Reframing the West

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Bringing the eye of an auteur to a subject close to his heart (and his home), photographer Ben Christensen gives maximum exposure to contemporary American West culture.

Written by Jenn Thornton

Ben Christensen is a paradox for the present moment: a photographer and keen social connector who is frequently off the grid but totally on-the-radar—of, among other brands of a certain stature, Harley Davidson and Lucchese, as well as the growing number of followers for his latest project  #LivingMyOwnWestern, a modern interpretation of Old West culture, and a fresh perspective to boot—think The Outlaw Josey Whales meets roughed-up Ralph Lauren by way of his backyard.

 “I’ve worked in California, Utah, all over the world, but there’s nothing like Arizona,” says Christensen, who grew up tramping its deserts and camping under its skies, and today resides with his wife and three kids in Mesa. In roaming its lands—not infrequently on the back of a horse—Christensen developed a passion he has parlayed into a prolific career in lifestyle photography. 

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To be clear, there was no grand plan. “I was raised to love the outdoors, and I just fed off those experiences. I no idea what I wanted to do for a career,” says Christensen, recounting his largely unceremonious start. “A buddy offered me eight-hundred bucks to shoot his wedding. His answer came quick and clear: “I’m down.” Due to his distinct point of view, Christensen would go on to court client after client in locale after locale. “My thing is personality,” he says. “People are everything. I lead with personalities, the shoots are secondary.” From weddings to fashion, the whole thing snowballed and Christensen expanded his repertoire with graphic design, marketing and production.