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Person of Interest

A Dallas Photographer Takes a Shot at Coffee

Dallas photographer Marc Montoya has a new gig: roasting coffee. Learn about Oak Cliff’s newest subscription.
By | |Photography by Elizabeth Lavin
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marc montoya
Marc Montoya, photographed at his home in Oak Cliff. Curious about his favorite shoots? Click the link above to check out a gallery. Elizabeth Lavin
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A Dallas Photographer Takes a Shot at Coffee

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Dallas photographer Marc Montoya has been shooting the Person of Interest Q&A portrait every month for D Magazine for longer than we can recall (in addition to doing work for too many editorial and commercial clients to name here). With the excuse that he has just launched a coffee subscription service, we decided it was time to turn the camera on him. His friend and our staff photographer, Elizabeth Lavin, did the honors this month. Read on to learn why Dirk Nowitzki will always be Montoya’s favorite subject.


marc montoya
Steeple Chase: Montoya found his coffee roasting studio, a shed built like a chapel, on Facebook Marketplace. Elizabeth Lavin

Rear Window or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? I haven’t seen either one. Tim, I just bought a TV for the first time in 20 years. 

Are you kidding me? Why haven’t you had a television, and what made you, after 20 years, decide that you needed one?When [my wife] Kristen and I moved into our tiny home in Oak Cliff, we still had one of those big, thick televisions in an armoire, and it didn’t fit. We sold it for 20 bucks, with the intention to get another one. All of a sudden, we both realized that we didn’t care to watch TV, and that went on until we had kids. After watching cartoons on laptops for a couple years, we got a TV in May.

Who is more Oak Cliff? Is it you because you’re super into meditation, or is it Kristen because she uses crystals to adjust people’s spines? [laughs] I think she’s a little bit more North Dallas. But yes, she’s studying to be a chiropractor, and her specialty is called Network Spinal. It’s really hard to explain, but it does involve energy work. It’s pretty trippy stuff. I would say when she got into that stuff, that was the rockiest point in our marriage. It was super disruptive. It was like she had this spiritual awakening experience and decided to go to chiropractic school. 

Now that she’s not working in the photography business with you, I assume you have to hire assistants. But your spine must be straight as an arrow. I’m told I have a great spine. 

How long have you been shooting for D Magazine? I think since 2008. The first assignment I recall was shooting Nicole Small, who was then the CEO of the Museum of Nature & Science. I shot her with a [taxidermied] polar bear. And I’ve shot probably 100 of these Persons of Interest. 

Picture This

dirk

The Cover Star
Dirk Nowitzki

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The Inspiration
Tristan Sookram

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The Roller Coaster
Harvey Gough

Was it through a shoot for the magazine that you got interested in roasting coffee beans? Yeah, it was Tristan Sookram and his Lazy Fair Coffee. He was aging beans in whiskey barrels. I was just kind of picking his brain. Like how do you do this? That got me interested, and then, when the pandemic rolled around, I got on Amazon and ordered a ceramic roaster and 10 pounds of green coffee because, you know, I love coffee. A lot of people worried about toilet paper. I was worried about my coffee supplies.

And then you figured that the secret to your success was to put a tiny chapel in your backyard and run a bean-roasting side gig out of it? I was looking for a setup in the backyard, and I came across this shed on Facebook Marketplace that was a church. It was in Keene, Texas, the town where I grew up, south of Fort Worth. The price was right. That’s where I roast the beans, until I outgrow it. I’m calling it Tendrel (tendrelcoffee.com). It’s a Buddhist term meaning all phenomena come into being through a dependent relationship with other phenomena. 

That’s very Oak Cliff. Yeah, it is.

Who has been your favorite person to shoot? I still say Dirk. That was just amazing. I’ve been a Mavs fan since I was a tiny kid.

The fact that you had five minutes to get that 2011 cover shot and pulled it off, that made it even more special. Yeah, that also reminds me of shooting Harvey Gough, the Goff’s hamburger guy. I only had five minutes with Harvey as well. I open the door to the studio, and he sticks out his hand and gives me the limpest handshake in the world and says, “Don’t let the handshake fool you. I could have you on the ground in three seconds.” Then he just proceeds to roast the shit out of me for the next five minutes as I shoot him, flipping me off, calling me names. It was like being on a roller coaster. Dirk and Harvey had a similar intensity even though they’re on opposite sides of the spectrum. 


This story originally appeared in the November issue of D Magazine with the headline, “Shutterbug.” Write to [email protected]. Curious about Marc’s favorite shoots? Head to the gallery below.

Author

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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