My name is Mike Mellia and I am an American photographer. In my photography, I love combining an old-world sense of beauty with complex conceptual modern ideas.


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These are my humorous self-portrait series on Instagram, each of them starts “That one time…”

More info: Instagram

That one time I tried to join the women’s Olympic synchronized swimming team

When I put on this vintage swimming cap, I was transported to another world where synchronized swimming is more popular than the NFL.

That one time I went gluten-free

This self-portrait made me think of a young man selling baguettes in the streets of Paris during the 1950’s, contrasted with today’s health food obsessions for going “gluten-free”.

That one time I won First Prize at the Hungarian national poetry competition

I thought that this self portrait that I created for my Instagram feed had a very poetic/unusual mood like a character from a Wes Anderson film crossed with a peculiar James Bond villain.

That one time I sang at the opera

In this self-portrait, I thought there was a Renaissance vibe, like the old masters painted for early religious art, but modernized in a fashion type of setting you would see in fashion magazines like Vogue.

That one time I played backgammon in an old warehouse in Mongolia

This self-portrait had a feeling of adventure and travel in going to unusual new places. I think the Renaissance feeling of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio, etc. is still present.

That one time I partied at the Playboy Mansion

This is a classical black and white portrait but with a humorous twist with the iconic playboy bunny ears added in fur to my already furry face.

That one time I asked the workers of the world to unite

This self portrait had the feeling of Karl Marx and his communist manifesto, with the cigarette and the pseudo-intellectual look with my glasses and coat.

That one time my daughter was born

I took this self-portrait one week after my daughter was born, I feel like a very proud father, and the Renaissance/religious theme is also prevalent again in this portrait.

That one time I bought 99 camels in Marrakesh

The Gucci leather jacket and Moroccan handbag and gloves give this self-portrait a feeling of being a camel trader at an exotic bazaar or street fair in Marrakesh.

That one time I went birdwatching

This self-portrait depicts an elegant but eccentric man passionate about his unusual hobbies, I was thinking about creating these characters from a movie and trying to really bring them all to life.

That one time I had breakfast with Mick Jagger

The rock and roll vibe in this self-portrait makes me wonder what happened the evening before, out partying with the notorious Rolling Stones.

That one time I always bet on black

This classic black and white self-portrait taken in my velvet tuxedo had a very Casino Royale feeling to it, a mysterious yet understated elegance for this gambler.

That one time I founded the Roman Empire

This self-portrait had a mood reminiscent of Julius Caesar looking out over his empire and pondering all of his conquests.

That one time I let Bjork dress me

I thought this is how the amazing singer Bjork would like me to dress, since she is such an avant-garde and unusual genius.

That one time i played squash

I love playing squash (or racquetball), so the pun with this ornamental squash pumpkin came just in time for Halloween.

That one time I developed film using only my mind

I love shooting film and digital cameras and thought this self-portrait showed me deep in thought but maybe concentrating a little too hard, hence the joke.

That one time Tony Soprano bribed my union boss

I wanted to create a character who was proud but also a bit defeated, and here I am dressed as a postal worker pondering my fate.

That one time I visited a Dutch astronomer

The fur coat and the critical and scientific eye examining the roll of film in this self-portrait make me think of an eccentric astronomer, a profession no longer widely chosen in modern times.

That one time Einstein needed help

I felt like an eccentric professor in my fashion-forward lab coat and white shirt, so I decided to lend my expertise to a friend in need.

That one time I spilled my Rogaine

My beard is usually a prominent feature in these self-portraits, so this was a humorous and unexpected twist.

That one time scientologists tried to brainwash me

In this self-portrait, I thought the set looked like a basement in some strange testing area, and my expression is relaxed but also unphased and untrusting of the person I am speaking with.