Catching up with Juan Mayer

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Juan ‘Melon’ Mayer’s gentle ways, easy smile and passion for the sport make him a much-loved figure in our community.

Selfie by Melon – he seems to enjoy himself ๐Ÿ™‚

A full time skydiving photographer born in Argentina, with over 14,000 jumps, Juan Mayer lived and worked for many years in Dubai. ‘Melon’ quickly became the National Dubai 4-way and 8-way team photographer, traveling the world, winning many international medals and looking after the team like an uncle.

He has filmed many World Skydiving Records and was part of the skydiving team testing lenses, cameras and oxygen system for MI6: Mission Impossible movie. Juan has over 300,000 followers on social media and has published a beautiful skydiving photography book: Ultimate High, Skydiving Behind the Lens.

What do you do for a living?

Well, before this pandemic I was a full time Photographer/Skydiver. Now I’m more into community management, graphic design and photography, but more studio photography. I think it’s a time for change.

What made you want to start skydiving photography?

When I started skydiving I found a completely different world for photography. So I did a few jumps and I saw ‘The Book of Skydiving Photography by Norman Kent’. I still remember seeing it and feeling THIS IS EXACTLY what I want to do :). So with only 70 jumps and no more money to skydive I borrowed money and I bought a Sony PC1 and I started offering videos for whoever could pay me :).

Testing lenses, cameras and oxygen system in freefall for MI6: Mission Impossible Movie
Photo by a Dubai-based friend, Olga Naumova

You have a huge social media following, many non skydivers, what is it about your imagery that appeals to them?

It’s hard to say. It’s a question they should answer. Personally, I never take a photo for others, I always try to get a photo that makes ME happy and I really love what I’m doing, it’s a total passion for photography and skydiving. I believe that photography is about making people feel something without talking, so I think perhaps people feel the passion in my photographs โ€“ but I’m just guessing! ๐Ÿ™‚

Why did you create your stunning book, Ultimate High?

A book of skydiving photography was in my head for many years, but I never knew where to start. One day I made the decision, so I contacted a designer and I started a long 2 year process. Yes, it took me almost 2 years of meetings with printing companies, designers, proof writers, selecting the photos I liked but also the proper ones for a printed book. It was really a hard job. Once I finished it I promised myself to never do it again hahahhaha! โ€ฆ But of course I will do it again! The main reason to do a book of photography was to leave something in print, I still believe a printed photograph is a memory forever. I also believe that social media one day will disappear so everything we are posting daily will be gone. So, it would be nice one day when I’m not here any more, my little daughter will have a printed photography book that her father created ๐Ÿ™‚

Ultimate High – Skydiving Behind the Lens

A difficult project that Melon is specially proud of – his skydiving photography book – ‘Ultimate High’, Skydiving Behind the Lens

Tell us about your years in Dubai, you were cameraflyer for their 4-way and 8-way teams

Yes, I was for many many years in Dubai. I was the official photographer of the UAE team, like you say 4-way and 8-way coached by Craig and Eliana but I was also doing videos and photos in general for Skydive Dubai. It was like a dream, being a part of a skydiving team but also filming Guinness World Records, World Championships, and some crazy amount of different jumps and disciplines. Also different friends and clients that came to Dubai just to get their photos over the Palm, it was always a pleasure to take care of them. It was an amazing time for me as a photographer but also as a person, to know a completely different culture โ€“ of course making a lot of new friends from that part of the world, but also my little one Kira was born in Dubai :). I can say I left there a lot of good friends, real friends that I will see around the world for sure.

Juan in action, photo by a good friend – Luciano Bacque

You also do freestyle camera, how is that different? Who is your favourite partner?

Yes, like I mentioned above I filmed so many different disciplines including freestyle. Filming the 4-way and 8-way team was amazing because you need to put a lot of concentration to not lose a competition but you can not put much creativity on it. This is why freestyle is one of my favourite disciplines, because you can create flying, you can put anything you like, any new idea in your routine in the sky. Yes I filmed a lot of different people there, a lot of different skydivers, but my favourite one was Latifa! Why? Because she was soooo passionate for this sport, we made over 1000 jumps together but not just training jumps, she always appeared with new ideas and challenges. She really is an amazing flyer and a TRUE FRIEND!

How has becoming a Dad changed you?

Apart from making me the happiest man on this planet, it changed my priorities 180 degrees :)… I’m much more careful skydiving since I’m a Dad ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

You moved to Empuriabrava recently, what are your goals?

Yes, I moved to Empuria at the end of last year. My goals were to open my own photography business but now I’m not sure any more, let’s see what happens in the future. I think it’s a big change for everyone.

Melon shooting a TV commercial in Denmark

How are you coping with lockdown? What’s keeping you sane?

Regarding the lockdown, I didn’t feel it much at first because I spent most of the time in Denmark with my little one, and we were together walking a lot and also enjoying nature together. I’m back in Spain now and here I’m really feeling this lockdown โ€“ but I’m trying to exercise and keep my mind working on new ideas and projects of video and photography.

Choose a few of your most favourite images and tell us the background story.

Amazing shot of the Texas State Record by Juan Mayer Photography

Firstly: Texas State Record

The Texas State Record was very special because because of all the process to get it; high altitude jumps with really bad weather, oxygen and many other things. So it was a really good feeling those few seconds they gave us to take the photo.


Some photos are just magic

Secondly: 125-way over Perris

I sold more prints of this picture than the actual completed formation. And I was happy about it, because I liked this one much more than the completion.


A rare image – clouds over Dubai

Third: Dubai Magic 2012

This one was also special, it was the last jump of the year 2012 in Dubai. We normally only have clouds maybe 2 or 3 days during the whole year, and I was very lucky to get beautiful clouds on the last jump. Later they printed this picture in ‘The Times’ magazine from UK.


Jumping over unique places is always a high

4th photo: Pyramids long lens

I was super happy with this photo โ€“ of course because it’s over the Pyramids, but mainly because I took it with a long zoom lens. I could have used a wide angle lens to be safe, but I preferred to take the risk and get the photo I wanted. I still remember being under canopy, so happy because I was 99% sure that I got the photo I wanted, but also in a hurry to land to check my camera and be 100% of it.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your image-making footsteps?

To always follow their dreams and keep learning as much as they can every single day. Forget about the auto function on your camera, and always try to get a different picture.

Who are your sponsors?

My lovely sponsors are Aerodyne, Cypres, LB altimeters, Liquid Sky Sports. THANKS to all of them!

Tell us a quirky fact about yourself, something people donโ€™t know

Maybe people donโ€™t know why a lot of skydivers call me ‘Melon’ ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s because when I ordered my first camera helmet from Bonehead, 20 years ago, it was a big size, so the dealer who got it, a friend from Argentina told me that Bonehead called me MelonHead because they said my head was the size of a melon. Since then a lot of people started calling me Melon.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less

A passionate happy father.

With his dauther Kira ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you have a motto/philosophy?

I really believe that our mind controls our feelings. So I ALWAYS choose to try be positive and happy as much as I can and be far away from negative people.

What was the biggest breakthrough /decision of your life?

Well, to quit from the Army after so many years being there wasnโ€™t easy. I did it just to follow my dreams and be a full time Photographer/Skydiver.

Whatโ€™s your favourite skydiving moment of all time?

I’m lucky to say that I have so many favorite skydiving moments during 20 years. If I have to choose one from many years ago, it was the time when Craig Girard asked me to be part of the camera team for the Arizona Challenge.

At Singapore Windtunnel, photo by Khaled AlMarzooqui

Anything you would like to add?

I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to each of you who support my photography through all these years and please keep doing so. And remember even if we are in a digital age, keep printing your photographs and enjoy them hanging in your wall.

And for those who like this sport and photography, follow your dreams. It doesnโ€™t really matter where you are from or how much money you have, there is ALWAYS a way to get whatever you want.


Enjoy Melon’s video delights

A video over the Pyramids

Skydiving over one of the WONDERS of the World
by Juan Mayer

Swiss Wingsuit Team flying alongside a Porter

How many times in a career does one have the chance to film something like that?

by Juan Mayer

More Juan Mayer

Follow Juan Mayer photography on his channels below, and why not support him by ordering a print as a lasting beautiful memory (he hasn’t worked for some months due to pandemic)

Instagram

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Ultimate High Photo Book

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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