Life

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.

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

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

On Getting Old

When I started this blog I warned that it would be a mix of personal and photography posts.  This one is likely more of the former, so if you want to read about technique or gear, please feel free to hit the back button now.

Today is my birthday.  Today I’m also the same age that my Dad was when he died.  When I realized that, it truly freaked me out. I don’t feel anywhere near as old as I perceived him to be. I’m actually only 51, but that’s part of what’s strange about it – he died young.

It’s been a pretty reflective time lately, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on what it feels like to get old, for those of you who are still whippersnappers. (if that doesn’t make me sound old, I don’t know what does!).

  1. I don’t feel old, at least mentally.  I asked a friend of mine “Is this what getting old feels like?” He immediately understood and said “I know” in amazement.  It doesn’t really feel any different from when I was 20.
  2. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, many the hard way.
  3. I’ve learned that life is far too short to hold grudges. Almost all everything that you thought was important enough to fight about really isn’t.  In fact there are very few things in life that are truly important. Friendship and love – that’s about it.
  4. This may surprise people that know me but I have absolutely no retirement fund.  None.  I truly believe in seizing the day.  I’ve seen too many friends put off living their life till they’re retired and then they get cancer or life changes to where they can’t live the life they dreamed about their whole life. Watch the clip at the start of this post if you want to know why. And given the genealogy on my Dad’s side of the family, I really don’t have much to worry about.
  5. The biggest one of all:  Figure out what truly makes you happy.  Do that.

Here endeth the lesson.

Tonight is a night of pizza and the start of NFL football.  Sounds like a good birthday to me.

Ttyl,

Mark

P.S.  We’ll return to our regular programming shortly.  Very busy and lots going on behind the scenes.