The Utah-born artist was introduced to DeMille by the painter-photographer-director Ferdinand Pinney Earle, who had worked on M-G-M’s Ben-Hur. DeMille hired Mortensen to shoot both scene stills and special art for The King of Kings (1927). It was a fortuitous connection. Few American photographers could have distilled the reality created on the set by Mitch Leisen and Pev Marley as Mortensen did. To lend a painterly quality to his images, he placed hand-etched filters over the photographic paper as he printed each negative in his Hollywood Boulevard studio. The result was a reverent, masterly portfolio, unique even for the period. Mortensen opened a photography studio and school in Laguna Beach in the 1930s, co-authored numerous books, and in 1949 was awarded the prestigious Harold Hood Medal by the Royal Photographic Society.