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Finding what I like

Before I begin I wanted to say that the way I now input images and words into my site is remarkable and in some ways it has renewed my enthusiasm for photography. Like my normal cyclical journey, I have been in a period of transition for some time with my art. But typing into this new interface is so seductive and pleasing it allows me to focus on my thoughts and feelings rather than the technical parts of the process. Thanks Tracy!

Over the past few weeks I have been involved in photographing for a new theatre and public relation company. I ‘cut my teeth’ photographing in low light/high movement theatre when my daughter was involved in high school theatre. As my work progressed I had approached other ‘professional’ theatrical groups about shooting for them. This year Forever Tango will utilize one of my images from last year’s live performance at the Post Street Theatre for their Fall 2008 San Francisco tour.

I have also shot TheatreWorks rehearsal performance of Grey Gardens at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts since their regular photographer was not able to cover that session. I persuaded the group to allow me to shoot live rehearsals rather than just come to a staged shoot after a performance. My feeling is that staged shots can never capture the same emotion or energy of a live performance or rehearsal. Tracy and I shot their dress rehearsal and I returned during a preview night to shoot PR shots after their performance. The client was happy with the imagery, but I was left feeling a bit hollow.

One of my greatest joys when I shot high school theatre was knowing that the kids, parents and relatives of the actors and actresses would cherish the memories I would capture. Years from now they would be able to show their own children those images and for me those would be genuine moments.

I had mentioned this to Tracy and she said to me what I felt, “Mark, you feel like you’re cheating when you shoot stage, don’t you?” Yes, in fact I do. You see, my first love has always been street shooting where the lighting, expressions, my vantage point, the weather, etc. are all left to chance. Part of the ‘juice’ of street shooting is the excitement of the hunt. Having to watch, observe and anticipate is very rewarding and frustrating at the same time. But the results are genuine; no stage or studio lighting, no false expressions or emotions or as my niece Paloma says, “Honest Uncle Mark, that’s what your work is about.” It is still the highest compliment I’ve received and I cherish her words above so many others.

So despite the public recognition and publicity PR and stage shooting may bring, it is just not honest enough for me. And more than anything else, it is comforting to narrow down in this period of my journey what I like, what I respect in my own work.

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