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Featured Member, Mel Curtis

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Featured Photographer, Mel Curtis

Name and business name: Mel Curtis / Mel Curtis Photographs.

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio.

Current residence: Seattle, Washington.

url/phone: / 206.323.1230.

Number of years as a photographer: 33 years as a professional. Close to 40 since I first picked up a camera.

Family, spouse, significant other, kids, pets, etc: Partner: Carter Foreman, Dog: Barney, Shi Tzu.

Photographic specialty: Commercially, things with people like lifestyle, portraiture, stock work. Personally, the man made landscape, things like gardens, urban landscapes and ancient monasteries and churches, often in black and white.

Your favorite type of gig: One that is interesting and engaging. Has a good client as described above. And hopefully has a good budget. I am usually lucky to get 2 of these.

Your favorite type of client: One that is easy to get along with and preferably has an understanding of the photographic process. It also helps that they understand the nature of intellectual property and that they hire me to use the pictures I make, not own them. And ideally they give me lots of creative freedom, and treat me as a professional visual creative and not vendor.

What sets you apart from the competition: I think the only thing that I have heard repeatedly over the years is that I am nice guy and easy to work with. I once asked a client why they didn’t hire so and so photographer who was better than me at the particular job I was asked to do, and they responded to the effect that he was such high maintenance and pain to work with. And while they recognized that the other photographer was probably better suited for the task, I was much more fun to work with and made their life easier. And the work I did for them was plenty good enough for their needs.

Other jobs you’ve had: I have photographed the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. I have worked in the White House in Washington, DC and in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. I have traveled all over Europe working for Microsoft and Getty Images. I spent 5 summers teaching in Rome with students from the University of Washington. For the past 10 years I have worked with an organization called the College Success Foundation, a college gateway organization that helps kids get to college through scholarships and mentorships. My job is to illuminate the stories of these kids and help tell about the mission of CSF. The images I have submitted to you are from that work.

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power: I think I would like to fly, so I could avoid airport security and middle seats.