Mark has some unusual photo’s throughout his site, which makes him that little bit more interesting then the usually stuff we see. His work is full of life and provocative. Definitely someone you should be watching.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Santa Maria, CA, a small, rural town that is often averse to change. I went to twelve years of Catholic school, was an altar boy, am an Eagle Scout, and was raised with a quiet, somewhat conservative middle class life.
What made you get into photography? How did you get started?
Well, I began drawing at an early age, but have always taken photos since getting my first point-and-shoot camera when I was around 11. I went to art college and learned how to draw and paint photo-realistically, which bored me quickly, leading to my development in sculpture, installation art, and finally performance works in public. In order to document these public performances, where I dressed up in costumes and made a spectacle of myself, I needed to learn about photography on a more technical level. When I moved back to California I had no performance or art outlets anymore, so I focused mainly on teaching myself photography, a more accepted form of creativity in conservative Santa Maria. From taking candid photos I evolved into taking portraits of people, finally getting a part-time job doing freelance work for some local newspapers. Since I get bored easily, I began looking for other creative outlets in the photographic form, and using my drawing and illustration background, I developed my current style of work.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I guess I am most often referred to as a model photographer, but I also document a lot of my daily life, including events, kids portraits, and much more.
What gear are you using?
I currently shoot with a Canon 5D II since my first 5D went for a swim.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
I prefer adaptability, so I often use a zoom lens, a 28mm-105mm or something similar. Not only is it what I learned on with my old film cameras, but it just seems to work best for most situations.
How are you marketing yourself?
I mostly use the internet to market myself, but lately I’ve been toying with spending some money on various mailers and print advertising. Thankfully you can get pretty far making the most of the internet.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Yikes, that’s like deciding which of your children is your favorite. I usually have a new favorite every week or two since I am constantly shooting, whether I’m getting paid to or not. I’ve been doing a lot of underwater imagery lately and have really been enjoying the challenge of it, especially the technical aspects of it all. Attached is a photo of my friend Elishi, who has never modeled but I think is great. I love this image.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Well, the label of being “a professional” is silly, since that often means you are making money at it. Even established, experienced photographers I know aren’t making a living at their craft, unfortunately. My advice to beginners is just the recycled best advice I received., and I’ve got plenty:
Never stop experimenting; once you stop taking risks, you stop learning. It doesn’t matter what quality of your camera; if you can’t take a good photo with an old, damaged camera, no amount of expensive equipment will give you a better eye with which to see the world.
Shoot away. Don’t stop, don’t hesitate, don’t self-edit in the moment. The more you shoot, the more likely you will get a good shot. Make mistakes, relish in them. Mistakes are what you learn from. I used to say “there is no such thing as wasted film,” and though I still subscribe to that doctrine, the immediacy and ease of a digital camera is even less of an excuse for people not to learn. It is instant, you can see what you are doing wrong, and try again in an instant.
Never put any camera on a program mode. Keep it always on manual, because if you are not the one setting the speed and f-stop and metering the light and adjusting accordingly, you are not taking the photo, the camera is, and no one ever learned from having someone, or something, else do it for them.
Don’t be afraid to do what you need to do to get the shot you want. Move to where you need to be, around that person in your way, behind enemy lines or onto private property. Photography is about the moment, the opportunity.
For every shot you take, there were a hundred you wish you had taken. For every 100 shots you do take, one will be good. For every 100 good photos you take, one will be spectacular. So do the math, and make the shots. The more shots you take, the sooner you’ll get to that spectacular one.