Category: Photography

Melanie Mauer: Kentucky Weddings


Melanie Mauer is a professional photographer with a unique talent for weddings. As Mauer says, “Photographers tend to focus on their favorite subject, whether it be vast landscapes or action-filled sporting events. I concentrate on what I find most beautiful – people and their loving relationships with one another.” Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart WeddingsSouthern Weddings, and The Washington Post. She is from my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky and manages to make one of the most beautiful cities in America even more picturesque with her camera.

How did you get started with photography? Photography came as an answer to prayer – I’d written down what I hoped for my work to be (creative yet technical, flexible to accommodate family life) and the options as I saw them. I sought the Lord’s input and it became crystal clear. After that prayer and entering the fine art program at my college, I learned that my grandfather was a photographer and my great grandfather was also a photographer. We didn’t live close to my grandfather and I knew him as a retired business owner but it somehow feels woven on my DNA.

032vert_06155199tiffany-brandon-feature-large-gallery-267tiffany-brandon-feature-large-gallery-287tiffany-brandon-feature-large-gallery-449elise-barry-feature-large-gallery-329vert_05 tiffany-brandon-feature-large-gallery-602

As a Mormon shooting elaborate Gentile weddings in the land of tobacco and bourbon, what sorts of thoughts come to mind about marriage and weddings?  Don’t leave out the betting on race horses! I’ve had interns come from BYU-Idaho and it’s been a little startling to them! Because I photograph emotional moments, I’m looking for connection/commonality – and there’s buckets of it beneath the surface. I live in a region where love for family is exhibited through action. People stay near their families in the so many cases – also, only my immediate family is LDS so even within my family there’s a range of devotion to various religions.

Weddings (as well as births and deaths) are amplifiers – they bring emotions to the surface that stay tucked just underneath on most days. That amplified love is a rich experience to be surrounded with. I can’t remember a wedding where my own eyes didn’t well up because of a beautiful exchange. I’m also the sort that becomes transfixed by great art. Art is often in imitation of life and I see that unfolding right in front of me. Weddings are such an iconic time – it’s an intimate thing to share it beside a couple. And I see how good marriage is over and over again and love being with them again as their family grows.

How do you prepare? What do you bring? How much do you plan versus taking what comes? I love to prepare. Even if it’s for a trip, I’ll plan out stops for good food, places to visit based on recommendations from friends and even do quirky things like search hashtags on Instagram so I get a sense of what I’ll see.

Over the years, I’ve made note of all the questions I have with regard to a wedding and that goes out to a bride a few months before their day. We also formulate a schedule so everyone being photographed knows when and where we need them so it can run as smooth as silk and be super efficient. I catch up via phone a couple weeks ahead of time with my client and then let that great plan we’ve worked on play out. That said, it’s a frame work…we know we’ll create an image of the bride and her mom but within that plan I have lots of latitude.

I bring the expected gear (a variety of lenses, lots of batteries, a large reflector and scrim to modify light) as well as back-ups – and some less usual things like a handkerchief for the groom in case he gets hot and needs to wipe a brow, sporks for my assistant and me because we may get a plate of dinner but not get silverware until 15 minutes later and there’s not much time to eat, vintage stamps that may play well with their invitation…lots of random things that stay organized in a tiered container in my trunk.

What’s your favorite wedding story? Weddings are rife with great stories so that question is more difficult than you might imagine. Immediately, I think of so many. Four years ago, I was concerned about a particular wedding because the grooms’ mother passed away just weeks beforehand. I knew the family would still be in the throws of grieving and yet, while the air became thick with emotion when she was mentioned, the family was so ready for a happy occasion and the chance to celebrate.

The bride decided not to dance with her father in the typical father daughter dance and said she knew she’d dance with her dad many times that evening – but instead she sang to him and the entire tent was in tears because it was SO good. Her venue was their family farm that had been sold many generations ago by an uncle who wanted to travel the world and her grandfather would check in with the owners and say “If you are ever ready to sell this property, please sell it back to our family.” And they did about a year before her wedding. It’s like driving into a painting it’s so beautiful there.

Visit Melanie Mauer’s website.

Follow Melanie Mauer on Instagram.


Visit website

Alan Torres: Mechatronics Engineer / Photographer


Alan Torres is a computer scientist and mechatronics engineer working on what he says is “an exciting new research topic related to extracting 3D information from transparent objects (stuff made of glass, cups, etc., which are very challenging by the way) using only still images (no fancy sensors required), focusing on augmented reality applications.” Torres is from central Mexico, studied in Bristol, England, and lives in San Francisco.

Alan-Torres5Torres2Torres3TorresTorres1 Alan-Torres8

Tell us how you joined the church. Joined as a teenager. One day I popped into my house and found the missionaries teaching my family at home. At first it was a very weird experience to have the missionaries at home and didn’t love the idea of being taught by them, but just out of curiosity started to listen, only motivated by the cultural learning I could get. Everything went too fast from there; my family decided to join the church before I was ready, and I joined with them just because I didn’t want to be left out. It wasn’t until six months later when I found my own testimony, drop by drop during institute classes and reading the Book of Mormon. I’m extremely happy that I did, what I’ve learned has shaped my life and pushed me to try my best. I’ve also found all of my best friends in there.

You take your camera with you when you travel. I try to keep my camera close to me most of the times. I always read the signs on the streets, graffiti, things laying around in the street. I like the urban anomalies but every once in a while I find a nice landscape I want to keep for me.

Visit Alan Torre’s Flickr.

Follow Alan Torres on Instagram.

Alan Torres

Erik Isakson: Sports Lifestyle Imagery


Erik Isakson got a free plastic camera with a Sports Illustrated subscription when he was 11 and the rest, as he says, was history. The Orange County, California-based photographer graduated from the BYU Photography program in 2000. Among his many credits, he is the official photographer for General Authorities that throw out the first pitch for Mormon Night with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

fly_fishing damian_lillard baseball_swing Blake trail_runner3

Explain how your commercial career developed. I started off as a studio manager for a photographer in Los Angeles and learned the ropes quickly, as far as producing shoots, working with clients, estimates, lighting, etc. I considered my time assisting as my graduate school. Sept. 11 happened and work slowed down and I was let go from my full-time position. Although scary and unknown, I was able to start freelance assisting, while slowly building up my own clientele. Within a few years I was able to quit assisting and focus on my own career entirely. I really enjoyed that time in my life when I was learning so much from so many amazing photographers. For the first six years of my career I was exclusively doing editorial and advertising work for clients. In 2006 I was hired on at a stock agency to shoot full-time for a stock photo collection. I was there less than a year, but that experience really blessed my career, as I started to shoot stock as well as assignment work. For me it’s been so important to have my eggs in multiple baskets. Although I shoot a lot of sports lifestyle imagery, stock photography has allowed me to shoot all sorts of other interesting subjects that I wouldn’t have normally shot before.

You have done a lot of athlete images over the years. What are the challenges with these portraits? As with any specialty in photography, photographing celebrity athletes does present its own unique set of challenges. For instance, most of the time with pro athletes I have between 5-30 minutes–if I’m lucky. My time with them goes VERY fast, so it’s important that I have every shot, every lighting scenario, every concept clearly defined and rehearsed beforehand. Since a lot of times there is movement involved, it requires some higher end lighting equipment and choreography to make everything come together. I always try to make a connection with each athlete as quick as possible, so they know I’m someone they can trust to get the job done right and respect their time. I also want to know something about them going into the shoot so I can have a conversation with them and put them at ease. For example, several months back I was photographing NBA All-Star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers. I was photographing him at the end of a long and exhausting day for him. I started talking to him about his alma mater, Weber State, and how my parents went there. He immediately lit up and I had a great shoot with him.

What’s your favorite athlete story? I’ve got a bunch of stories, but one that comes to mind was when I photographed NBA superstar Blake Griffin of the LA Clippers. I photographed him right before the NBA draft in LA. This was literally days before his multi-million dollar NBA contract. I shooting him for the cover of a magazine. He was very quiet and cooperative. At the end of the shoot I had a small basketball I asked him to sign. He signed his name with the Sharpie then stopped and looked at it for a second. He said, “I’m not sure if you can really read that. Let me go over it again.”  He proceeded to carefully write over his autograph so it was darker and more legible. I was laughing inside thinking, here’s a guy on the brink of super stardom, who will be signing so many autographs soon, he won’t have time to make sure each looks perfect.

What are you working on next? What I’ve enjoyed about how my career has developed is I’m not only photographing athletes these days, but I’ve been shooting for clothing companies, lifestyle/product shots for a client in the oil and gas industry, studio product shots etc., etc. I’ve really been able to broaden the sort of work I do. I would say that I’m primarily hired to shoot sports lifestyle imagery. Of the several shoots coming up, one that I’m particularly excited about is photographing Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh for one of her sponsors. It should be a fun day at the beach!

Visit Erik Isakson’s website.

Follow Erik Isakson on Instagram.


Trevor Christensen: The Nude Photographer

Trevor Christensen 2

Trevor Christensen is a creative photographer with a captivating and unusual photo project called Nude Portraits. I almost want to scream, “It’s not what you think!” Christensen explains it best:

The photographer/subject paradigm is one of inequality. Nude Portraits is about leveling the playing field in an unorthodox way. Instead of focusing on bringing the subject to a place of ease–where I am, this project brings me to a place of vulnerability. This vulnerability is achieved by making portraits without clothing. These are nude portraits in the sense that I, the photographer, am nude, while the subject is not.

Nude Portraits explores what happens when subjects are confronted by male nudity in a context devoid of eroticism. Nude Portraits also examines the experience of photographing subjects in a heightened state of vulnerability. Images of the photographer nude are not included in the series, leaving viewers to speculate on what the subject is reacting to.

Trevor Christensen 1Trevor Christensen 3

When did you feel you crossed the line and photography became your profession? It was September 11th, 2012. That was my first day at The Spectrum & Daily News, which is the daily newspaper in St. George, Utah. I destroyed about $4,000 of camera equipment covering flash flooding on the first assignment of my first day of work. Thankfully they kept me around, a kindness to which I’m deeply indebted.

What has surprised you the most about the Nude Portraits project? I’ve never made work with the intent to garner attention, so the fact that so many people have found it interesting enough to identify with and share has really blown me away. The day after it hit the top of Reddit a friend told me that she heard two guys talking about my work at Whole Foods. That knocks me on the floor.

You pontificate about Star Trek on Twitter–which character do you identify with? Hah! That’s such a funny thing to be asked. I feel like I lose like ten followers every time I tweet about Star Trek. I don’t know that I identify with any single character in the Star Trek franchise. What I do connect with on a personal level is the search for humanity, which is essentially what the franchise is about. That sort of exploration and interest is really touching to me because I think that’s something that’s really important to me. I deeply identify with the want to understand people-I think because I often don’t. In that sense, photography is a license to be curious and even a little nosy, which, if you’re trying to gain a fuller understand of something is essential.

What’s next? First I want to finish Nude Portraits. The goal is a book and gallery show, so I’m just trying to put my head down and concentrate on making interesting photos. I’m also working a long term photo essay that deals with the community here in Provo, Utah.

Follow Trevor Christensen on Instagram.

View the project Nude Portraits on Trevor Christensen’s website.

Trevor Christensen

James Ransom: 52 Weeks a Year of Food Photography

James Ransom ColorJames Ransom moved to New York City in 2000 and in the intervening years has quietly become one of the premiere commercial food photographers in America. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Food & Wine. He is also part of the team at Food52—a popular foodie website. The name of the website, as they explain, is Food52, “because we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?”

A graduate of the BYU Photography program, Ransom recently worked on advertising projects for HP, West Elm, and Walmart. He also traveled the world for photo shoots in Brazil, India, and Egypt.

James Ransom CJames Ransom2James Ransom CrabJames Ransom FoodImages courtesy Tricia Bulingham Artist Representation Inc. and James Ransom.

Visit James Ransom’s website.

Follow James Ransom on Instagram.

James Ransom