Art

Speak to me of home

Speaktome-2

Why am I so drawn to travel? What is the source of this wanderlust? Will it eventually be satisfied?

When I reflected on my photography, and this love of distant places, I began to ask myself these questions. I wanted to go deeper and explore not just the place itself, or even the dream of it, but why am I having these dreams? What’s the source?

It’s taken a few years to come up with a theory – I was searching for Home.

Even when I was a child, one of my earliest memories was laying on the floor of my living room with an atlas, poring over the maps, wondering what adventures and mysteries awaited. I realize now that, even in my childhood home – the only one I’d ever known at that point – there was an innate desire for something…somewhere…else.

But what is home? Is it a place? Is it “heaven”?  Is it just being with the person you were meant to be with?  Or maybe the quest itself is home.

I wanted to capture this search in a photographic way. To do that, I needed to really search how I felt when I traveled as well as exploring the questions mentioned above.

What you see in the series online is a portion of overall series, which I intend to publish as a book at some point. Will it ever be finished though?  Will I find Home?  I have no idea, but I love the way that this direction has forced me to look deep inside and then translate those thoughts and emotions into a photograph.

You can view Speak to me of home here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks,

Mark

P.S. I’m planning on redesigning my site and moving to a new platform. I appreciate your patience in the meantime.

The Darkroom Underground magazine

I have some exciting news!  I’ve been asked to be on the advisory council of a brand new magazine:  The Darkroom Underground.

It’s founded by Tim Layton, a fine art photographer who specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, primarily with large format film, and processing traditionally.

Here’s an overview of the magazine from Tim:

The focus of The Darkroom Underground publication is rooted in art, imagination, and brought to life through the creative souls that share their most personal thoughts and experiences.

Photography has evolved over the last 175 years to a place that the 19th and 20th-century photographers could have never imagined.  In spite of the proliferation of technology and digitalization of just about every area of modern life, people still have a strong desire to create handmade artwork in the darkroom.  Photographers that have only used digital gear are discovering the joys and mysteries of darkroom photography.

The Darkroom Underground publishes a balance of technical and creative articles in every issue along with featured photographers and their portfolios.

We are pleased to offer editorial from internationally recognized photographers and writers and also publish articles and portfolios from our readers.

I’ll be talking primarily about the creative process itself rather than gear.  Any magazine that welcomes a dialog about photography today, I’m excited about.

You can check out the website here:  The Darkroom Underground.  Please subscribe and support the arts!

Mark

The Myth of Technical Perfection

 

I had an interesting exchange with the Executive Director of The Center for Fine Art Photography a few days ago that has me absolutely baffled.

I had submitted some images for consideration for one of their exhibits, and they were rejected due to “technical errors”. What baffled me was that the exposure, contrast, etc, was exactly what I had envisioned prior to taking the photos.  Granted, some of them, okay many of them, wouldn’t be considered technically perfect by digital standards.  I didn’t expose to the right (I wouldn’t even  know how to do that), they didn’t have wide dynamic range, etc.

The cameras I use are heavily customized and rather unconventional, specifically to give me the look that I want. I want to convey emotion, not show off technical perfection.

The conversation with the Executive Director, a man whom I had assumed would understand artistic expression, went something like this (paraphrased):

Him: Your photos lack dynamic range

Me: I know, they’re very high contrast for a reason.

Him: They’re underexposed too.

Me: Yep, exactly as I envisioned.

Him: But that’s not the proper exposure.

Me: What is “proper” in art?  Who determines that?

And it kind of went downhill from there.

It reminded me of the scene in the movie Dead Poets Society (above) where the textbook uses the Pritchard Scale for Poetry to graph how good a poem is, which is obviously ridiculous. Robin Williams wisely has them rip those pages out of the textbook.

I can imagine the Impressionists having those same discussions during the Salon de Paris, when it first burst onto the art scene. How dare they not paint in the approved style?

I’m in no way comparing myself to the greats of Impressionism, but I’m baffled why someone in such a vaunted position could, in 2016, still be bound by the “approved methods”.

Don’t let yourself be bound by conventions. Art will only move forward when people try new things.  Things that will make some people feel uncomfortable.  As long as it makes you, as an artist, happy, that’s all that counts.

Mark

A New Chapter Begins

“Pictures are often made for no other reason than that the act demonstrates the power of the photographer over time, the partial fulfillment of a deeply rooted wish.” – Ralph Evans

Tomorrow, the movers come and a new chapter in my life begins. I’ll be leaving Seattle and moving to Chicago to work for the wonderful charity and service organization, Rotary International (the headquarters for the Rotary Clubs around the world).

When I look back at my life, it’s taken the form of a series of chapters. First, growing up in Toledo, Ohio, followed by the Navy north of Seattle (and gaining an extended family), and working on flight simulators around the world. Then came living in Montreal, a city that I fell in love with, along with some dear friends there and nearby.

The current chapter has been in Seattle again, this time for 16 years. When I look back at my time here, it’s amazing how quickly it’s gone by, but also incredible how much living has happened during that time. Love and loss, pleasure and depression, fun, stress and the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest.

So why am I leaving such a beautiful place to move to Chicago? A few reasons, primarily the wonderful opportunity to work for Rotary International and be able to give back to the community. On a personal level, I think I was just ready for a new adventure as well.  Chicago is a wonderful city that I look forward to exploring.  I’ve made big moves before, but this one is a bit of a leap of faith. While I’ve visited Chicago a couple of times, and liked it a lot, I definitely don’t know it as well as other cities that I’ve made a major move to. Sounds like an exciting adventure to me.

What does any of this have to do with my photography? Everything, really. I want to capture the dream and emotion of this new place as I’ve done with others.  It will also play a big part in this project that I’ve been working on the last couple of years all about the concept of Home. How does a new place that you’ve been placed into become “home”? I have no idea, but it will be interesting to explore. Or is it really a place that defines home?

There is one more chapter after Chicago, and that’s retirement. I don’t know when that will be, or where it will take place, but that will be a fascinating adventure as well.

And that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Find someplace, or someone, that you find fascinating and open your heart to it.  What happens next will be unpredictable, adventurous, and undoubtedly wonderful.

Talk soon,

Mark

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

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

Moving forward

 

Living the Dream

Technology is not a panacea. It alone will not move your art forward. Only through developing your own aesthetic – free from the tools that create it – can you find new dimensions for your work. – Robert Hall

Photography, like life, is all about moving forward.  I absolutely love to learn, and am constantly searching out new sources of inspiration, techniques, and locations.

One of the best ways to do that is to take a photographic workshop. They’re amazing opportunities to see new places, learn new techniques, get fresh eyes on your work, meet like-minded people and even hang out with some of the greats in the business. How else could you hang out with guys like Keith Carter, Sam Abell or National Geographic photographers and ask them all the questions you always wanted to ask?

The market is flooded with workshops though – some good and some…not so much.  So how do you know which one to choose before you hand over your hard-earned cash?

That’s where my friend Marco Ryan comes in.  He a fantastic photographer and just wrote an amazing e-book all about workshops called “Living the Dream”.  You’ll learn:

  • Questions to ask when choosing a workshop
  • Different types of workshops
  • Preparation
  • Gear choices
  • What to do when you arrive
  • Setting expectations

Honestly, I learned a ton reading it, and I’ve done many workshops over the years.

Here’s the best part: It’s only $7 and all of the profit goes to charity! Marco is heavily involved in Focus for Humanity – a great organization that provides grants to photographers pursuing projects in the area of humanitarian photography.  So your $7 will not only get you some fantastic information but you’ll be helping out other photographers as well.

It’s 71 pages long and filled with great information as well as Marco’s stunning photography, which in itself will inspire you to take a workshop.

You can purchase the ebook here: http://www.marcoryanphotography.com/ebooks/living-the-dream/

Me?  I’m off to photograph Kyoto, Japan and Thailand. See you soon!

Mark