EWW: I am curious to know if someone was asked to make a comment about your work as a whole, what do you think they would say?
Marcus: Given the highly subjective nature of art, every viewer will have their own individual thoughts about my photography. That said, family and friends comment on the splendor of nature and the sense of serenity conveyed in my better photographs. They also seemed intrigued by some of the remote locations depicted in the images.
EWW: What would be your own comments about your work?
Marcus: I think of my photography as a growing series of images from “the field,” exploring the transient quality of light and our fragile physical environment. As an avid hiker, I’m especially drawn to less traveled locations like the national monument lands in Northern Arizona and Utah. The exposed geology in places like Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Staircase Escalante is truly amazing. Lately, I’ve also been shooting man-made urban landscapes, both here in the states and in Europe. It’s very much an ongoing process, mainly built on the study of lighting and composition.
EWW: What photographer or artist, past or present, has been an inspiration to you and your work? Why?
Marcus: That’s a tough question, as I’ve been deeply influenced by so many painters, photographers, and music composers. I’m especially inspired by painters of the Impressionism art movement – Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro – and their exploration of color and light. I’m also moved by the photographic works of Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Art Wolfe.
EWW: How did you get started as a digital artist/photographer?
Marcus: My involvement in photography goes back to college days at Michigan State University. An art professor told us we that should take high-quality photos of our drawings and paintings, mainly to create a portfolio of our works which we might sell or give away. Once I got my hands on a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera for this purpose, I was totally hooked on photography. I had the opportunity to use the university darkroom, which allowed a deep immersion into black and white image processing. Not long after that, I got involved with medium format landscape photography.
EWW: You sometimes use black & white instead of color. Why is this and how do you choose whether an image should be black and white or color?
Marcus: Because my initial foray into photography was in black and white, I somehow tend to think of the outside visual world in monochrome. With today’s digital cameras, we can shoot the scenes in color and later convert the images to black and white. Still, when I’m on-site shooting landscapes, I often have a strong sense that a particular scene is best depicted in black and white. While there are exceptions, these scenes typically have strong cross-lighting, dramatic shadow areas, and a full grayscale – from pure white to pitch black. The more powerful monochromatic images also tend to feature bold structural elements which pull the viewer into the scene.
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EWW: What do you look for in deciding on what to shoot?
Marcus: Pristine scenic areas without people are my favorite places for landscape photography. The locations need to be accessible during the times when the light reveals a magical quality, specifically during pre-dawn, evening “Golden Hour” and just past dusk. Many state and local parks have restrictive day-time public hours, which makes trip planning a real must.
Lately, I’ve been intrigued with photography leveraging natural light diffusers like fog, reflected light from illuminated canyon walls and pink dusk Aplen glow. I do quite a bit of research on hiking locations and “pre-visualization,” trying to identify locations likely to support these ephemeral lighting conditions.
EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?
Marcus: Yes, and I am trying to expand beyond my familiar, most often presented nature themes. It is easy to become complacent and overly patterned in landscape photography. That said, most of my images are taken from broad, wide-angle vantage point – like that of a sweeping vista – with emphasis on the interplay of light, repeating patterns and textures in nature. My composition style tends to display a high level of detail in all parts of the image, from “corner to corner,” as opposed to subject matter with a strong central figure.
EWW: What do you see, or have experienced, as the most effective way for you to market and promote you and your work?
Marcus: With today’s proliferation of digital images and stock photo services, marketing is a real challenge and I am still trying to figure out effective sustainable strategies. One big step was the creation of my photography website, which now also includes periodic blog postings. The site supports the online sale of paper and metal prints, canvas gallery wraps and digital files. I’ve also gained exposure through photo contests, photo sharing websites (Capture My Arizona, YouPic and Facebook groups), a podcast, photos in newspapers and a few exhibits. While it’s a long shot, I still directly contact selected publishers and have been fortunate to have photos published in books, magazines, visitor guides, and calendars.
EWW: What is your philosophy about Social Media. Do you use social media platforms to market and promote your work? If you do, which social media platform seems to work the best for you?
Marcus: While the Internet is still, in many ways, a mystery to me, I’ve become a big fan of social media platforms to showcase new images and to communicate with other photographers. Most recently, I’ve posted I-phone photos and brief videos during our photography treks, and these have been well received. I make regular postings on my Facebook business page, Twitter and LinkedIn, with backlinks to my website. I have also tried using Tumbler, but have had no success with this platform.
For me, the downside is the large amount of time involved in social media exchanges, as I feel compelled to reply to questions and comments in a timely manner. While these exchanges can be fulfilling and helpful in promoting my portfolio, I find myself thinking that this precious time could be better spent outdoors shooting.
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EWW: Just to wrap up this interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work that you think would be important for others to know about?
Marcus: First, thanks for the opportunity to discuss my photography and for providing the Exhibitions Without Walls outlet for digital artists. A note of deep appreciation goes to my family and friends, who have been so supportive of my photography over the years. Also, my thanks to the environmentalists, park rangers and others who preserve our precious lands. We’re so fortunate that earlier generations had the foresight to create a system of national parks and protected lands.
With everyone now carrying smartphone cameras, I’m pondering what the future holds for landscape photographers and fine artists in general. The long-term scenario, I think, holds an increasingly specialized and narrow niche for fine art landscape images. For those of us seeking to remain viable in this field, our challenge is to creatively define and redefine this space. Painters and other artists have faced similar challenges, with innovation leading the way to fresh genres.
This interview has prompted me to think about my future photography ventures, while also reinforcing my strong inclination to spend more time in the field. Throughout my journey as an artist, nature has always been a place for quiet exploration and discovery. It’s the place where natural light converges with composition, technical realities and the prospect of creating truly fresh images.
So, with that in mind, I’m redoubling my planning efforts for our upcoming photo trek to Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks national parks in Utah, and next for a return trip to Italy. So much to do, with endless photo ops just ahead …
Blog URL: http://www.mwrphotos.com/blog
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