9art:: 2014/15

Hey, interweb-land. It’s been a good month since I’ve posted a thing… and some of you are still heaving your sighs of relief in response to the silence.

I’m not going to spend a super long time reflecting on 2014. Here’s a rundown, for those who are curious what’s up with me:

– The first 2/3ds of the year was fairly quiet and fairly slow. Summer was paaaaaiiiiiiinfully slow, in fact. Photography is always unpredictable I suppose, especially when you’re shifting the direction of your business (in my case, taking less weddings/families and pursuing more commercial work). And sometimes, you  need a slow season to figure out where the heck you are in LIFE. Talked (and sometimes yelled) to God a lot. Examined myself as an artist. Came out a lot better for the time.

I also read this book. It helped a lot:

TheCrowdTheCriticAndTheMuse
-Then Fall hit. BAM!! 180!!! Busiest season I’ve ever had (I think). Up til’ Christmas week I was scrambling to wrap up editing, deliver orders, and plan for a major project. Exhausting, but certainly a blessing. And, my firstborn started kindergarten… whoa. (he loves, it BTW).

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-2 weeks before Christmas, my camera was stolen. An added layer of scrambling to get a new one in place & wrestle with insurance companies. I won half that battle….one company was nice (and payed 1/2), the other wasn’t. Ah well, close enough. While I don’t appreciate the circumstances, I DO have a brand spankin’ new nikon D810- which features 3x the megapixel count, better performance, and, I’m scared to say, really decent video capability. (I say ‘scared’ bc I’m afraid of the obsession that’s going to begin when I really start playing with MOVING pictures).

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-Christmas break was a fantastic reprieve, from everything. Christmas is fun all over again when you have kiddos, so that’s always great.

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Best of all, my wife and I escaped for a few days for our TEN YEAR anniversary. Good grief, I suddenly feel old. I’m so thankful for a caring wife that would put up with me and my erratic personality & business for that long. Fortunately, God came up with someone as weird as I am…

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-January third marked PHOTONOVEL time. For those who haven’t heard- funding was finally approved in september for a  long-talked-about project that would creatively reunite my good friend Lance Schuabert & I (my co-conspirator for ‘cold brewed’). The project was produced by our friend Carrie Puffinbarger for the Joplin Convention & Visitors’ Bureau- it’s a new story told in words (Lance) and pictures (me). It’s all shot in Joplin, and features a fun ‘faction’ weave of real & imaginary characters, actual history and fictional story lines that work through past and present.

Maybe the whole thing was just an excuse for Lance & I to dress up with legit Civil War re-enactors… we’ll never tell.

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Lance came in from Brooklyn, NY (his new home as of last summer) and we began shooting on Jan third, wrapping up on Jan 17th. I’ve never put in more packed hours of shooting as I did in that time frame, with a huge list of locations, a shooting script, hired actors, makeup artists, prop lists and many other characteristics of a full-on film production (just without the ‘film’ part). It was exhausting, but also a reminder that this is the scope of the kind of projects I want to keep doing.

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There’s still quite a bit of work to be done on it- and, no, you won’t be able to see it any sooner than a few months from now- but I really think it’s going to be worth the wait.  In the meanwhile, if you never did, you can check out cold brewed (that last project we did) HERE.  Or, keep up on the facebook page with all the weird outtakes (such as the ones above).

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– Now is a time of quieting back down (I’m safe and sound, back in my usual seat in the local coffee shop), wrapping up the last few shoots for the photonovel project, and planning for the new year. I think it’s going to be a great one.

Stay tuned for posts in coming weeks… I’ll be sharing some things I didn’t have a chance to show you all late last year. Til next time!

-Mark

Merry Christmas….

Couldn’t let this very jolly holiday roll by without a quick blog post. And to properly commemorate the season, let me tell a little story…

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This is a photo my wife took 5 years ago. It was my sons’ first Christmas; your first Christmas as a dad is pretty amazing, even if your kiddo is only old enough to want to EAT all his gifts rather than play with them. That’s the year that all the holiday magic starts to flow back into your life, after an adulthood sets in that threatens to overtake you with stupid adult jadedness.

Pictured in that photograph, is an ornament made in 1985. That’s right, it was from MY first Christmas. My mom passed it on to me to hang on our Christmas tree that season, 5 years ago.

A lot of things have happened since then. Terrible things, wonderful things, and everything in-between. The most recent of those terrible things is my camera having been stolen, just last week. Not a fun way to enter into your holiday season…

And closer to the date of this picture, a tornado happened. No fun either…. and because of that tornado, the ornament pictured no longer exists (or if it does, it’s probably in a tree somewhere 100 miles away). So here’s what I said when I posted the picture on Facebook:
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My point was to say that this photo matters just as much or more than the THING in the photo. And I still want to make that point; I value photos like this so much. The power of a photograph is why I do what I do for a living. There’s a power to telling a story through an image, and God has blessed me with a passion for it.

My favorite part of this story, though, is what happened just this morning, when a very sweet client (someone I’ve worked with since the very beginning, who believed in me when my work kinda SUCKED) texted me to ask if I could drop by her workplace because she had something for me.

here’s what I pulled out of the gift sack:

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My client & friend had seen my facebook post, did a search for Christmas ornaments, found a matching one (yep, from 1985) and bought it for me.

That’s the kind of clients I have. Good GRIEF that’s amazing.

And now, I have a 1985 Christmas ornament that means even more to me than the last one… not because the object matters in and of itself, but because it is so packed with meaning. It’s something I can look at and remember not only my childhood…not only my sons’ first Christmas… but also an added layer of the kindness that God and people in my life have shown to me.

Still true… things are just things. But it’s what the things symbolize that counts; just like Christmas itself. We get distracted by the STUFF, when the STUFF is meant to remind us of the gift we were given in a savior that loves us and was willing to die for us. The things only matter if we remember what they represent. And if we DO hold on to that meaning, oh how much sweeter those things are.

Yes, a tornado took my house and everything in it once. But God provided, and people helped, and it was all ok…. in fact, BETTER in the end.

Yes, my camera was stolen last week and that’s a bummer. But God provides (this time through a busy season and an insurance company that did the right thing), and people do some really incredibly nice things.  So rather than lingering on what goes wrong and the things that are missing, I do my best to thank my creator and pass on the kindness and grace to others.

(and I finally get to update my camera).

Merry Christmas guys. See you next year.

-Mark

PS: to properly close out this somewhat sappy post, here’s an over-the-top sappy picture, also from 5 years ago. pastel cardigan and feathered hair and all… yes, I can be sentimental and sarcastic all at once can’t I?

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A glimpse of the season

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I’ve been kinda quiet on here lately. Me being quiet means one of two things…

A. I’m hopelessly depressed
B. I’m super crazy busy.

I’m pretty incredibly glad it’s not A… B has been kickin’ my butt, but that’s B-ok.

All that to say, I’ve taken 1,0000,0000 pictures in the past few months that I haven’t had a chance to take the time to show. A lot of those pictures were for awesome commercial projects, and a good portion of them were for lifestyle shoots for 9art family & senior clients.

Before the next year is completely up on us… which is oh-so-near… I thought I’d share a few of my favorite shots from the past couple of months from those portrait sessions (specifically, those sessions that took advantage of the beautiful fall colors). More commercial work coming soon!

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Biaka & Lora’s wedding:: part 2 (dancy dance time)

We posted Biaka & Lora’s wedding day, PART 1 a week or two back… I’d really only intended one post to begin with, but when I started looking through all the dance pictures from the reception, I realized those dance moves needed a post of their own.
 

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Quick background; Biaka & Lora have a lot of friends, a lot of family members in other countries, and know a good chunk of the international students in town through Lora’s job. Folks from Africa, Asia, Middle East & beyond spilled out onto the dance floor for an all around fantastic time.

I don’t know what it is. but I really love capturing the frenzy of a happenin’ dance floor. The frozen moments of flying hair, outrageous expressions, hands being thrown up in the air… it’s so oddly satisfying for me to be able to get those.

Enjoy….

 

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click through to see more…
 
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CASTING CALL

I’ve always wanted to say this…. 9art & the Joplin Convention & Visitors’ Bureau are putting out a casting call. A casting call, for those unsure, is simply a call for actors.

Remember that little project called Cold Brewed, released by Lance Schaubert & I last year? I can’t tell you a whole lot about the new project, but it will require actors as our last project did and will be an extended marketing endeavor like no other.
 
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This project is a big one, and WE NEED ACTORS. Do you need to have experience? No. You just need to be able to act in front of a camera… the fun part being, while this experience will feel much like a full film production, you won’t have to make a sound during production (since we’re talking stills rather than video).

Interested in trying out? Here’s the full press release, put out by the CVB today. Tell your friends. Tell your theater department. If you think your relatives can act… well, tell everybody. :) Excited to see what you’ve got!

-Mark
 
for questions regarding the project, please contact mark at markn@9artphoto.com
 
NEWS RELEASE

December 1, 2014
SUBJECT: Marketing Campaign Casting Call
CONTACT: Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, 417.625.4789

The Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau will be conducting a casting call for actors/models for specific roles for a 2015 marketing campaign. The campaign, which will link parts of Joplin’s history with current-day points of tourism interest, will require photographic support detailing both specific people and locations.

Details of the campaign have been outlined but not publically released. According to Patrick Tuttle, Executive Director of the CVB, “With any campaign once we have a basic theme and idea, photography and graphic designs are developed. This will be an extended story where all facets of the campaign will link in a common theme.”

Supporting the project will be 9Art and LTMS.

The casting call will be held on December 8th from 1:30-6:30 pm & December 9th from 12:00 -5:00 pm, in the Joplin City Hall Basement Conference Room. For the complete casting call (including specific roles that will need filled) click here: CASTING CALL
Selected cast members must be available for photographic shooting between the 4th and 17th January 2015.
 
 
 

Let’s make a cyberdeal… with your local photographer!

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So in the midst of all that craziness ‘out there’ (this is assuming you are, as you should be, reading this while shopping online in your cozies w/ a cup of fuzzy cocoa and a warm cat), let’s not forget your oh-so-favorite photographer.

And don’t forget me, either.

For reals… if you ARE interested in the beautiful gift of photography… well, I certainly do have a deal or two for you.

Going to keep it super simple this year. Each of these deals is good as long as you send me an e-mail between friday and tuesday. You can TOTALLY do that! Who needs another X-box, anyway? Will you ever hang that x-box on a wall for your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to see?

Alright, alright, on to the deals.

#1: 20% off ALL DOWNTOWN PRINTS.

Check out the details on our downtown series here, and just take 20% off all pricing you see on that page. These images come in everything from small postcards to large canvases; they make pretty sweet gifts (and nice decor for your walls).

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#2: 15% off commercial rates (for the first session) for any business, publication, or marketing firm that has not previously worked with us.

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#3:for every $1 you spend toward a gift certificate, we’ll add .50. ($100 spent = $150 credit).

only stipulation is that you can’t use it on yourself. :) And think on this… fantastic gift, ya know?

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#4: wall portraits (16 x 24 or larger) & high res disks at 50% off. (for PRE-orders from sessions that have not yet taken place; and for ‘catch up’ orders on sessions that took place before September, 2014. Not applicable to sessions that took place after August & before December).

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#5: ALL third thursday photobooth prints, 50% off! ($20 order minimum).

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That’s all folks. Don’t forget to spend some family time and all that jazz. Hope you all had an awesome thanksgiving… talk to you soon.

-Mark

Biaka & Lora’s big day (part 1)

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Sometimes, I take So many flippin’ pictures on a big wedding day, that I need 2 blog posts for it. In this case, there will be one for the day, one for the night… because yes, the dancing was THAT CRAZY. (here’s a quick example):

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This was the rare pleasure of being able to shoot a wedding for a friend; I’ve known Biaka for a good long while now, remember when he started dating some girl, and then BOOM, suddenly it wasn’t just some girl… it was love and awesomeness and there was no question to anyone that Lora was the absolute perfect match for this guy.

Seriously. cats and all.

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This couple is the kind of couple that honestly work to change the world. I think great things will happen through these two…

Here’s PART 1 of pictures; the fancy dancy stuff comes next time. :)

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Let it be known that Biaka & Lora’s wedding was something of an international event. The sweet couple skipped the wedding presents and instead asked that folks fund travel expenses for family that lived overseas. In addition, Lora works closely with international students at Missouri Southern State University… so the guest list was a beautifully diverse group of people from all over the globe.

The maps were a great & very personal touch…

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Biaka is a graphic designer as well as a fantastic illustrator… check out this little caricature of the couple…

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we joke around a lot about the whole ‘what do I do with my hands’ syndrome. I wrote a brief list of tips on how to handle this scenario, on 9art’s facebook page.

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(here’s a flashback from engagement pics)

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a quick brag on my buddy Dakota, who made the wooden ring pictured here. Dakota specializes in all sorts of handcrafted goodies, from cutting boards to pipes to rings. Check out his etsy page to see more of his stuff.

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Click through to see the rest of the pics!

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Santa is coming to (down)town

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SANTA. IS. COMING.

Well, actually he already dropped by the studio last week….

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So this year, I’m doing something I never expected to be doing… santa pictures. The first image that pops into my mind is that of the infamous grungy mall santa… no disrespect to current mall santas, some of them do a fine job and aren’t creepy at all. But you know the image that your mind/memory conjures… slovenly santa, fake beard ajar, children being mercilessly herded through, that big black boot shoving poor Ralphie down the slide in ‘A Christmas Story’. And, worst of all, TERRIBLE pictures…

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So when the Downtown Joplin Alliance approached me this year about doing santa pictures, my first thought was… NOOOO!

but then I found out how we’d be doing things, and my perception of the whole event changed dramatically. It turns out, I’d get a lot of say in how we did this. That everyone helping make this happen is pretty awesome. That the santa pictures would be downtown, in a pretty hip space- ‘traders’ church’, next to Newton’s Jewelers on 5th & main.

And it turns out, the santa that graciously volunteered himself for our event is LEGIT. As in, he’s been doing this for 20 years, playing the official santa for ‘Hallmark’ and ‘Cabela’s’, among others.

So, I said yes, and, in fact, am getting a little excited about it. :)

SANTA is a very kind gentleman named Larry Griffith… and after our initial meeting, Larry hired me to do some shots for his personal portfolio, both in and out of the St Nick attire.

I love Larry. He’s kind with a great sense of humor… he has the patience and the genuine jolliness to play the role, not to mention being a great actor that has taken him through roles that include a lot more than just Santa.

So here’s Santa, with his alter ego Larry.

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Event details::

The downtown santa pictures are split into 4 dates; two of which will have me as the photographer, two of which will be taken over by my good friend Drew from 1281 photography.

My dates are: December 4- VIP: 5:30pm // PUBLIC: 6-7:30pm
December 13- VIP: 10AM // PUBLIC: 10:30-11AM (this will be the only saturday!)

Drew’s dates are: November 20th- VIP: 5:30pm // PUBLIC: 6-7:30pm
December 11- VIP: 5:30pm // PUBLIC: 6-7:30pm

The bonus? If you’re reading this, you can get in on the ‘VIP’ timeframe… friends of 9art (or of 1281 on Drew’s dates) get in for their pictures 30 minutes before the main event begins on each of the dates. If you’d like to ‘reserve’ your spot for that early bird status, all you have to do is e-mail me at markn [at] 9artphoto.com

And full pricing/other info on the downtown joplin page (click the PDF for the order form).

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Last but not least, thanks in orchestrating this event goes to:

-Santa (Larry)
-Trisha from the DJA
-Drew with 1281 photography
-Donna & crew from Traders’ Church

See you there, parents!

-Mark

Madison’s senior session

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I don’t do a great number of senior shoots these days… but when I do, I have FUN. And so does the senior. :)

Madison is an artistic girl and both she and her mom were looking for something different, since she’s anything but typical. That was great with me. We all had a blast, and, yes, Madison got in quite a few ‘outtakes’ since (after my own heart) she’s a little goofy….
 
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now for the ‘serious’ stuff! :)
 
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I LOVE this ‘grungy’ location and have been secretly waiting to use it for just the right client. I’m pretty sure the wallpaper is from the 40s, and it’s just got such a cool vibe. We even got to play some great music during this portion of our shoot…
 

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Rockwell comes to life:: phase 2

You might remember this image I captured awhile back, the first in a series intended to both pay tribute to Norman Rockwell, and to make a comment on the effects of technology of our post-Rockwell generation.

 

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That image was also intended to promote a 2nd idea brought to me by my good friend Shaun at Spiva Center for the Arts. The local Joplin, MO art gallery had a norman rockwell ‘saturday evening post’ exhibit coming to their way, and Shaun asked me… ‘what if people re-created their OWN ‘Saturday Evening Post’ covers and you took the pictures?’

So… we did it. :)
 
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It’s always a little scary taking on a new idea like this, one whose success specifically hinges on whether or not other people will DO IT… but I’m so, so glad we did, because the community came through. We had 15 final images from 12 teams; and that was pared down from a much larger group of interested folks (some of whom just couldn’t make it that night).

Each team- whether a business, a family, or group of friends- had the option of interpreting a Norman Rockwell illustration (we expanded the guidelines past just ‘post’ covers) in whatever way they liked. They had the responsibility of pulling the props, outfits, and models together for their final image.

 

norman rockwell post cover contest collaboration with spiva arts in joplin mo by 9art photography_0004b
 
All images were shot in one evening. Since we had so many people to work with and since part of the idea of creating-your-own-rockwell-tribute meant also creating your own set, we left our background very simple with a plain white paper roll, and used a paint splattered drop cloth (fitting?) as our ‘floor’. I pushed the perfectionist in myself to the side and let people arrange their own ‘sets’, helping them tweak things as we went.

Because this project was different…. it wasn’t about MY photography. It was about people taking part in something different, paying tribute to art by making their own piece. People were super creative, and it was fun to give them a reason to be. We were just there to help them do that.

You can see the whole series on Spiva’s facebook page by clicking the link.

[copyright limitations prevent me from being able to post the full batch of ‘side-by-sides’ w/ the original illustrations on my blog. Here’s the link to the full gallery: SPIVA]
 
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If you feel moved to do so and live in the Joplin area, you should totally go vote for your favorite. Votes are being taken AT spiva (third and wall, downtown) until this Saturday evening.
 
norman rockwell cover intrepretation- mac vs apple debate
 

Way to go, Joplin. Let’s keep doing fun stuff together.

More to come….

-Mark