May 4, 2011

Mark Peckmezian Interview

Mark Peckmezian is a Toronto based photographer who focuses on documentary and portrait photography. Mark's artistic portrayal of daily escapades aesthetically balances his serious portraits of friends and relatively obedient dogs. In a brief conversation with the photographer, I had the chance to ask a couple of classic questions hidden among some of my own personal favourite questions to answer...
Sam Milbrath - If you could time travel to photograph any specific event, location, or era in history, where would you go and why? What kind of camera would you bring to shoot with?
Mark Peckmezian - I'm so content shooting in my own backyard and I can hardly imagine what it'd be like to go to another time -- total overload. I actually have daydreamed about this before, though: with the distance of time we can see different eras so clearly, their peculiarities, so it'd be really easy to know what is significant and worth shooting. I then wonder about shooting our own time with the same nose for significance (and then get really excited). I think it's possible, but seeing the forest for the trees, distancing yourself enough from the specific to see the general, is a feat. Drugs help quite a bit, however.
SM - What one question would you ask if you could interview an artist or photographer that has greatly influenced your work?
MP - I'm usually really interested in practical working methods, how different artists think through the same problems, what little tricks and heuristics they've developed, so something along these lines. I'm also interested in how artists conceptualize what they're doing -- some photographers "make" photographs, others "find" them or "take" them. There are radically different paradigms to work from.
SM - Is there a particular photograph or collection of your own work that is a personal favourite of yours? Which one and why?
MP - I like my dog photos the most. I'm not sure why... they're the most sincere, I think. I work intuitively when shooting them (most of the time), I think my personality is best represented in them. But they only mean what they do relative to my other work, so there's no separation ultimately.

SM - What three words do you think best describes your work?
MP - Oh man, this is a question for others to answer, I have no idea.
SM - Fair enough, do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
MP - I'm an aspiring photographer! But I can say that all I ever focus on is fulfilling my own interests and excitements, and I think that's all an artist really can do. How can you ask others to like your work if you don't? It's the first criterion to satisfy. So my policy has always been to just shamelessly do whatever it is I want to do, and work hard at it. I don't know if this'll lead to success or failure, but because I'm making art I like, I don't even really care. Integrity is more important than success.

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