Lush greens, coursing waters, and silent mountains fill Nicole Mark's photo feed. She confesses her love for the outdoors and photography in prints and images that will leap out of the frame and into your consciousness. We recently got in touch with her and she's been kind enough to welcome us into her world. Her creative process and understanding of film photography make us want to go out and experience the world the way she does — without reservations and full of thirst for life.
Hello, Nicole! Welcome back to the Lomography Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I mostly shoot color slide film landscapes around the pacific northwest and when I travel, but have been working on portraits and double exposure projects again recently.
What's your favorite thing about taking photographs?
With film, I love the experiment of it. You buy a certain kind of film and try to make images of what you see — but you get back something different depending on all the various factors, from film grain to the temperature outside when you made the image.
Let's talk a bit about your work — how would you describe your photographic style/approach?
My approach to landscapes is to get away from the crowd, to go rambling up old roads and find the quiet places. I shoot with a Yashica Copal MXV 120mm and with an array of 35mm cameras, depending on what I feel like carrying. If I’m driving I take all the cameras. If I’m backpacking I might only take the Olympus point-and-shoot film camera. I wait for golden hour and wake up at dawn for the best light.
Who or what would you say was the biggest influence in your photographic work?
My friends that shoot film and some amazing people who post on Instagram are honestly my biggest influences right now. I’ve been making photos with film since I was 10, but I didn’t go to school for photography or ever study up much on famous photographers. I have my favorites, but I wouldn’t say they are immediate influences in the way that my fellow contemporary artists/peers are. My grandfather is an influence in that he shot landscapes a lot, but I wouldn’t say I was ever trying to recreate his style.
We love the way you take nature and environmental shots. It feels so organic and real. Is that a style you were going for?
Thank you! I would say yes. I never want my images to look retouched. I want them to feel dreamy sometimes, but not fake or altered.
We also noticed that you play around with 35mm and 120 photography. It's nice to see that people are still fans of this tactile medium. What made you choose film over digital?
I think coming from a generation that still had access to 110 film cameras as a kid is part of it. I started with film when I was 10 and I never stopped using it. I took darkroom classes in high school and spent hours developing. Film will always win my heart over digital — though digital has its place in the photography industry.
What's your favorite thing about shooting nature with film?
I think my favorite thing is that you never know exactly what you’re going to get. All the variables of film, from speed to the temperature outside will affect your final images. It’s experimental in some ways, and that’s fun!
Any favorite camera/film setup? Please share them with our readers.
I love my 120mm Yashica Copal MXV. I have had it for 10 years and it’s pretty durable for the beatings I accidentally give it. It’s also pretty light for a medium format camera, so I can still take it on long hikes.
What's your most unforgettable travel/trip?
I can’t say any trip is more amazing than another. From traveling around Yugoslavia in my late teens to road trips in Utah they’ve all had their amazing cultural and photographic moments. I can say that there are a lot of places I still need to visit, New Zealand being one of them.
In your opinion, what makes a 'good photograph?'
What makes a photograph good is simply the feeling it gives you. It’s subjective in most cases, aside from certain quality factors like lighting, film grain, and composition.
What do you particularly look for in a shot?
Composition, shapes and lines. Expression if it’s a portrait. Textures if it’s a landscape.
Do you have a favorite photo? Please tell us the story behind it.
One of my favorite images is of a wave in the ocean during the start of a storm. I was up on a cliff arm hanging out in a spot that allowed me to see the waves coming in against the rocks amidst all the white caps and water textures.
Define your style in 3 words.
Misty Nude Forest
Who are the artists that you follow on a regular basis? (If there's any.)
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers and creatives out there?
Try film. Use a light meter. Take pictures of what you love.
Which do you think matters more -- talent or skill?
Both. You can learn skills but your content can be hollow if you don’t have a talent for creating meaningful imagery.
How do you see the future of film in the next 10 years?
I think film photography is making a comeback. It’s a novelty that you’ll see in more print editorial and on Instagram.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
A sex therapist or a massage therapist.
How does a perfect day look like for Nicole Mark?
Wake up in a national forest or by the sea. Eat some paleo waffles with blueberries, drink a cup of coffee and start wandering around making photos.
What's next for you?
I recently started a photo project double exposing nude humans over nature scenes with 35mm film. I use my tinyhouse as a studio- which takes a bit of creative maneuvering in such a small space. I plan to continue working on this body of images and then potentially have a show.
Any last words for our readers?
Keep shooting film!