A sense of community

The naturalness of life… the sense of community is, I think, a very important factor in an artist’s life.  – Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth

Power Tower perspective. Holga 120N

It always fascinates me how individual photographers shoot.  Some are very sociable, comfortable with people, others are more comfortable with it being a solo, contemplative endeavor.

I fall into the latter category.  For me to be “in the zone” creatively, I have to reflect what I see with what I’m feeling about the subject.  I do that best when there aren’t other people around.  It relates somewhat to my last post about intimacy – it’s tough for me to get intimate with a subject in a group setting.

Having said that though, I love getting together with photographers and talking photography. I recently hooked up with Ray Ketchum and Sabrina Henry, each wonderful photographers, to shoot the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  The best part of that outing was the sense of community and sharing with two very cool people.  When we went to shoot though, each of us did our own thing and we all came away with some very cool images.

Mark Olwick and Michelle Bates

This weekend I got to met someone I’ve always wanted to meet – photographer and author Michelle Bates.  She literally wrote the book on Toy Cameras (Holga’s, Diana’s, etc).  It’s called Plastic Cameras: Toying With Creativity.  We walked around my (and as it turns out her) neighborhood – the Fremont area of Seattle.  She was super friendly and open to all the questions.  We didn’t even do a ton of photography, it was more of a stroll and a chat.  I still came away with a smile (and at least one interesting photo – the electrical tower above).

It reminded me of being in a foreign country, one with a language not your own, when suddenly you come across someone who speaks your language fluently.  There’s a sense of “Finally, someone understands me” and relief.

It’s nice to have that sense of community and connection amongst photographers…but I still like wandering off by myself to get intimate with my subject.





  1. Hey Mark!

    Great new blog! I’m looking forward to reading your posts here.

    PS: Take a look at the new “Twenty Ten” template from WP. It’s well constructed and very easy to customize. Let me know if there’s anything I can help with.


  2. I know exactly what you mean here Mark, I love the conversation and sharing of ideas but when it comes time to get to work I don’t know any way but to do that alone. I believe it has something to do with that ongoing conversation we have with the voices in our head.The concentration to hear and understand them needs to be without distraction. Even the give and take of a portrait shoot loses the creative edge when more than myself and the subject is involved.
    Well said and a great thought as have been all your posts I look forward to more of them.

  3. There’s something about creative people (like photographers) that often others just don’t understand. Being part of a community makes me feel that I am not alone and that there are others who “get it”.

  4. First off Mark, I love your Power Tower. It is the kind of image that is right up my alley for all sorts of reasons–symmetry, balance, simplicity, black and white, among them.

    For me, you couldn’t have posted a better image that says “community” for it speaks my language.

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