Oh Snap! Best Photographers of Denton in 2016

“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.”
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photography is magic. It's an interpretation of time and feeling that lasts forever. In truth, anyone can take a good photograph if they put their feelings into it. The nominees listed here have devoted their lives to treating photography as a creative form of expression, whether the object is the documentation of people or an artistic approach that expands their capacity for visual wonder. Here are the nominees for best event and best fine arts photographers in Denton.

Best Event/Candid Photographers

Ed Steele

If you've strolled through the square, you've passed by Ed Steele's studio without knowing it. Steele isn't just a skilled photographer, he's passionately devoted to the city of Denton without ever being afraid to share his opinion on the state of the Denton's creative scene. He doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk.

He's helped curate a fantastic photography exhibition as the photography director of Thin Line Film Fest, and he's served as the Dallas Observer's window to Denton by constantly photographing significant events in the town. Just as he's fearless with his opinion, he's fearless with his photography by never failing to engage with the people he's capturing. Check out his extensive catalogue of live music photography here.

Adrian Samano

Oaktopia's director of photography showed how much he loved music when he directed a short documentary on Banter during its final week of being open. Whether he's using film or digital, Samano just loves capturing the essence of music performers. He's photographed for Nakkid Magazine and been kind enough to offer his photography services to the Dentonite (such as the header photo seen above).

It's been said that the most valuable tool a photographer has is their eye, and Samano's eye is what propels him to be a magician. As seen in these 4 photos, he has a remarkable ability to use the surrounding setting to eloquently define the artist performing. Head to his website to view more of his visual stories.

Marcus Junius Laws

If Marcus Junius Laws has taken a photo of you then consider that a gift. A quick look through his portfolio reveals his ability to isolate character within his subject. He presents concerts as if they're surreal experiences that surely must have been a dream. Laws has been a freelance photographer for more than two decades while also doing work for a plethora of publications that include the Ft. Worth Star Telegram and Newsweek. He credits his depth of knowledge thanks to a cumulative lifestyle that includes working as a first or second assistant under masters of photography such as Greg Lotus and Martin Schoeller,  They served as mentors as much as they were teachers. 

Laws was raised in Denton and earned his degree in photojournalism at UNT. No matter how extensive his portfolio gets, he always looks forward to the next photo he takes with excitement. Look beyond the 4 photos provided here by checking out his event captures on his portfolio under "Behind the Light" and "4 Nights in December."

Mateo Aaron Granados

Mateo Aaron Granados has been honing his photography skills for the better part of two decades since being inspired by Diane Arbus. What attracted Mateo to her work was the way in which the subjects were comfortably candid, never appearing coaxed or superficial. Granados further developed and sharpened his skills in cinematography at the Art Institute in Dallas, in photojournalism at UNT, and as a freelance photographer and videographer for a myriad of festivals and concerts in Denton. 

A mainstay in Denton's art community and admittedly the arts editor for the Dentonite, Granados continues to capture moments that resonate with viewers. More of his photography is viewable on his Facebook page. 

                                                                                                                    - William Branch

Ellie Alonzo

12 years ago, Ellie Alonzo took a life-defining photo class under what she calls an amazing teacher. Whether it would be professional or personal, she knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life capturing these incidental moments that turn out to last forever.

Alonzo has been an integral part of the community as both a musician (she's the drummer of Sunbuzzed) and a photographer. Name a Denton festival and she's been there to snap moments not given to passive eyes. In addition to her concert photography, she recently traveled with local stalwarts Pearl Earl to document their tour through the East Coast. More of her visual candy is available on her portfolio. 


Wesley Kirk

The founder of The Vision Beautiful and UNT Short Film Club takes a cinematic approach to his imagery. The photos shown below are from his seasonal fairy tale series inspired by Alphonse Mucha's The Seasons panels. 

Kirk has a talent for making a team unified to work towards one vision. A little bit of luck is involved, too. A torrential storm nearly ruined his spring fairytale shoot, but his patience in riding out the storm resulted in a majestic rainbow serving as a backdrop. When peering through his portfolio, we strongly recommend taking a gander at his Week of Models shoots.

Ed Steele

Wait. Where did we see this name before? Oh yes, it's true. Ed Steele can document events, and he can deftly set up a fine arts photo. What might be his most notable picture of 2016 is his statement on Denton's environmental standards with Hale Baskin as model. Baskin poses nude (as some wish for more transparency within city council) while wearing a gas mask and "DENTON" painted across her torso. 

Take a full look through Steele's photography on his website.

Ana Dria

Film is not dead and Ana Dria is damn sure of that. This young photographer treats photography as a form of visual diary with a relentless energy to interpret these fleeting moments and emotions that pass people by. 

She recently released a photo book about depersonalization with a portion of proceeds donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Her photography is defined by figure, shape, and a deeply personal connection with the images she captures. View her visual diary on her website.

Armand Kohandani

Speaking of "film is not dead", the owner and manager of Denton Camera Exchange is also spearheading that movement. As a member of the Instant Film Society founded by Daniel Rodrigue and Justin Goode, he helped bring PolaCon One (the first instant film convention) to Denton in 2016. 

A stroll around town is where he finds the images he takes. The examples shown below are not altered by any fancy editing. They're as #nofilters as it gets, with his lens serving as a ghostly observer. See more of his photography on his instagram.

Katie Reese

Katie Reese takes inspiration from a quote by Susan Sontag that begins "Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution."

The above quote from Sontag's prose, "In Plato's Cave", describes the erotic yearning for affirmation of a beauty aesthetic. Reese's photography simultaneously accepts and confronts standards of beauty through careful framing and piercing lighting. The multi-talented photographer also performs as guitarist/vocalist with Thin Skin and was part of the infamous Problem Dogg shutdown at Abbey Underground in 2015. See Reese's challenges of beauty stereotypes on her portfolio site. 

All photos displayed at the courtesy of the featured artists
Header image modeled by Ana Dria and taken by Adrian Samano
Header image layout by Brittany Keeton