Mark Tucker : Journal

Dance portraits

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on July 23, 2013

Sebastiao Salgado Talk: TedX, on rain forests

Posted in Personal, Photographs by marktucker on May 2, 2013


Color Run: Titans Stadium

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on March 30, 2013

The Color Run 5k, for charity, (and then a crazy dance-fest afterwards).


… And the clean-up.

… And probably, a trashed camera that’s only a week old, even when it was wrapped in plastic beforehand.


Elle Long: Late Frame

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on February 11, 2013

Processed today. Great face and talent. 8×10 camera.


Christmas, Salgado and Reindeer

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on December 24, 2012

Do not miss these stunning photographs of the migration of Siberian reideer, by Sebastiao Salgado, in The Washington Post. This is a true master at work. It’s a full body of work; keep clicking the Right Arrow. (Sit through the initial ad).

 2012 Sebastiao Salgado

© 2012 Sebastiao Salgado

Western Kentucky University

Posted in Interesting People, Photographs by marktucker on November 29, 2012

On Tuesday, I helped judge some final portrait portfolios, via Skype, for the Photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University (my alma mater, if you can say that if you never graduated). Also judging was Chris Stanford, from Atlanta. Tim Broekema is the professor for that class. Looking back on it, the whole process was pretty intense — seeing all that work at one time, and trying to be honest and not candy-coat the feedback, but also trying to be supportive. I think the last thing a student needs in these crazy times is candy-coating, especially as a senior. Especially as a PJ major. Never before in the history of the world has there been such a glut and oversupply of photographers. At some point, the rent is going to come due, and you gotta do something to not live under the Shelby Street bridge.

Anyway, Tim and Chris and I have been emailing each other, since that day, and today, Tim sent these two links for review. I had been bitching to him about these young kids getting too involved with gear, and flash units, and all the things that keeps them being truly being with their subject — and the importance of avoiding people/photographers that seem too sales-motivated, with hokey gear (to get in the way). I’ll let you fill in the names. I’d teach a class where every student only had one body and a 35 1.4, and they’d duct tape their body on ASA 6400, and wide open, and no other gear, and they just get in the car and go see the world, and hang with interesting people. Be a human being first, and then a photographer second. Chris cited Danny Clinch, during the Skype session; I agree with Chris. I’d probably add Ryan McGinley to the list as well, maybe minus the sparklers.

Anyway, here are these two links. Both links give me hope for young photographers coming out of a photojournalism school in the year 2012.

© Jared Hamilton

© David Kasnic

Edit: After I posted this, I saw this link on Joerg’s site. I love the Artist Statement on the body of work. I feel this about young people — so many options and distractions. Nice images too.

“Every new day gives us hundreds of opportunities. Gigabytes of new information, armfuls of exciting events, kilometres of unexplored places, chances of adventitious meetings – all this is waiting for us with the beginning of each 24-hour time span, which we are to use as effectively and rationally as possible, acting profitably and getting a satisfactory result. It could seem that realization of this fact is sure to inspire us. The problem is that the variety of alternatives and the great number of possibilities result in a deep fear of losing something really essential, missing some unique events or relevant information. Consequently, the fear leads to an inner catatony, a moment of floating in the air, which paralyzes our will and puts us into inexplicable panic. The endless variety of choices that we have to make doesn’t let us decide on anything. Instead of taking up new challenges, we stay at home in our cosy and safe little world which is ready to keep us away from the stream of this impetuous life beyond it.”

© Anastasia Tailakova


Posted in Photographs by marktucker on November 28, 2012

Tia Danko / Martina Dankova

Posted in Artists, Interesting People, Photographs by marktucker on November 15, 2012

A friend shared this work with me. I love the Orwo Chapter. No idea what it means, but it’s strong work. On Facebook, she’s leading a double life as Tia Danko. Not sure about all the backstory, but all that matters is that the work is interesting. She lives in Slovakia. It’s a big world out there. (Edit/Clarification: She writes that Orwo is an expired GDR film that’s very unpredictable in its results).

© Tia Danko

© Tia Danko

“Samsara” at Belcourt

Posted in Photographs, Spirituality by marktucker on November 4, 2012

“Samsara” at Belcourt. Shot in 70mm film, all over the world. Amazing imagery and music. Don’t miss it. Just walk in, sit down, and let it wash over you. Times here.

Watkins Artist Books show

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on October 20, 2012

Went to an Artist Books event at Watkins last night. A panel with Karen Hayes from Parnassus, Tony White from Maryland Institute of Art, Cynthia Marsh from Austin Peay; moderated by Robin Paris. Below are some snapshots from the Gallery. Was good to bump into Samantha Angel, Tom Williams and Jessica Clay too. Here are a couple of interesting links from last night: Pogo Books, and Booklyn.

Afghanistan Box Camera project

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on October 17, 2012

I love this concept. A very basic camera, on the street, using paper negatives. When I was in Havana, Cuba, I met a photographer doing this same thing, and had him photograph me.

Maya, as Child Queen in the Circus

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on September 13, 2012

We shot this today. Had a little collodion party at my house. Shot several nice images of Maya, and then nice frames of Brent and Jenn too. These were shot with a newly-found gigantic brass Bausch and Lomb petzval lens that fully covers 8×10″; an excellent ebay find.

Portrait of Brent Stewart, Maya’s father.

Quinn Jacobson: Wet-Plate Collodion

Posted in Photographs, Spirituality by marktucker on February 21, 2012

On February 18th and 19th, four of us completed a wet-plate collodion workshop with Quinn Jacobson in Denver. Jeanne Jacobson was there too, helping with production, and cleaning of the glass plates. (She’s the master glass plate cleaner). Also there were students Mark Olwick from Seattle, Jessyel Gonzalez from Boulder, and Vivian Keulards from outside of Denver. Kyleigh Morgan came down from Boulder to assist also.

Day One was mostly introductions, and some intense talk about life and photo motivations and goals, and then after lunch, we dove deep into collodion chemistry lessons and safety precautions. By Day Two, we hit the ground running, pouring our own quarter plates, and actually making photographs. Each of us probably shot four or five images by day’s end, followed up by the varnishing of the plates. The collodion can be applied to either black aluminum, clear glass, black glass, or black plexiglass.

Quinn’s teaching style is second to none. He’s encouraging and energetic, knowledgeable about the chemistry, but also has a big heart and a strong passion for people and portrait-making. (Right down my alley!) Below are two images that I made on Sunday, followed by some color production-photos that show the studio and the mechanics of the workshop. To anyone contemplating the steep curve into collodion, I highly recommend Quinn as a teacher and a guide. He’s generous, open, and eager for people to learn the process.

Here is a video feature on Quinn, and wet-plate, by a local Denver TV station. There is a part two link, at the bottom of this page.

My second frame. Window light, with 1840's Darlot lens. Four second exposure. Stereo Tailboard camera. Talent: Kyleigh Morgan.

Third exposure, using black-light flashlight. Darkened room, forty second exposure. Talent: Kyleigh Morgan.

Quinn's main studio table, where the pouring and the varnishing and the cookie-eating happened. Note the enlarged wet plates near the ceiling of the studio.

Main shooting room, with the cameras, dark box, and nice window light. From left: Quinn, Jessyel, Mark, Vivian.

The main table where the chemical mixing and the pouring happened.

Quinn with Jessyel, before they reamed out a traditional 4x5 film holder, and converted it into a quarter-plate holder.

These are the raw black aluminum plates. The collodion is poured onto these plates by hand, resulting in a "sheet of film". The proper term for these are Alumitypes. They can be quarter=plate, half=plate, or whole=plate. Whole plate is almost eight by ten inches.

Mark Olwick, donning his black rubber protective gloves, making his first pour.

Quinn's gigantic wooden camera, a table full of luscious rare brass lenses, and the covered 8x10, in the shooting room.

Pardon the reflections -- this is my favorite Quinn Jacobson image. This was a portrait of a young Nordic man, but the wet-plate tonality changed the coloration to darker skin. I love about seven different things about this image. (Photographed on the wall, behind glass. Sorry).

Quinn, Mark, and Vivian under the rubylith safelight, in the darkroom, where we developed and fixed the plates.

Quinn being photographed by Mark. Quinn slides his head into the neck brace. Exposure time is about four seconds, even with bright diffused light coming in the garage door..

Stacks of various sizes of glass collodion plates (Ambrotypes). Ready for shipping. the largest size that you see here is approximately 16x20 inches! That was the original glass plate that went into the camera!

Mark Olwick, with the tailboard camera, shooting a plate of Quinn.

The drying rack, after the plates have washed. From here, they'll be varnished over an open flame with a Spirit Burner.

This is the "portable" dark box, for shooting on location. The plates must be wet when exposed, so you only have about ten minutes from coating the plate to the exposure of the frame. The clock is ticking! Some people load this box into the back of their station wagon or SUV or Van.

End of the workshop: Quinn and Jeanne on Sunday night, ready to head home and relax.

David Hilliard talk: Watkins

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on February 10, 2012

Last night, after class, I went to a large presentation by David Hilliard, at Watkins. I’d known his work for years, and honestly, was not that moved by the work. Not sure why — maybe because it was straight color, or maybe it was the multiple panels, or maybe because it felt like view camera photography, (“Hold it, hold it, don’t move, I’ve already pulled the dark slide; hold it, hold it, right there, hold still, three second exposure, freeze”).

But I was pleasantly surprised, and moved by his words, and getting some context behind the images. I had no idea that most of the people in his photographs were his immediate family. That really changed it for me, (for the better). Maybe he was working something out, from his childhood, I don’t know, but the stories he told brought the work full circle. I left there, a new fan.

David, with his father. © David Hilliard. All Rights Reserved.

© David Hilliard. All Rights Reserved.

Heidi Kirkpatrick article

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on December 20, 2011

I met Heidi Kirkpatrick in New Orleans last week, at Photo NOLA. It was so refreshing to see work that wasn’t just straight prints. The pictures in this article, show the strength of the work. Very refreshing approach. Good interview at the link.

Rainy Sunday Afternoon Drive

Posted in Meditation, Personal, Photographs, The South by marktucker on November 27, 2011

Fogged window, Hermitage Cafe, First Avenue South.

Gigantic Highway Construction Tarps, Interstate 40.

Painted-Over Graffiti Walls, (or world's-largest Kit Reuther painting), Hermitage Avenue.

Wonderful Baby

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Photographs by marktucker on February 15, 2011

Today, I worked with a sweet mother and tiny tiny baby. This image below is just a part of a much larger image that’ll come later. I shot it with this tiny ringlight; wanted it to feel like a suspended reality, almost like still in the womb.

detail from a piece i'm working on...

Snow: Dec 26, 2010

Posted in Personal, Photographs, Random Image by marktucker on December 26, 2010

My sleepy cargo van. It won't wake up. But it seems happy.

My backyard campfire area.

G.P. Fieret, at Deborah Bell Photographs

Posted in Interesting People, New York, Photographs, Video by marktucker on December 9, 2010

YouTube video of J.P. Fieret. Click to play.

By happenstance, wandered into Deborah Bell Photographs today, with my friend Joerg. A fascinating show of the work of G.P. Fieret, of the Netherlands. He died 2009. Refreshing to see work that was so pure of motivation — it was great to see the real prints, instead of reproductions, in order to see the stained print edges, and the torn corners, and the folded prints with creases. Click the image above for the short YouTube video.

To make it even more surreal, Fieret seems like he could be confused so easily with Miroslav Tischy. Here is Joerg’s recent post about them.

Separate from this, I attended the Alec Soth lecture at FIT the other night. It was dense with thought-provoking concepts. I’d be interested to see how others felt about it. It’s still rolling around inside my head, a day later.

New York street.

Posted in Interesting People, New York, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, Video, Weird Food by marktucker on December 6, 2010

Steamed-up window today — Korean restaurant, on 32nd and Fifth. Below.

A little video of Stumptown Coffee, shot this morning. That place, and the Ace are high on my list.

Cold outside, warm inside. Korean restaurant, 32nd St. (click/enlarge).

Jack Daniels images (recent project)

Posted in Interesting People, Photographs, The South, Video by marktucker on December 2, 2010

Here are a few of the images from our last Jack Daniels project. It’s now published in some parts of the world, and about to be in the U.S. This project featured the introduction of Jeff Arnett, as the new Master Distiller. There is a cute video of the baby piglets near the middle of my Video Page.

Sincere thanks to Nelson Eddy, creative director; Jan Mattix, art director; Brett Sahler, producer; Jon Morgan and Derrick Hood, assistants and pig wranglers; Anna Webb, prop stylist; Randall Fanning, local production; Terry Holt, inspiration and cherry picker; and of course, Jack Bateman, for just being there.

Chris, Randall, Terry and crew, running the hot-air balloon on Baldy Hill, Lynchburg.

Baby piglets (in the mash) at Jack Bateman's place.

Porky and Ron trying to fit the Christmas Tree through the door.

Littermates coming to visit every morning, outside the Iron Kettle, on the square. There is an amazing story, related to this picture, but too long to quote here.

Jeff Arnett, with his Tasting Kit, on the way to the Old Office.

Jeff Arnett and his wife, on Tims Ford Lake.

Live radio show, and square dancing at The BarBQ Caboose, on the square, Lynchburg.

Jeff Arnett trying the combination of the safe, in the Old Office.

Jesse James story, in the Bobo Hotel, right off the square, Lynchburg.

"Burning the Grievances" ritual, at sunset, on BarBQ Hill.

Jeff Arnett, checking maturity of the ceremonial "Presidential Barrel".

Jeff Arnett, Lynne Tolley, Jeff Norman, doing a Tasting in the New Office. (Vertical two-page spread).

Harper-Collins book cover.

Posted in New York, Photographs, Random Image by marktucker on November 14, 2010

Here’s an image (that I messed with after I submitted it to the client). We shot this in the summer, up in New Jersey, ironically, in a garage — not in the ocean; not in a lake; not in a pond. Creative Director: Alison Donalty; Designer: Ray Shappell. There is quite a bit of type overlaying this image; had to leave it pretty empty and sparse.

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Winter coming on; cover the bushes.

Posted in Photographs, Random Image, Spirituality, The South by marktucker on November 9, 2010

Driving home today, I came upon this yard in my neighborhood. It completely took me back to my grandmother’s yard in rural Kentucky, when I was a kid. With winter coming on, she’d go into the basement and bring out an entire stack of lightweight blankets and sheets to cover the late-blooming flowers and tender bushes. Today, the light was just amazing, coming thru these plastic bags that someone had rigged up.

Linden School “Elves Faire”

Posted in Interesting People, Photographs, Random Image, The South by marktucker on November 6, 2010

I dropped by the Linden School “Elves Faire” today for awhile. Ran upon an elf that was maybe eight or nine feet fall, and lived in the forest, and was quite stylishly dressed.

The tallest Elf in the entire forest.

Photo link: Eric Tabuchi

Posted in Interesting People, Photographs by marktucker on November 5, 2010

I saw this guy’s work featured today on Five Hundred PhotographersEric Tabuchi. I guess this touches on the OCD in me, but I love anyone who does series work like this. Check out Abandoned Gas Stations, Small Buildings, Roadside Flowers, Restricted Areas, Chinese Restaurants, and the best: Alphabet Trucks. Beautiful work, and I applaud his commitment and discipline.

PS. My friend Joerg just sent me this. I love it — another guy with OCD!

PSS. And from the Comments, here’s another related one, contributed by Tom Henkel.

Photographs by Eric Tabuchi. Copyrighted work. Screengrab from his site.

First ad from Amtrak campaign.

Posted in Photographs by marktucker on November 2, 2010

We’re still retouching and assembling photographs from the new Amtrak advertising campaign. This morning, the first ad ran in USA Today. We shot the talent and the train interiors outside of Orlando, Florida, and then shot the scenics in southern California. Like all advertising projects now, that run in print and on the web, the size proportions are pretty extreme, from tight verticals and extreme horizontals. It was a big adventure; especially the southern California portion. Thanks goes out to Kelly Cooper and Bill Cutter in Arnold/DC, and Andrea Ricker in Arnold/Boston. Producer: Brett Sahler; Retouching: Tyler Huff, Pixelspace; Assistants: Derrick Hood and Jon Morgan; Tech: Erik Hillard. Four more ads to come.

The horizontal version of the ad.

Screengrab from USA Today, online edition.

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Portrait of Emily Leonard

Posted in Interesting People, Photographs by marktucker on November 1, 2010

Yesterday, we did two sessions. The main one was with Emily Leonard, fine artist and just interesting person. How fun to collaborate with another creative person.

Portrait of Sam, from Smiling Elephant

Posted in Interesting People, Meditation, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, Spirituality by marktucker on October 30, 2010

On Wednesday, we stopped in to see Sam, from Smiling Elephant restaurant, on 8th Avenue South. Sam is the brother of Patti Myint, who runs International Market and PM and is the Queen of Belmont. Behind the Smiling Elephant is an auto repair garage, and Sam worked on cars for years, and one day, he began to build out the front building, after hours, into a Thai restaurant.

Several months ago, I made my first visit to his new restaurant. When I walked up to the cashier counter to pay my Tab, there was a Buddha sitting on the counter, and I asked him about it. It turns out, it was not a Buddha, but a famous meditation teacher in Thailand. He told me the story of this man’s life. I told him I’d begun to practice meditation. He began to talk to me about my breath, and about his various techniques of his own meditation. People were beginning to line up behind me, eager to pay and get on their way, but Sam was not phased by this — he continued to talk to me patiently, and tell me his own story.

The next time I went in the restaurant — this time for take out — I was sitting on the little bench by the cashier counter, waiting for my food, and Sam came over to me and said, unprompted, “You know, the main thing in life is to give our bodies healthy food, and to provide for our families.” We began to talk again, about health, and meditation, and life goals. He’d look right into my eyes, his big bushy eyebrows moving above his sparkling eyes. We barely knew each other, but we talked as if we’d been friends for years.

Now, we swap books, and literature on meditation, when I go into the restaurant. I see him now and give him a big hug — I’m not sure how he feels about that, but he goes along with it. So he seemed perfect for my new little portrait series — a man who’s unique and interesting, and is contributing positive energy to those around him. His restaurant is booming, with lines out the front door every day at lunch, and soon, my bet is that he’ll have to renovate the auto garage out back, in order to accomodate all the customers, and his continued success. He’s a special man.

Sam handed me this today, as I left the restaurant.

Portrait of James from the Belmont Bi-Rite.

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, The South by marktucker on October 30, 2010

I go to this old-timey grocery store on Belmont Boulevard, near my new house. I’m not sure why — they don’t really have the freshest produce, or most anything organic. I’m just drawn there. I go there and buy cooked meat, back in their deli. It’s one of the few last bastions of the Old South — beans, meat, and barbeque cooked daily. The floors are waxed clean and shiny, even though they’re very old. They only recently added the ability to pay with a credit card. It just feels like home.

When I was a kid, my family owned five small convenience stores in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ever since I was about twelve years old, I started bagging groceries and working in those markets. Worked in them all the way through high school and college. I can stock a shelf with the best of them. I can clean a milk cooler. I can run a register and make change quickly. It was useful to learn how to talk to strangers, when I was a dorky, stoner, redneck kid. It sorta socialized me. It’s helped in my adult life, as a photographer.

Anyway, I go into this grocery, and I always see the night manager there. His name is James. He’s about 6’2″, but he seems about seven feet tall, because he’s so thin. He’s always running around at a hundred miles an hour, stocking shelves, and running the place. He always is fitted with his ball point pens, a nametag, and most of the time with one of those back supports, like those Home Depot guys wear. He said he has a problem with his back. So here is James — he is just so awesome to me. He is America. He seems like a guy that could be in a Mayberry RFD episode, along with Otis and Barney and Andy.

James, in the Meat Section of the Belmont Blvd Bi-Rite Grocery. Click/enlarge.

Portrait of Sara Burgers

Session with Sara Burgers on Friday. In the end, we went to those flooded-out mobile homes on Nolensville Road, and finished there. Those trailers are calling out for a photo project of their very own, but I guess Robert Polidori already claimed that photo content. Nonetheless, it’s an amazing location.

Sara Burgers, exploring the flooded mobile homes, Nolensville Road.

Interior of home; Light Bulb.

Day of the Dead coming on, it's on my mind.

Rear Basement Steps at my new house.

My front door; beveled glass. Great face.

Portrait of Nan Nelson

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, The South by marktucker on October 29, 2010

Shot at a bar on Division Street, Wednesday. Beautiful detailed work on her arm. Great face.

Nan Nelson, stylist at Salon FX.

Portrait of Ian: Imogene and Willie

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, The South by marktucker on October 28, 2010

Ian Leach, from Imogene and Willie, yesterday morning. Very nice guy; great store, too.

Portrait of my neighbor, Mr Matthew Sherrill

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, The South by marktucker on October 28, 2010

I recently moved into a new home. Today, we started a new series of Testing portraits. My friend Buddy Jackson told me about a jewel of a fine man, who happens to live down the street from me. He’s 95 years old, still drives his big Lincoln to the grocery, and still has a strong singing voice. He likes blues songs, but prefers to sing church spirituals.

Mr. Matthew Sherrill, 95 years young.

In the video below, Mr. Sherill walked across the street, to ask his friend and neighbor Julie Lee, if she’d sing with him. They’ve been friends for a many years.

Andrew Hetherington blows thru Nashville

Posted in Interesting People, New York, Photo Tech, Photographs, Random Image by marktucker on October 14, 2010

Got a call from Andrew last night. He was shooting a job in Louisville, and then driving direct to Atlanta today for another project. He and his assistant stopped in Nashville this morning for breakfast; I met them and showed them around town. It was Andrew’s first time through town. Anyone from out of town, who’s in the business, has to be taken to Hatch Show Print, so we started there, walked over to Tootsie’s and Robert’s, and then had breakfast at Bongo. Andrew’s always been an inspiration to me — we compare notes on eating healthy foods; exercise; shopping at Whole Foods; and staying healthy. We always talk shop, but the friendship is larger than that. He’s a fine man; a well-balanced guy. Here’s a quick frame of him at Hatch this morning, using my Poor Man’s Depth-Of-Field Technique.

Andrew at Hatch Show Print, (trying to carry focus). (click/enlarge).

Vision Board

Posted in Personal, Photographs, Random Image by marktucker on October 9, 2010

A friend of mine kept a Vision Board by her desk in her office. I’d never heard of the concept before. But recently, I’ve seen a couple references to them. For me, I keep this Folder on my Desktop, and when I see something on FFFFound or Yimmy or Eric Baker, I just drag it off into that Folder. Later on, I found a way to dump them into Lightroom and easily make a 5×7 print of each one. I’ve started plastering one of the walls in my new office with these prints; and soon, they’re going to take over the room. (But what a nice way to be reminded of what/how you want to shoot). I tend to be drawn to tight faces, or historical images, or damn near anything that’s Hasselblad and B/W. I just use this board like a “Mental Rudder” to stay reminded of what’s important, and to keep the flame alive, and to keep shooting for myself, and to keep exploring. Part of me wants to spray them with glue on the back, so they become a permanent part of the room. Imagine your entire office, covered with wonderful images.

Phase one of the prints that hopefully soon cover every inch of my walls.

Also, yesterday, the postman brought me this beautiful package wrapped in brown kraft paper. My dear friend Alison Donalty in NY had sent me a housewarming gift. She’d seen a group of artists on Etsy do a series of famous quotes, on letterpress. So this sweet little poster arrived, along with some other smaller cards, done by Mary Kate McDevitt, in Portland. The outside of the package was so nicely done that I waited for several hours before even opening the package. Then, by last night, my curiosity got the best of me. How nice to touch real paper again, and run your fingers over that ink. (Everything I do now seems to be done on this Macintosh and FTP’d; I rarely make a print on real paper any more). (This is about to change…; stay tuned).

Cards and poster from Mary Kate McDevitt.


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