Aggie & Brandon

Aggie and Brandon got married at the lovely historic Phelps House in Carthage, Missouri… and I got to be there to shoot it!

Family came from all around the country for this one, and the connections were deep and beautiful. I had a lot of fun being there, and am very appreciative to Aggie for her kindness to me and everyone else around her.


PS- the dad wore a kilt and that was pretty sweet. That’s all.



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Caitlin & Phil

It was a cold, cold day. The kind of day that required everyone to scrape down their windshields before they could drive from the ceremony to the reception. But there was plenty warmth inside and among the cast and crew of this big day.

Caitlin & Phil were the sweetest couple surrounded by the sweetest people. So glad to have been there, and to have had this amazing historic church as the backdrop in Carthage, MO.



It’s time.



this could be the most nervous I’ve ever seen a couple before the first sight. It was pretty cute.



sneaky sneaky.


really loved shooting in this old church.



when you see a gold radiator, you gotta use it.


an impromptu tissue paper bouquet.



I love unplanned moments that line up symmetrically.



yep. I want this car REAL bad.


yes, he is in fact 10 feet tall.



They did a fantastic job transforming the gym into a winter wonderland.



hot cocoa bar!


9art / Mark N


This is the final post of this blog.

And this post is the first official product of a break-up.


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It’s ok, it’s ok, no need to console… both parties decided it would be best. It was simply time for each to breathe on their own. Like McCartney and Lennon, like Disney and Pixar, or Ben Folds apart from his Five…

Wedding/family/senior Mark decided to continue on as he always has…. long known to the Joplin MO community as 9art photography.

But commercial/editorial/fine art (I’m out of slashes) photography Mark has been getting antsy and didn’t fit under the 9art profile anymore.

So Mark N photography was born. Largely, this new business presence exists to give more clarity to that line of work- so those who would seek to hire a photographer for commercial work in the midwest region, could see a brand dedicated solely to that. Many, many thanks to friend and mentor Brandon Hill for the advice on this move.

Some of you have noticed the new Mark N photography sneaking into social media- complete with a NEW blog, logo (thanks to the brilliant Matt Spiel), website, pretty much new everything- this will be the entity you call on if you’re coming from the business or entertainment world. For marketing campaigns, for magazine articles, for musician portraits, for professional storytelling work, all that kind of thing.

And 9art will keep on doing what its’ always done… the Joplin photobooth, senior photography, lifestyle family shoots, and of course, a wedding here and there.

If you’ve followed me in the past and feel like this is way too much to keep up with… no worries. You really only have to keep up with one business. I’ll keep updates for 9art going on facebook (if you like the work we’ve done for private clients) while Mark N is represented on twitter, instagram, and G+ (if you’re more interested in the commercial & artistic work). And honestly, this should be a lot less confusing for those who were really only interested in one portion of the business anyway.

live concert event photograph (CIY) by mark N photography

Either way, thanks for being here. I’d highly encourage you to make the transition with me, as I have no plans to stop blogging anytime soon… I just won’t be doing it through the 9art platform any more.


Excited for the next phase!


film noir photobooth

The ‘film noir’ theme is probably my favorite for the photobooth. I get to pay tribute to film noir and also prep for a NEW SHOW (this is my sneaky announcement) in October featuring work from the project ‘cold brewed‘. The show will be up for the entire month of October at the Post Memorial Art Library, located in the Joplin library.

For the ‘booth, I used bare bulb flash for that shadowy look, lots of trench coats and fedoras, and some willing regulars… thanks, as always to Spiva Center for the Arts for graciously hosting the event.

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I love that my buddy Shaun looks like an insane Dicky-Tracy-villain-mugshot here…

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We got bored at one point when there was a lull in people traffic.  So using available models (Shaun, who works at Spiva, and Tatum, my delightful assistant for the night) and taking advantage of Spiva’s amazing retro doors, we took a few stills…

….which proggressively became less moody and more cartoonish as time went on…

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Emily & Grant engagement

   Hey guys.

It’s been 4 days since this shoot, and I admit I’m STILL scratching chigger bites (if you don’t know what a chigger is, stay in the city, folks).

But it was worth it, so very worth it, to get these pictures of this lovely couple in a spot hidden away on the outskirts of town.

We began with some shots of these two with their beloved doggies… whose names are Romeo & Grandma.

‘Grandma’ was the brainchild of Grant- a brilliant idea inspired by the thought of how funny it would be to be able to say things like, ‘I need to take Grandma for a walk,’ or ‘grandma’s going to the bathroom in the yard again’ or ‘grandma kept me awake in bed last night.’

Humor always wins.

Enjoy the photos!

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This is David. The ‘humans of new york’ style portraiture isn’t usually my style (though I, of course, love that series), but today was a day I HAD to ask a stranger if I could take his portrait. Maybe I should thank Brandon Stanton for helping give me the courage to ask more people if I could photograph them.

I ran into David just outside my studio today, in downtown Joplin. He was hunting for his cat. We talked for a second, and then he asked if I’d mind if he sat down. I overrode my ‘I have to get back to work’ urges and said sure.

Here’s the story I heard after David sat down.

Once upon a time, David was a network engineer. He made $120 an hour to troubleshoot network issues for huge companies. He could make thousands in a week, and was an extremely tech savvy guy.

He told me everything changed one day when he spied a 15 year old couple sitting on a park bench.

The couple weren’t interacting with each other… they were texting. ‘they were in love’ said David, ‘but they didn’t know it.’

It was right then that David suddenly made a decision that he was done with life the way he’d been living it.

‘I’d had enough.’

He did something that I think we’ve all joked about doing… after living in Louisiana for a time, he literally took his smartphone, drove to the murkiest swamp he could find in Mississippi, and threw it in.

He threw his smartphone. Into a swamp. Can you imagine actually doing that?

He told me that with a chuckle. What’s David been doing since then? Traveling the country in a van, with his cat, stopping from town to town to preach and to play music on a 12 string guitar.

What do you play? I asked him.

’70s lutheran camp songs. They make people nostalgic.’

You can’t make this stuff up.

David was full of thoughts, some of which might have seemed a little ‘out there’ to folks. But to balance the passion of his chosen topics was a peace that made his smile come all the way out through his eyes. Sure enough, he preached for a bit. But it wasn’t forced… it was just to say that Jesus was his answer, to not let yourself be caught in the trappings of money, to do to others what you’d want done to you…pretty basic stuff.

‘the simplicity of it!’ he said with a  huge grin.

I asked if I could take his picture. He said sure, and asked if that was a bible I’d had sitting next to me. Yep, I said, I’d brought it to read on my lunch break. So he flipped through it while I ran to grab my camera, and was reading it when I came back.


I don’t know if he’s found his cat yet. ‘We’ve been to so many cities together,’ he said. ‘she knows that van. I guess I’ll just stay put til she comes back, even if I gotta stay another day or two. she’ll find it.’

He wasn’t worried.

I’ll be honest. I’m not going to throw my smartphone into a swamp. But I will say I’ll be thinking more about how to live simply this weekend.


Evolving a business:: less is more and all that jazz

In 29 days, I’ll no longer have a studio.

Don’t panic. 9art still exists. I still take photos just like before. And this was not an unhappy decision. But some things just have to change. 🙂

When I first really got things rolling, that studio was a dream come true. I still remember the first year of sharing it with my good graphic designer friend Matt Spiel… blaring the ‘Inception’ soundtrack (Matt yelling BUM! BUM! BUM! as it crescendo’d), goofing around with lighting setups to get pictures like this one…


Then, for the past 4 years, it’s just been me up there. Not that Matt & I don’t still hang out. (Would you believe we just hung out an hour ago)?

FIVE YEARS…. can’t believe it’s been that long.

It was a milestone to get that place.

Now, it’s a milestone to let it go.

It’s funny how your perception of success changes as you go… and how things evolve in unexpected ways. When I started, the studio was a marker of my validity; it meant (or I thought it did) I was a REAL photographer, and having that physical presence was vital in being part of the downtown community. And, I can’t forget, it was the starting spot for the ‘third thursday’ photo booths here in Joplin…



And it was vital, during these past few years, in having a place to work, a place to meet, a place to shoot.

Now I’m at a completely different point. A physical space, at this point in my career, really doesn’t mean much at all. A reputation as a reliable person with a solid body of work means a whole lot more.

So the questions that naturally ensue:

-don’t I need the studio to shoot in?
-don’t I need a place to do my day to day work?
-don’t I need a place to meet with folks?
-don’t I need a physical location for clients to consider me a valid business?
-don’t I need a place to do the monthly third thursday photobooths out of?

Those were hard questions to answer. Those are the kind of decisions you have to face from time to time in running a business- changes can’t be made on a whim for sure, and no change should ever be made that interferes with the core concepts that got you started in your craft to begin with. ‘From Good to Great’ is a fantastic book that taught me a lot about that idea.

No rash moves. But fear of change can also be the most destructive force to a professional… leading to things like an overhead that’s way more than you need it to be and a workflow that ultimately makes you a far less productive person than you should be. I can’t tell you how valuable it is to sit down, at least once a year, and ask yourself the tough question… ‘where can I trim the fat?’

A lot of prayer and awesome happenings and even awesomer people revealed the answer to all those questions and opened the door to make some changes.

So, for those of you who are wondering about those specifics…

SHOOTING: 90% of my work is ‘on location’- when it comes down to it, I generally only use the studio about once a month. I like to shoot in different places, to be in a real environment. But on those occasions when I need an actual studio space to shoot in, I’ve still got it covered, don’t you worry.

MEETING, PHOTOBOOTH, & WORKSPACE: I’ve developed some partnerships that gave me solutions to all of these things.

Firstly with Spiva Arts Center– I love being around the folks in our foremost local gallery here in Joplin, and they have graciously allowed me to host the photobooths in their building each month.

I’m developing another partnership with a local creative group that involves a sweet co-working space…. I can’t go into the details, but it’ll take care of my storage, having a dedicated desk space, and having a conference area for ordering appointments with folks. Plus, being around other creative professionals is always a bonus (honestly, a must) when it comes to keeping yourself inspired.

And I can’t forget the local coffeeshop downtown… Joplin Ave Coffee Co. For the past 3 years, these guys have served me my daily (overabundant) dose of get-it-done serum (aka caffeine) and let me hang out at my ‘usual table’ for much of my work time.

Yeah, I completely realize, it’s weird that I work in a coffeeshop. But I love the environment, and for me it’s an oddly productive place- plugging away with my earbuds, yet surrounded by people to cut out that feeling of isolation that us largely-computer-based creative folks get sometimes.

Amazing interactions, conversations, and networking have happened there. So a good portion of the time, that’s where you’ll find me.


The studio is out of the picture. But other things are stepping in.

This is a big year for more than just the streamlining. I’m also set to launch a new division of my photography business within the next month, dedicated specifically to commercial work.

The design phase is in full force on the joplin photonovel… my biggest project to-date, as a collaboration with Lance Schuabert for the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau… more about that very soon.

And all sorts of creative ideas are in the works.

So farewell studio. I’ll miss ya. But I’m excited about what’s next.



Tarzan Zerbini circus, Joplin MO

Got to go to the circus a couple of weeks ago, for the first time since I was a kid. Now, here I am taking MY kids. They loved it, of course, and thank goodness my battery died halfway through it so I could stop shooting and just watch.

But before that point… I took a picture or two. 🙂

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playing in the snow

Got outside with my kids last night. It was getting dark…. the streetlights were kicking on…and it randomly started snowing, a lot. I always, whether I mean to or not, notice the lighting going on… and in that moment it was kind of magical.

Instead of heading in like I’d planned, I grabbed the camera for a couple of quick snowportraits (it’s a word. as of now).

Loving the new 50mm 1.4D lens I got a couple of weeks back… as well as the new camera (Nikon D810). My replacement equipment is certainly proving itself!

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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).

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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).


-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!