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Life & Work with Talyn Behzad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Talyn  Behzad.

Hi Talyn, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up I have always been an explorer of some sort. Whether it was climbing the tallest tree I could find to get a better view of my neighborhood or using my metal detector to find hidden gems in the dirt. As I went from adolescence to adulthood I consistently pushed myself to find new creative outlets to express myself and satisfy my desire to discover new talents. This need to create eventually lead me toward photography as my preferred medium of expression.

During my early years of college, I was uncertain where my future would take me. I was a first-generation college student with no direction and no money to even afford some basic necessities. As I aimlessly wandered from class to class never having declared a specific major I finally decided to go back to my creative roots and take an intro to a photography class to clear my mind. I was able to get a second-hand film camera off of craigslist and immediately knew this was meant for me the moment I snapped my first picture.

Years went on and I pursued an associate’s degree through SLCC in photography with the intention to work as a full-time landscape or documentary photographer. However, due to several financial hurdles and the decline in staff photography jobs, I decided to transition my degree to a Bachelor of Science in Public Health.

While enrolled in the public health program at Westminster College, I worked as an aide for the photography lab where I got the opportunity to see artists developing their skills in the early stages. This experience helped reignite my passion for photography as I jumped back into the craft with the intent to grow my skill set year after year.

I was fortunate enough to be given a photojournalist job at SLUG magazine during my undergrad years where I got the opportunity to push myself in a large variety of environments. I would wander from gig to gig shooting musicians, local business leaders, new restaurants, and large events around the valley. I viewed each of these as a challenge to push my creativity further and develop my skillset while helping me focus on where I wanted to specialize my work.

Today, I still work for SLUG magazine as their dedicated food photographer while also focusing on my own work as a portrait, travel, and lifestyle photographer. My work with SLUG opened new doors for me to work with bigger clients like the Sundance Film Festival where I have been fortunate enough to spend the past 2 seasons with photographing before the COVID pandemic moved everything remote.

In addition to my photography work I was able to finish my bachelor of science in public health and now work for Huntsman Cancer Institute where I help oversee various aspects of the clinical trials experience.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been easy, to say the least. For years I battled a lot of problems from homelessness and poverty to mental health issues. As a child, my family was not very well off financially. Both my parents worked hard to bring us out of our low-income housing putting aside their high school education to focus on more stable jobs in order to raise their children. I was the first person in my family to graduate high school, the first person to go to college, and the first person to graduate college.

Art was always my comfort in the darkest of times and photography became my therapy as an adult. Despite working full time and going to school full time I was unable to afford both college and housing so I had to make the choice to give up on one to help balance my finances, As a result, I end up living in my car, crashing in friends houses and bouncing from couch to couch until I was able to save up enough for better housing.

As the world of social media evolved I quickly realized how many people were drawn to photography like myself and how little I felt in the vast ocean of creatives on the planet. It was a very defeated feeling to constantly measure your own work against the rest of the world and never feel good enough. It took many years to drown out the voices in my head and online and finally just be happy with the work I produce and realize that my opinion is the only one that matters at the end of the day.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As the world of photography has grown to the point where everyone is holding a camera it becomes very important to differentiate style from trends. Browsing social media can be a double-edged sword as both a source of inspiration as well as a box that limits your creativity if you just try to keep up.

Overall I have noticed a significant amount of trends in the use of color in photography. There was an era of de-saturated photos and another time when the selective color in black and white photos was the latest trend. I like many others was a victim of those trends as well.

As time wore on I started to see less and less of myself in that work and realized that I was just becoming another cog in the machine where I was reproducing work and styles that were already done before me. I realized what I needed to focus on was developing my own style and focusing on work that I was proud of and resonated with me as a photographer.

The best word I can use to describe my work is dynamic. My style evokes a wide range of bold colors and graphic tones that help bring more life to the images I create. It is through these bold colors that I hope to add a more colorful perspective on the world: for my audience to see life through a more enhanced lens. My work in travel photography is where this style is best represented.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
As a born and raised in Utah I was never fortunate enough in my youth to venture out of the state, so I stayed home exploring this little corner of the world we have carved out. I was a jack of all trades even as a child taking interest in everything and anything that came my way. At times when I was collecting rocks as a kid, I was adamant I would be a geologist, or there were times when I was metal detecting and wanted to be an archeologist.

As I grew up into my teenage years I started practicing piano and art and was certain that I would be a musician one day. My path has never been a straight shot however, it has always moved me forward in my life and helped me learn a lot of new and useful skills along the way. Even though photography I still find ways of incorporating those explorer-like qualities from my youth via my travel and landscape work.

During my early stages of working with SLUG, I spent years as a music photographer shooting every band coming through town to satiate the inner musician in me. Today I find myself reflecting not on my own youth but on my children’s youth and looking for a way to carve out imagery that will help paint a picture of the world as it is seen through their eyes.

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