CHS alum pictures future photography business


Coel Mayer takes photos while attending the Lyceum Summer Camp. Photo by STEVE ZMAK

Coel Mayer, a 2017 graduate of CHS, works to make a future out the photography and editing skills he learned while taking photography-related classes as a student in the Carmel school system.


Mayer took classes such as Photo 1, Photo 2 and Advanced Placement Studio Art: 2D during his time at CHS, and he attributes his ability to crop, edit and Photoshop to CHS photo/graphic design teacher Holly Lederle.


“Coel is extremely self-motivated,” Lederle says. “He was always looking for more, always looking for more opportunities, always looking for more galleries to present his work, and he was always putting himself out there.”


Mayer’s love for photography came even earlier than high school, becoming apparent when Carmel Middle School’s science teacher Patrick Stadille handed out cameras for his sixth grade Nature Studies class.


“He was the first person to really put a camera in my hand,” Mayer reveals. “You could just go around and take pictures for [the time] you were in that class, and that’s when I really fell in love with photography.”


Since the beginning, Mayer has strictly been a macro photographer, a photographer who specializes in taking close-up pictures of everyday objects, because he appreciates how it sets him apart from other people who practice photography for fun rather than for a future.


“Some people say it’s really easy to go and take a picture of a ladybug on a leaf,” Mayer explains. “But if you actually look into it, you’re taking a picture that’s so small it can be ruined by wind current or any kind of movement. I try to see stuff that most don’t usually seem to take pictures of. You take a macro photo [and a normal photo], and pictures will be completely different.”


Mayer first met Steve Zmak, a local fine arts photographer known for taking landscape and wedding photos across Monterey County, during the summer of his eighth grade year. Mayer began working with Zmak and attending his classes at the Lyceum Digital Camp, a digital photo camp for those with an appreciation for the digital arts; the next year Mayer worked alongside Zmak teaching younger kids how to take proper digital photos just like a professional.


According to Zmak, Coel might has well have been a professional.


“[Coel] was shooting ahead of years,” Zmak insists. “I hadn’t reached Coel’s expertise until I was 30 years old. Coel is a natural leader, confident yet eager to learn, very friendly, helpful and passionate about his craft—all the makings of a success story in any field.”


Since graduating, Coel Mayer has been taking more photography classes at Monterey Peninsula College in order to increase his knowledge of the art. He is intent on having a future business surrounding his photography in the future, but until then he will keep taking pictures and doing what he loves.