September 21, 2012

Mark Saintz interviewed by Dave Rudin

" I am mostly confident that we have achieved some good shots, by checking the view screen during the shoot, but I can be usually surprised when I have that first look at the images full size." Mark Saintz


" This is an old image of mine titled 1975, called that because that is when I captured it. The mannequins were brand new, straight out of the plastic, I was brand new too, I hadn't been taking photos for very long at this stage. It won me a mention in the local newspaper which gave me the push to go further with the medium. The shot was taken in colour on Kodak 64 slide film, printed onto paper by a local lab back then and recently found by me and scanned, photochopped and presented again after all these years."

Mark Saintz at his official site, his Newcastle Art Nudes blog.

"Dam hand"
Art Model Mia

" This is a detail of a pre dawn shot of Mia taken on the shore of a local dam. I wanted to post the whole image but this detail of her elegant hand kept grabbing my eye. No matter how I cropped or manipulated I couldn't get away from this image. I even left out the be-ringed breast but eventually came back to that as well."

Dear Mark, how did your passion for photography begin ?

At the age of 16, I began my working life as a window dresser here in Newcastle 160km North of Sydney on the east coast of Australia. Some of my older colleagues were interested in photography. Being that we all worked in the retail visual arts so to speak, which required good use of colour, balance and placement, it all tended to come naturally. Peer group pressure and hard core criticism by those peers made one try that little bit harder. It was there that I took the image of the mannequins faces titled “1975”. Only faces I promise, I wouldn’t dream of taking nudes back then, even though I was surrounded by them. Nude mannequins that is… I wonder what an analyst would think of that connection ?

Art Models Peita and Rosie


Don't wonder ! It's Art... And where did you learn it ?

I tagged along with those co workers and joined a local camera club which held monthly contests. These were always judged by notable professionals so many an old school tip or technique was passed on.

I later moved to London alone in 1984. I picked up some better camera equipment on the flight over and decided to embrace photography as a way to combat loneliness.

I took thousands of images over that two years stay including my first nudes.

John Hedgcoe was my teacher via his fine book “Hedgecoe Nudes” back then. It turned out that I wasn’t lonely at all but I still hammered that Minolta during the two years I was there, the paint was worn off the top of the body before I later traded it in on my first Nikon. So I guess you could class me as mainly self taught.

The most important facet of my trade as a Display Artist is placement and balance and hopefully 30 years of training and practice during my career in this field is reflected in my photographic images.

"Up is down and down is up"
Art Model Rosie

"Abstract a shower"

You seem really prolific. How long could you be far from your camera ?

I don’t pick it up every day. It is a tool that I use as required.

I made a very bad mistake 10 years ago by working as a professional in the worst job I ever had : a school photographer. I didn’t pick up a camera for six years after that little nightmare. No art involved and absolutely no creativity. The company I worked for glued the aperture ring, film speed dial and shutter speed dial on the equipment we used, if I recall, they were medium format Bronicas. In my opinion the manager of that branch was a buffoon and an idiot. I believe he’s still there, I’m told he had to buy shares in order to stay with the company.

When I see your inspiration, your creativity, this way to go from a style to another, successfully, I can understand why it was such a nightmare !... By the way, who are your favorite photographers ?

I know it is cliché but Helmut Newton. He set me on this path, it is all his fault. I like China Hamilton's work as well.

Also Dave Rudin for his way with the subject, he seems to get the very best from them, BT Charles for his humour, Nad Iksodas for his vision and art. Locally Ric Woods. I tend to like frank stares at the camera by the model.

Now a very difficult question : how long did it take to find your style ? Could you define it ?

I am still looking for it, I try to compose in a slightly abstract way… I would prefer that you who view my images answer that one for me.

Art Model Kitty

Art Model Leeanne

My answer is clear : your eclecticism is amazing, as I'm trying to exhibit it from the beginning of your interview. To go farther, is there a message you want to express through your work ?

Be yourself. A cliché I know, but that comment can cover all bases including the model, me the photographer as well as you, the viewer.

Art Model LeeAnne

Do you plan every details before a shooting ?

No. I blame my original profession for this. We were told what theme of window we were to do on the morning that we were to dress it so one had to come up with props and concept within 30 minutes. I mostly work this way. I do like the thrill of that. Of course it can go wrong but not usually long enough to make me look too foolish. I like to improvise and save the day. That quietly gets me off.

That said, I do plan some shoots to a small degree when a concept is required by others but I mainly like to do it all off the cuff.

As an Australian photographer, have you also this preference for outdoors settings ?

Yes I do, mainly because it is so available to us still. I am always looking for new locations but I do not seek uniquely Australian looking backgrounds, they tend to bore me. Indoors equally appeal to me.

"Beach ghost"

Some words about your models ?

Who am I without them ? A nature photographer ? A sunset snapper ? They are all so special. They trust me and I trust them to make me look good.

I photograph women because I love women. It is as simple as that. I really enjoy this type of work when I witness the power that is enabled in the model as she gains the strength and self confidence that this work brings out in them. What occurs on the day is all their decision and that is just fine with me. I am only there to record it as best I can.

Art Model Rosie

How do you feel at the end of a shooting ?

Worn out.

I am mostly confident that we have achieved some good shots by checking the view screen during the shoot but I can be usually surprised when I have that first look at the images full size.

I tend to leave them for a few days and approach them slowly. I suppose that I am so immersed in the shoot that I don’t want to know about it again for a few days afterward.

Art Model LeeAnne

Have you some challenges you're dreaming about in a near future ?

Studio G. white bicycle project. An exhibition.

Art Model Mia

" I am overwhelmed by this rather audacious shot of Mia, taken in the very early hours of what must be the quietest night of the year. This shot was taken on the bridge that leads to Carrington, an inner city suburb of Newcastle. I do like it."

A beautiful dream, and a real project, if I'm well reading behind your concise answer ! Keep us informed. And what about your next ?

When and where I am invited. If not where and when I can arrange it.

Have you published a book ?

Not yet but with what is available out there (self publishing wise) that will be soon.
I made the cover and centre spread of that most famous and widespread magazine titled “Kink-E.” Not exactly what I was striving for as my first printed foray but hey, I’m not complaining.
Magazines ? Not only Black+White would be a nice place to be seen, it is my favorite and Australian based. I would love to be featured in that some time if they ever get around to publishing it again but that is wishful thinking, me being featured that is.

I note. A message to send ?

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

One method that I judge others by just how seriously they do take themselves, the ones in this world that tend to take themselves too seriously give me great entertainment at their expense.
Value your work but don’t kid yourself for one moment. There will always be someone out there better or worse than you.

Thanks a lot Mark. I'm going to follow your advice. 

"I fell down into"
Art Model Leeanne

" This is LeeAnne at a local beach VERY early last Sunday. It took a round trip walk of about 6 kilometres to get this and dozens of other varied images with a dramatic sky and wonderful golden light as a background. The little lights you see on the horizon are ships waiting to come into the port of Newcastle."

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