We are pleased to feature the work and words of Mark Muse, today on Rfotofolio.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Started photographing as a teen. BFA from Ohio University in photography (Clarence White School with more than shades of Minor White). I have never earned a living as a photographer per se, but spent my career in printing prepress and publishing. I am more a printmaker at heart than a photographer.
Where did you get started in photography?
My interest in images really goes back to when I was a child in Pittsburgh in the early 50’s. Every Sunday the Pittsburgh Press Sunday paper had an insert that had a lot of images. It was printed by rotogravure on cheap blade-coated paper, in B&W of course. The images were so rich with warm black ink! Kind of hazy but extremely rich and moody. They were wonderful. That was a big influence on my sensibilities. I can show you an image I made perhaps 6 years ago that takes me right back to this.
I built a darkroom when I was in high school. I don’t remember why or the sequence of events, but around that time I discovered the work of Weston and Adams through some beautifully printed books in the library. So I started photographing and printing, hoping to make prints like they did.
Why do you create?
Ha! Good question. To maintain my sanity? I really do believe that what we call creativity is an inherent aspect of all human endeavors. It is problem solving that taps into our subconscious.
I am largely a landscape photographer, so photographing the landscape was a good excuse to explore places I haven’t been. And I love trees, I used to make bonsais, so I photograph trees. It is a way to examine carefully. Photographing and post processing is a meditation for me. I do feel compelled, but I have no idea why. It runs in my family. Both my mother and father were painters, among other creative pursuits. I tried painting, but I was impatient with it.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
Probably every serious photographer I have met. Really, in this day of proliferating media with images everywhere it is hard to tell. But Andrew Wyeth for sure.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
An Andrew Wyeth painting I saw at the National Gallery of a sparsely covered snowy hill top at Kuerner’s farm.
Please share with us an image of your own that was a learning experience when you made it.
It was my first image intentionally made to be of the spirit of a place, without being of an object or physical thing. Does that make any sense? People are fixated on photographing ’things’, I think it is part of the tradition that is handed down to us. Think of all the images we are bombarded with throughout our lifetimes. Almost all are photographs of specific things or specific people. Think of advertising.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
If I’m out photographing, or processing, or even fly fishing for that matter, it is being present. Not always possible.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
Knew you would ask that. To photograph it would be Beth Moon. To talk it would be Sally Mann, probably, or Stieglitz, but since I don’t usually have much to say it would be to listen.
How important is the photographic community to you?
It has become more important in recent years. Previously it wasn’t at all. I almost always photograph alone.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
At this age lightweight gear is important. I use Sony mirrorless bodies (a7R3) with many vintage lenses. I still have a little Ebony view camera that I keep for nostalgic reasons. My Mac and software, and Epson printers.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
Palladium over Cyanotype. I’ve seen some that were exquisite! And maybe gravure or intaglio. I did some many years ago. I love the rich ink-laden images and the emphasis on graphic content and texture that results. I love texture.
Whats on the horizon?
Some friends, Keron Psillas and Stan Klimek, have been encouraging me to make a book. Might do that. I have a few ideas from working with Keron on her books.
Thank you Mark.
To learn more about the work of Mark Muse please visit his site atMark Muse.