Back in the saddle…

Hey all!

If you follow this blog, you’ll have noticed that it remained rather quiet the last couple of months… some stuff about Santa, and that’s about it.

It was for that ironic reason of simply being too busy.

Being busy. It’s the American way, I suppose. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it feels like our default, small talk response to ‘how are you’ has moved from ‘good!’ to


Like having so much to do that you literally feel insane is some kind of badge of honor that we’re all scrambling to wear…


I wasn’t scrambling to wear it, but wear the badge I did. It’s like that old Joe Walsh song says, ‘I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do…’ Being that insanely busy was good for business sure, and I’m certainly blessed by that business, but it was more than a little exhausting and it admittedly kept me from some things I really value.

Things like, creating personal work, spending more time with family, being healthy, and, of course, updating this blog with what’s going on and what’s ahead.
I just finished out 2 full weeks off- time to recover, rest, come face-to-face with everything that gets pushed down after months of being in “survival mode”, and come out the other side feeling a lot more like myself again.

If you haven’t done that in awhile- take time- you might be straying from your own big picture.  The best part is, the more you feel like you don’t have time to take that break, the more you probably need it.


stop social media
stop being in meetings

stop working
stop wrapping yourself up in the details to the extent you can’t see the big picture
stop running from the things you don’t want to look at it in your own heart

stop obsessing
stop being so busy that you can’t even sit down with a book


if you can’t stop for a bit, your soul goes a little sour. We just aren’t meant to run that much without taking a rest. We lose sight of who we are and what we actually care about, until we reach a point where we don’t care about anything.

I care again. It’s nice.

But that’s enough about that… so…

W’sup, 2016? 

I’m excited about this year. Goal #1 was just to slow down. Listen to see what God is telling me. I’ve done some of that.

So as for what’s next… here’s a quick summary of a couple of things  I can tell you  about for 9art/Mark 9 in 2016.


Yep. For you guys who followed my best friend Lance & I when we made ‘Cold Brewed’… we made another one, produced by the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau. My biggest project to date. More about that tomorrow…


#2: ‘COLD BREWED’ is now FREE

For those who didn’t get a chance to read ‘Cold Brewed’ the first time around, it’s now available for completely 100% FREE on i-tunes. The only catch is that you have to have an apple device (i-pad, macbook, i-phone) to look at it. If you don’t have one, see who can borrow from for an hour or two so you can read through it. 🙂

cold brewed film noir photonovel_0008

#3:  MARK N photography COMING SOON

I’d touched briefly on this last year… I’ve spent some time working on an entirely new business presence that focuses on the commercial/fine art photography portion of my business. The blog you are reading now will, in fact, eventually move over to the new website being created for this. Can’t wait to show it all to you guys.

joplin mo artist portraits by 9art photography10

(this photo, btw, is not me, it’s my fellow photography buddy Brian, and still one of my favorite portraits).


One thing I did make time for late last year was to have a couple of conversations with fellow artists in other mediums, about the possibility of collaborating. So far, I have 2 new projects lined up for this year that I think are going to be incredibly fun and push my artistic limits. I didn’t plan on them happening at all- they just fell into place in that beautifully obvious kind of way.

I’ll keep you posted on these as they unfold.

artists as superheroes concept series from fine art and commercial photographer 9art in joplin mo2


I won’t dwell on this one bc this post isn’t meant to be an ad. But just to let you all know, I am beginning to book sessions again, for 2016- I’ll get back to shooting as usual next week. If you’re interested in setting up a shoot for your family, business, or wedding- or if you’d even just like to sit down soon over coffee to brainstorm about working together in the future- I’d love to talk to you.

‘Cold Brewed’ gets a show


I have a new show opening this week. From NO (solo) shows in the past 10 years to TWO shows in one year… it’s a bit of a jump. I’m freshly familiar with how much work goes into planning one of these things. 🙂

I’m super excited about this one though, as it’s dedicated to my absolute favorite project to date… Cold Brewed. The show opens this coming thursday evening, with a  reception from 6 to 7:30, at Post Memorial Art Reference Library (it’s in the back of the Joplin Library, JoMo peeps). FREE ‘cold brew’ coffee will provided from the one and only Bearded Lady Roasters… Bearded Lady’s own master roaster, Adam Francis, is also an actor from the project.




If you’ve followed me for a bit, you’ll remember this project from a couple years back. But let me fill you in. As a matter of fact, I’m going to pull this straight from the artist statement for the show:


’Cold Brewed’ was a project that basically started as a dare. A dare to ourselves. A ‘you know what would be really fun?’ that actually took form.


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0008


The idea was to collaborate. My photos, with words by my good friend Lance Schubert (writer). It would be a photo series that served as a tribute to the old ‘film noir’ style movies, interspersed with text from the story that Lance had penned.

We took the script and mapped out how it would work. And we began producing and co-directing what became an infinitely larger endeavor than expected.


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0001


The final product is actually an i-book told in a format that we sort of made up… the photonovel. It goes back and forth between words and pictures, each doing their equal part to tell the story.


poor man's lattes (text)37


You can find the whole thing for a whopping 4 bucks by search out  ‘cold brewed’ in the iTunes store.


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0009



Jett Cropper is a 1940s detective caught in a world in which it was not alcohol that the prohibition rendered illegal… it was COFFEE. Staying true to both Joplin and coffee, we shot the entire series locally and used a cast entirely comprised of true-life-baristas. All slang from the period was swapped for coffee terminology, which makes for a tongue-in-cheek tale that sways from serious action to genre-honoring campiness.


I have the fondest possible memories of this project. Moments like it being 11pm, and Lance & I are directing a scene via walkie talkie, whilst a generator runs 7 lights in a warehouse-turned-set, complete with 6 actors, a coil of rope, and a variety of weaponry…


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0004


I think that moment was one of the first in which I felt TRULY in my element. (& Lance certainly shared the excitement).


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0005


We’re still proud of that project, even if it didn’t turn much of a profit. A print from it (also in this show) was a finalist in the national ‘photospiva’ competition. the i-book got front page under Noisetrade’s ‘books’ section.


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0002


we ran a ridiculous grassroots marketing campaign, complete with posters on telephone poles and signs in bathroom stalls…


cold brewed film noir photonovel_0003


And now, as a sort of final farewell, here’s a bonafide, non-virtual presentation of some of the favorite sections of our little story.

Hope you can make it. 🙂




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:

-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).

joplin missouri springfield mo family photographer 9art photography_0007

-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).


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


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…


-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.


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.




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).


– 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!



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.
9 2
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!

for questions regarding the project, please contact mark at

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.

The latest scoop

AAHHHHHH! There is so much going on I can hardly contain myself. I am so, so excited- and, yes, a little overwhelmed- but after spending much of the summer worrying about not being busy ENOUGH, this is what I get, right? 😉

So I have two crazy images to share today- yes, just two, from two different projects- and they have only one thing in common. I’m not going to tell you what it is until the end, though.

We start with a teaser image for an upcoming project that… well… I can’t really talk about much yet. (Those are kinda my favorite sort of projects).

This is one of my first experiments with night photography…. painted this scene entirely with LED lights (and with the aid of an i-phone stuck down inside ‘Mother Nature’s crack’). It was 1AM, we were cranking some ‘Daft punk’ in the middle of nature via portable speakers, we were exhausted, and it was a blast.


Now here’s what I can tell you about the project:

-shooting begins early 2015
-I get to collaborate once again with the one and only Lance Schaubert
-it will be another ‘photo novel’ format, like what we did with ‘Cold Brewed’
-this project has a real budget and an art director/producer, with an online serial release and an end goal of printed copies.

ohhhh the suspense!

Now for project 2…. an image made to visually accompany the brand new single form local ‘powerpop’ band, Of Course Not. I plan to dedicate a post to this shoot later, because there’s plenty more fun shots of the band, but this specific concept shot is one of my favorite images from this year.

Want to know how we did it? Well you’ll have to stay tuned for the full post to find out.

Ohhhhh the suspense (x2)….

Now, how are these shots tied together? Family.

Oh, not mine… as in, family to each-other. Caleb (shot #1) and Jordan (shot #2) are siblings, artists, and both friends of mine, and I got to use each of them as models. They can model like no-one’s business. Let’s give it up for those Murdocks!

Til next time….


‘Cold Brewed’ available for order

    So I haven’t posted in anything in about a month. That’s awhile for me.

I have a post planned to talk about the ‘new year’; my annual hi-lighting of the last year and look at head at the next. But before I get to that one, here’s something more immediate and exciting… couldn’t have picked a better way to break the silence than to announce:

‘Cold Brewed’ is available for order in the i-tunes store.

What IS Cold Brewed? I’ve been blabbing incessantly about it for the last year, but if your’e new to me and my work, you may still need a quick rundown…

from the noir i-book, 'cold brewed': Jett Cropper gets a 2 x 4 to the face

‘Cold Brewed’ is a story presented in words and pictures, telling the tale of a ‘grinder’ named Jett Cropper in a 1940s world where it’s coffee that’s under prohibition (rather than alcohol). Jett is searching for truth behind a series of murders and a mystery of caffeinated proportions.

The story pays homage to the classic film-noir genre where Humphrey Bogart, trench coats, and hard shadows ruled the screen, but turns the genre on its’ head with the alternate reality of a past where coffee was illegal. It’s cinematic, but the method of telling the story in a way that weaves text and stills in virtual format is new… best presented in an i-book form.

My good friend Lance Schaubert wrote the brilliant story and worked with me as co-director & producer, as I shot hundreds of black and white period photographs over the period of 6 months last year. This is my biggest project to date, and while I know it has its’ flaws, I’m pretty proud of it.

If you read all that and are interested in going ahead and pre-ordering… you can do that HERE. It’s just 4 bucks, so nothing that will break the bank… that’s less than 1/2 of of what you’d pay to watch a movie in our crappy Joplin theater. 🙂

If you want to take a look at a ‘best of’ gallery of photos only that I put up last year- to give you a better idea of the look and feel of the series- you can do that HERE.

BUY this thing and spread the word, and you’ll be supporting a coupla guys trying to tell a story in a new way… and raise the money to go and do it again. 🙂 Thanks, guys.


film noir photobooth!

Many of you also subscribe to our facebook page, in which case you’ve already seen these. But if not… here’s a few favorites from last month’s #thirdthursday photobooth, sponsored by the project ‘cold brewed’.

A few words on cold brewed… it is an online photo-comic that weaves a tale of murder, mystery, and… coffee. Its’ set in a 1940s world in which coffee is illegal and roasters compete for the local trade: a film noir with a twist.

My good friend lance schaubert wrote the story, and yours truly handled the photography. It’s by far the biggest series I’ve ever undertaken, and we’re currently in the process of lining up a publisher. If you’d like to get a glimpse, you can peruse my ‘best of’ post here… or go directly to the Cold Brewed site here.

In the meanwhile, I also run a monthly photobooth for Joplin, Missouri’s ‘third thursday’ art walk events. I really wanted to try something new for this one, and wasn’t sure how it would go over- all black and white, time period, with a not-always-family-friendly genre tamed down for the multitudes of kiddos that come through.

The response was tremendous! People loved it, and I was encouraged more than ever to think outside the box. Can’t wait to announce the next theme, later today….

Here’s my favorites from June! 1





























COLD BREWED: the chase begins

    If this is the first you’re reading about it, ‘Cold Brewed’ is an increasingly huge project I took on with one of my best friends, Lance Schaubert. Lance wrote the story, I took the photos, and we both directed something that could probably best be described as a ‘photo-comic noir’.

  We’re working on getting this thing published, at the moment… in the meanwhile, it’s being released one episode at a time online, for FREE.

   We’re 9 episodes in so far… the 10th was just released this last week, and the action is picking up. Shot the chase sequence from the last post out of order in two different shoots… one of them in 40 degrees in march, one of them in 85 degrees one week ago. (we didn’t PUSH the rest of it quite that much). 

   To give a condensed feel for the photo element of the story, here’s a few of my favorite shots from ‘Cold Brewed’. Enjoy, and if you REALLY like it, hop on over to the main site and get caught up!




























This is only a fraction of the photos, and doesn’t begin to do justice to the added elements of Lance’s words. 

jump into the beginning of the story with episode 1, ‘Hard Water’.

COLD BREWED:: episode 5


*shameless plug begins*

Lance Schaubert and I have been at this ‘Cold Brewed’ thing for awhile, along with our actors who have worked so hard to get this done. If you follow me, you know what it is. If you don’t… well, it’s not too late to get into this crazy, multimedia, black and white, pun-filled ‘coffee noir’ photostory. 

We are looking to get this story ‘out there’ as much as we possibly can. We think we’ve done something different than anyone has ever done. We think we’ve done it well. We’ve worked super hard, without getting paid. I think its’ the best work I’ve put out, and it’s certainly a huge deviation from my normal work that has made me think about new directions I’d like to take as a photographer.

So if you like it… please consider sharing it. It’s already done better than I could have hoped for, and we are getting more followers weekly. The more its’ shared, the bigger it gets. The bigger it gets, the greater the chance of it being published, and of us being able to do more projects like it. And that would be AMAZING.

Thanks guys.

*shameless plug ends* 

From the beginning: episode 1, ‘Hard Water

Jump right into the current episode: episode 5, ‘Milker

share & follow behind-the-scenes on facebook: jett cropper