This is a reprint of the Article written in the Professional Photographers of Canada National Magazine. It is reprinted here with the precision of the author, See Jones.
Mark Laurie is a name that is emblematic in the Canadian and International photography industry. His unique work have been published and displayed from the Epcot Center, throughout Europe, and all the way up to the Voyager 3 spacecraft. His contribution to the PPOC, through volunteering, mentoring, judging, speaking, and competing, has been paramount to the organization at a regional, provincial, and national level.
His countless accomplishments and extraordinary career span over 3 decades; however, he remains humble, approachable, and enthusiastic with an enduring passion for photography prominent in conversation. This year, Mark Laurie was awarded his first PPOC Portrait Photographer of the Year (POY) trophy. As well as winning the Portrait POY award,
Mark was also named Best in Class for Figure Study, Judge’s Choice, and earned a spot in the Loan Collection. These achievements are added to his vast collection of PPOC awards from National Salons over his career.
Mark’s career has transported him all over the globe and most recently took him to Dubai. Mark has facilitated and instructed a course titled Revealing Venus in Italy, which resulted in the publishing of a book of his works. It also provided an incredible learning experience for photographers as they worked with nude models in the ruins and castles unique to the country’s landscape. Mark was also a judge at the World Photographic Cup for 2017 and 2018.
Although he has photographed celebrities and high profile individuals from all over the globe, Mark now has focused his work on nude photography in his homebased studio. The positive self-image, confidence, and pride that the photography experience and resulting images provide the client is the most rewarding aspect of his work. This previously led to a yearlong psychological study being completed on the impact of Mark’s photography on the female subjects.
Despite his status as a Canadian photography legend, the Portrait POY award is still profoundly important and meaningful to Mark. He holds the awards from the PPOC in high esteem because it is on our “home turf.” The POY award gives credibility, exposure, stature, and recognition to the photographer. Mark has experienced that clients and stakeholders in the industry realize that this competition means the photographer was deemed the best in Canada by a panel of qualified and caliber judges in a strictly regulated setting.
He feels the contest is pure, in that it is only to promote and recognize the best photographs in Canada. Mark has found PPOC awards, as well as accreditations, have lead to international recognition, which has positively affected his financial bottom line and his branding.
The POY award is also special to Mark because all the photographs submitted to the National Salon are were not originally shot for competition. Mostly they were images from commissioned client sessions. The client has chosen what they wanted from the session, and the shoot was not executed for the purpose of producing a salon entry. Being recognized for the art that he produces on a daily basis confirms to him and his client base that he continues to provide the highest level of photographic services through Inner Spirit Photography.
The positive effect of the PPOC awards and recognitions reaches the client and creates excitement and loyalty from them. Clients are thrilled that their images are considered to be entered in such a competition, and even more excited to hear when they have aided in the success of the images. Mark makes sure to provide each client that is entered in competition with a photograph as a token of gratitude.
Mark works hard to provide his clients with a one-of-a-kind photographic experience that results in unique, and precious images that they will cherish for a lifetime. “Surrealist Vision” is a great example of the work that goes into his masterpieces. Mark recounted that the photo shoot required 4 body painters, 4 different models, a video crew, assistant, and himself in a small studio for 13 hours; and this does not include the cleanup time! They were creating 4 different segments for a Youtube program. For Surrealist Vision matching the faces up in post processing was also an interesting challenge.
What comes next for such an accomplished photographer? One can gain a sense of what qualities and strengths enabled Mark Laurie to get to this point in his career when this question is asked. Despite everything he has done, he still has ambition, creativity, motivation, and many goals to push his business and craft. These include achieving 40 accreditations and 15 bars as a member of the PPOC. He is waiting the announcement on his Craftsman Award through the Professional Photographers of America in 2018. He is currently working on a body painting YouTube series titled “Living Art” which will be released in 2018.
Many of his plans for the future also including continuing to give back to the industry. He loves working with newer up and coming photographers. He will continue to participate in educating other photographers through international workshops, speaking engagements, judging, and mentoring opportunities.
Mark remains a very involved member and advocate for the PPOC. This organization is important to him for a myriad of reasons, however the code of ethics and copyright are two of his key reasons to remain an active part of the organization.
Mark recognizes that the PPOC was one of the players who fought for Canadian copyright reform, which was a success. As an industry, “we will need to advocate for ourselves (at a policy level) in the future. We need to be an influence, and a part of that fight.” Connecting with others in the industry and developing friendships is also important to Mark as he expressed in a story from the recent International Photography Conference in Ottawa.
After discovering his very valuable lens was broken, a fellow PPOC members provided him with the same lens of their own collection for him to borrow without hesitation.
Mark has a multitude of expertise and advice that he can pass on to the newer members of the PPOC. He stresses that member’s get involved and volunteer with the PPOC as much as possible. “ This is where you learn and get immersed in photography. Being on the sidelines is interesting, but just get into it. Take risks. Be Bold.”
Mark Laurie By The Numbers:
Years incorporated with Inner Spirit Photography: 37
Married to his wife, Jan: 42
Years as a PPOC member: 35
PPOC Bars: 11
International Photographer of the Year Trophies: 4
Countries traveled to for Photography: 16
Year Karsh Life time Achievement award achieved: 2010
Television shows: 2
Fellowship awards: 2 (PPOC and SWPP)
Images in 2017 National Salon: 4
Books published: 7
Days the Mayor of Cortona, Italy shut down the town’s castle for Mark to photograph nude models: 2
Spacecrafts containing his photography: 1
Dollars donated to charity: over $500 000.00
Number of Irish Setters rescued and lived with: 5
Other photographers in North America with a Body Painting Accreditation: Zero
Hours giving back to the PPOC and photography industry: countless
“The reward IS the process and what you learn from it.” – Mark Laurie