Masthead header

Tanja Melone

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Robert H. Schuller
My answer – quit my big-dollar, full time corporate job, move into a loft studio in downtown Denver, and pursue my passion for photography —- in the worst economy our country has seen in decades!

I’ve actually owned my business since 2002 – but it was always a footnote to what I thought was my “real” career in the environmental industry. My client base was VERY small, I didn’t market myself, and photography was primarily a creative outlet to my very structured and technical day job. But, over time, I found myself literally “consumed” by the photography side of my life and realized that it was in THAT career that I found my passion, my drive, my joy. So, four years ago I set a very rigid goal – I gave myself two years to either build my business to the point that I could be a full time photographer, or give it up – because the sacrifices of pursuing both careers were simply too high. I already had the technical knowledge, but I knew that the most important thing was to learn the BUSINESS of photography, so I did – voraciously! Two years (and many tears, setbacks, and celebrations) later I quit my corporate job and have not looked back.

I branded my business upon the idea that having your image created at Contemporary Expressions should be an experience to be remembered – that we sell memories, not photos – and that every client should walk away loving their portraits (of course) but also loving US! I know that our clients are our best investment – in a huge city where people have literally thousands of options for photography, it is word of mouth and personal recommendations that count most. So, we make it fun, we make it unique, we make it memorable.

As to my style, philosophy, and all that – we’ve created a niche for being a funky, urban-inspired, artistic studio (our location helps that a TON). While I love finding and creating that perfect light, my true goal in creating an image is to hear my clients say “you captured his/her personality perfectly”. With two entire walls of the loft being windows, and downtown Denver as my extended studio, I shoot a lot of natural light images – but I am equally comfortable with studio lighting and off camera flash as well.
I LOVE my life! I love my job! And I truly love sharing what I have learned with others!

How did you get started in the business? Who helped/guided/mentored you?

“I got started in the business as a second shooter for a local photographer who FAILED TO SHOW UP for the very first wedding I shot “with” him – I wound up shooting it on my own, never having done anything remotely similar in my life! My ah-ha moment came when I realized that I needed to jump and take my photography business full time, leaving my high paying corporate America day job behind to pursue what I LOVE to do every day. I’d have to thank Jordan Chan – for generally pushing me beyond my conceived limits and always encouraging and supporting me along the way.”

From Tanja:

“I’m very inspired by fashion photography since I try and bring that element into my HS Senior photography. I love the non-classical lighting, interesting angles, and general disregard of traditional rules to create art. If you’re thinking about coming to another After Dark Event, remember each AD is a different experience with different energy and learning opportunities. It is impossible to learn all that you want to at a single AD since there are such a variety of pods/bays to learn from. If you’ve never been to After Dark Before, to HAVE A PLAN. Decide what it is you want to learn and find the mentors teaching it! Without a plan (as I can attest to from Austin) you tend to wander like a lost puppy, learning a LOT, but going home still lacking in the areas where you really need to shine. ‘What would you choose to do if you knew you could not fail.’

Tanja Melone
Contact Info:


CE Photo Blog

Facebook Tanja Melone

Email Tanja
Twitter: @TanjaMelone

After Darks Attended: 3

“Teaching the maternity pod with Andrea Walker in Cincinnati. We were laughing so hard my belly ached. Just having that fun energy in the room and working together was amazing.”

Fun Facts:

  • Canon Shooter
  • Studio & Location Sessions

Majority of Business:

  • HS Seniors
  • Children
  • Weddings


  • Natural Light
  • Studio
  • OCF

Top 5 Skills:

  1. Sales
  2. Client Evangelism
  3. Newborn Photography and Marketing
  4. Senior Rep Program Marketing
  5. Business Basics