MARK LEE - INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
I am Mark Lee, and I work as a freelancer and in marketing. I am learning my fourth language and I would love to travel the world and photograph it. I am based in the San Quintín Valley in Baja California, Mexico.
I was raised in Mexico and I lived in California for several years. My father had been a photographer, so he was an influence in getting me into photography, but it wasn’t until I went to Italy for a couple of months that my passion for photography grew. I stayed in a small town in the hills and I was amazed at the landscapes and sunsets, which I would capture. I had small camera and a cell phone where I would edit my pictures.
When I came back to California, I had a difficult time. I injured myself for life, such that I cannot do physical work. It was just the beginning of a series of things that left me no option but to return home. I had lost everything, and I came back feeling like a failure, but I had a tool in my hands. It was the camera my parents had given me for Christmas because they wanted to support me in my pursuit of photography. Despite my physical limitations, I found a way to work and support myself. I am very thankful to God for this.
Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
I carry a small bag with me or a backpack with a Canon 70D and two lenses. I use the 35 mm and the 18-135 lenses. I never forget to take an extra battery and a cloth to clean the lens because I live in very dusty area.
What does your post-production process look like?
After importing the pictures to Lightroom, I select the best ones. I try different presets until I find one that I like for a particular picture. I tend to use Terrain or Live Folk presets. I make some tweaks especially with the shadows and blacks, and I adjust the temperature and tint depending on the picture. I sometimes modify the saturation of some colors.
How has your photography style evolved over time?
My photography style has changed a lot in the past years. I am grateful to be in a community where photographers share their work and experiences. That has inspired me to better myself and continue to learn from others. I now try to do more than just capture an image, but rather create a scene that I have in my mind.
What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
My camera and my laptop are the main tools I use for this. I also like carrying my phone with the Lightroom app. However, the tools are just part of it; the golden hour and a beautiful place are things I like to have to get the image I want.
What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
Remember why you do photography. We sometimes can get frustrated with jobs and forget why we do it. It is more than just a job but something we love and enjoy. It is fun, and we capture memories that will last and at the same time it is art that helps us express ourselves without any words.
What type of photography do you most enjoy?
When I was little my father would take me to hike on the volcano near our home (just so you know, it is not active), and we would get to see the landscapes of my hometown. Places like these help me to relax and think of the good things that God has given me instead of my hardships. Nature photography is what I enjoy, where I can capture people and landscapes. It has no language but, yet it speaks, and you can only describe it when you see it from a distance; that is kind of how life is - you need to see the whole picture.
What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
My health has not permitted me to grow my business as I wanted, and it is quite discouraging sometimes. However, I have learned that wherever you are planted, you can flourish. I get to do photography for publicity and photoshoots in my hometown. It is very encouraging when a client shows his gratitude, whether it is a business happy with the results or a couple thankful for capturing their special moments. Things like that make my day.
When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
After coming back to Mexico, a friend helped me get into wedding photography and videography. I did not have all the tools needed nor the experience, but I needed to work. In my first event, I worked around 12 hours and the couple forgot to offer me food. In this and the next events I had technical problems.
I was frustrated because I did not feel I was doing a good job, and because I had just started, I was not making enough money. I thought of giving up, but sometimes circumstances force you to continue. I decided to get help and learn all the areas where I was lacking. I went to a workshop and took some courses online, and I also worked with other photographers to learn from them.
What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
I do not really know what being successful would look like for me, I do not really think much about that in this moment. Of course, I want to get better every day and that people would be happy with my work and appreciate it.
YOU CAN FIND MARK LEE ONLINE HERE: