provo, but then spent the next 10 years in Othello, Washington. It was a good place to be as a small child. Farming and agriculture, horses and cows, barb wire and electric fences. Just a lot of space for a young boy to run around and get into very innocent trouble. But it really was a fun place as a child and I have nothing but fond memories of Othello. We probably would have stayed there had it not been for a few traumatic years that changed the course of our family. My father was involved in a very tragic car accident that he was very lucky to have survived. He was in a coma for three months and had several brain surgeries. His recovery took years, and to be honest it still goes on today. That event really changed my life. Life was very fragile and I didn’t really have anyone to sort of guide me as a small boy. Relatively simple things like fixing my bike was on my own shoulders now, since my dad was physically and mentally incapable at the time. Being forced into that situation was a two-edged sword. I became very introverted in many ways, but I also became very analytical as well, since I had to figure out things on my own. To this day I am a very handy person. I love to create, build, design, and repair, and I believe that developed out of necessity as a child.

My father was in a coma when Mt. Saint Helen’s erupted and our home was covered in ash. He has no memory of the incident, but it was another very memorable and traumatic incident for such a young kid. A year and a half later as my dad was trying to get back on his feet, my grandfather (my father’s father) was killed in a very tragic accident at work. My mother was a saint and a rock for our family during my father’s recovery, but my grandfather was crucial for my father. He was the one who could inspire my father in his recovery. We lived just down the dirt road from my grandparents, so the loss was massive in many ways. This series of events led my father to finish college, which resulted in him taking his first job as a teacher in Juneau, Alaska. We spent a year there, but when oil prices drop in Alaska the entire economy is affected. So we ended up in Orem, Utah, where my father’s sister and her family lived.

I had a very strong inclination in my studies towards architecture, which I pursued for awhile. It played very well to my structured and problem-solving mind. Sometimes I still wonder if that was my calling. But I eventually went the graphic design route. Graphic designers and photographers work hand-in-hand, so once again that do-it-myself instinct kicked in and I got into photography. I had graduated in graphic design and was working in the field and realized I liked photography better. I also realized I had more potential in that field. Potential in the sense of how I could personally succeed. So, after reviewing my options I ended up at BYU where I eventually graduated with a BFA in photography. Honestly, going to BYU was something I had sort of been avoiding, but what a great decision going there ended up being. The facilities, the faculty, the education, and the connections that the photography program have are unbeatable in my opinion. I loved my time there and love the people I met and learned from. John Telford, Paul Adams, and Val Brinkerhoff all taught me a variety of invaluable things, but it was my first still-life class, taught by Michael Slade, that really opened my eyes. I was hooked.

Your commercial work is fantastic. How has your approach evolved over the years? One of the things I’ve never been able to escape in my work is that very structured aspect. There has always been a very strong graphic sense to my work. It’s just how I think and work. It’s not that I am actively trying to escape it, but certain clients have needed more candid and casual images. That doesn’t come natural to me and it’s where I grown the most over the last few years. Instagram and the like have really affected the market. Certain styles have developed by what would be considered amateurs by the pros, and looked down on a bit, too. But either way, the images produced have become so commonplace that those styles invaded the professional market. Now clients want that style that was developed by very young and inexperienced kids. It’s an outrageous turn really. You are seeing look books being produced by teenagers who have this seemingly effortless style. So I’ve been forced to follow that to some degree, follow much younger photographers and try to see what they are seeing. Not entirely, but what they are doing is a very valuable and sought-after style. You have to give it credit and know its part of your competition.

You were able to travel to China on a photo trip with BYU. What was your experience? Yes, I was able to go to China. What an opportunity that was. Something that I would have never made happen on my own, and I have to thank John Telford for that opportunity. I’ve been all over the world, and many places in Asia too, but going that deep into remote parts of China was special. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. We were on the move every day so it was very exhausting. I think that put us all on the edge a bit. Mix that with some very difficult personal issues I was going through and it makes me look back on China with some very mixed emotions. But the experience overall was amazing and unique. It was so great to see each photographer’s varying styles come out. We would all photograph the exact same locations, but the photographic translations of each spot were unique to each of us. It was great.

What’s next for you? Well, I’ve spent the majority of my photographic career working for other people. I spent a couple years at Skullcandy and a couple years at Backcountry here in Utah. The connections I made at Skullcandy still to this day keep coming back to me with opportunities. People who I used to work with there have all gone to work for other amazing companies, so I now have connections all over. I will always be grateful to my Kevin who hired me there because it has led to so much. I’m happy I still get to work closely with him to this day. At Backcountry I managed the photography studio. I had a team of about 35 people. We had a large studio in Salt Lake, a smaller one in Virginia, and a retouching team in Costa Rica. I knew that taking that job was going to teach me a lot, whether I liked the job or not. Running numbers for a team that large is not for me, but I loved working with them all. Teaching is something I love and I had the opportunity to do that with that team. I learned a lot from them as well. But for the last year and a half I have been on my own. It’s been a great return to pure photography and I am handling it much better after the experiences I had from being an employee. Things are going well. There are ups and downs for sure, but it’s all very positive right now. There are so many local companies here in Utah that have a national and international reach that I’ve been able to stay here in Salt Lake City and slowly work on building the international reach that I’d like to have. I’ve loved living here and having a studio here. I hope to keep that momentum going and keep growing right here. And more pictures of dogs, for sure.

Visit Reed Rowe’s website.

Follow Reed Rowe on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.18.02 AM