Monthly Archives

February 2011

Peyton & Gabriel | Engagement Session

We’ve been shooting a lot in the studio lately. I’m still working through ideas that I don’t always get a chance to try when we’re out on location. Besides, when you fly into town just for the day to photograph an engagement session – it might not be the time to experiment.

Peyton & Gabriel flew me into town (Wilmington, N.C.) for the day for their engagement session – we’re shooting their wedding near the beach this coming May. Left the house at 5:30am, arrived back in Atlanta at 12am midnight – four flights – long day – and totally worth it.

Aside from worrying about ‘getting good shots’ – spending 8 hours with a couple for their engagement session is considerably different than hanging out with them for just 2 hours in a park like “normal” engagement sessions. Add to that – the part where you’re in a strange city, being driven around to spots that you’ve never seen before.

We tell our Interns that much of photography is about making decisions – over and over again. There is a confidence that will show in your photos when you’re comfortable with the decisions you’re making as you shoot. If you combine that with a ‘work process’ – then you can push away all distractions or worries (hopefully).

Because you’re not always going to get some magically beautiful location or backdrop – and even if you do, it’s probably ‘obviously beautiful’ – and to me that also means that it has a chance of being ‘obviously boring’ in the same way I find ‘tourists vistas’ uninteresting. And in case you can’t tell – I really enjoy challenges.

This session with Peyton & Gabriel? Easy. I wish I could say that walking around downtown Wilmington, N.C. I struggled to find good shots. I wish I had some sort of crazy experience where all of sudden I blanked out and had no idea what I was doing and then somehow came back fighting. Fortunately – that wasn’t the case.

Peyton & Gabriel, thank you.



Posted by Mark


Atlanta. Wedding. Photographers. Engagement. Session. Wilmington. North. Carolina.

What I’ve Learned

If you want to succeed, you have to make many, many more friends.

You know, I’ve never thought that this wouldn’t turn into something more. Back when I started shooting – while I still had my day job – I was really afraid that I would fail at this, so that kept me going. It was about the same time that Leah was finishing grad school so we were going through some major transitions. I knew things were aligning – but there was always that nagging fear that this would be added to my list of failures.

Leah saves my life everyday.

I’m a fat kid trying to be thin. All throughout elementary and high school – I was a fat(er) kid. Not like round – but I definitely categorized myself as fat and I have deep stretch marks on my arms to remind me.

I’m hyper aware of how things look on the outside. That’s photography. There’s a lot of flowery BS said about capturing emotion but that’s not what I do. I take pictures of people doing things. The trick is getting them to do things. Something. Anything.

The only reason we’ve had any level of success is because of how hard we work. I’m ridiculous about it, and I wish I could work 8 hours straight. But I can’t. So I end up working 3 hours here, an hour there, and then 4 hours after Leah’s gone to sleep. I don’t know how everyone does it but that’s how I do it. I don’t think I’ve really conveyed that to our Interns.

Building your own business has to be an obsession. At least for the first two years.

Balance? Most people need a new definition of balance in their lives. Thirty minutes of love – family or sex – holds a lot more weight on the scale than 10 hours of being stuck in an office. Equal time for different things isn’t balance.

I’m probably unbalanced too often.

The Internship seems so obvious now. It didn’t start out that way of course and even now we have to ask ourselves if we want to do it again, and again. It’s a true internship/apprenticeship. We don’t pay them anything and I teach them more than they work for me.

I know people have different learning styles and that I have a different teaching style. If my style doesn’t work for you then you should probably go find a different teacher. This isn’t a school for special people. This is work.

Sometimes you have to cry.

I don’t know how anyone thinks they can succeed as a timid photographer of people. Go shoot landscapes if you’re timid. Photographing people is about connecting with them on their level while at the same time telling them what to do. You don’t have to talk to boss someone around.

I have a small family and I think I always wanted a big family. So I surround myself with people. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy photographing weddings. All of a sudden I’m a part of the family. Leah has a big family – about 11 times the size of mine. I went to her family gatherings without her back when we were still boyfriend & girlfriend.

Yeah some of the Alumni Interns are straight copycats of us, even following where we advertise, and that’s okay. They’re not doing anything new. I wish they realized that.

Three months is the perfect amount of time for an Internship. It’s also too short. When the interns start they all have this crazy sense of urgency to learn everything they can in the first 3 weeks and then ask how they can get better. I usually just tell them to keep shooting.

You have to get all of those obvious shots out of your system. Just like writers and their first novels.

It’s a mind trip. It’s three months of amazing peer support while at the same time it’s three months of insecure self evaluation. You have to learn to control those thoughts and keep working.

I’m a petty person. I haven’t gotten less petty over the past two years, I’ve just tried to shut up and not move. My natural inclination sometimes is to snap back, so instead I have to just sit there and stop thinking until the moment passes. Leah’s the exact opposite. I’ve never met anyone who comes from a place of good, more than Leah. She’s Dalai Lama good. Deep down.

I believe in myself and it borders on delusion.

I generally don’t read photography business books. Those ideas aren’t interesting to me and I know every photographer and their mom is reading the same book. I hope they are. We’re able to succeed doing what we do [differently] because every other photographer out there follows the same business plan. We try to play a different game altogether.

How’s that for generic business hype-talk?

I need a life coach.

Posted by Mark

Atlanta. Wedding. Editorial. Photographer. LeahAndMark.com

Untitled Post

I really didnít know where to begin this entry today. Life has been so full of activity and starting points with new projects that itís been difficult to keep a clear head. My internal dialogue has been discussing with itself (yeah, itís like thereís a two party system in my head that is in constant peace talks/negotiations) the matter of maintaining balance in my day to day life…and letís just say I made it a point to work on the whole balance thing as it has never been my forte… Iím not sure how much progress Iíve made so far, but Iíll keep working on it.

Keeping this whole effort in mind, I have found that a great way for me to keep perspective on everything (and, in turn, help ensure I continue on my quest to be balanced) is to do the following:

Take a walk outside and simply…. look up.

When things start to get too crazy or when I get SO wrapped up in everything that I think is SO important…..I take a minute, go outside…and I look up. I try to remember where we are in the grand scheme of things…I am one person on a huge planet and this big planet is just one of many in a huge solar system and this solar system lies in a vast galaxy and this galaxy is just one of many among the multitude of others in the universe….and the universe, well…we may never know itís true magnitude…

So now, tell me….how important is it that your Starbucks order got messed up this morning, or that someone showed up 5 minutes late to a meeting, or someone didnít communicate the way you wanted them to, or (fill in other frustration here)…

When you truly stop to take in the whole night sky (well, and even the day time sky….Bob Ross would tell you to look up at the happy little clouds) looking at the millions of twinkling little stars shining down upon you from millions of light years away…does it all really matter that much? This is not to say that our lives do not have meaning and what we do or how we live our lives is not important, but rather, that we need not stress about the things we perceive to be so important or stressful when we take it all in from a different light. And, speaking of Bob Ross…heck! Watching one of his shows will probably throw you into a state of tranquility to make all your woes melt away.





Posted by +Laura


Atlanta. Photographer. Laura. Polmear. +Laura