by Charlotte Moss Published 01/10/2014
"The most recent highlight of my career is definitely being asked by Nikon to be one of their ambassadors in the UK," Mark tells me when I ask him about his most memorable moments as a photographer. 'It came as a complete surprise two years ago. I had an ongoing relationship with Nikon UK and had been teaching some seminars for them for some time before they approached me and asked if I'd like to be their ambassador for wedding photography.'
Mark is amongst good company, with six other highly renowned professional photographers selected to represent Nikon and inspire others. 'The benefits of working with a company like Nikon have been great. It's really raised my profile as a trainer because I now deliver street photography courses for them. The SEO benefits to my website have been considerable too,because Nikon is seen by Google as a blue-chip company so the reciprocal links on our sites carry more weight than most.'
Mark is also one of an elite number of photographers who can say that they have a photograph held in the archive of a national art collection; "To have a photograph selected by the National Portrait Gallery was an amazing feeling. It was like a red-letter day for me." The inimitable Jimmy Choo is the subject of Mark's portrait, which was shot in the window of Jimmy's exclusive store in Connaught Street, London. "Jimmy was a guest at a wedding I photographed and his gift to the bride was a pair of shoes that he'd made for her. After the wedding the bride asked if I could go and photograph them together in his workshop, which naturally I was honoured to do. When we'd finished I asked if I could photograph Jimmy by himself which we did in the shop window with nice natural light falling on him. After the portrait sitting we drank champagne and had a meal, and I reflected on what an amazing job being a photographer was!"
As well as being recruited as an ambassador by Nikon UK and seeing his work reach the National Portrait Gallery, Mark has also chaired the London Portrait Group. "Photography can be quite a lonely profession because you're often working by yourself, including running your business alone."
It's a sentiment shared by many photographers, but Mark believes that this is where the power of social groups for photographers really come into their own. "Smaller interest groups allow you to engage with likeminded people. Talking and finding out what's going on in the industry or sharing issues can be crucial to developing your knowledge and skills.
The London Portrait Group in particular has some great members and inspiring speakers, and I count myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them."
In addition to his wedding and portrait work Mark also spends a considerable amount of time doing street photography. Recently it's taken him to Istanbul where he was fortunate enough to meet and photograph some interesting characters. "I loved shooting in the mosques," Mark says enthusiastically. "We got up at 5am to photograph them and on the second day the Imam asked us what we were doing." A familiar sounding incident to many street photographers, although this one was fuelled by curiosity rather than security! "After we told him what we were aiming to do, he pointed out some places to get really good pictures which we would have otherwise have missed, and in return asked us to show him the images afterwards. Of course we were happy to share the photographs with him and his response was to invite us back to his home for breakfast!"
It demonstrates how important it is to treat people with respect and understanding, and how taking the time to relate to people in their environment can lead to experiences and opportunities that you couldn't get any other way. "You can get away with an amazing amount if you just treat people well and acknowledge them. Moving around quietly and unobtrusively is the key for this kind of work." Mark even enjoyed Istanbul so much that he's organised a workshop so that other photographers can experience photographing in such a beautiful city too.
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