JPG Member Interview: G. Mark Lewis

Posted by David Ozanich — 24 Jan 2011

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This week for the JPG Member Interview we're talking to the very interesting G. Mark Lewis (who goes by gmark - that's him above). He hails from Colorado. You can find out more about him at his website.

So, first question, you go by gmark. Can I ask about the story behind that? Also, you live in Colorado?

 I was born Glenn Mark Lewis, in a small town in Colorado of about 200 people called Nunn. My father was Glenn Arthur, so to avoid confusion the family called me Mark. As I got to be an adult this got to be a problem for all sorts of reasons, but the one that made the name stick was that the main computer that makes the schedules at the college I teach at would list the names as G LEWIS on the schedule. Often students were looking for Mark, so I started adding the G. to my name in emails. Eventually the students started calling me Silent G, so it just became gmark.

When did you get interested in photography? What drew you to it? Do you work professionally?

I've been a graphic artist for 25 years now, and using photography was always a big part of that job. As the world of digital photography grew and became more affordable I began to use it in my work to save time and money. Later the Digital Rebel came out as the first DSLR to break the $1000 mark, so I bought one.  My wife Laura and I converted the garage into a studio and I started there. I used it more as a lighting lab than anything, but I eventually started to do the actor portraits for the local community theater group, and one thing led to another, and started doing senior photos, weddings, etc. But spent most of my time shooting with very patient and talented models who would let me experiment with my light.

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You seem very interested in the human body. Why is this an interesting subject matter for you?

I love this question. The human body is the absolute most amazing one thing to ever have been produced by the universe. Not only does it think, write, create, sing, etc, but the mechanics are incredible.  You can take this remarkable body and then place it on skates, skis, surf boards, skate boards, pogo sticks, etc, and it will adjust and take its already amazing capabilities to a whole new level!  I'm a guy who can sit and watch figure skating, gymnastics, roller derby, anything the body can do, for hours.  I seem to be fascinated by it. Also, we as a species are more or less genetically coded to appreciate the human form,  which helps keep the species alive.

       Each different model brings something else to the studio, and that, when combined with my thoughts and ideas, and all the interaction between us, becomes a symbiotic relationship and the art evolves from that dynamic. I love the process, it makes me happy, and bonus, people seem to like the results!

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What kind of camera do you use? And how to you make those curious photos that seem to use double exposures (or perhaps triple exposures)?

I use a couple different cameras, the Canon 5D MKII and the Canon 7D. More importantly, are the lenses, I have my work horse lens the 24-105mm f4L, the "photographers must have" a 70-200mm f2.8L, also a 24-70mm 2.8L, a 85mm 1.2, and my most recent purchase a 14mm 2.8. It's the combination of the glass and the lighting that creates my styles.

       As far as I know you really can't create a true multiple exposure on a digital camera, so, you do this instead. I tripod the camera, and add hot light and a strobe to the set. I set the shutter speed for 8 to 10 seconds, and fire the strobe manually several times as the model slowly moves in a defined area. This is extremely random. If you get one or two shots that can be edited into a viable composition out of an entire shoot, I consider that a win. Thank the powers that be I have patient models!!!

Does anyone or anything influence your photography?

This recently came up in a panel discussion I was involved in at the Loveland Art Museum. I didn't have an extensive knowledge of nude photography when I began shooting nudes (well, unless you count Playboy :-). I was aware of Helmut Newton somewhat, later I learned about Ruth Bernard, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others. Another instructor told me about Howard Schantz, because he thought my work looked similar to his. During the first few years of working on my "Zero-G" style I actually tried to not look at new works from others, as I found I was easily distracted from my vision, and I wanted to proceed in my own way to see where it would take me.

       I seem to be amazed and influenced by my remarkable models. Without them, it's just light.

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