Interview with Mark Wilman : A Stunning Landscape Photographer
Mark Wilman is originally from the Notting Hill area of London. He spent many years in Milan, a city which introduced him to several significant qualities such as ambition, beauty, creativity, excellence, humour, patience, precision etc.He is also a qualified cricket instructor and always mad about the game.He has already travelled a lot in the world and once spent two months in India, travelling by train and bus as far as Srinagar in Kashmir and Mysore in Karnataka. He loves Indian food and cooks it himself whenever he gets the chance.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Originally from the Notting Hill area of London, I spent many years in Milan, a city which introduced me to several significant qualities such as ambition, beauty, creativity, excellence, humour, patience, precision and timing through a teaching career with a client list that included important names such as Stefano Gabbana of Dolce e Gabbana, Gabriele Albertini – 8 year Mayor of Milan, Giampiero Vigorelli – a leading voice in Italian advertising, and many PhDs at the Università degli Studi di Milano.
[The Sea Between - Autumn in Ios]
Milan also unexpectedly introduced me to Maurizio Cattelan, the famous artist, an encounter one afternoon some years ago that has caused my curiosity towards art to grow ever since.
Those experiences bound together with an involving photographic career at the Milan Cricket Club ( I’m a qualified instructor too ), the fact that I have three younger sisters and no brothers, was born on International Woman’s Day and a father who was deeply involved in scuba diving, all prepared me for what came next: an impressive camera set and free time on my favourite Greek island.
[Strawberry and Cream Sunset - Ios lighthouse]
The result is ‘Discovering the beauty of Ios – Wild, natural beauty blended with human beauty of the female kind’, my project and website theme officially accepted for consideration by MOMA in New York, J.Paul Getty Museum, Louis Vuitton Foundation and Fondazione Benetton.
2. Did you go to school to study photography?
When I was 5, my teachers suggested I should follow an art education. That didn’t happen but I’ve since found my art passion in photography.
3. Can you please share the story about the start of your photographic journey?
Yes, the first real necessity I felt to capture images carefully and meaningfully was in Agra on a two month trip to India many years ago. Delhi was a fascinating first impression and the bus to Srinagar quite an experience, though Goa and Karnataka regions were excellent destinations also.
[Rays over Sikinos]
4. How long have you been a photographer?
My photographer’s eye became curious a long time ago. I’ve been travelling with a camera since 1984, so the continuity of encounters away from home has caused me to search for things always more original to say. I photograph what pleases me first and foremost.
5. Photography is your passion or profession or both?
My passion for photography has made it into my profession. I am owner of Mark & Roxana Photography Srl together with my partner Roxana. Our company sells our photographic art products as well as offering photographic services such as land and sea excursions and model photography workshops on the Greek island of Ios in the Cyclades archipelago.
[Agia Irini Church - Ios Port Bay]
6. How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of feel do you try and create in your photos?
Being an experienced freediver and spear fisherman, I am strongly influenced by the feel of the underwater world for its softness and depth in colours, the variation in light and need to define objects in order to achieve success of capture and for safety.
My mind likes to escape into that world as it is genuinely different. Since I’m not breathing underwater, I need to be very attentive to my own sensations and sincere about what I can and can’t do at any given moment while below. This causes me to avoid special effects in photography since the real ones I know are decidedly enough.
I almost never crop a photo because wearing a mask causes a constant frame effect to my vision and I like to keep editing to the minimum, though there are times when I want a photo to speak an emotion I’ve felt, so I might soften it or increase presence or use a software filter to work with the colours. Given the option, I’ll only photograph when the conditions are right to avoid falsity in the outcome of a final image.
7. What are the characteristics that a good Travel Photographer needs to have?
Be aware of what’s around you, i.e. what’s behind your back while shooting and to the sides. Practise this in order to build up awareness. Don’t be fanatical about capturing everything you like. Be selective. If you shoot a hundred photos, they need to be studied after and maybe seen on a bigger screen for proper analysis. This is time consuming and if the photos aren’t good, time wasted. So think qualitatively.
[Tris Klisies - south-east Ios]
8. What type of camera and lenses do you use?
I use a Canon 7D for long exposure and model photography because it adapts well to those realities, which are certainly demanding. Instead, for panoramic photography, I prefer the Canon 6D for the excellent results it offers. If I’m doing a photographic excursion with people, I’ll probably use a Canon 40D.
I use a Canon f4/24-105mmL lens for long exposure work and for set scenes for outdoor model photography. For panoramic shots using a Manfrotto panoramic set, the Canon f1.4/50mm EF is excellent. For involving portraits and exploration photography, I love the Canon f4/70-200mmL. And for an unusual and challenging experience, the Canon f3.5/10-22mm EF is amazing, especially for its sharpness and for photographing building interiors.
Manfrotto tripods and Tiffen filters are choices I’ve made and am convinced about.
For the promotion of the summer photographic excursions and workshops mentioned below, I’ve included photos taken with my iPhone using Instagram filters. Because of the steepness of Ios’ high hills and long distances, my body weight and not more was the only option on my mountain bike reducing photography options to the telephone. The results are popular on Facebook.
9. How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I’m happy with Lightroom. If a picture is proving difficult, I work until a solution is found.
10. What is the best compliment you’ve ever had? Could you please share the happiest moment in your photography life?
The best compliment? People’s enthusiasm is always a pleasure to experience and I’ve had many special things said about my work by men, women and children. The happiest moment so far has been the enthusiastic letter I received from the president of a top art foundation regarding my photography project ‘Discovering The Beauty of Ios’
[Agia Theodoti Sea view]
11. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The choice to follow my dreams.
12. What are some simple tips for taking great travel photos?
A. Get up early to enjoy quality light and watch the world unfold.
B. Keep your equipment clean but avoid opening up your camera to inspect it too readily whilst away from home.
C. Protect your lenses from scratches with appropriate UV filters.
D. Have a good and above all comfortable camera bag
E. Avoid trying to think original. Let your eye do the talking. Be prepared not to click for as long as it takes you to see something that genuinely startles your imagination. Cameras have a limited lifespan, so respect that and try and get it right the first time by looking in all four corners of the viewfinder. Make sure your settings are in manual if you’re shooting a set scene on a tripod with several shots to avoid alterations in the light over the subject, i.e. prepare your photography in advance.
F. If you’re photographing people, take the time to capture their movements in a complimentary way; should you click when a foot touches the ground or leaves it? Looking at foot movement is essential to learning good timing.
G. When photographing people not at a distance, therefore close by, interact with them, be friendly in an appealing way, look at them in the eye, smile. This way, they’ll be more responsive and less defensive in their expressions.
H. Look for coincidences, for example a person in the foreground, a tree in the background, two legs in the foreground, two trees in the background, etc.
13. How do you make a living with your travel photography?
My work is sold through Mark & Roxana Photography Srl. We sell online and directly to shop customers.
[Diamoudia, Manganari - south-east Ios]
14. So whats next in your list?
The summer Photographic Excursions and Model Photography Workshops on Ios island this summer from June to September. Our Facebook page is Photographic Excursions in Ios, Cyclades, Greece if readers are interested in discovering more about what I’ll be doing.The website offers a fully detailed description of the programmes. Also, the Municipality of Ios has approved my request for an exhibition there, so I’m in the process of looking for a sponsor.
15. Any specific tips you have for newbie photographers?
Yes, believe in the value of the viewfinder. The larger, the better. It’s better to wait a bit longer, save a bit more and buy a camera which will really please you in the long term. If this isn’t possible, pay attention to your framing. Don’t be in a hurry, even when it’s fast paced work. Relax, stay calm. Don’t click till it’s as good a scene as you can get it to be.
16. You have a website also, please tell me about that?
My website name is www.markwilmanphotography.com. Its focus is on the interaction between wild, natural beauty and human beauty of the female kind. It’s theme title is Discovering the beauty of Ios, as I mentioned earlier. I’ve been a visitor to the island since 1974 and though I’ve visited at least twenty countries spanning four continents, living in a few included, (suffering from a malaria-typhoid mix on one trip undetected by the first four doctors!), Ios offers me such peace and pleasure of discovery above and below water that I just can’t avoid being there when possible.
Also I have the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Wilman-Photography-518659131649205/
17. Words for your followers and why they should follow you?
Well, the first words that come to mind are that I’ve met a lot of people in a highly communicative way, seen a lot of places, taken a lot of calculated risks freediving and exploring usually alone (the Dolomite mountains in winter included), been a sportsman constantly for the last 30 years, so I believe I’m a positive minded, constant effort maker who might have something to say that inspires.
18. If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?
Does Ios sound familiar?! It’s my dream to have a lovely home there but more particularly a cricket school and club. I love the game so much that this is what I’d do. It’s been a dream for several years now, I hope to get there.
19. Words and suggestions about my website www.indiaataglance.com
Your website is attractive at first glance. No reason to change what works well until time says so.
[Kalamos Bay - Ios east side]