Category: Photography

Melanie Mauer: More Kentucky Weddings


Melanie Mauer is a phenomenal professional photographer with a unique talent for weddings. She was born in Germany, but grew up all over the United States and now lives in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. She has been working professionally since 1999 and her work has been featured in Martha Stewart WeddingsSouthern Weddings, and The Washington Post. We previously profiled Melanie Mauer’s wedding photography.

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What are the unique challenges to shooting weddings? So many photographers avoid weddings – there are short moments that can be stressful but I wake up a little bit happier on a wedding day. I’m there to document a union and celebration! I’m an optimist so my heart feels that portion of the day more than anything else.

Weddings require a versatility of photographic skills – portraits, details, low lighting…but it wouldn’t be as satisfying otherwise. And it can be physical – we may move furniture, be outside in 95 degree weather in a southeastern summer for the majority of the day and an assistant looked at her Fitbit recently (not at the end of the day even) and we’d already clocked 7 miles.

It takes a particular temperament perhaps to love them as much as I do but given that I find the most beautiful thing on the planet to be human relationships, it’s a goldmine for me. Oh, and I only work with lovely people!

Give us some more of your favorite wedding stories? Oh goodness! There’s a bride who was in remission and another who was nervous until she got on the golf course in her wedding gown and hit a few balls because she loved the sport so much. There’s one who set her wedding on a mountaintop, and others that changed their wedding dates so ill fathers could be there. There’s a mother who told me she had cancer and her daughter didn’t know but she wanted me to take the right kind of photos “just in case.” My first Indian wedding that had me completely overcome with the entry of the groom and the jubilation of friends and family dancing to the most amazing music. I see a really exquisite slice of life.

Visit Melanie Mauer’s website.

Follow Melanie Mauer on Instagram.


Heather B. Armstrong: The Daily Chuck


Heather B. Armstrong is a speaker and consultant made famous for her popular, funny, and irreverent ‘mommy blog’  A fixture on the website was the Daily Chuck–an original daily image of her idiosyncratic dog. Chuck passed away this summer and Armstrong documented the experience in a touching post.  Chuck’s fame extended to an Instagram account and an annual calendar with proceeds going to a local animal shelter. Armstrong and her two daughters live in Utah.

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You have described yourself as a ‘professional blogger’, ‘speaker’, ‘writer’, ‘brand consultant’, and even as a ‘Trivial Pursuit answer’. I would add ‘artist’ and ‘photographer’ to that list. Do you feel like a creative person? Yes, that is at the heart and soul of me. Having stepped away from blogging I have taken on a lot of administrative and business things. Now I realize how much joy creative things brought to my life.

You documented your dog Chuck’s life with over 1,000 images on your website with the Daily Chuck. Back in the early days of my blogging, whenever I would post about Chuck people just adored the dog. People—at least my readers—love dogs and kids. And I was willing to provide content about Chuck. People wanted to see more of him so I started the Daily Chuck. It really started with his talent of balancing things on his head. Literally everyday I would take a photo—it became part of my job. He knew it, too. He knew after the session that he would get a reward. His tail wagged like mad as soon as I picked up the camera.

With some distance now, what are your feelings about Chuck? Very interesting what’s happened. At the end of my blogging the whole experience of the blog became panic inducing. I don’t want to take another picture of my damn dog, but I have to take the photo. But I can’t believe I’m dreading taking a picture of my dog. But back in the day it was so much fun and I loved the readers’ reactions. Now that he’s gone I realize how good my other dog is. I never really appreciated it. Chuck was very cat-like and my other dog is a real dog—and I like dogs.

Tell us about your new business and this new phase of your career. The best part about it is not being beholden to a publishing schedule that was killing me. Not living underneath that weight has been nice. Transition is still ongoing and I haven’t reached the other side yet. Now I’m worrying about spreadsheets, Word documents, and Keynotes. Business is interesting, but I miss writing about my life.

Visit Heather B. Armstrong’s website.

Follow Heather B. Armstrong on Instagram.


Alisha Stamper: unmadeup

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Alisha Stamper is a talented photographer with a wonderful series called unmadeup. As the title explains, the subjects are not wearing make-up and Stamper explains, “My hope through this project is that my translation of beauty, my depiction of it so that more can recognize and understand it, is not lost to the viewer. My depiction is not meant to raise these women on a pedestal. These women are beautiful, but they are also normal individuals. The transition from their everyday lives to who they became as photographed is a transition that can be made by any woman.” She recently gave birth to her fourth child and lives in Utah.

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You describe yourself as an ‘activist photographer’. There are many types of photographers. Wedding, product, photojournalists. I did not know what to call photographers who did work that they wanted to have create a change in society. I wanted to tell people truths with my work. The Lord has always been very clear with me that I see differently, that the way I am able to create and show what I see can communicate a better way, a truer way. In that sense, I am actively advocating for change through the things I photograph and how I present people.

Tell us about where you grew up and how you came to be a photographer. I grew up in the Washington D.C. area mainly after moving around incredibly often (my father was in the military). I remember having a Kodak 110 camera from an early age, then an Advantix. I have photographs of my younger siblings in “costumes” I created for them. I think truly I was just playing and copying my older sister, who was in the photography class at the high school. I thought she was very cool and I liked to pretend. Eventually, once I was old enough to take the class for myself, I had realized that I had a unique perspective and really enjoyed creating art in this way. I have never been able to draw and initially thought it was really cool that I could create at all, that there was another way than drawing. I had seriously trained on flute and piano from a young age and was supposed to go to college for flute performance. My high school photography teacher was devoted to me becoming an artist and researched to see what schools I could attend and major in photography. He specifically looked into BYU, knowing that my family had seven kids and that we were LDS. He also arranged an interview that resulted in a significant scholarship to The Corcoran in Washington, D.C. I was very lucky to be mentored and taught by him. So i attended BYU and earned a BFA in Photography. I knew some of my identity and purpose as an artist then, but in the decade since, I assume like many artists, I have found out more about myself.

Explain unmadeup. What has been the response? The project unmadeup came about as I realized that most girls I knew believed that they needed to be ‘done up’ to be out in public, to be seen as beautiful, EVEN to talk to other people face to face. There was a disconnect to me of the images I saw in my hours and hours of museums in D.C. growing up and the images I saw in media. I have always been drawn to the beauty of women in paintings for inspiration as an artist. I wanted to create modern day images of women that showed how true femininity, the actions of women and their bare faces is really so lovely. The titles are latin verbs which mean “to pray” “to love” “to experience” “to forgive” “to glorify” “to protect” “to laugh” “to hope” “to be equal” “to mourn” “to respect” and “to live”.

The response to unmadeup when it was in a gallery was overwhelming. The printed pieces are 20″x24″. So many people commented that the work made a deep impression on them, especially women. Since then, I get requests for the pieces to be illustrations for various things a few times a year. I would love to show it as a whole again.

How do you approach a portrait? What equipment do you use? What is your goal with the engagement? My approach to commissioned portraits is very simple: I want to create work that honors the person I am photographing. That is my main goal. I want a portrait that is an heirloom for those who love them, and those who will learn about their lives. I think every person should have a portrait that creates a connection with the viewer. I exclusively photograph with a large format studio monorail camera and film. While I am creating, it is a very relaxed environment. I typically take three images or less over the course of an hour. I am very detail oriented in what I notice and specific in how I pose the person. I have learned that for me, the most fulfilling work is to create images that will influence how generations see themselves. If a boy sees a picture of his grandfather where he looks strong and wise, the boy will grow up wanting to be strong and wise, and knowing that he came from those attributes. If a girl sees a picture of her grandmother and she looks full of hope, personal worth and strength, she will know she came from that. It helps to battle the media’s messages towards women and girls about sex appeal being the most important thing about them if they can see in their own genetic line someone who is so much more, that the diluted worth of a woman the media shows is laughable.

Visit Alisha Stamper’s website.

Follow Alisha Stamper on Instagram.


Mark Owens: Celebrity Photography


Mark Owens is a commercial photographer who has done extensive work with celebrities. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and studied photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Owens lives in San Diego, California.

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Talk about your commercial career. Variety is nice. Whether it’s a catalog shoot, a landscape assignment, a celebrity portrait or a performance, altering subjects keeps your skills fresh and your mind sharp. It’s also a luxury. Sometimes your subjects or clients aren’t ideal, but that’s common in every profession. I’m just happy to have work.

You did an internship with famed Rolling Stone photographer Mark Seliger. Seliger is a phenomenal talent and was my photographic hero when I was starting out, so swindling them into giving me an internship when I had no photographic training (I have a degree in English) and was out of college for years was a miracle. But it was also a reality check as my one on one time with Seliger was minimal and there was no promise of work / connections after the summer was over. Everything I learned was by observation or by proactively seeking advice from his team. I was a bit disillusioned by him but consider the experience critical as it cemented my desire to make photography a career.

What is your best celebrity photo shoot story? That’s a tough one. Some are scary–Jamie Foxx gave me approximately 6 minutes to shoot. Some are difficult AND scary. My first shoot with Snoop he was late two hours because his custom “Snoop Deville” broke down. He was not happy when he arrived. But luckily he liked the photos so all is well that ends well. Some are surprising: James Hetfield – singer of Metallica – was a extremely well-mannered and mellow. Also, his garage is bigger than my home).

But I would say the best shoot just happened (above). I was in Ibiza with Kaskade and we were cliff jumping into the Mediterranean. The sun was at the right spot and I shot a photo of him on the cliff from the water. It was just a moment but turned into one my favorite photos of him and we’ve been shooting together for almost 10 years. Hard to beat a shoot in Ibiza, the beach, cliff jumping, crystal clear water, and a great artist as my subject.

Visit Mark Owens’ website.

Follow Mark Owens on Instagram.


All photos copyright Mark Owens.

Clark Goldsberry: Brothers + Sisters


Clark Goldsberry is an artist, photographer, and teacher. He explains his project Brothers + Sisters. “I backpacked from London to Istanbul and photographed over 600 strangers. While planning my trip, I remember worrying that I wouldn’t have anything in common with the people I encountered overseas. We were separated by nationality, race, religion, creed, tradition, culture and language, and I worried that these barriers would be insurmountable. The camera became a tool, or an excuse, to explore these barriers, and I soon realized, as I met and talked with strangers, that we had everything in common. They were woven as threads, with me, into the complex, ever-stretching fabric of the human family. These images, for me, are an affirmation of our interconnectedness.”

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How did you get started as an artist? I had a high school teacher that rocked my world. My teacher, Dan Barney, was so passionate and so encouraging, and he gave us assignments that forced us out of our comfort zones, shook our pretensions, and challenged us to look at the world in a new way. That classroom gave me a sense of identity and purpose. It made me want to live creatively and curiously. I got a BFA in photography and graphic design, and I’m currently a graduate student at BYU in art education. I was just hired at American Fork High School as a full time art teacher, and I’m excited and terrified for my first year, starting this August.

Talk about your Brothers + Sisters project. In 2012 I left America for the first time—a backpacking trip from London to Istanbul. Before landing in the UK, I remember looking down at the Atlantic ocean and wondering how I would ever connect with people on this foreign ground. These people came from a different continent, had different nationalities, languages, races, religion, traditions, mannerisms, customs, etc., etc., etc. I worried that I would feel distant, detached and alone. And I did. At least at first, because I was so focused on the differences separating us. After a few days, though, I decided to suspend my suspicions and I began asking strangers if I could take their portraits. I was surprised, every time, at the unique exchanges that followed. Often my approach would be a combination of charades and a poorly pronounced hello. Many of my exchanges were entirely non-verbal, yet surprisingly intimate. I was invited to sit with people for tea, to hold babies, walk dogs, and feed pigeons, I was invited inside strangers homes for dinner, I ate some sort of animal that had been cooked on a pile of charcoal in the middle of a cobblestone street, an old white-haired Italian woman fed me homemade chocolate cake, I played soccer on the beach with children, and an old bearded man held my hand as he spoke to me in Hindi.

Over the course of my two-month backpacking trip, I photographed over 600 strangers. Those fears I once had about not having anything in common with other people quickly evaporated. I realized that we have everything in common. It was a tremendous human experience. I realized that we all have hopes and fears and hungers. We’re all trying to love a little more and be a little better. We all wonder about the world and our place in it. We all wonder what will happen after we die. We all hope we will make a small ding in universe. All the differences I had once seen suddenly became entirely superficial, and I felt that we were all woven together, somehow, in the intricate fabric of the human family. And for me, an only child with no brothers or sisters, feeling connected to these strangers and sharing these fleeting moments was a tender, beautiful thing.

Visit Clark Goldsberry’s website.

Follow Clark Goldsberry on Instagram.