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The Source of Inspiration

Muse

What is the source of inspiration?

Is it the Muse, who places her gentle hand on your shoulder and whispers in your ear? Is it the excitement of having a new piece of gear? Is it seeing another artist’s work and realizing what is possible? Or is it diving deep inside yourself?

In my mind, inspiration can come from only One True Source: Love.

Passion for your subject, passion for life, passion for someone you love…it all comes down to love.

With love, all things are possible. The future is wide open. The doubts that nagged you at your lowest depths suddenly seem so trivial to be non-existent.

I see so many photographers who are on the never-ending quest for technical perfection. I know this will sound contrary to what I’ve been saying, but I actually have no problem with that. If it gives them joy, then go for it.

But it will never be art.

Art comes from a crazy place – a place that can’t be fully defined, no more than love can. It can’t be measured in megapixels or sensor size. It’s measured in emotion and depth of feeling.

Once you’re able to allow yourself to dive into the deep pool of passion, you’ll realize it’s not as scary or intimidating as it seemed from the outside, in fact it’s rather peaceful. Your purpose and mission in life becomes clear, and that brings clarity and serenity.

Keith Carter has a passion for his home town. Ansel Adams for Yosemite and the West. Clyde Butcher for the Everglades. Vermeer for light. It goes on and on.

Find your passion, open yourself up to all it entails, and the gentle but powerful Muse will be standing beside you forever.

Talk soon,

Mark

(Thanks to my friend Quinn Jacobson for the initial Plato quote)

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

About a book

book2

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Leonardo da Vinci

Some of you know that I’ve been working on a book for months now.  It was supposed to be out at the end of last year and I still haven’t finished it.

What you see above is a proof book – the final book won’t look anything like that.  I used it for sequencing, editing and testing form factors.  And it will never see the light of day.

Why not?

I’m just not happy with it. It doesn’t convey the emotion that I want it to, I still don’t have the sequencing exactly right, and I still haven’t decided on the final structure.

I’ve learned a lot in the process.  All about bindings, printing techniques, minimum orders (yikes!) , editing, sequencing, how books are laid out, and the myriad of options to make a book play as a cohesive object.

The biggest challenge for me is the printing.  The photos inside have a unique quality that I have yet to see in a printed page.  They require inky deep blacks and brilliant whites in order to create the impact I need.  That works great on a photographic paper, but is very hard to find in a printed book.  I’ve done tons of tests, met with lots of printers and haven’t met one that could do it at the price point I need/want.

High-end custom printers can quickly approach $700 – $800 per copy, and while I want this to be a “legacy project”, I just can’t justify that cost in my mind.

So I’ve set it aside for the moment.

I need to look at the very definition of a book and see if I can come up with a creative solution that can still retain the qualities I need in order to feel like this project can be called complete.

It’s a frustrating time right now, but I need to wait until I can discover the solution.

Until then, thank you for your patience.

Mark

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Interview for On Landscape magazine

I was very honored to have been interviewed for On Landscape magazine, out of the U.K.  Steve Coleman did what he called a “slow interview”, meaning it was done over e-mail and there was time given between the questions so that I could carefully consider the answers.

Steve is a wonderful photographer out of Australia, and is always striving to go deep into the meaning and thought-processes behind photography, rather than talk about gear.  I appreciate that point of view and wish more photographers would give that due consideration.

At first, I was a bit hesitant about doing the interview, as I don’t really think of myself as a landscape photographer, but then I realized that I don’t really have a classification or label for what I do, so I didn’t stress about it.

You can read the interview here.

I hope you enjoy it.

Mark

P.S.  About that book…the next post will explain where I’m at with it.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Where are the photos?

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting many photos lately.  For a good while, actually.  Here’s why:

For the last two years, I’ve been working on a new photo project.  It’s different than my previous work.  I wanted to go deeper, more into emotions, motivations and interpretation of a theme.

It’s been an intensely personal experience that I’ve only recently revealed, to even my closest friends.  In fact, to date, I could count the number of people who have seen the work on one hand.

The shooting itself is complete – at least this chapter – and I had planned on sharing it online this week, but I’m not.

The goal of the project was to make something tangible and lasting – a legacy project, if you will.  As such, I’ll be publishing this as a fine art book.

It won’t be an inexpensive book printed by an online company.  The physical form that the book takes will be an integral component in the experience.  The materials used, the methodology, the technique, will all contribute to tell the story.  It will be a very limited edition available to collectors of the medium.

I’ve already engaged with a studio that will collaborate with me to put it together.  This process will take a few months, unfortunately, which means that you won’t see any new photos from that series posted online until then.  My target date for launch is October.

I’m very excited about the direction that this is heading and appreciate your patience.  I’ll do my best to make it worth it.

Thanks,

Mark

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Art, Career, Creativity, Vision

 

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The photos on the wall

The gang
More than 30 years ago, I took the photo above. At least I think I did – doesn’t matter. It shows many of the people who were my second family after I joined the Navy. I was stationed on Whidbey Island, Washington. At the time, I knew nothing of the world, but knew I wanted to go places I’d never been.

Photos have the power to change lives; even ones you think are inconsequential. In 1979 I was stationed in Millington, Tennessee, attending technical school, when I saw a small 3×5 photo of mountains filled with pine trees taped to my roommate’s locker door. When I asked about it, he said that was where he grew up – near Seattle, Washington. A few weeks later, we were asked to fill out our “dream sheet” of where we wanted to be stationed when we finished school. I chose Whidbey Island, just based on that one photo. To my surprise, I got it.

Family is an interesting concept. You’re born with it, but if you’re lucky, friends can become family. My best friend Mike, shown above with the Zapata mustache and crouching in the center of the table, became like my brother, and still is to this day. All because of a 3×5” snapshot taped to a locker.

Yesterday, Mike and I went to revisit some of our old haunts on Whidbey (we both still live in the Seattle area). We visited Toby’s Tavern, in Coupeville, where Mike (and others) once got thrown into Puget Sound, where we shot darts, and where our friend Boone once said “You know, I’ve never walked away from a fight” when someone insulted his wife – and one punch later the offending jerk was on the floor.

After Toby’s we headed to Oak Harbor, where the Navy base was (is) and visited the Oak Harbor Tavern, where we attended quarter-beer night almost every week.

That’s when we received the surprise of the day.

On the wall were two photos – the one above and the one below. Both faded, neither technically very good, but man, did the memories come flooding back. There was Murph, who was like a second father to me when mine died shortly after I arrived at Whidbey. Whitey, who was once handed a written reprimand by the Navy for swearing too much and responded with “What the fuck is this?”. Dave, Katie, both Brad’s, and more. Each recognition was followed by stories, memories and laughs.

Next to it was the photo below, not sepia-toned, but turned brown by years of cigarette smoke (now banned) and stapled to the wall. That’s Murph in the hat, me in the striped shirt with my back to the camera, Chuck writing something, and Kelly the bartender, who’s still running the place. I think this one was taken a bit later judging by my hair length. Likely mid-80’s after I was out of the Navy. Photographer unknown.

The emotions that were evoked by these photos were palpable yesterday as we were transported to good times years ago. Those feelings are rare and precious…and all happened because of a 3×5 photo of some trees taped to a locker.

30 years from now, RAW converters may be a relic from the past, but the memories that you capture and print now will endure. Go. Print.

Like desert seeds awakened by a first rain, the memories will come back to life and it will be as if they never left.

Mark

Me - and my second dad

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Life

 

Interview with Gura Gear

Gura Gear, founded by wildlife photographer Andy Biggs and maker of fantastic camera bags, were kind enough to interview me for their blog.

You can read that interview here:

http://blog.guragear.com/blog/2013/6/21/q-a-with-photographer-mark-olwick 

 
 

The Sensitive Artist

The “Art World” still baffles me.  I don’t understand the language, the personalities or the politics.

My buddy, photographer Quinn Jacobson, recently posted this on Facebook and it made me laugh, so I thought I’d share it here:

My favorite poem. If this doesn’t make you smile (or laugh), I don’t know what will – it’s the driving force behind me when I preach about art and photography. This is what you DON’T want to be (just to be clear).

I am a sensitive artist…
I am a sensitive artist.
Nobody understands me because I am so deep.
In my work I make allusions to books that nobody else has read,
Music that nobody else has heard,
And art that nobody else has seen.
I can’t help it
Because I am so much more intelligent
And well-rounded Than everyone who surrounds me.
I stopped watching tv when I was six months old
Because it was so boring and stupid
And started reading books
And going to recitals
And art galleries.
I don’t go to recitals anymore
Because my hearing is too sensitive
And I don’t go to art galleries anymore
Because there are people there
And I can’t deal with people
Because they don’t understand me.
I stay home
Reading books that are beneath me,
And working on my work,
Which no one understands
I am sensitive… I am a sensitive artist…

John Hall

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Art

 
 
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