Leilani & Shane

I’ve known Leilani for years, ever since I started going to “My office”, aka Joplin Ave Coffee Co. Lani was one of the original barista crew there and served me I’m sure hundreds of cups of coffee over time.  Anyone that’s been around her knows she’s one of the very sweetest. So I was delighted when I met Shane and his genuine heart was also so immediately apparent, because Leilani deserves nothing less.

And a good thing, because if he’d been some creeper, he’s too big for me or anyone else to have told to get lost. Keep using those biceps for good, Shane.

And congrats, you two. 🙂

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Katie & Caleb

Meet Katie & Caleb. I do few weddings these days, and I’m so very glad that these two were one of the sweet couples I got to capture a day for.

Surrounded by so many friends, the Boydstons are obviously very loved, and for good reason. Hope you enjoy walking through the day via a slice of time here and there…

-Mark

 

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David

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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.

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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.

-Mark

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:

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-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

Route 66 international festival

I shot quite a few pics at this amazing festival here in Joplin a week or so back, and am just now getting to this post!! Been driving me crazy, because I couldn’t wait to share these images after capturing them.

It was such an incredible experience. Photographed kiddos in front of Lightning McQueen & Mater on thursday night at the drive in, then again on saturday night right, around the corner from my studio in downtown Joplin.

The night didn’t end after the cars were hauled away on saturday night… ended up on 3 different rooftops to capture pictures of the crowds for the Joplin CVB (the CVB hosted the festival and gave me the wonderful opportunity to set up the photobooth), then, in a very unplanned turn of events, ended up there until 11 to shoot ‘the Grass Roots’… backstage access and everything. 🙂

Want to know what’s funny? Half-spraining my ankle that night. Did it happen when I climbed a rickety ladder and over a big gap to get to one roof? Or when I heaved myself over to another rooftop from a fire escape to get another shot?

Oh, neither. It happened while I was climbing down some very ordinary, safe stairs.

THAT’S  my answer to people who get nervous when I do dangerous things to get the perfect picture: I’m perfectly fine when I’m laying in traffic, jumping rooftops, or climbing trees… it’s when I’m just walking that I injure myself.

On to the pictures…

These two are some of my favorite ‘photobooth’ regulars from third thursday here in Joplin. Flipping love the expression…

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this is one happy boy.

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this might be an even happier boy.

_001cThe two fellas in the middle are the ones responsible for controlling/hauling the cars, surrounded by the Joplin PD officers who ‘guarded’ our favorite pixar characters while they were surrounded by people at the event. It was an impromptu picture I had to grab before the vehicles went back into the trailer that night.

_001dDid I mention the cars were remote controlled? Whoa…

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Being there while they loaded these up was so surreal. A literal hush fell over the enormous crowd for like, 30 minutes.

_003bGood to see downtown streets packed out! There was a great car show lining main street…

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quick capture. This guy is great.

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there’s the trailer that Lightning and Mater were loaded onto… it was headed to New York that night.

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concert time!

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Wait. WHO are the grass roots, you ask? They’re the group responsible for at least a half dozen of your favorite oldies, if 60s music is your thing. Go check em’ out.  ‘oh THAT song and THAT song and THAT song!’ will likely be your reaction…

And they still sound pretty danged amazing for a group that’s been performing for the last 50+ years.

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It’s nights like these that remind me I love what I’m doing and it’s absolutely what I’m meant to do. Very blessed!

I’d also like to thank the CVB again for this opportunity and many others this past year…. thanks especially to my good friend Carrie, who is truly helping Joplin REPRESENT! Check out the Joplin CVB facebook page here and become a fan. If you see them post a photo… chances are I took it.

9art NEWS:: part 1

Hey there. How’s your summer going?

Sometimes, in the middle of all the craziness, it’s time to stop, slow down, and take stock. That’s what I’m doing over the next week and a half. And as I’m taking the time to do that, I want to fill you guys in on the latest… we have news that will make you cry, that will make you cheer, and that may just make you open up your e-mail window right now and drop us a line.

(that line could be angry, or it could be excited. I guess we’ll see).

This post will focus on what’s coming up. I only have one spot of bad news, so I’m going to pattern this post after the ‘compliment sandwich’ formula.

If you’re not sure what a compliment sandwich is, it’s ok.  Here’s a picture I took of someone making a sandwich.

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#1:  Mini-session special!

We are running a BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPECIAL for week after next: there will be TWO DATES available for 9art mini sessions, featuring your favorite little (or even medium) one. Because let’s face it, school photos are lame. Real lame. We want you to do better than that…

  • 15 minute session
  • 2yr olds thru-16 yr olds
  • these will focus on individual portraits, but we’ll probably let you sneak a sibling or two in. Parents will not be included in   these sessions, however.
  • two windows to schedule a session:

THURSDAY, AUG 29, between 3pm & 8pm  ///  SATURDAY, AUG 31, between 8am & 5pm

  • sitting fee is just $20
  • better book your slot now… these may be gone in a hurry. 🙂

#2: *cough*nophotobooththismonth*cough

I realize this is an announcement we should’ve made sooner…. we are NOT participating in August third thursday.  Some of you have already known about this (especially those who have been attending long enough to know we generally DO take August off from 3TH), but for those who had no idea this was coming- and were really looking forward to it- I’m sorry.

Why? We need a break. 🙂 We need to recharge. August is our month to BREATHE before the madness of fall sets in; and especially since we haven’t had much of a chance to breathe just yet this month, it’s time for a little rest.

But guess what? We WILL be back, full force, in September. What’s the theme ? Well we won’t give any clues just yet, but you might get your capes ready… 😉

#3:  Special for full sessions announced next week!

For those of you thinking about booking full sessions for september & october…. it’s time to act soon.  That’s always our busiest time of year and now is the time we start filling the calendar. Think it over this week, then stay tuned for another special in that direction NEXT week.

More news coming up soon… but next time, more of what we’ve been up to, not what we’re planning next…

Jessica & Caleb :: Mrs. & Mrs!!

Had so much fun at Jessica & Caleb’s wedding.  These are very sweet and genuine people, not to mention just really good looking. Also enjoyed getting out of Joplin to shoot this day in Neosho, Missouri at the Civic  & the Neosho United Methodist church.

Thanks to Lori Marble, Jessica’s wonderful stepmom who was the one to recommend me as a photographer to the couple. Wayyyyyyy back when I went to good ol’ Crowder College, Lori knew me… and she will forever refer to me as ‘sticky boy’… possibly my most ridiculous nickname to date. It was earned bc I was always putting up flyers on campus and the maintenance lady would often complain to Lori about all the tape I left on the doors (yep. that’s it).

Doesn’t matter if a nickname is cool or not… if it sticks, it *sticks*…. 🙂

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_011saw this awesome little diner across the street from the church and asked Jessica what she thought about taking pictures here. It just so happened, its’ her favorite restaurant in Neosho. 🙂 Didn’t get a chance to try the burgers at Charley’s grill, but good GRIEF they smelled amazing.

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in the midst of pictures, a customer asked if he could photo bomb. See, I’m ok with photo bombs if you just ask first…. _013

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_015the interior of this historic church is gorgeous.

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one of my favorites!

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_022I couldn’t resist… you can’t see them here, but family members were hanging around while we did these last few in the church. Poor Jessica was getting more and more nervous with the ONslaught of ONlookers…

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…So I just went with it.

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_028it was a fun bunch. They more than made up for being outside on a very hot day.

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lots of brotherly love. Maybe too much. Maybe too brotherly.

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my view, + peripheral. _036

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_038follow the break for the ceremony & reception… plenty more fun to be had. Including batman.
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Dylon :: 16

Dylon just turned 16, and to celebrate, we took pictures! Such an honor to be able to take these pictures, since Dylon is the son of my cousin Jake… and I can tell you, he looks JUST like his dad. 🙂

We shot these in and around the Carthage baseball stadium, since Dylon plays there often. We also got to take some pics with his moms’ brand new convertible… well, by brand new, I mean brand new to the family.

Lots of blue in this post. LOTS of blue. I love blue….

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Route 66 ‘CARS’ themed photobooth: a special event

I’ve been dying to make this announcement for awhile, but locking in the final details prevented us from doing it til’ now. So here goes…

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Lucky Joplin, MO gets to be host to the Route 66 international festival this week… and 9art was invited to be a part of it! One of the highlights of the event is the presence of the real life stars of Disney/Pixar’s film ‘Cars’… that’s right kids, Mater & Lightning McQueen will be HERE, in person, this weekend.

That’s where we come in. We are setting up a special photobooth where you can have your photo taken in front of the full size cars. We’re not talking a background… this is the REAL DEAL.

To cut back on confusion… I realize that yes, we are calling this a photobooth, and no, it is not a conventional photobooth. So yeah, that means it’s not really a booth. At all. 🙂 But to tell you the truth, our ‘photobooth’ has never been a conventional photobooth, but folks know what I’m talking about when I refer to it as such during third thursday and other events.

There are two separate times/places:

#1: carthage route 66 drive in. We will be set up there from 6:30- 8:30. a quick note there: you can only get in for this one if you’ve bought tickets already, as the event is very much sold out. But if you’re not already going to be there for that one, moving on to…

#2: downtown joplin. We (and the cars) will be set up at the intersection of 5th & main from 5pm to 7:30pm on Saturday evening (the third). There are no tickets or formal schedules involved for this photobooth, so just come on by anytime in that timeframe!

Special note::

we will be offering special discounted packages to those that order AT the event. We will be prepared to take pretty much any form of payment you throw at us (yes, including credit cards) so come prepared if you want to get the best deal. If you’d rather order later, no worries, we’ll still have prints available to order at our usual rates!

The festival itself:  Photos aside, the full festival event actually lasts for 3 days and is PACKED with stuff to do. Concerts, car shows, food, and plenty more. find out more about it on the main site:   route66internationalfestival.com

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Venturellas, Danners, & Bosley’s :: one of those magnificent megafamily shoots!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve worked with most of these folks before, and was certainly excited about the opportunity to do it again. It didn’t dissapoint… I really, really love what we got from this colorful (that applies literally AND to the personalities involved) sunset-into-nighttime shoot.

I’ve known the Venturellas since little Roman was just a tiny guy. Christina was one of 9art’s first loyal clients…back when my work…kinda… well, it sucked. She and her husband DJ were some of the first to believe in me, and for that, I’ll be forever thankful. Since then, Roman has gotten huge and his little sister  Kendall is equally adorable. If you need an AWESOME hair stylist, look Christina up at ‘styles’ salon here in Joplin.

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Aimee is Christina’s sister, and her lively bunch always keep me entertained. Her husband Tracy has an ornery sense of humor that is always very appreciated by me (even those moments when not 100%…appropriate…) and their 4 beautiful daughters have inherited quite a bit of that fun spark as well. The Danners were generous enough to open up their property for the shoot, where they have a pond, a lovely little forest, and several vintage cars sitting around which made for perfect settings. We kept with the ‘old car’ theme we had for our last shoot, back when we used a family member’s bright orange classic with an alley as our background.

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and let’s not forget the Bosleys… the parents who started it all. They still got it! 🙂

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the rest of the post is just a few of my favorites from working with the individuals as well as the whole group.

 

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I love Roman’s ‘serious face’ on the right…

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