DPP Home Profiles Mark Edward Harris: The Omnivorous Explorer

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mark Edward Harris: The Omnivorous Explorer

Mark Edward Harris is part historian, part explorer, and a photographer through and through


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When the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan, Harris happened to be there on another assignment. His photographs of the aftermath show the pre-recovery devastation in places like Otsuchi.
That book, Inside North Korea, was published in 2007 and eventually led to an invitation to photograph in South Korea, as well. Both projects were shot in color, although Harris' portfolio is full of skillfully crafted black-and-white images, as well. Perhaps the residual influence of all those masters of the medium, Harris regularly worked in black-and-white during the film era. But when the subject calls for it, he's equally skilled with color.

"I felt that it was important to show North Korea in color," he says, "because there had been so little access. Digital had come to the point that there were such great files, and in post, I don't do any Photoshop, per se, other than what you would do in a wet darkroom. I really fell in love with color photography around 2006, but I'll always love black-and-white. I'll never lose my love for that.

"Travel photography is sort of unique in a way," Harris continues, "because you have to be good at a lot of different things, different genres of photography. As travel photographers, we have to shoot food photography, interiors, sports.... I was just shooting for an in-flight magazine in the southern islands of Japan, on Okinawa, and I had to do a lot of nature-oriented work. I'm not a nature photographer by trade, but I've interviewed Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe and Michael Nichols, so I think somehow I'm channeling them, to a degree. I'm definitely aware of where the bar is, in terms of what level I need to get images to. But, also, as a component of all these interviews are the technical aspects, so I'm very aware of how to get the images technically."
 
He learned quickly that it's not enough simply to go to a new place and take pictures. First comes the story.
 
The power of travel photography is largely in its ability to bring to the viewer images of faraway lands, strange places and unknown cultures, and to broaden our understanding of the world beyond our doorstep. It was this love of travel and exploration that first hooked Harris, and an appreciation for history—putting his experiences in context—that helped his work to stand out. Ultimately, though, like the many great photographers who have molded him, it's the simple interest in a wide variety of subjects that makes him such a tremendous photographic storyteller.

Harris' Equipment
Core Gear
Nikon D3X and D4
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm ƒ/2.8G ED
Gura Gear backpack
Gary Fong Litesphere
Carbon-fiber tripod, ballhead
Says Harris, "The key word is 'interest.' It's not so much that I know I can do an assignment—I'm not always so sure—but I definitely am interested. I'm always game. The fascination never wanes at all. That old expression about a picture being worth a thousand words? I think, for me, it's worth a lot more."

See more of Mark Edward Harris' work at www.markedwardharris.com. Go to profiles to see his interviews.


 

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