Pro Team Spotlight: Mark Edward Harris

Mark Edward Harris’ editorial work has appeared in publications such as Life, GEO, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, The London Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Playboy. His commercial clients range from The Gap to Coca-Cola to Mexicana Airlines.

Get to know him a little better in this week's Pro Team Spotlight. 

What type of photography do you prefer and why?

People-focused travel photography. I consider myself an urban explorer.

What tip(s) would you give someone just starting out in photography?

Work extremely hard and don’t wait for people to give you assignments. Create your own photographic series and build up a body of work, not just a bunch of individual “pretty” pictures. 

Where is your favorite place to travel and to photograph?

I’m always inspired by new places. That said, places off the beaten path such as North Korea, Iran, Myanmar are of particular interest. This ties in with my study of history.   

Who is a photographer you have looked to for inspiration?

W. Gene Smith is my guru. His ability to tell a story with his camera and his sensitivity to people puts him on the top of my list. His photo essays Minamata, Country Doctor, Spanish Village, serve as examples.

What made you decide to get into photography?

It came through a love of travel and documenting the experiences. Also, I am fascinated by the photography’s ability to freeze a moment in time.

Upcoming workshops or book releases:

I just finished the first part of a book tour for my new books on North Korea and South Korea that were released on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that stopped (but did not officially end) the Korean War.

I have workshops in Los Angeles and San Francisco this fall as well as next year and will be in Santa Fe, Oklahoma and London planned for 2014. I’m also in discussions about a Japan workshop.

More images and info on Mark's Pro Team page

Q & A With Nature And Travel Photographer William Drumm

Our latest Q & A was with nature and travel photographer William Drumm. Drumm focuses on capturing dramatic images that share the story of our planet. Take a minute and get to know a fine photographer! 

What type of photography do you prefer and why?

I am a nature and travel photographer.  My goal is to share the way I see our world, with as many people as I can.  I am particularly fascinated with the oceans, and telling stories about the connectivity of the seas to terrestrial environments. Photography and multimedia are the tools I use to tell these stories. I enjoy wildlife photography above all else. I like the challenge of shooting wildlife, dealing with environmental factors, and subjects that don’t usually cooperate. I am also an underwater filmmaker. The sheer amount of life underwater has driven me to dive since I was 13 years old.

What tip(s) would you give someone just starting out in photography?

The most important advice that I was ever given was to be myself. In other words, it’s important to develop your own artistic vision. I think this is particularly important when first starting out. It’s always important to watch the top photographers and the newest trends, but it’s more important to develop your own unique vision, one that no other photographer could ever have. This becomes more important all the time, with the market getting more and more saturated, and the bar of entry getting lower (and therefore higher), than ever before. 

My other piece of advice is to never compromise your vision. Obviously, making money is important. But it’s also important to keep your love of photography alive. If you hate shooting weddings, don’t shoot too many weddings. If you hate shooting portraits, don’t shoot too many portraits.  Find what you love to shoot most, and try to master that. You must foster your love for photography, not smother it.  This isn’t to say you shouldn’t challenge yourself and try new things. It just means you must keep your love for photography thriving, at all cost.

Where is your favorite place to travel and to photograph?

My favorite place to travel to and to photograph is the San Juan Islands here in Washington State.  For those who are unfamiliar with the San Juans, they an archipelago of islands in the Salish Sea, a narrow body of water that runs along the coasts of Washington State and British Columbia. Its cold waters are packed with wildlife. Orcas are the top predators of this Northwest ecosystem. They are also my favorite animals to photograph, although I have only had the opportunity a couple of times. This fall I am dedicating a week to photographing the whales off San Juan Island. Experiencing the size, power, and intelligence of these predators in the wild, reminds you of your place in the world. 

Who is a photographer you have looked to for inspiration?

A few come to mind right away. First is Jon Cornforth, who is also a Seattle based nature photographer. His whale photography is some of the best in the world. I admire the way he creates wildlife portraits with exceptional attention to detail. I am also inspired by Art Wolfe, Paul Nicklen, and David Doubilet; all shooters who look at nature in a way that most people don’t see.         

What made you decide to get into photography?

I have always felt extremely lucky to experience the world as I have. At the same time, it has always seemed sacrilegious for me to see these things, without making an attempt to share them with other people. I first picked up a camera in a photojournalism class at CU Boulder, and haven't put it down sense.  

I also have a love for science, biology, and technology.  Because of this, I have worked full time as a robotics scientist and automation engineer since finishing college in 2008.  I have been a part of therapies for prostate cancer, and contributed to research on countless other cancers. I utilize robotic arms and integrated systems to preform huge amounts of experiments.

This career has been financially successful, and I have always felt a sense of importance. But I feel that I can make more people happy, do more good, and be happier myself, by turning to full time photography and media creation. Therefore, I am leaving my engineer position soon. I invite anyone reading this to follow me on this adventure - it’s sure to be interesting. 

This year I will be photographing whales in Baja California and Washington, polar bears in Northern Manitoba, and sea otters in Monterey, among so much more. I am also working on deep-sea media creation, and recently completed a submarine dive to 917 feet in Puget Sound. Join me in my exploits!

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