Welcome to our Creative Spotlight, where we’re highlighting the talented creatives who make up the community here at South 40.

This month’s Creative Spotlight focuses on award-winning photographer Mark Maryanovich. Canadian native, LA-based Maryanovich has a reputation for capturing the true style of artists and a knack for finding the right culture in each location to express his subjects’ authenticity. Let’s delve into Mark’s photography story and discover who he “rubs elbows” with!

What’s your favorite spot to photograph at South 40?
My favorite spot to photograph at South 40 is–every spot! As a photographer who likes to move quickly, it’s so easy to get around and change backgrounds, with the potential to get an abundance of images in all directions.

As a photographer from Los Angeles, I felt truly lucky to discover South 40. Coming from out of town, it was refreshing not needing to scout around the area for the right locations. The property has a wide variety of locations within its boundaries, providing me with diversity in one place.

What artists inspire you?
Artists who inspire me include Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash. They have true uniqueness in their music and personal style. David Bowie was the master of individualism and trendsetting in music and style, always changing and evolving. His effect on pop culture was like no other, a true maverick and trailblazer. I’m grateful for his contribution to our world’s culture.

Why do you think South 40 is an ideal place to take photos and do you have any suggestions for other creatives interested in using the South 40 property for photo or video shoots?
South 40 is the perfect place for almost any type of creative. With so many assets and varied backdrops around the grounds, it is truly a place to achieve a variety of images for your clients. The added bonus at South 40 is you get to work with Ann and Jeff, creative people whom are so inspiring and pleasures to be around. They’ve worked hard to provide a fantastic array of resources, clearly assembled with creatives in mind.

My suggestion for other creatives interested in using the South 40 property would be to take advantage of this tremendous resource. It’s more than a production location, it’s community of inspiration. My thanks to Ann and Jeff and the team at South 40 for developing such a unique space for us to be creative in.

Where has most of your training come from? At what point did you look in the mirror and say “I am a professional photographer”
I first began my photography career while living in Montreal. I had the opportunity to meet a phenomenal photographer who was working with a rock band my brother was managing at the time. We instantly became friends, and over the next couple years he mentored me in photography and changed my life. When I moved to Vancouver, I began my career as a music portrait photographer. After nearly a decade of developing my craft and style, I headed south to Los Angeles, and began working in LA and other U.S. cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Austin, Nashville, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

When I started in photography, it was during days of film, so it was an expensive hobby; they called it a rich man’s sport. The only way to continue pursuing my love full time was to get paid for it, so becoming a professional was really the only option, and I had to become one quickly.


What inspired you to become a photographer, especially in the music industry? What keeps you inspired?
When I began my career as a photographer, I was a huge music fan, and attended shows and concerts regularly. The visual style and individualism that musicians had really inspired me. The personal styles of artists like the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, drove fashion trends, and it seemed authentic, not manufactured. The challenge to capture the personal style of each artist continually inspires me.

You have photographed many aspiring musicians; is there one experience that stands out as memorable–funny, surprising, or perhaps didn’t go as planned?
I am incredibly grateful for every opportunity I’ve had throughout my career to work with fantastic artists and individuals, all of whom have been unique and memorable. One truly unforgettable experience was creating a portrait of Billy F. Gibbons from ZZ Top. The portrait was taken during the first webisode of The ART of GIVING, a new series that exists to create awareness for the charitable causes championed by the world’s most iconic artists, created by Matt Sorum (legendary drummer of Guns N’ Roses, The Cult, and Velvet Revolver) and I. The autographed print of the portrait sold at auction via Charitybuzz.com, with proceeds benefiting Adopt the Arts Foundation, a non-profit organization keeping the arts alive in America’s public schools.

What makes Tennessee–and rural America in general–such a special place for shoots? What feelings do you think these locations invoke?
I have always preferred to shoot outside, rather than in a studio or an interior location. Working predominantly with musicians throughout my career, I found that having the artist outside in a unique location really puts them at ease. It always seems to free up their energy, allowing me to capture a subject’s truest self.

Rural America provides an endless number of backdrops that (especially in Tennessee) seem to be infused with history and tell a story that adds to the overall narrative of the image. To me, these locations invoke a timeless feeling that adds to the portrait rather than overwhelms it.


What creatives inspire you?
The photographers I have watched and studied since the beginning of my career are Annie Leibovitz, Raphael Mazzucco, and Anton Corbijn. With so many fantastic photographers in the world, if you watch too many different ones, it is extremely easy to lose your focus on where you want your own direction to be.

Do you have any advice for fellow creatives, especially those motivated to become professionals?
The best advice I can give anyone who would like to be a professional photographer, is to take a business course first. Anyone can take a good photo these days but having good business skills and great customer service is what will make someone a professional.

Connect with Mark: