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The City Journals

Murray photographer is a master with the lens

May 29, 2019 02:43PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Dave Koch prepares his camera at Mono Lake. (Photo courtesy Dave Koch)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Though few people like to have their picture taken, many are interested in being the one operating the camera. Murrayite David Koch is one of those people. As a professional photographer, he has been fortunate to use camera and film in some unique places and with interesting people. His photographs have recently been featured in Murray City Hall’s Resident on Display showcase.

As a cameraman for Fox 13 and various news stations in California, Koch has filmed space shuttle landings and missile launches and has flown with the Navy’s Blue Angels. He has photographed US presidents, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prophets, popes and, almost, the Dalai Lama (more on that later).

Impressive subjects considering his early start as a photographer. 

“My very first camera was a Mickey Mouse 126 Instamatic. I still have pictures I took with that. I was five years old,” Koch said. “It was a Christmas present, and I loved it. Since then, I have just always found a natural affinity for creating images and shooting pictures. It’s not work; it is therapy.”

His eye for pointing a lens paid off, and eventually he found himself covering every president from Reagan to Clinton, including being invited to hang out at the Reagan ranch for a barbeque. He covered numerous religious leaders, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Of course, being in Utah, he has also covered presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Once I got to Salt Lake, interviewing prophets kinda goes with the territory. But the three I remember are Presidents Benson, Monson and Hinckley, whom I had great affection for. We joked around a lot. I was supposed to shoot the visit of the Dalai Lama during his visit to SLC a couple of years ago for the local Tibetan community, but a snafu occurred, and I was not able to. I regret that,” Koch said.

His favorite person to cover was sportscaster John Madden. The former NFL coach even let Koch try on his Super Bowl ring. “I mentioned my girlfriend at the time, who I am married to now. In any case, when I mentioned her name, Madden said, ‘Lisa Bantz? Not Orval Bantz’s daughter?’ And yes, she is. Turns out Madden is a friend of her dad’s and used to babysit her. And the crazy thing is, I didn’t learn this from her, but from John Madden.”

After 10 years in the news business, Koch is still taking pictures, but now has a job with regular hours, shooting images for real estate listings. “Sort of dry and uninspiring you might think, right? Well, yes, it can be. But, you know, I look for something cool in everything I shoot. I mean, not every home is going to be a million-dollar showplace, but I can find a way to make each picture a miniature piece of art in some way: the lighting, the balance, the framing.”

It is this attention to detail that he applies to his nature photography, which is collecting awards. Not only have his photos won the top prize at the Utah State Fair and the Utah Best of State Awards, but the National Park Service has selected his photographs for publications. Internationally, his work has been displayed at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece, and, most recently, at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Having shot so many diverse subjects, one wonders what Koch wants to shoot next. “That so changes on a daily basis. When I decide I want to shoot something, I set out, and I do it. Then on to the next project. I may not do it this week, this month, or this year, but I get to it; I will make it happen. That is the only way I have to make it—no one else is going just to invite me. A photographer has to create their own opportunities. So that is a changing goal.”